Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October is Down Syndrome awareness month so get (it) down....

The 2nd annual 31 for 21 Challenge hosted over at Unringing the bell

Who can do it?
Anyone who is interested! You are all welcome to join the challenge!

When do I do it?
The goal is to blog everyday for the month of October. 31 days to raise awareness of Down syndrome (a.k.a. Trisomy 21). Get it? 31 for 21!

Go here for the rest of the rules:

Get It Down; 31 for 21

The regular people v Wall Street

I remember an episode of Cosby where Theo tells his father that he wants to be a regular person, not a doctor or lawyer like his parents. And Bill Cosby goes through a scenario with his son, telling him what he'll earn as a regular person and where his money will go - and how he won't have anything left. The point of the scene was that Theo should get an education - and it's well taken.

But it also describes, all too vividly, how Americans have for too long turned away from the truth that, for many, no matter how hard they work, they cannot break even, much less get ahead - a truth that's been accepted in its innate unfairness.

The economy has not been good for many people for a long time, but it's become much worse. And for those who have taken second and third jobs or have been doing without "extras", like some groceries or maybe heat and gas, for themselves and their families, the words "bail out" are making them extremely angry. No one has helped them when their kids are sick and they are struggling to buy medicine and take them to a doctor. No one has cared if there is less food on the table. A chicken in every pot? Yes, there was a promise - meat.

And then there's Wall Street. People on Wall Street wear expensive suits. They eat out (imagine that) and - travel places on vacation. They have benefit plans with letters and numbers in them that many Americans will never see - or if they do, have to cash them in when they have a baby to pay those extra expenses. Long term security to those in a lower economic bracket is having the money for rent and food in the immediate future. This is not due to lack of planning- it's a numbers crunch. The amount regular people can earn is limited, no matter how many jobs they take, and, therefore, so are options as to where they can put their money.

The words savings and loans equate with "none" and "no".

So yesterday the regular people and the high flyin' Wall Street types who take risks with money that's not their own (but who might have acted differently if they were in the shoes of a gas station attendant trying to support a family) clashed.

The value of a dollar is different to regular people. In college we spoke about disposable income, money that's left over after bills are paid and how people choose how to spend money. But regular people these days don't have money left over. Their income is already disposed of as they sit down and start paying their bills. So when you tell them a figure of $700 billion, even when you try to ease it toward them by saying we'll start with $250 billion, regular people start thinking what they could do with an extra few hundred dollars a month.

More groceries. A doctor's visit. Gas. Eyeglasses. Stuff that gets crossed off regular peoples' lists.

The reason Congress is in this situation is because they haven't been listening to the regular people. But, you see, regular people vote. And their vote counts equally to the vote of anyone else. No matter if you've got a baloney sandwich (or less) in your belly or a steak from a fancy restaurant - you pull that lever and in that moment, that one moment, regular people get transformed into who they really are and should be-

equal citizens.

Vote.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Decrying Baroness Warnock's remarks on Alzheimer's patients

Ethicist Dr. Jonathan Groner of Ohio State has spoken up in response to remarks by the baroness that Alzheimer's patients have a duty to die to minimize their burden on society and family.

First, there were the moral implications of the comments that 84-year-old Baroness Mary Helen Warnock shared with the Church of Scotland's Life and Work magazine last week, in which she stated, "If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives -- your family's lives -- and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service."

Such a policy could put society on a slippery slope, he said. And he noted many of the potential moral pitfalls accompanying the suggestion that those suffering from dementia should make a decision to end their own lives.
...
Groner is not alone in his opinion. Ethicists and Alzheimer's advocacy groups alike are expressing outrage over Warnock's comments last week, which echoed the opinion she put forth in an article she authored for a Norwegian periodical, titled "A Duty to Die?"

"The suggestion made by Baroness Mary Warnock is ignorant, insensitive and cruel, and denies the humanity of people with Alzheimer's and dementia," the Alzheimer's Association said in a statement issued Wednesday.

And Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said he was "shocked" by the comments when he read them.

"No one has a duty to die," he said. "The notion that society should 'expect' someone to end their lives because they fear being a burden upon others is simply ethically repugnant.
via abcnews.com

It is a fallacy to say that the lives of Alzheimer's patients lack quality, Dr. Groner says, whose own father lived with Alzheimer's before passing away in January.

And legal scholars note that placing those with Alzheimer's and dementia in this situation "amounts to murder".

To read the rest of the article, please click here.

Therese: A Movie

I watched the movie Therese last night and was profoundly moved by its ending. For those who may not know, it's a 2005 film based on the life of St. Therese of Lisieux and it followed her young life, from her childhood through her visits to the bishop and Pope to obtain permission to enter the Carmelite monastery at the young age of 15 - and then through her short time there, until she died from TB.



St. Therese's book, The Little Way, and her autobiography that contains excerpts (Story of a Soul) has guided many on their spiritual journey. Here's an excerpt:

Meditating on these words of Jesus, Mother, I began to see how imperfect my own love was; it was so obvious that I didn't love my sisters as God loves them. I realise, now, that perfect love means putting up with other people's shortcomings, feeling no surprise at their weaknesses, finding encouragement even in the slightest evidence of good qualities in them. But the point which came home to me most of all was that it was no good leaving charity locked up in the depths of your heart. "A lamp," Jesus says, "is not lighted to be put away under a bushel measure; it is put on the lamp-stand, to give light to all the people of the house." The lamp, I suppose, stands for charity; and the cheerful light it gives isn't meant simply for the people we are fond of; it is meant for everybody in the house, without exception.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

...a copy of the draft of the bail out bill can be found here.

A breakdown of the bill via MSNBC

If you don't have TV, you can watch the House of Representatives debate on cspan online tomorrow. 3 hours of debate with no amendments allowed.

C Span also provides Senate coverage, which will occur possibly later this week.

Abide With Me: A Novel


This 2006 novel was written by Elizabeth Strout, author of award winning novel Amy and Isabelle .

A young Maine minister, Tyler Caskey, loses his young wife to cancer, and struggles with his grief. As the book opens a year after his wife's death back in 1959, his congregation has begun to gossip about the young minister and even his young daughter, who has stopped speaking. The once popular minister who was admired for his sermons and sought out for advice is now criticized for not bouncing back - and for not being the same man. He struggles to deal with everyday tasks such as buying new shirts.

The author cleverly describes the inner workings of Caskey's mind to draw the reader into his deep state of grief, conveying a sense of how off balance he feels by the sudden loss of his wife and the ensuing changes in his life. In one scene, a character asks Caskey if dealing with death is easier when one is a minister, to which he simply replies "No".

