Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for December, 2007

‘Bucket List’: Two cancers, only one is (mostly) accurate

Monday, December 31st, 2007

By Dr. Marc Siegel in the Los Angeles Times:

The premise of ‘The Bucket List’: Two men (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) are diagnosed with cancer and told they have a year to live. They decide to live out all their fantasies before they die.

What you need to know: This is Hollywood, not real life. The writers of the film have significant gaps in their medical knowledge. Siegel points out the inaccuracies.

Fan is hired, not merely to inspire

Monday, December 31st, 2007

From the New York Times:

Brian Kajiyama is the graduate assistant coach to the University of Hawaii Warriors. (Earlier post here.) Kajiyama uses a motorized wheelchair and a computer-assisted speaking device.

… the Hawaii players and coaches emphasize that Kajiyama’s contributions to the program go beyond inspiration. He fills the role of a typical graduate assistant, putting together scouting reports, breaking down film and gathering news media clips of a coming opponent from the Internet.

“It’s not just like he sits in the chair and we roll him out here and say, ‘Look at the poor cripple kid,’” Jeff Reinebold, the Hawaii defensive line coach, said. (more…)

FDA flip-flop mobilizes prostate cancer patients to activism

Monday, December 31st, 2007

From the Los Angeles Times:

After fast-tracking the end-stage cancer medication Provenge, the federal Food and Drug Administration changed its mind. The turnaround outraged many men with prostate cancer, and motivated patient advocacy groups to stage rallies against the FDA. Activists also called for greater access to experimental drugs.

Some activists say the events could mark the beginning of a new era of patient advocacy. Others are dismayed by the occasional ugliness of the debate, which included death threats against two members of FDA advisory panels.

“This has really kick-started the prostate cancer community and given us some motivation and focus,” says Jan Manarite, a Raise a Voice volunteer and Florida educational facilitator with the Prostate Cancer Research Institute, or PCRI, a nonprofit education and research organization on prostate cancer. “I think we’re finally learning about advocacy. I hope this experience helps us learn how to work effectively with the FDA.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up …

Monday, December 31st, 2007

McCartney look-alike performs for, encourages fellow Parkinson’s patients

From the Chicago Tribune:

Mike Oltersdorf is a Paul McCartney look-alike who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years ago.

Oltersdorf’s presentations to Parkinson’s support groups — using Beatles lyrics and a phrase he plucked from a McDonald’s placemat: “Do something worth remembering” — are meant to encourage fellow Parkinson’s sufferers to reach out to others and to continue doing what they love.

“This is about expanding possibilities,” said the West Dundee man who works as a telemarketer for a machine tool company. “I like to tell people I look a bit like Paul McCartney and I shake like Michael J. Fox.”

Waiting too late to test?

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Parents protest as D.C. area schools delay learning-disability screening in hopes of avoiding costly special education

From the Washington Post:

Educators are increasingly seeking to address learning difficulties in mainstream classes, rather than addressing them through special education classes that may cost twice as much.

One method, called “response to intervention” or RTI, targets students with problems early on and offers them extra instruction or tutoring. Such students are considered for special education if they don’t improve after a series of increasingly intensive measures. RTI-influenced strategies have led to a significant drop in the number of special education students in many districts.

The new approach has led to a backlash among parents who say their children aren’t getting the help they need. A parent-led advisory committee told the Loudoun School Board in the fall that the school system appeared to be under-identifying students who should qualify for special education.

How a school in Florida got mainstreaming right

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Grades rose amid push to include the disabled

Another in an occasional series in the Wall Street Journal:

The experiences of a school district in Okaloosa County, Florida, illuminate a path toward the successful inclusion of students with disabilities alongside their typical peers.

Since its aggressive inclusion push began in 2001, the Okaloosa district has become one of Florida’s top academic performers, with 32 of its 36 schools receiving A grades on the most recent state assessments. The ranks of disabled students who pass state achievement tests have grown, while discipline problems among them have diminished: 2% have faced out-of-school suspensions so far this academic year, down from 11% before the reforms began.

Okaloosa has managed such progress even while spending less than other districts across Florida. According to the most recent state data, Okaloosa spends just over $9,400 a year per special-education student in state and local funds — nearly $1,300 less than the state average.

… In the mainstreaming landscape, observers say Okaloosa stands out for its unusual push to get special-education students to tackle more challenging class work and provide extra help and training to general-education teachers.

See earlier stories here and here and here.

Nike shines spotlight on wheelchair basketball

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

A new Nike commercial features UW-Whitewater athlete Matt Scott, who pummels a pair of basketballs as he reels off all of the possible excuses for not working out.

Then, the camera pans down to the … way Scott is different than most of us: He’s been in a wheelchair his whole life, because he was born with spinal bifida.


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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.

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