Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for February, 2008

Business strategy: Tap into motivated pool of disabled workers

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Writing in Entrepreneur.com, Mark Henricks quotes experts as saying that workers with disabilities represent a large, untapped pool of potential workers at a time when many businesses are complaining of a worker shortage. Twenty percent of the population has some sort of disability, and more than 65 percent of them say they are unemployed or underemployed.

The bad things that employers worry about when hiring a disabled worker rarely happen. Many are concerned about having to build wheelchair ramps, modify employee restrooms or make similarly costly modifications.

But the cost of accommodating disabled employees is typically zero, according to a 2007 study reported by Job Accommodation Network, a government agency. The same study reported many benefits for the employer, from improved employee retention to a larger customer base.

Company helps those with limb loss compete in extreme sports

Friday, February 29th, 2008

amputee skateboarding

From Entrepreneur.com:

Athlete Eric Robinson has helped build a $10 million prosthetic foot company, but he didn’t stop there. He also led College Park Industries of Michigan to found the O&P Extremity Games — referring to orthotics and prosthetics — open to people who have lost a limb or have some sort of limb difference.

Many of College Park’s customers are older people who have diabetes and lose a foot to gangrene, but there are a number of young, athletic people who have lost limbs in accidents. It was that demographic that Robinson and his 55 employees found themselves talking to in recent years about the company’s high-tech product, which costs around $6,000.

“We were always talking to people wearing the product, and they were all telling us how they would participate in sporting events,” says Robinson. “They were skateboarding, skydiving, and they’d tell us that our product enabled them to go out and continue doing extreme events.”

The Extremity Games include such events as rock climbing, surfing and kayaking.

Critiques of UNC prof’s views on Down syndrome

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Down syndrome weddingUNC Prof. Albert Harris recently told his biology class that older women should terminate pregnancies if Down syndrome is diagnosed.

Two op-eds from the Charlotte [North Carolina] News & Observer:

Out of touch on Down syndrome

Ellen Russell, who recently celebrated her 29-year-old daughter Emily’s marriage (photo at left), questions Prof. Harris’ assertion that a child with Down syndrome had “ruined” the lives of a family of his acquaintance. She says such a statement misses the lesson of the last thirty-plus years of advocacy by families of people with intellectual disabilities.

Perhaps that family could never access what it needed in the educational, social, day-care, employment or medical systems. Perhaps it didn’t have the encouragement of family, neighbors and friends. It is impossible for me to accept that it was the child who ruined their lives. I can give a hundred personal examples of families whose lives have flourished and benefited from the experience of having a child with Down syndrome.
(more…)

Critics, supporters debate Latimer ‘mercy killing’ ruling

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Disability advocates fear appearance of leniency puts vulnerable at risk; Latimer’s supporters call for legal reforms

From the [Toronto] Star:

People with disabilities are expressing fear and disbelief over public reaction to the day parole of Robert Latimer. The Saskatchewan farmer had served seven years of a life sentence on a second-degree murder conviction after asphyxiating his daughter in the cab of his truck. Twelve-year-old Tracy had cerebral palsy.

… Advocates for people with disabilities are concerned any appearance of leniency may put other vulnerable people at risk.

… The Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a Winnipeg-based legal advocacy group, believes “Tracy and her right to life have been forgotten” in the public reaction to the case.

… “This isn’t about one man,” says Anna MacQuarrie, policy analyst at the Canadian Association for Community Living. “Tracy had a serious disability, not a terminal illness. Robert Latimer did have alternatives. It’s time to focus on the bigger issue and that is attitudes to disabilities.”

From the London [Ontario] News Free-Press:

Member of Parliament Joe Comartin said the development is bound to ignite parliamentary debate, but called it a “cop-out” to look at legalizing assisted suicide or lenient sentences for mercy killings without first addressing inadequate community support resources.
(more…)

Sedi Penna: High school cheerleader has Down syndrome

Friday, February 29th, 2008

From WHAG TV, NBC 25, in Hagerstown, Maryland, with video:

Sedi Penna’s parents were shocked when she came home from school and said she wanted to be a member of the cheerleading team.

“I recruit girls all the time, Sedi (pronounced like “Sadie”) was in my aerobics class and she did a wonderful job. I noticed she picked up rhythm,” says Brunswick Health teach and Cheerleading Coach Jean Moore. “So just like I recruit any other girl, I asked Sedi if she would be interested in trying out and she did. I was proud of her it was not easy for her to do.”

While the coach reached out to Sedi, it then fell to the members of the team to make her feel like part of their family.

“I think everyone was like — a little shocked at first but then we were like really excited. We were kind of wondering how it would affect us,” says senior Heather Masser. “But I think it really made everyone stronger.”

“We kind of thought like other people would be kind of iffy about it,” says junior Tia Musselman.  (more…)

With an iron will, he finds a way

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Dustin CarterFrom the New York Times:

Dustin Carter, a high school senior from Goshen, Ohio, wrestles unlike any of his opponents. Carter had multiple amputations at the age of 5, the result of a blood infection. He’s in the Ohio Division II wrestling quarterfinals, with a 41-2 record for the season for Hillsboro High School.

“I don’t look at myself as different,” said Carter, who uses prosthetic legs when he is not wrestling. “I wrestle like anybody else. I go to school like anybody else. I can live on my own like anybody else. I can do anything anybody else can do. I don’t like people feeling sorry for me. Some people do.”

Few Latinos with mental disorders get treatment

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Stigma of illness a barrier in seeking help

From the Stockton [CA] Record:

According to a national study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, people from Latino families are unlikely to get treatment for mental illness. Among Latinos with mental disorders, the group found that fewer than one in 11 seeks mental health care specialists. That number went down to fewer than one in 20 among Latino immigrants with mental disorders.

Much of this can be attributed to a lack of education and a stigma attached to mental illness among Latino families, said a NAMI spokeswoman. The families tend to attribute the symptoms of mental illness to witchcraft, demon possession, drug abuse or alcohol abuse.

“It’s easier to believe these things than to believe that your loved one has a mental illness,” she said. “They (would) rather believe it’s something that will go away.”

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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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