Yet amidst the petty and small minded acts that beset Caskey, the author intertwines beacons of light- relationships that comfort him, teach him, and give him enough hope to deal with his feelings of confusion about God and fellow human beings.As Caskey struggles with whether he can still be a minister to this congregation, he discovers that it is only through his willingness to share his vulnerability - and, in a sense, rejoin and re-engage with his congregation - that others will begin to understand his grief and recognize his humanity.

[image description: The book cover is shown. A young girl with blonde hair is shown, looking down. The title Abide With Me is printed under her image and the author's name, Elizabeth Strout, is shown below that.]

It's known as the Waziristan War

The opening of Saturday Night Live last night spoofed vice presidential candidate Palin's inability to handle questions during recent interviews.



The pundits this morning on TV are talking about the vp debate, which is four short days away, and expressing concern about Palin's ability to debate Biden. And then there's her lack of knowledge.

Sarah Palin was in Philadelphia yesterday and went into a local restaurant to get cheesesteaks with her daughter. A college student asked her questions about foreign policy.

The governor got a more serious interrogation moments later when Temple graduate student Michael Rovito approached her to inquire about Pakistan.

"How about the Pakistan situation?," asked Rovito, who said he was not a Palin supporter. "What's your thoughts about that?"

"In Pakistan?," she asked, looking surprised.

"What's going on over there, like Waziristan?"

"It's working with [Pakistani president] Zardari to make sure that we're all working together to stop the guys from coming in over the border," she told him. "And we'll go from there."

Rovito wasn't finished. "Waziristan is blowing up!," he said.

"Yeah it is," Palin said, "and the economy there is blowing up too."

"So we do cross border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan you think?," Rovito asked.

"If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should," Palin responded, before moving on to greet other voters. via politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

So let's go to Yahoo questions: Should the US Go Into Pakistan? and see the kinds of answers Americans give to this question:

There is a conflict in Pakistan, known as the Warizistan [sic] War, between the government of Pakistan against al-Qaeda, Taliban, and the Islamic Emirate of Warizistan [sic]. Many, including President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, have said that in the War On Terror, the central front is Pakistan. The Pakistani government would surely appreciate American support. What do you think?

You can read the answers here from ordinary Americans.

A hint: they did better.

UPDATE: Adding the video here from the cheesesteak restaurant. A little humor at the start, after Sarah Palin orders her cheesesteaks, the cashier says "And your name is-?" to which she replies "Sarah."




For further reading: How chaos developed in Pakistan

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman has passed away


..at the age of 83 from cancer.

Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as an activist, race car driver, popcorn impresario and the anti-hero of such films as "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "The Color of Money," has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends. via NY Times.com


His long and illustrious acting career is what most people will remember him for, although he was very active in setting up camps for seriously ill kids, as shown in the video below about the Hole in the Wall camps. The camps are free and provide 24 hour medical care. Paul Newman is shown at camp with some of the children in the photo at left. He will be missed, now that he's gone through "the hole in the wall".



Tell Tale Signs

I just read that Bob Dylan's new album will be streamed on NPR Public Radio for free starting next Tuesday, 12:01 am EDT and available until October 7, when it is released. It is called Tell Tale Signs and the site is here.



Sending emails post-rapture

According to this article, for forty dollars, believers can join a site and plan to send emails post-rapture.

Youvebeenleftbehind.com offers users the ability to store e-mails and documents that will be sent to up to 63 e-mail addresses six days after the rapture has occurred. Users get up to 250 megabytes of storage space, 150 megabytes of it encrypted for sensitive information such as bank account numbers or eTrade passwords that can be accessed by those who remain on earth.

In evangelical Christian theology, the rapture is marked by a sudden visit from God, in which Christians will be whisked away to heaven while remaining nonbelievers will live on earth for seven years under the rule of the anti-Christ, until God returns with his followers to rule heaven and earth. via abcnews.com

Some are, however, questioning whether the site was set up just for profit, since those who believe in rapture are evangelical and the site itself makes no attempt to persuade more to become believers. Catholics believe in only one return of Christ. The preTribulation theory was set forth about 175 years ago by John Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren, and has been popularized by the Left Behind Series.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Senator Ted Kennedy taken to hospital

CNN and other sources are reporting. The NY Times reports that he was taken by ambulance and was alert and responsive.
UPDATE: FoxNews reports that Sen. Kennedy had a mild seizure earlier today, but is doing much better and is on his way home from the hospital.

Sen. John Kerry, Kennedy's Massachusetts colleague, told FOX News the Democratic senator plans to return home to watch the presidential debate Friday night. Kerry said he spoke with Kennedy and that he was in good spirits.

Kennedy arrived at the Cape Cod hospital "conscious and alert," according to a source close to the situation.

Barnstable police Sgt. Ben Baxter said a 911 call from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port came about 5 p.m. Friday.

Baxter said Kennedy was taken by ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital. He also said Kennedy was "alert and responsive" during the trip.

An Office of Financial Stability proposed

Senator Dodd's proposed bill

Bush/Treasury bailout proposal

These proposed pieces of legislation discuss, among other things, foreclosures ( establishing offices to handle/oversee/minimize foreclosures, thereby protecting neighborhoods at risk); credit regulation; authorizing funding (and refunding) this bill to intervene (Dodd's bill) and allowing purchase of mortgage-related properties and an increase in the limit of public debt to 11 trillion dollars in the latter bill.

Exploding hot dogs

The other night as my day was winding down and the Phillies were getting ready to play a ball game, an ominous report of a suspicious package found at the ball park started to appear on the news. The package was detonated and turned out to be hot dogs, left over from a publicity stunt that the Phillies Phanatic was doing. In this day and age, leaving a package outside a ball park costs taxpayers. I wonder if anyone is reimbursing the taxpayers for that or at least issuing a policy that could hold people accountable if they leave packages behind. I know, I'm cheap.

And as I watched President Bush give a very short and cursory speech on the financial chaos that is now US, I thought back to the image of the exploding hot dogs.

It is right that we protect our safety, but where were the precautions for our economic market? Where were the equivalent watchdogs, the "detonators", those whose job it is to protect the public from harm?

Is it Congress? Should it be? Will more regulations fix this - or are we looking at a situation where people knew, those who are our leaders knew - and their hands were tied? I think that's more the case and here's why I believe that.

Because even now when the problem is in full view, no one seems able to handle it.

The President spent part of his paltry, very brief speech (considering the $700 billion price tag) inviting Obama down to Washington, as if it was a time to do THAT. Obama and McCain are both Senators, both running for presidential office, which is , as we know, a full time job, so all this highlights is that neither is in Washington, doing their job as a Senator. Can we have a dialogue on all of that some day? Instead we talk about being invited to Washington.

Maybe I'm just cranky because I see all this money going toward a bailout that might have been avoided. But I, for one, am questioning if we should be looking at other issues, like whether Congress dropped the ball, why, if people knew this could happen, we weren't told and even then received a brief and paltry speech from our current president as if we were kids in an assembly hall that had a ten minute limit - and why no one stepped up to the package and protected the public.

