Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Exclusion of student with DS from college class sparks concern

November 26th, 2010

Protest continues to mount over a decision by Southern Oregon University to exclude a non-credit student with Down syndrome from an introductory ceramics course. The decision comes almost 35 years after the enactment of federal legislation that opened public school doors to students with disabilities.

More than 700 people have signed an online petition urging the reinstatement of 20-year-old Eliza Schaaf. An online column by San Francisco school board member Rachel Norton on SFGate.com called the university’s decision “appalling.”

College officials abruptly withdrew Schaaf from the course last month, saying that she is not qualified to meet the academic standards necessary to participate. Alissa Arp, dean of SOU’s college of arts and sciences, wrote in a letter to Schaaf that her presence in the class had resulted in a “disruption of curriculum delivery and interfered with the teaching and learning environment for the instructor and other students.” Schaaf had attended Ashland High School and had been fully included in her educational career up until that time.

SOU dean of students Laura O’Bryan upheld the decision this week in a letter that referred to Schaaf’s enrollment as a “novel situation.”

“The non-admitted policy was not designed or intended to provide an avenue for participation to individuals who are not otherwise qualified for admission to SOU,” O’Bryan wrote.

Norton, a former member of the San Francisco Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, noted that Eliza’s family had apparently made a reasonable effort to prepare the university and assure that the young woman had an orderly transition to college life.

An excerpt from Norton’s column:

I hereby wish to invoke the power of the Internets to show Southern Oregon University how wrong-headed they are by failing to see the benefits (let alone the moral imperative) of including a person with a disability.

… 35 years after the signing of IDEA, students who have experienced inclusive environments throughout their K-12 educations are now knocking on the doors of colleges like yours. Eventually, they’re going to gain access. Wouldn’t it be better if you figured out a way to welcome them?

Related commentary:

An editorial from the [Medford, Oregon] Mail Tribune says Schaaf should be allowed to complete the course, but the editorial writers leave open the question of whether the university has an obligation to serve what they call an “unusual” student. An excerpt:

… While it is difficult from the outside to understand all the issues in this case – SOU isn’t talking about it – it’s clear that universities should be able to bar some students from some classes. Even students who graduate from high school have no intrinsic right to a college education: It’s for those who can meet the academic requirements of entry.
But the university does bear responsibility for making clear who can and can’t attend.

… [The family's] experience speaks not necessarily to whether Schaaf’s presence in the class was appropriate but to how well the university was, or wasn’t, able to handle an unusual student’s desire to enroll.

The university ought to let Schaaf finish out the term in ceramics – and then turn its attention to addressing that issue long-term.

Related coverage:

A website maintained by Eliza Schaaf’s family carries many messages of support.

Obit: Paul Steven Miller, law professor and disability advocate

October 21st, 2010

From the New York Times:

After graduating at the top of his class at Harvard Law School in the 1980s, Paul Steven Miller was rejected by more than 40 law firms before he was able to find work. The reason: Miller was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. One hiring partner told him that clients would think the firm was running a “circus freak show” if they took him on.

Miller, who went on to become a law professor, advisor to presidents and leader in the disability rights movement, died Tuesday of cancer. He was 49, and was widely recognized as an expert on the intersection of disability law, employment discrimination and genetic science.

An excerpt from the New York Times obituary:

Drew Hansen, an adjunct lecturer who taught with Mr. Miller, said his colleague had long been concerned about the carrying out of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. “He believed that judicial interpretations of the A.D.A. were more restrictive than they had been of civil rights laws because there was not a similarly visible mass social movement,” Mr. Hansen said.

In recent years, Mr. Miller focused on tensions between disability rights and genetic science. In a paper titled “Avoiding Genetic Genocide,” Mr. Miller criticized scientists for what he saw as their eagerness to use genetics to produce “perfect” humans.

“Good health is not the absence of a disability,” he wrote. “Scientists caught up in the excitement of genetic discovery can forget that life with a disability can still be a rich and fulfilling life.”

Earlier posts here.

See also: Miller presentation at Georgia State University College of Law: “Good Intentions and Eugenics: Avoiding Genetic Genocide.” With audio.

UPDATE

See also:

US Airways ejects man with wheelchair: ‘Too disabled to fly’

October 20th, 2010

From ABC News, CNN, Grand Rapids [MI] Press:

Johnnie Tuitel, a motivational speaker who uses a wheelchair, says he was forced to leave a recent US Airways flight before takeoff because flight personnel had decided that he was “too disabled to fly.”

Tuitel, who has cerebral palsy, said the incident occurred last month while he was waiting for his flight to take off from Palm Beach, headed for a speaking engagement in Kansas City, Mo. He said he was told that he could not stay on the flight unless he had an attendant with him. Tuitel was removed from the flight and missed his engagement.

US Airways said the decision to deplane Tuitel was because of safety concerns.

:”We just felt it wasn’t safe for him to fly that day, unassisted,” said spokesman Todd Lehmacher. “Our number-one priority, of course, is safety. We transport 80 million passengers a year. The crew just felt it wasn’t safe for him to fly.”

