Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for April, 2009

Critics say bill restricts sexual freedom for adults with disabilities

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

From the Boston Globe:

A Massachusetts bill that was intended to protect vulnerable people from sexual exploitation has stirred widespread protest among senior citizens and people with disabilities, who say it could instead criminalize self-expression.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, says people over age 60 and people with disabilities who have been declared mentally incompetent cannot give consent to erotic photographs. Other parts of the bill use the term “elders and persons with a disability” without referring to mental competence or consent.

Critics say the generalized language perpetuates stereotypes about people with disabilities as asexual or childlike, and potentially infringes on free speech rights.

Reinstein said the bill’s language was written by legislative committee, and will probably be changed in response to the criticism before it comes to a vote.

Hawaiians with disabilities struggle to find work

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

From the Honolulu Advertiser:

People with disabilities, who have traditionally suffered significantly higher unemployment rates than typical workers, are now finding themselves shut out of basic, entry-level employment in Hawaii. Making matters worse:  state budget cuts are cutting funds from the vocational programs that people with disabilities need to prepare themselves for the workplace.

“When the economy is bad, the impact is usually felt most by anyone on the fringe or anyone in a marginalized group that needs extra support or assistance,” said Robert Stodden, director of the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies.

Even when the economy improves, Stodden said, the disruption in vocational training will cause long-term employment difficulties for people with disabilities.

Missing boy with Asperger’s turns up — on the other coast

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Kenton Weaver, photo from Palm Beach PostYoung teen stole dad’s car, then caught flights from Florida to California by himself; How’d he get through security with no ID?

From the San Jose Mercury News, MSNBC, ABC-News, Palm Beach Post:

Thirteen-year-old Kenton Weaver, who has Asperger’s, managed to get from his home in Boca Raton, Florida, all the way to San Jose, California, this week by himself before being discovered.

Kenton stole his dad’s Ford Explorer and drove himself 30 miles to the Fort Lauderdale airport. He then boarded a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago with a ticket he apparently bought with his dad’s credit card, using his report card for identification. When he got to Chicago, he switched to a connecting flight.

He was found by a security officer at a ticket counter at the San Jose airport. The boy’s mother lives nearby.

The youngster has always been a bit of wanderer, his mother said as she headed north to meet with her son.

“Even at four- or five years old we’ve have problems with this” with him leaving home, that is, she said. “He’s very bright, but at the same time has very little common sense and few inhibitions.”

See also: Six tips for traveling with an autistic child — Time magazine

(Photo from Palm Beach Post)

‘Lord of the Flies’ attack targeted boy with disabilities

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

From the [UK] Telegraph, [UK] Daily Mail, Yorkshire Evening Post:

The Leeds Crown Court in England has sentenced four children, ranging in age from 12 to 15,  in the savage beating of a 15-year-old boy with intellectual disabilities last year.

The children lured the victim into the woods last August where they punched and kicked him, stomped on his head, whipped him with tree branches, hit him with planks, urinated and spat on him, stuffed lit cigarettes up his nose, and then stripped him before dumping him in a shallow grave.

The victim was able to crawl free and received treatment for multiple bruises and lacerations all over his body. His mother said she believes he was targeted because he was easy prey.

Sentencing the four, Judge Kerry Macgill said: “This is one of the most difficult cases I have ever had to deal with. It is almost like a scene out of ‘Lord of The Flies’ where children are left to their own devices can do simply appalling things to other children.”

… The girl, now 15, was given 15 months of detention and the 13-year-old locked up for 12 months. The two younger children, now aged 12, were handed two-year supervision orders with a three-month curfew.

IVF babies more likely to have birth defects, couple learns

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Yvonne Finlayson with twins, photo from [UK] Daily MailFrom the [UK] Daily Mail:

Both of Yvonne Finlayson’s IVF twins (at left) have birth defects that have required medical treatment and surgery.

Scientists say test-tube babies are up to 30 percent more likely to come with birth defects, and Finlayson and her husband, Mark, say they feel guilty that their desperation for children may have blinded them to the risks.

The Finlaysons say they love their children and wouldn’t change them, but they wish they had gotten better information in advance They also said they would not consider further fertility treatments.

… at a time when more than 12,000 babies are born every year as a result of fertility treatment, critics have seized upon these statistics as evidence of our over-reliance upon techniques which, even the experts admit, we still know relatively little about.

‘Autism culture’ movement seeks acceptance, not cure

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

‘I am not a puzzle, I am a person’

By Elizabeth Svoboda in Salon.com:

A growing group of advocates say people with autism should be valued and celebrated for their uniqueness, not aggressively treated in hopes that they will become “normal.”

Proponents are skeptical of therapies that force people with autism to behave like typical peers, whom they call “neurotypicals,” and say therapists should instead focus on helping them deal more effectively with the non-autistic world.

… the rhetoric [used by autism advocates] is often as strident as anything out of the deaf-pride movement. Some autistic people even use the pejorative term “curebie” to refer to people who hope for a cure for the condition. Organizations like Autism Network International view efforts to cure autism as similar to misguided efforts to cure homosexuality and left-handedness.

Sequenom delays prenatal test, says employees mishandled data

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

From the San Diego Union-Tribune, Reuters, Wall Street Journal:

Shares of Sequenom Inc. fell 69 percent yesterday on news that the company was delaying the rollout of its highly anticipated prenatal test for Down syndrome because the test’s validity is in question.

The company said the delay was prompted by  “the discovery by company officials of employee mishandling of R&D test data and results.” Four employees were suspended and an inquiry will be conducted, said CEO Harry Stylli in an investor conference call after the market closed. He declined to specify what the employees were believed to have done, other than to say that “it relates to research and development test data and results.”

In earlier announcements, Sequenom officials had said their prenatal test in the first trimester of pregnancy could accurately diagnose fetal Down syndrome through the use of a simple maternal blood draw. They had estimated the worldwide market for such a test at between $3 billion and $5 billion.

In heavy after-hours trading, the company’s shares plunged to $4.55 from a close of $14.91 on Nasdaq.

Earlier posts here.

Company press release 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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