Instead they're playing politics. With our money.

It's already exploded. Yet they still don't understand that this is why many Americans are disgusted. And wonder why we have one week to solve this problem.
[image description: Photo from Library of Congress of a failed bank in 1930.]

And I'm reminded of this piece I read on trust in government, ethics and politics:

The first step in this process is to be good citizens; we must demand of our candidates that they be genuine public servants, thoughtfully and courageously pursuing the public good, and we must welcome those who tell the truth, even when it is something we do not want to hear. We can only take that step effectively if we have a media equally committed to good politics and campaign structures that allow the best candidates to rise to the top.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disability blog carnival: Falling

We're up to number 46 of the Disability blog carnival and the theme is Falling over at Disability Studies, Temple U, where you'll find an assortment of posts covering everything from the celebration of the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 to the budget gap. There's some OT advice on (literally) not falling and personal stories about education and employment. I found some posts on falling in love too....and far more.

Go on over and read - and, more importantly, if you blog consider submitting a post for the next carnival. Here's where it will be:


Day in Washington--regular readers there will not be surprised that the theme will be Policy. Well timed for the last month of the US presidential campaign, and the last week before the Canadian elections, among other fall events. Deadline for submissions 6 October, and edition #47 should post on 9 October. Submit posts in comments [at DisStudies Temple U] or there, at the blogcarnival.com site, or just put "Disability Blog Carnival" in the text of your post, that usually works.

Parenting with disability: A mom with quadriplegia

...Renee talks about having her son and raising him. She is also a musician.

New e reader from IRex, mixed reviews


The new IRex reader, shown at left, is priced from $649 to $849, and aimed at those who want to carry around documents in digital form- i.e. business users. Its rectangular shape measures approximately 10 inches, it comes in three versions (with varying features and prices) and reviews are mixed. Gizmodo did not think it lived up to its boast of being a next generation e reader (or Kindle) and noted that you need to pay about $900 for wireless connectivity, a NY times blog review pointed out it is easier to read in bright light and has better battery time, and the c net review is kinder, pointing to its larger screen and added features.

So let's get down to brass tacks. What does it do that the Kindle doesn't? According to the cnet reviewer, it flips pages more quickly, with less wait time. And

The touch-screen interface allows you to mark up and draw on documents with a stylus, making the display look and feel even more like a pad of paper. The device itself is lighter than it appears--it doesn't weigh much more than a clipboard. And Brons says the $849 wireless version will have a full-fledged Web browser that's able to deal with moving Flash images by converting them into static still images. That would be an upgrade over the Web browser on the Kindle, but still less than ideal. reviews.cnet.com

In terms of predicting what will come next on a Kindle or Sony e-reader, according to the reviewer at c net, this device will be a good predictor, since it's based on the same underlying technology. Rumors of a next generation Kindle are out there, but have also been quashed for 2008.

A few remarks: I use the Kindle as both a document reader and to read books. It does both tasks well and the screen size is comfortable, not too small. Since I use the Kindle as an assistive device, I cherish its low price compared to what items usually cost that are marketed for people with disabilities. I hate to see the higher price tag on this device and would rather deal with a very slight page lag and fewer features. (Basically, all you have to do is plan on turning the page before you get to the bottom.)

[You can read my reviews of the Kindle, by clicking on the tag below.]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hurricane Ike assistance needed for people with disabilities

The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston
Disability Emergency Assistance Project

Hurricane Ike

Objective:
To assist people with disabilities who “sheltered in place” during Hurricane Ike. We estimate the number requiring calls and potential follow up at 30,000 in Houston and significant additional numbers in other parts of Southeast Texas. This includes thousands of people who registered with Texas’s 211 emergency assistance system and may have yet to be reached. The range of assistance will include: an initial call to determine the person is being cared for; emergency delivery of gasoline or batteries to power crucial medical assistance devices; provide generators; and delivery and assistance with insulin, oxygen, catheters, and medicines. When no one can be reached, a referral to an appropriate agency or local police will be made. This will be a public/private effort in close coordination with city, state and federal entities.

Funding Need:
Immediate funding in the range of $200,000 over three months is needed to:

  • staff an 800 phone number with a mix of professional staff and volunteers;
  • provide direct community outreach, including home visits, by a mix of professional staff and volunteers including some with medical training;
  • purchase and deliver supplies (beyond those that have been donated);
  • support faculty and graduate research associates at UT Houston to coordinate and manage the project for optimal short and long term community benefit.
To donate, CLICK HERE.

If you have a blog or site, I'd appreciate if you could help spread this information. Thanks.


Guide dog allowed in mosque after fatwa issued

BBC reports:

An 18-year-old blind Muslim student in Leicester is the first to be allowed to take his guide dog into a UK mosque.

In Islam dogs are regarded as unclean and so not allowed in mosques.

However, the Muslim Law (Shari'ah) Council UK has now issued a fatwa which allows guide dogs inside mosques but not in the prayer room.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the Muslim Council of Britain worked together to support Mohammed Abraar Khatri's request.

The Guide Dog Association said it was "a massive step forward for other blind and partially sighted Muslims".

An association spokesman said: "It is also hoped that mosque leaders both in the UK and internationally will now make similar adjustments to enable Muslim guide dog owners to enter their mosque."

Arts Unbound: Calling Artists with Disabilities!

GALLERY CALL FOR ARTISTS - DEADLINE EXTENDED!

Attention Artists with Disabilities! We are now seeking submissions from artists for the 2008/2009 calendar year.

All original work, in all mediums, will be considered.
There is no fee to submit work.

To submit your work electronically (OR visit the Arts Unbound site) CLICK HERE. Submissions may also be sent via snail mail using a special form available from the Arts Unbound Studio and Gallery.

Artists who are selected will be asked to make an appointment at the gallery to show examples of actual work to the curator and discuss possible inclusion in the upcoming exhibition schedule. Work exhibited will be for sale with a percentage of sale proceeds paid to the artist.

Submission deadline has been extended to
December 31, 2008.

Harriet's wish


I was rereading Harriet McBryde Johnson's book Too Late to Die Young:Nearly True Tales from a Life on my Kindle the other night when I realized that, although I never met Harriet, I have learned so much from her writings that I forget that fact.

It is much the same way with some people I've met online. I learn so much from so many watching how they navigate the world, but more importantly, I so appreciate it when people write in a way that reveals something about their humanity.

Harriet, pictured above at her office desk, sitting with her chin in her left hand, ran for office, faced down the Secret Service, and protested the Jerry Lewis telethon - before that was even heard of.

