Keeping advocates informed, inspired and connected since
Not a subscriber? Try Inclusion Daily
Express for two-weeks FREE!
TOP DISABILITY RIGHTS STORIES OF 2001
These are the events that I think have had, or will have, the
greatest impact on the largest number of people with disabilities and their
They are not in any particular order:
Terrorists Attacks Claim Thousands Of
On September 11, 2001, hijackers took over four airliners and used
them to murder thousands of innocent people in Pennsylvania, New York City, and
Washington DC. An unknown number of people with disabilities and their friends
and loved ones died in the attacks. The disability community responded
immediately with messages of unity and support for the friends and families who
lost loved ones. Since the attack, attention has been drawn to the safety of
people around the world, and in particular to those of us who have
disabilities, when it comes to evacuation plans, building design and airline
Stephen Hawking Visits India
physicist was invited to visit India to speak at universities. But officials
became embarrassed when they realized that many of the sites to which they had
invited Hawking were not accessible to him. The fact that they had to have
people carry the famous scientist, who has ALS (otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's
Disease) and uses a wheelchair, sparked new interest in making public
facilities accessible to people with disabilities.
Top of page
Statue Has FDR In His Wheelchair
January, President Clinton unveiled a life-size bronze statue of President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, depicting him as he was for much of his life in the
White House -- seated in the wheelchair he designed for himself. The statue is
at ground level and greets all visitors to the FDR Memorial. During his
presidency, few knew that FDR used a wheelchair, leg braces and crutches after
he had contracted polio.
President Bush Launches New Freedom
In February, President Bush announced his New Freedom
Initiative which would pump nearly $1 billion toward, among other things,
improving access to employment, education, housing and assistive technologies.
In June, he signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies to work with
states to make sure they comply fully with the Supreme Court's ruling in the
Olmstead decision. The executive order also expands the scope of Olmstead to
include all disabilities. In July, Bush launched the Interagency Coalition for
Community Living along with a community living initiative involving several
agencies within his administration.
Top of page
Robert Latimer Must Spend Ten Years In
Canada's highest court ruled in January that Robert Latimer must
serve no less than 10 years of a life term for murder. In 1993, Latimer
admitted killing his daughter, Tracy, because of her disabilities. In December,
the Canadian Civil Liberties Association presented a petition with 60,000
signatures to the office of Solicitor General requesting clemency for Latimer.
They were turned down.
Special Education Figured Big In Jeffords
Vermont Senator James Jeffords, a long-time supporter of
education for children with disabilities, shocked both political parties when
in May he decided to leave the Republican party, thereby single-handedly
shifting the balance of power in Congress. While his decision was based on a
number of factors, Jeffords has been vocal about his dissatisfaction at the GOP
for not pushing for more funding for special education.
Top of page
ADA Wins One, Loses One At Supreme
Casey Martin v. PGA Tour:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled
in May that professional golfer Casey Martin should be allowed to use a golf
cart as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Martin has a disability that makes it painful and dangerous for him to walk the
long distances the PGA Tour requires during tournaments. He asked for and was
denied the use of a motorized cart to move about the course as a work place
accommodation under the ADA. Martin sued the PGA Tour in 1997.
v. Garrett & Ashe: The Americans with Disabilities Act was struck a
blow in February when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress overstepped
its bounds when it decided to allow state workers to use the ADA to file
discrimination lawsuits against their employers.
Mental Retardation and the Death Penalty On
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether or not executing
convicts who have mental retardation violates the Eighth Amendment's
protections against "cruel and unusual punishment". The same court spared John
Paul Penry for a second time, because of confusing instructions given to the
jury that sentenced him to death. Several states that have a death penalty
voted to ban it for convicts with mental retardation.
Top of page
France's High Court Supports Wrongful Birth
In separate cases France's high court of appeals ruled that the
parents of children with disabilities, including a boy who has Down syndrome,
should be compensated because the parents were not given the option to have
them aborted before they were born.
Death Row Inmates Were Improperly
In Illinois, Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana,
and Pennsylvania death row inmates with mental retardation were spared
execution when evidence showed that they were improperly convicted of the
crimes. Some were cleared when other inmates gave more accurate confessions.
Others were cleared when DNA evidence showed they could not have committed the
of the death row inmates with mental retardation who were cleared had confessed
to investigators, bringing into question the tactics used by police to gain
Top of page
Section 508 Makes Information Technology
On June 21, 2001, new accessibility guidelines went into
effect for U.S. government agencies. These guidelines are part of Section 508
of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which were revised in 1998. They require all
electronic and information technology products and services that federal
agencies buy to meet new accessibility standards. This includes computers, fax
machines and millions of government Internet Web pages.
Activists Demand Equality And Action
From Austin, Texas to St. Petersburg, Russia, and from Baltimore, Maryland to
Hubli, India, disability rights activists gathered in different places around
the world, to lobby for changes in how people with disabilities are perceived
and treated. The National Disabled Students Union formed in response to the
U.S. Supreme Court's ruling against Pat Garret (see above). A few weeks later,
hundreds of students from college campuses across the U.S. staged a nation-wide
"Leave Out" in protest. ADAPT staged protests in Washington, DC and in San
Francisco, California demanding government move money to community supports
instead of the current bias toward institutions and nursing homes.
Top of page
Assisted Suicide Events In The
Attorney General John Ashcroft Unveils Drug Policy That Stops
Oregon's Assisted Suicide Law
Rules Jack Kevorkian Must Stay In Prison
Court Sides With Florence Wendland, Weeks After Her Husband Dies
Heroes, Role Models, Leaders Who Moved
Gunnar Dybwad, Heidi Van Arnem, Colleen Fraser, Dale Evans were among
those who passed away this year. Also, an unknown number of people with
disabilities died in the World Trade Center towers when they were struck by
hijacked jets on September 11.
Top of page
You can have the latest disability rights news delivered to your
email Inbox every week day.
Subscribe to Inclusion
Daily Express today!
3231 W. Boone Ave., # 711
Spokane, Washington 99201 USA
Copyright © 2007 Inonit Publishing