Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for November, 2008

Travel week

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

A year and a half and more than 2.5 million page views later, I’ve decided to do the unthinkable.

I’ll be on vacation for the next week, back December first.

With best wishes to all for a happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving.

Nebraska law exposes gaps in mental health care

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Parents leave despair at state’s doorstep

From the Los Angeles Times:

Children’s advocates and parents say Nebraska’s safe-haven law has brought public attention to a long-standing problem: desperate families who struggle to raise mentally ill children with minimal help from the government.

Nebraska has become notorious for being the one place in the country where parents are allowed to abandon children up to age 18. It is expected to amend the measure to allow abandonment only of infants up to 30 days of age. Thirty-five children, almost all of them 11 or older and most with mental health problems, have been abandoned since the law went into effect in September.

“It has been a blessing in disguise,” state Sen. Amanda McGill, who chairs the committee, said of the response to the safe-haven law. “It has brought to light a serious problem.”

“These parents were at wit’s end,” McGill said. “People don’t want to give up their kids. They just want to get them help.”

UPDATE: Governor signs age limit for safe haven law — AP/Houston Chronicle

School board suspends teacher who let class vote out autistic student

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

From Fox News, the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

A Florida school board has voted unanimously to suspend without pay the teacher who allowed her kindergartners to vote to eject a student with autism from her class.

St. Lucie County Superintendent of Schools Michael Lannon wrote a letter stating that Wendy Portillo’s actions “caused community and, in fact, worldwide outrage and condemnation.”

Earlier posts here.

Children’s mental health care lagging

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

From USA Today:

Top officials in more than one in five states say children with serious mental health problems are not receiving good care in their states, according to a new survey from Columbia University.

The report “gives us reason to be extremely concerned about children’s mental health,” says Michael Hogan, commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Economic woes cause cuts in disability services

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Advocates say low-income people may face nursing homes

From the Wall Street Journal:

Budget shortfalls are causing states to cut support services for the elderly and people with disabilities, making it tougher for many to continue living on their own.

At least 15 states, including Alabama, Virginia, and Massachusetts, are cutting programs that allow people to receive personal care services in their own homes, according to the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Long waiting lists for services are getting longer as a result, and many elderly and disabled people will have to pay for services themselves or move into more restrictive and expensive nursing homes that continue to receive funding. In surveys, people with disabilities and the elderly say they prefer remaining in their communities rather than living in nursing homes. Nursing homes cost far more per person than community-based care.

“The call volume is increasing exponentially and the people are desperate,” says Sarah Lightell, chief operating officer at the Senior Resource Alliance, which uses state funds to provide home-care services to the elderly in central Florida.

See earlier posts about budget cuts in Illinois, Massachusetts, CaliforniaFlorida and Pennsylvania.

Sequenom sees big market in prenatal testing for autism, other conditions

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

From CNN Money:

San Diego-based Sequenom, Inc. is best known for a prenatal test designed to detect Down syndrome, but its chief executive said this week that the company sees an even bigger opportunity in genetic testing for inherited diseases like autism, heart ailments, cystic fibrosis and birth defects.

Speaking at the annual Lazard Capital Markets health care conference, Harry Stylli said the market for testing for prenatal chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome could be $3 billion to $5 billion worldwide, but he expected the market for the other disorders to be bigger.

They would be detected through testing for tiny variations in the genetic code called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or “snips.” Stylli said that about 6 percent of all babies have a birth defect, and 30 percent of those are due to an inherited condition.

“There are many other things that you’d like to be able to test for,” Charles Cantor, Sequenom’s chief scientific officer, said in a telephone interview. “Down’s is the single most common fetal defect, but it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Earlier posts start here.

Troubled CA school district moves toward special ed reform

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

From the Santa Monica Daily Press, Santa Monica Lookout News:

Parents in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District for the first time have an official special education parent handbook.

Producing such a document might seem like a simple task, but in this case it took an outside investigation, the withholding of half a million dollars in city funds, a school district shakeup and the departure of the school district’s superintendent and its head of special education to get the job done.

The first handbook was presented to parent activist Tricia Crane this week in a ceremony designed to honor her service and underscore the district’s newfound commitment to “Creating Unity through Collaboration” with parents of students with disabilities. The moment marked a profound turnabout for a community that earlier this year heard scores of parents testify that its special education department was pitting family against family, and creating a culture of coercion, secrecy and fear in which children’s needs went unmet.

For students of local government in general and special education in particular, Santa Monica’s special ed revolution offers one example of how parent advocates can bring about change – a process that took more than a decade here.


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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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