She also wrote about being an attorney with a disability, about how on her way to court one day a bystander told her she looked like a Doll Baby, all dressed up. Harriet joked about it in her book, in a style that is both endearing, yet clearly draws a line about the perceptions people have which radiate through the lives of people with disabilities.

It reminded me of the day when I was outside of District Court in my wheeelchair and the guard refused me entrance when I said I was an attorney, telling me "They don't allow people like you to be lawyers." One cell phone call and he found out they don't allow people like him to be guards.

I'll never ever have Harriet's southern charm.

She writes about needing people to drive her to court in her van and paying them with stories. And I imagined the other night that I was sitting in her van with her, on our way to court, listening to her tell me about rolling through the streets of Charleston, comparing notes about our own journeys. Or how she stood up to Peter Singer. Or a myriad of other stories, ones that she had time to write about and all the ones, unfortunately, that she didn't.

But one thing I really have to add here, because I know it was important to her, is that Harriet wanted no child to grow up living as if he/she had no future because of his/her disability. Her experiences were far different than mine and I have far too much respect for that to pretend otherwise, but for other reasons, I join in that wish.

Tonight, after I finish my work, I'll spend fifteen or twenty minutes with Harriet's book. I'll listen to a story. Because I never get tired of hearing her words and, more importantly, the strong, strident voice with the southern charm behind them.

Congress backing parity bill

The NY Times reports that

Congress on Tuesday moved close to final approval of a bill that would require group health insurance plans to provide more generous coverage for treatment of mental illnesses, comparable to what they already provide for physical illnesses.
....
The House, by a vote of 376 to 47, passed the mental health measure as a free-standing bill. The two chambers agree on the substance of the legislation, which requires equivalence, or parity, in the coverage of mental and physical ailments. Federal law now allows insurers to discriminate, and many do so, by setting higher co-payments or stricter limits on mental health benefits.

President Bush, business groups, insurance companies and mental health advocates all support the measure.


Although the House and the Senate are using different vehicles for the legislation, supporters said that a single mental health bill would soon emerge from Congress and go to Mr. Bush for his signature.

You can read the rest of the article here.

**

In other news, veterans gain US benefits for Lou Gehrig's disesase and the VA will increase benefits for mild brain trauma.

Up to 320,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered traumatic brain injury, a RAND Corp. study estimated this year. The vast majority of the cases are mild and came from exposure to an explosion, often from a roadside bomb. Most veterans with mild cases recover, Pamperin said, but some are left with permanent problems.

Compensation could reach $600 a month, the VA said. Currently, veterans with symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light, ringing in the ears and irritability and insomnia collect $117.
via usatoday.com

and the third report on Medicare fraud and billing is in, this time including stories of prescribing durable medical equipment for those with bubonic plague. Guess they need a wheelchair more than those of us who can't walk....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Positive criticism

Some people may think that those two words can't fit together - but they can and I've learned a lot more in life from folks who criticize me than anyone else, but usually when they go about it in a positive way. Some folks are just better at it than others, but I think it's also a skill you can learn.

I found these suggestions online in an article called The Joy of Criticism about how to give criticism, and stay positive:

1.

Become more aware of yourself. Seek out information about yourself and actively solicit criticism through questions such as, "How could I be doing this better?"
2.

Become more aware of the people you are criticizing. Consider their emotions, actions, and feelings.
3.

Acknowledge the necessary subjectivity of your observations.
4.

Give concrete and fair criteria for criticizing.
5.

Lead not only through words but through actions. Set a good example, and follow up on criticism with questions such as, "How can I help?"


I've noticed that those who give negative criticism (you can find a list here in the article) generally don't follow most, if any of these criteria. Even following a few can be very helpful in terms of having your criticism heard, rather than discounted, although the article talks about ways to handle negative criticism.

So why is this even important? Being on the receiving end of positive criticism is a learning opportunity, for one thing. Learning to stretch so you can hear negative criticism may also be to your benefit at times. And when criticism is given positively, it really can be - and often is - an act of love.

Yeah, that's what curbcuts are for....

The college students are back and as I go around town, I see evidence of more ped-texters than ever. You know, the Walking While Texting issue. It was so bad on one street in London that they padded the street lights to protect the texters from injuring themselves, as seen in this video, where texters are shown bouncing off of cushioned poles, never removing their eyes from their gadgets.



I came up behind one of these texters last week. She was standing sideways, but didn't see me, so I said "Excuse me". Sometimes when I say that I then see the small white ipod earbuds and know it's to no avail to speak - I have to turn my wheelchair so they see a flash of color. Unfortunately, this student was texting and had earbuds in.

She was virtually unaware of her surroundings- so I thought well at least she's standing still. Suddenly she began to walk and headed toward the street. I followed behind, moving slowly in my power chair. Her eyes were still on her phone, the earbuds in, and she was oblivious to the fact that she was approaching a busy street. She tripped down a high curb, ran into a bicyclist, bounced off someone's suitcase and tripped up the curb on the opposite side of the street.

I caught up to her. She looked at me sheepishly and said "I guess I should use the curbcuts. Would be safer."

Monday, September 22, 2008

New to the blogroll: Rolling Traveler

I was alerted to this great site after its author left a few helpful and insightful comments on a couple of my posts here and want to highlight it to my readers.

The Rolling Traveler is a blog that deals with advice - and shares experiences - about topics such as airport travel, visiting places like London and San Francisco, among others - public transport, and wheelchair equipment.

Very useful ideas over there for wheelers, and great reading for everyone who travels, is planning to travel, or likes to read about travel.

Hospital workers fired for posting ER patients' photos on website

Two hospital workers were fired after posting photos of patients taken with their cell phone cameras in an ER on MySpace.. They were caught after an anonymous call to a University of New Mexico hospital administrator, who told the press that the patients' faces and "personal identifying features" were blocked and the photos were put up on a site with only private access to the employees' friends. The pictures were taken while the patients were receiving treatment

No charges have yet been filed against the employees.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Sunday in Galveston....

and, according to ministers, priests, rabbis and other faith leaders, they are experiencing a variety of emotions themselves as hurricane Ike survivors, who still are not allowed to return, try to heal.

Rev. John Bostock, who rode out the storm, said he is angry at those who locked up their churches and aren't there for people. Another is giving a message to those who had to relocate about finding spiritual meaning in that reality.

Parenting with a disability

Tawana Williams, a motivational speaker and a woman with a disability - presents this video which I found under a listing of "Unarmed but dangerous" - about being a mom. She shows a church group how she cared for her child, using her feet instead of her arms and talks about the role of her strong faith and trust in God. And, I suspect from watching this, her sense of humor and loving nature played a large part too.

When Jesus came to our church

A great post for a Sunday morning.

