Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for January, 2009

Column: ‘Disability Bitch vs. Presidents’

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Dick Cheney and aide, BBC photoCommenting on the media’s coverage of the inauguration, satirical BBC Ouch! columnist Disability Bitch says she hated the disparaging metaphors used to describe former vice president Dick Cheney’s use of a wheelchair. (She also wasn’t happy that Barack Obama didn’t refer to people with disabilities in his speech.)

An excerpt:

Um. Blimey. I was unaware until reading all this that using a mobility aid signified so many disastrous things. There was I thinking that a wheelchair was nothing more than a useful means of getting around when one’s body fails to cooperate with one’s life. Apparently I’ve been wrong all this time, and in fact it signifies total economic meltdown and failure. I stand corrected and have since been looking at all my Abnormal friends in a new light. I’m certainly not going to trust them with my handbag or lend them any money.

To be honest, I’m glad the commentators spelled out what the wheelchair symbolizes. If they hadn’t done so, I would’ve imagined Cheney’s injury represented other things more commonly associated with disabled people. Perhaps that America was incontinent, useless, committing benefit fraud and leeching off the state. Good luck, President Obama.

See also:

Helen Henderson: Injured Cheney spurs negative response – Toronto Star

Earlier posts here and here.

Health care reinstated for Canadian woman

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

From CTV Toronto, Sudbury [Ontario] Star:

Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen of Sudbury, Ontario, who lost home health care over two months ago, will have her services reinstated on Monday. She has ALS and Asperger’s syndrome. Officials stepped in to work out a solution after home health nurses stopped treating Mettinen-Kekalainen due to “erratic behavior.”

France Gelinas, a member of Ontario’s provincial parliament, said the case would provide an impetus for the province to take a hard look at its home-care system. Care is provided by for-profit companies that bid competitively for government contracts.

“There has to be policy change in the way home-care services are delivered in this province,” Gelinas said.

“Otherwise there will be more and more Minnas out there, and this is not acceptable.”

See also: Debate a wasted opportunity – Sudbury Star

Earlier posts here and here.

Study: Broader prenatal genetic testing desired

Friday, January 30th, 2009

From the Journal of Genetic Counseling (original article by subscription only), Medpagetoday.com:

In a recent survey of 999 people who sought genetic counseling, a majority were eager for a wider spectrum of prenatal genetic tests, according to a recent study led by Feighanne Hathaway of New York University School of Medicine.

Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said they would screen for mental retardation, and more than half said they would screen for deafness (54%), blindness (56%), heart disease (52%) and cancer (51%).

Respondents were also asked whether they would test for diseases that caused death within a defined period of time after birth. Some 49.3% said they would screen for a condition that caused death by the age of five.

Other conditions for which some respondents wanted genetic testing: athletic ability (10%), superior intelligence (12.6%), height (10.4%) and longevity (9.2%).

Ethicist: ‘Doctors should do more to avoid octuplets’

Friday, January 30th, 2009

From National Public Radio:

As a woman gave birth to octuplets at a hospital near Los Angeles on Monday, she let loose an intense debate about the ethics of megamultiple births.

… “I don’t know any case where some of the children were not severely disabled,” Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania tells NPR’s Madeleine Brand.

Caplan said the case raises a host of ethical questions about fertility treatments and multiple births: the likelihood of disabilities among the babies, the use of hospital resources, and the high cost of medical care to the mother and babies.

See also:

Octuplets’ mother already has twins, four other children — Los Angeles Times

Octuplets’ family filed for bankruptcy — CBS News

NC advocates demand mental health reform

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Randy Powell, left, and other demonstratorsFrom News 14 Carolina:

Members of North Carolina’s Disability Action Network demonstrated outside a breakfast for lawmakers this week to demand major reforms in the way the state’s mental health system cares for people with disabilities.

The protest follows a rash of problems at North Carolina’s mental hospitals. At Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro recently, a patient fell after taking his medication and then sat alone for 24 hours, neglected by nurses, until he died.

“We are all one people, and when you hurt one of us, all of us are going to get upset,” Disability Action Network executive director Michael Murray said.

See also:

Patient buried before Cherry filed report to pathologist — Raleigh News & Observer

Another Cherry mishap — editorial in Raleigh News & Observer. An excerpt:

Unfortunately, Cherry’s problems are many, so many that federal officials have pulled the hospital’s accreditation, meaning the state has lost $800,000 a month in federal funding. State officials — who say they’re working on straightening out mental health although they need funds and staff beyond what the legislature is likely to provide — are working to get the money back. That’s fine, but they cannot tolerate a failure to follow the rules in any of these institutions.

Earlier post here.

See News & Observer series on the state’s mental institutions:

Mental disorder: The failure of reform

With video. (Photo from News 14)

Another student with disability left on NY school bus

Friday, January 30th, 2009

From the New York Daily News:

A 4-year-old boy with a disability was left unattended on a school bus parked outside the home of his bus driver after the driver and matron failed to drop him off at his preschool in Brooklyn.

The boy, Kamaal Richards, was spotted by an observer who called for help and turned the child over to police.  “It could have been an honest mistake,” she said, “but how does anyone miss a child on a bus?”

The driver and matron were suspended by their company and face a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child, according to police sources. The incident comes less than a month after a 22-year-old man with cerebral palsy was left strapped into a New York school bus overnight in freezing temperatures.

Earlier posts here, here, and here.

Gadgets make the world more accessible

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Hand-held sign language translator courtesy of Krown ManufacturingFrom National Public Radio:

An array of gadgets are becoming available to make the world more accessible for people who are blind or deaf.

For those who are deaf, developers are creating technology that uses American Sign Language (ASL). Viable has created a portable product called VPAD+,  a videophone that uses voice technology and live interpreters to translate ASL. Krown Manufacturing has developed a hand-held sign language translator to teach ASL with video demonstrations of signs.

Some gadgets available for those who are blind include: a talking GPS system; software that enables a cell phone to read printed text aloud;  and voice menus on the Apple Nano.

See also:

Some Technology Leaves The Blind Behind- National Public Radio

Earlier posts here and here.

(NPR photo of hand-held sign language translator,  Krown Manufacturing)

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.

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