… “I just think that my civil rights were violated, and that I should have the same rights to fly as any other citizen so that I can do business,” Tuitel said in a press release. “All I want to do as speaker is to make a living and take care of my family.”

By Marybeth Hicks, writing in the Washington Times:

Being the reluctant flier that I am, and having visited Mr. Tuitel’s website and watched his videos, I would sit next to him on any flight. Most emergencies require strength of character, courage, tenacity and a sense of humor. It’s clear US Airways kicked off the most able of its passengers that day.

Georgia settles ADA suit over confinement of people with disabilities

October 19th, 2010

From the Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AP/New York Times:

In a decision that is being hailed as a historic step toward enforcing the rights of people with disabilities, the state of Georgia has reached an agreement with the Justice Department to move many people with mental illness or developmental disabilities out of state psychiatric hospitals and into their communities.

The agreement, which settles a lawsuit alleging that the state was engaging in illegal segregation of people with disabilities, follows a federal investigation that found an “alarming frequency” of preventable deaths, suicides and assaults in the hospitals. From the LA Times:

As part of the agreement, Georgia will stop admitting people with developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome and autism, into its state hospitals by July 1, 2011. The state will move all developmentally disabled patients from state hospitals to “community settings” by July 1, 2015.

The state must also expand community-based services for about 9,000 mentally ill patients.

“This is a monumental step forward for people with mental illness,” said C. Talley Wells, an attorney with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, one of a number of advocacy groups that worked with the Justice Department under friend-of-the-court status. “No longer will people be confined in a state hospital who could be living much fuller lives in the community.”

More colleges welcome students with intellectual disabilities

October 18th, 2010

From AP/Boston Herald:

While college programs for students with intellectual disabilities were almost nonexistent as recently as a decade ago, there are now more than 250 of them spread across campuses in more than three dozen states and two Canadian provinces.

Experts say the change has come about in response to demand from the first generation of students with disabilities who got full access to education in their local school districts, a right guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

New federal funding rules, which will allow students with intellectual disabilities to receive grants and work-study money, are expected to prompt the creation of even more programs.

Disability advocates say the programs will help students get better jobs, even if they do not earn degrees. Critics call the programs a waste of tax dollars, and charge that they devalue the college experience of students without disabilities.

For more information, see Think College at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Government crackdown on autism ‘therapies’

October 14th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Washington Post

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned eight companies to stop marketing unproven over-the-counter chelation”therapies” as treatments for autism, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. The products’ distributors have claimed they cure a range of diseases by removing heavy metals from the body.

“These products are dangerously misleading because they are targeted to patients with serious conditions and limited treatment options,” said Deborah Autor, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA must take a firm stand against companies who prey on the vulnerability of patients seeking hope and relief.”

A series of articles in the Chicago Tribune found widespread evidence that parents of children with autism were using chelation on their children, even though it has not been found to be safe and effective.

Touchdown video seen round the world

October 14th, 2010

Steve Kelley, Seattle Times columnist, reflects on Ike Ditzenberger, the 17-year-old high school football player with Down syndrome whose touchdown run was captured on video and circulated around the globe. At last count, the Youtube clip documenting Ike’s effort had gotten more than 2.36 million views.

Writes Kelley: Ditzenberger’s touchdown, which he accomplished with the active support of both teams, was “a reminder of everything that is good about sports and about life.” An excerpt:

Ike’s story is about much more than this one football play.

It is a reminder of the infinite capacity of the human heart. It is about Mark Perry’s compassion. It is about the ability of the young players from Lake Stevens to understand the importance of the moment and act selflessly when it would have been so easy to be selfish.

It is about the Snohomish team’s unconditional love of their teammate and about Ike’s parents’ love for their child.

“We’ve seen Ike brighten,” Kay Ditzenberger said. “He no longer sits in the back at the assembly. He’s right there in the front row. Football has elevated his self-opinion. He doesn’t feel different. He doesn’t perceive his handicap. They’ve given him the gift of normalcy.

“They (Snohomish players) set aside the handicap and saw the person first. They recognize the handicap secondly and they accommodate and adapt to that.”

See also:

  • Time magazine
  • Seattle Times video. Includes interview with coach Mark Perry: ‘I think this is a moment when the humanity and the sportsmanship shine through.’
  • Seattle Times story: Ike’s prom date with Emily Zylstra, the homecoming princess and Snohomish County Dairy Princess.

About the Site

More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

Join journalist Patricia E. Bauer as she seeks to bring you the best information about what's happening now and what it may mean for you and your loved ones.

Read More »

Search

Categories

Read More »

Not2BeMissed

Read More »

Entertainment

Read More »

School Restraints

Read More »

Prenatal Diagnosis

Read More »

Obama Administration

Read More »

My Articles & Essays

Read More »

FAQs

 

Headlines

Read More »

News2Use

Read More »

Mailing List

Sign up for our mailing list!





RSS Our RSS Feed



Archives
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007