Sandra writes about a stranger in threadbare jeans who showed up at her church to pray. The man sat in front, which she found unusual for a visitor. And she writes movingly about her regret at doing nothing, at the lack of hospitality of her congregation:

Our pastor completed his sermon and asked the piano player and song leader to come forward. He asked everyone to stand and sing an invitational hymn while he invited visitors and members alike to come forth to repair their souls, repent of their sins, and dedicate their lives to God by accepting Jesus Christ as their savior and healer. The pastor held up his arms in invitation to all and we began to sing, "Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me….."

Only one soul moved from his seat and in his threadbare shirt and faded jeans, head bowed, he walked to the front pew and knelt alone to pray. And may our Father forgive us all, for we-not one-made no move to kneel beside this poor stranger and pray along with him. For his soul and our own, we did nothing-each person, pastor included, left it to the next to make the first move so that none did.

As I left the church that day, I felt such a terrible heaviness of guilt and shame. Still today I pray over and over for forgiveness at doing nothing. And I think; what if that had been Jesus and this was the greatest test of our true faith? We may never know; for He never returned and there will be no second chance for salvation of those who don't care enough.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who is a DSP?

They are home caregivers. And they are pushing for action on the following bill to allow them to provide consistent, professional care.

H.R.1279
Title: To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide funds to States to enable them to increase the wages paid to targeted direct support professionals in providing services to individuals with disabilities under the Medicaid Program.

Currently, DSPs working in private practice make an average of $8.68 per hour for work that is emotionally and physically exhausting. Nineteen percent of all DSPs live in poverty and 25% are without their own healthcare. Turnover is high, and the resulting lack of continuity in care can be demoralizing for or even harmful to people with disabilities.

"We've seen what happens when our clients don't get consistent care," Andrea McMurray, a caregiver from Lawrence, Kansas, told those attending the rally. "We've seen them turn inward, stop trusting the people who are supposed to help them. But when they can depend on a staff member to be there... it's amazing what they can do."

via directsupportprofessionals.blogspot.com

There is a crisis facing the support services industry, one that needs to be addressed. The video below encourages us to talk to others about what a DSP is, how little they get paid and what's at stake.

For more information about HR 1279, click here.

Talking about demons

One of my friends who has a disability sums up her experience like this: it brings out the best and the worst in people.

I know what she means, so this morning when I saw this article about how Hurricane Ike brought out the best and worst in people, it caught my eye. Some angels appear, the author says - and so do those who take advantage, who try to make a buck on the situation, the price gougers, for example.

The author, who has lived through a civil war, is no stranger to hard times. He asks the reader to be willing to see the demon as well as the angel who appears. And he notes how people emphasize the angels who appear more than the demons.

A very unusual article and it left me wondering if, in our culture, we simply have trouble talking about the demons. And yet, if we don't talk about the demons, they continue to take advantage of those who are vulnerable.

A price gouger is not going to admit, unless authorities get involved, that his prices were raised illegally. Most folks who are demons, as this author says, aren't the type who are going to change their behavior without being confronted in an effective way - if then. And I bet there are repeat offenders, too.

***

Some of my friends have family who care for them daily, who help them purchase homes and make them accessible, who help them buy vans, who set up trust funds - and this is all good. But not every family can afford to do that, no matter how much they love their child.

The heartbreak this engenders is staggering. I know one parent who held a fundraiser to get money for the cost of bringing her quadriplegic son home from the hospital, just to get him in the front door, just to make their house accessible. Just to bring him home. Angels appeared and he's home.

Disability doesn't happen in a vacuum. It can happen to people who already have financial issues, who already have other ill family members. And disability is expensive, something we don't talk about, a demon we shut into the closet for fear of upsetting the status quo. We don't talk about lowering the price of items needed, we talk about running Medicare better. We don't speak about developing low cost equipment, not unless Medicare's rates change. We don't talk about ways to make homes accessible or universal design enough. It's not - yet - about the individual consumer with a disability and until it is, disability will be unaffordable.

I once had a woman tell me I looked comfortable in my power chair. "I ought to," I replied. "It cost me almost six thousand dollars."

Let me emphasize - I say this to show the bigger picture - that the price of these items is a real problem when we talk about getting people with disabilities to work. We don't talk about that demon. How can we expect people to pay these prices and, when they rent, bear the cost of making the apartment they rent accessible under the law? How can we ever get independent living off the ground, encourage people to work and buy their own things if we don't lower these astronomical prices and make doing that more affordable? Clearly people know one thing: the disincentives to work built into our system are much stronger than anything else. And, sadly, those who have the best shot at working are those who already come from supportive families who can afford to get them what they need. The American dream for people with disabilities is something I speak up about, because all Americans deserve a shot, not just some.

Well this is why, I suppose, we shouldn't talk about demons. No one wants to hear about them. They just want to hear about angels.

And they're out there. Clearly, they are.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A desire to bless

"Hold constantly as a deep, hallowed, intoned thought that desire to bless, for truly then shall you become a peacemaker."

I suppose others reading this know people in their lives, too, who it reminds them of. I thank those in mine.



Speaking up about the real life impact

Last night I received an email from the SDS list serve and a link to an article from Salon about the "r" word.

I just sent a thank you note to its author because this is what speaking up about the real life impact of slurs is about. It saddens me when some people misunderstand but it doesn't stop me because someone has to speak up. This same philosophy applies to behaviors that are less than helpful in the community toward people with disabilities (check out the video two posts down).

The article is here. And thank you, Lawrence Carter-Long, for passing it along.

Here's a quote, but I hope you'll go read the whole thing.

Here's how it plays out in my world. The other day an electrician, not a tall guy, arrived at our fourth floor walkup complaining, jokingly, about all the stairs. "It's not easy for me and my midget legs," he said with a grin. Was he actually making fun of my sister-in-law, who is an achondroplastic dwarf? Of course not. Would he have said this to her face? No way. He probably didn't even know that the word "midget" is considered deeply offensive by many people with dwarfism. And yet, I cringed.

Ultimately, anti-"retard" activists are trying to do what I didn't do while that fellow fixed our ceiling fan: Say something. Or at least to get people, perhaps especially people like me -- who found the Simple Jack business hilarious precisely because we're so offended by "respectful" films like "Rain Man," and who are deeply aware of the power of words both to pinpoint and to prick -- to at least think twice about the insult's real-life impact.

"People are comfortable using 'retard' as a dis because in the past no one has stood up and said anything in numbers worth counting. Most marginalized groups come from places of family pride and tradition. They are able to stand strong together out of their heritage and make a statement. But people with intellectual disabilities, scattered through different families, are not part of a celebrated culture," says Williamson, who saw "Tropic Thunder" as equal parts outrage and opportunity. "I think today's high-tech world has finally allowed us to take a stand. Perhaps the word has continued to grow in popularity, since there has been no public pressure against it," she suggests. "Until now."

I'd rather be on the sidewalk

Common sidewalk issues for wheelchair users force some into the street, as seen in this video

Thursday, September 18, 2008

10 folks with spinal cord injuries with cameras....

and you have the Photovoice Project. They took pictures about accessibility issues around Charleston SC to educate the public and advocate for change. This project was conducted in partnership with the disAbility Resource Center, a Center for Independent Living in North Charleston, SC

Blind masseurs in South Korea protest

Police arrested 26 protestors who threatened to jump from a bridge after the government decided to allow sighted individuals to be licensed as masseurs.

Since 1963, the law allowed only blind people to practice the profession, Yonhap said.

The protesters said the new policy puts their jobs at risk. There are about 15,000 licensed masseurs in the country, which has a blind population of 216,000.

"Medical massage is almost the only profession that is open to the blind people. The ministry's decision is threatening our right to live," Shim Wook-seop, one of the protesting masseurs, was quoted as saying.

Another blind masseur, Dong Seong-geun, staged a lone protest in front of the Constitutional Court recently.

"I have a wife and two children to support," he told the New York Times.

"If I lose this job, I will have to beg on the streets. How can taking away one job from people who only have one compare with taking one job away from sighted people who have a hundred jobs to choose from?"

The country's Constitutional Court is expected to rule soon on an appeal filed by several sighted people who argued that the profession cannot be the exclusive domain of the blind.

The Massager Association of Korea, representing 120,000 unlicensed masseurs who are working openly and in defiance of the law, is leading the legal challenge.

via cnn.com

Lawsuit alleges autistic students cuffed

Disability Rights North Carolina has filed a federal lawsuit against the Wake County Board of Education and the senior director of special education services, claiming that several autistic students were cuffed and "encouraged to wrestle one another" and bruising resulted which was not properly reported or documented. The incidents occurred at Carroll Middle School in Raleigh, N.C., where it is alleged there was a "WWF" room - a term referring to a vacant room where students were allegedly encouraged to release aggression by wrestling. One student reported to his mother that he saw a teacher wrestle a student to the floor.

The group has also asked for the right to monitor the classroom and student-teacher interactions. To date, the school board has not given student information to the DRNC so they can investigate the claims.

Rittelmeyer believes that part of the reason the school board will not give the requested information is because DRNC is a fairly new agency -- it was instituted by the federal government 15 months ago under a law that exempts such agencies when it comes to privacy laws.

Majestic said that the schools simply want to be certain that they are in compliance with the law.

The likelihood of embarrassment should the alleged abuse be proved, said Rittelmeyer, is another reason he believes the school board is not cooperating.

"I'm not sure they're hiding something -- I think we probably know most of the events that are going on in that classroom -- but to confirm them would be an embarrassment to the school system," said Rittelmeyer.

via abcnews.go.com

The court complaint may be viewed here. It alleges that the wrestling was done with the classroom teacher's knowledge and teaching assistants were directly involved in wrestling with students.

Elizabeth Edwards on Capitol Hill -talking about health care reform

this morning and you can see a clip of it here.

She appeared in front of the Committee on Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on Health. Edwards veered from her prepared remarks to attack Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain on his healthcare policy.

"Neither one of us would be insured under his healthcare plan," she told the committee, an attack she has used frequently against the Arizona Senator, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2000.

"I do think that Sen. McCain's policy does focus excessively on providing a lower cost policy without at the same time guaranteeing a basic level of coverage in that policy or addressing the scope of inclusion for all Americans," Edwards elaborated.

In battling incurable cancer she has made fighting for universal healthcare one of her top priorities. Edwards also participated in a healthcare forum on Tuesday in Philadelphia, Pa.

via blogs.abcnews.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Park in handicap spot - get a criminal record

In the UK.

The city council in Birmingham is taking action against drivers who park illegally in handicap spots by upping fines to 1000 pounds and bringing actions which will leave offenders with a criminal record.

Hundreds of people had already been caught, council leaders told an investigation by BBC's Inside Out in the West Midlands.

A blue badge can only be displayed if the permit holder is using the vehicle.

.....Transport chiefs said the most common misuse was people using badges awarded to their relatives, without the relatives being in the car.

....the city council said it would now start using private prosecutions to bring people to court, which would allow them to impose higher fines and leave the drivers with a criminal record. Extra patrols will also be out on the streets catching those flouting the law.

via news.bbc.co.uk

Giving back: Roynell Young

Former NFL star ((shown at left in his Philadelphia Eagles uniform in a black and white photo) Roynell Young started an afterschool program for kids in his old neighborhood after retirement, that blossomed into a plan for a charter school and more comprehensive assistance to break a cycle of cradle to jail.

In this article, he recalls his own difficulties growing up, the role of faith and the support of community in helping him succeed. Great to hear a story about gratitude this morning.

Through the years, he said, more than 1,000 at-risk young people have arrived at his doors. And early next month, his programs, known collectively as Pro-Vision, a nonprofit organization, will move from a tiny schoolhouse to a 16-acre campus financed by private contributions. Young says he hopes his new campus — with its nature trail, garden, tree farm, amphitheater and N.F.L.-sponsored football field — will help revitalize the city’s Sunnyside community.

Young, the chief executive of Pro-Vision, said he expected the move to occur by the end of this month, but Hurricane Ike foiled that plan last week.

“At the new site, we don’t have power, trees were ripped out of the ground, fences knocked down,” he said by telephone Tuesday, adding that his staff and students were safe.

For Young, who lives in Houston with his wife, Kathleen, and has a son, Roynell Jr., the motivation for all this was personal.

“In a nutshell,” he said, “I’m one of those kids. The only difference is, I had a community to support me.”

via nytimes.com

As the Paralympics close...

the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, receives the International Paralympic flag.

Recent related articles:

University of Illinois has big impact on Paralympics

Beijing Paralympics close with spectacular ceremony

Paralympics Spotlights China's 83 Million Disabled People

Children sing for Games handover

And I'll never forget the torch lighting ceremony, lighting the cauldron in Beijing, shown below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Paralympic results


Australia won the men's wheelchair basketball gold by beating Canada, while the UK defended the bronze medal in a match against the US team.

The US Quad Rugby team won gold, beating Australia and are shown at right, with their gold medals, cheering.

For more Paralympic results, go here.

Teen told can't wear rosary to school

A Dallas school has told a teen that she isn't allowed to wear a rosary that was a gift from her mother to school because rosaries are considered to be gang symbols.

Tabitha Ruiz was stopped by security guards at Seagoville High School in Dallas last week and told to take off the silver and ruby beaded rosary, a gift from her mother. On Monday, the same thing happened when she again came to the school wearing the beads.

"I went to school, walked through the metal detectors and they told me to take it off," the teen said. "I asked them why and they said because it's gang-related."

via foxnews.com
Although rosaries are not specifically banned, it is up to the principal to make the decision.

She and her mother plan to take the case to court if the ruling isn't changed.

"If we back down to everything the gangs are doing, the gangs win," said Taire Ferguson. "Why should we take away her choice to express her religious beliefs because gangs are doing it? It's not right."


And for a commentary by a teen journalist, who saw this controversy at her school,click here.

She writes in part:
Was it really right to tell them to cover their religious symbols? I wear mine all of the time. It may not always be a rosary, but it still has a Catholic cross on it. No one ever said anything to me. Even though our principal may also be a Catholic and Hispanic, I believe there is more to this story than meets the eye.
I think the boys might be misunderstood.
Both have had a rough past, but as far as I know, neither has ever been in a gang. I even had a heart-to-heart conversation with one of them and I learned that he wished he hadn't been rebellious in the past because it has hurt his reputation and he is trying to change. It hurts every time someone does something to make him feel like a gang member; people assume the worst of him because he dresses a certain way. So what if he likes to wear Dickies? Why does it matter if he wears blue, black, white, and brown? Honestly, so do I. But nobody tells me anything about it. So why them? That may have been part of why they reacted the way they did.
I think society lives in a world of stereotypes. It has to stop, and superficial reporting doesn't help.

Cost of living in community cheaper

Arlington news coverage of ADAPT's proposed housing platform noted that the cost of personal care for a person with a disability to stay at home in the community is far less than institutionalizing him/her in a nursing home. As noted in the comment by Stephen Drake, when doing the math it's important to realize that the $19/hour figure applies to eight hours or less of care a day. Most people with less severe disabilities require far fewer hours than that.

You can view a video that appears with the article which, unfortunately, won't embed in my blog, by going to the above link.

What Kind of Advocacy do Americans with Disabilities Really Need?

In a guest post over at Patricia Bauer's blog, Professor Paul Longmore has written an open letter to the disability rights constituency, outlining major points by both Republican and Democratic candidates McCain and Obama.

He writes:

In their convention speeches, Palin, John, and even Cindy McCain focused only on children. The media have talked almost exclusively about children too. What so many people seem to forget is that children with disabilities grow up to become adults. Ninety percent of the 54 million Americans with disabilities are adults. Most acquired their disabilities after childhood.

In addition, the media talk has mostly been about “compassion” not about “issues.” There has been little discussion about issues that matter to people with disabilities of all ages, issues such as health insurance, community-based personal assistance services, education, employment, and civil rights. Research has repeatedly found that voters in the disability constituency — adults with disabilities, parents, and many professionals — decide how they will vote based on candidates’ positions on disability issues. But they are often frustrated in trying to get that information.


and goes on to say:

Obama and Biden have a set of detailed policy proposals called their “Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities.” You can find it on their campaign website. (2) In contrast, the McCain-Palin website’s single page on “Americans with Disabilities for McCain” offers no policy positions. (3) Elsewhere, that website mentions autism and disabled veterans but no other issues. (4) (The Obama-Biden website also lays out policy proposals regarding both autism and disabled veterans.) So I’ve tried to glean McCain’s and Palin’s stands from their speeches, votes, and actions.

And he goes on to do that, in detail, backing up his conclusions, setting forth a great deal of useful information.

This is an important post to read prior to casting your vote. It analyzes the issues point by point, those issues which cause hardship to families and individuals with disabilities who are increasingly struggling to make ends meet.

This is a crucial election, one in which many of us with disabilities are saying that we will vote for the candidate who will represent us best. Dr. Longmore says he is voting for Obama and Biden and explains his own journey through the system of work disincentives that all of us are so familiar with, a system that has kept our employment rate low and our options limited. He writes:

Just as important, Obama promises to establish a National Commission on People with Disabilities, Employment, and Social Security. He will charge this commission to undertake, at long last, the elimination of work disincentives in Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, and Medicaid policies. In addition, Obama pledges to increase substantially federal hiring of workers with disabilities.


Many times it may seem to us that our voices are drowned out. Perhaps you're feeling disempowered because you can't work, can't find accessible housing or can't afford the equipment you need.

Now is the time to look around, read about the candidates' positions on issues that matter to you and cast your vote according to your own conscience. Participate and have your say in this very important election. No matter your circumstances, register, (each state's deadline is different) -even if you vote by absentee ballot because your local voting place is inaccessible or you don't have transportation to get there.

Don't sacrifice your vote because of lack of access - cast your vote for the candidate who will work to help us achieve access.

It is important to remember that our vote counts equally. That, my friends, is what this country is supposed to be about.

Monday, September 15, 2008

US women's teams win Paralympic gold



Members of the US women's wheelchair basketball team celebrate at left, waving the American flag and hugging each other and clapping after winning a gold medal at the Paralympics.

Members of the US women's goal ball team stand in line after winning gold medals, holding bouquets of flowers.

Congratulations to everyone.

Democrats accept ADAPT platform, 8 arrested in McCain campaign hq, 3 outside


From Justice for All blog, American Assoc of People with Disabilities

This update from Bob Kafka, National Organizer of ADAPT (3:58 PM, ET):

Civil Rights done in a different way. 500 ADAPT activists have set up DUH City on the HUD Plaza in DC. WITHOUT A PLACE TO LIVE IT IS HARD TO GET A JOB. Low income people with disabilities are about 15 percent of medium income. ADAPT has developed a housing platform that they want Obama and McCain to endorse.

As I write this ADAPT activists are being arrested in Sen McCain's office as he refused to accept the platform. Earlier in the day DNC officials accepted the ADAPT Platform.

8 arrested in McCain Presidential Campaign Headquarters, 3 outside the Headquarters.

INCLUSION, INTEGRATION INDEPENDENCE

Community First!


[image description at left: ADAPT members hold a sign saying House Us with Dignity while standing in front of an American flag. A cameraman stands to the left holding a camera up in the opposite direction.
image description at right: Officers arrive to arrest and remove ADAPT protestors from Republican candidate McCain's headquarters in Virginia. One officer is next to a power chair, shown from the rear. Several other officers can be seen leaning down toward unseen wheelchair/scooter users.]

UPDATE : More arrests follow

Meredith announces her new book ....

From her blog More Meredith Gould:

For years I've been thinking, researching, and giving public talks about how Judaism's legacy is revealed in the structure and substance of worship at liturgical churches. And for years I've been revising the book proposal. Morehouse, which just released The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today, is publishing my next baby.

I received this happy news on Wednesday from my beloved editor [midwife] who called to say, "Congratulations, you get to work with me again.


Congratulations, Meredith.

The not for TV ratings extreme home makeovers

Last night I watched Extreme Home Makeover, a rerun of a program about two women: a mother of four, her youngest son with Cerebral Palsy and a senior citizen, who was sharing her duplex with them.

On the senior citizen's side, large pieces of plastic were hung on the first floor so she could keep it warmer. Her heating system didn't work.

On the family's side, a makeshift steep ramp was put up so family members could push their growing and increasingly heavier youngest member in his wheelchair. Once inside, he could not move independently since there wasn't room. He had to be lifted up a steep flight of steps, lifted for bathing and, as he grew older, so did his mother.

These are the kinds of issues that can result in institutionalization for people with disabilities. Existing housing cannot accommodate the needs of a member with severe disabilities.

The Extreme Home Makeover team came in, redesigned the homes with an eye toward access, put in lifts and an elevator, a ramp and, as usual, set up an ideal arrangement.

So why oh why after watching the program did I turn off my TV feeling sick to my stomach? Because across my desk comes story after story of people in either institutions or inaccessible homes struggling every day simply to get out of their doors, bathe, sleep and have a bit of dignity in their lives.

Is this how we treat the most vulnerable in our country? Do we choose half a dozen families a year in this plight, turn their lives into a TV show and fix their situations? Is that all we can do? No. I do not believe that and here's why.

In every show, community members show up and help. There are crowds of people who help the contractors and support the crew. Contractors donate their time and services. Companies donate products. They get advertising, they get filmed and - yes- some would say people won't do it without that, but that's not true.

People did it for me. There were no TV cameras. No publicity. Just honest, hardworking folks who gave up their time to help me get a ramp, an accessible kitchen and bathroom and a home in a community. They did it because they cared.

And mine is not the only story like that. But we need more. We need to work together toward affordable and available accessible housing as communities and express our commitment to inclusion, as people of good heart and faith, by letting candidates, members of the Senate, and House of Representatives and other officials know that we have the foresight to realize that our country is facing a housing crisis as baby boomers age, a crisis that already leaves thousands of people institutionalized needlessly or suffering behind closed doors without the ability to leave their homes or bathe.

Dignity is a word that we throw around a lot. But I can assure you, having lived in inaccessible housing for a lengthy period of time before I was helped, there is no dignity where there is no access. The independence you have fought so hard to keep by maximizing your physical abilities is stripped away by physical barriers.

This is not easy stuff to talk about, but we must. I know we aren't a country of people only concerned about getting on TV or selling our products. I know that because I live in an accessible home, the only private accessible rental unit in my community.

The only one. And, perhaps, that is part of why when I turn off the tv I feel sick to my stomach.

We can all do better.

ADAPT Fights Back on Left Behind in Election Year Agendas

Media Advisory:
Monday, September 15, 2008
For Information Contact;
Randy Alexander (901) 359-4982
Marsha Katz (406) 544-9504
ADAPT Fights Back re: Nation's Low Income People with Disabilities Left Behind in Election Year Agendas
Who: ADAPT Community (500 disability rights activists from all over the country.) ADAPT is the nation's largest cross-disability grassroots disability rights organization.
What: News conference to announce opening of DUH City.
When: 10 a.m. on Monday, September 15, 2008
Where: The plaza outside the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
451 7th Street S.W.,=2 0Washington, DC 20410
Why: The 2008 election campaigns have included rhetoric about tax breaks for middle income families, and media coverage has included stories about families who have children with disabilities.
Left out of all the election rhetoric are the candidates' positions on and commitments to those babies with disabilities who grow into adults with disabilities who all-too-often survive on extremely low incomes (less than 30% of the median income). These extremely low incomes are often the fixed benefit amounts of SSI and Social Security.
In 2006, according to Priced Out in 2006, the federal SSI benefit was $603/month and the average cost nationally of renting a studio/efficiency apartment was $633/month.
There are not enough AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE, INTEGRATED housing units to handle the current demand in communities across America. When the Community Choice Act (S 799, H.R. 1621) passes, and older and disabled people can choose to live in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing homes and other institutions, the need for affordable, accessible housing will increase. And as the baby-boomers continue to age, the demand will grow exponentially.
HUD, Congress and the Administration have broken promises, cut funding for housing stock and housing subsidies and enforcement of anti-discrimination housing laws, and simply ignored the nation's low-income people with disabilities altogether.
ADAPT has established "DUH City" (reverse of HUD) to bring attention to and document the struggle of low income people with disabilities. When the average rent for even an efficiency apartment is more than your monthly income……where do you wind up? All too often you're forced out on the street or into a nursing home or other institution. DUH!
From May 1, 2007 Meeting with HUD secretary Jackson in which he says fair housing is a right....

so why isn't it an election issue?



In 1999, the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of people with disabilities to live in community settings in the Olmstead case. Here's a brief history:


Here is the ADAPT Housing platform. [pdf file] or a summary in non pdf form.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Notre Dame 2-0


..after a win over Michigan on Saturday, during which Coach Weis, pictured at left with his son, got tackled by a player on the sidelines and wound up with a serious knee injury and on crutches.

The players gave him the Gatorade treatment on the sidelines after the win - sure to make him feel better- and then gathered for the traditional ceremony at the end of the stadium. Weis says he'll postpone surgery and will be at next week's game against Michigan State.

Notre Dame capitalized on a game full of Michigan turnovers - something they couldn't have done last season for the 35-17 win.

Charlie Weis is a proud dad of a daughter with special needs and their organization, Hannah & Friends, can be found here.

The organization runs an Awareness & Compassion campaign and also provides grants to families and individuals with special needs in certain geographic locations.

Taylor and Wagner repeat gold medal performance in wheelchair tennis


Nick Taylor (pictured at left) and his partner David Wagner won the gold in Quad doubles wheelchair tennis at the Paralympics - after facing each other in singles hours before, where Wagner won the bronze medal.

UPDATE September 14: Peter Norfolk of the UK won the quad singles gold medal and is pictured at right.

For more Paralympic wheelchair tennis news and results (and photos), click here.

In more US Paralympic team news:

The US Women's basketball team advanced to gold round play.

Lindsey Carmichael won a bronze in Women's Archery.

The US wheelchair rugby team picked up their second win.

Swimmers Justin Zook and Bizzell won gold and silver, respectively, in their events.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike: In its wake


[image description: Waves crash and water flows over the memorial to the Galveston Flood of 1900 as Hurricane Ike approached Galveston last night.]
Photo from the Chronicle, where more articles, videos and photos appear.

Archdiocese of Miami's efforts to aid US and Haitian hurricane victims

Catholic Charities' federally funded pilot program to aid hurricane victims, started with Gustav

Donations to Catholic Charities can be made here

To donate to other organizations or volunteer to assist hurricane victims, click here.

Lone holdout in Surfside watches refrigerator, car float by

Galveston off limits during search and rescue

Houston SPCA launches animal rescue

Houston Airport: No flights today, no decision yet for tomorrow