Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for May, 2009

Rise in disability hate crimes linked to economic downturn

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

From the AP/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennesseean:

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports a dramatic rise in hate crimes in the state last year. Crimes against people with disabilities rose 88 percent to 42 total offenses, as  the total number of hate crimes in the state rose 38 percent to 515 in 2008.

Most of the hate crimes against people with disabilities involved theft, assault and burglaries. Experts said the increase could be attributed to the poor economy.

“When people are feeling desperate and pressured in times like these … you’re going to try to find the most vulnerable person to victimize,” said Carol Westlake, executive director of the Tennessee Disability Coalition.

… “I think we sort of overall are seeing, particularly in Tennessee, a little bit of a general backlash against people with disabilities,” Westlake said. “I think that has to do with state budget crisis and money being tight everywhere.

“There’s this underlying message that too often people with disabilities aren’t as valued because there’s a perception they’re not contributing to society and the economics of the state,” making victimization easier, she said.

Kennedy plans disability insurance measure

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

From the Wall Street Journal:

Sen. Edward Kennedy has included a measure for a new disability insurance program for all American workers as part of the broader healthcare reform legislation he is preparing to introduce.

Early reports said the measure would include the following provisions:

  • All workers, unless they opt out, would be charged a premium to give them a basic level of protection in case they become disabled.
  • Recipients would be allowed to collect benefits while remaining in their homes and continuing to work.

“Like all Americans, millions of senior citizens and persons with disabilities want to lead full and independent lives,” Mr. Kennedy said in a statement. “Our health reform legislation will make that possible. By providing access to long-term care and services, our legislation will enable our most vulnerable citizens to remain in their own homes and contribute to their communities.”

Disability agencies taking brunt of Tennessee budget cuts

Friday, May 29th, 2009

From the [Nashville] Tennessean:

Tennessee state officials have announced plans to eliminate nearly 1,400 positions over the next 13 months – primarily from state agencies that serve people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues.

Eighteen agencies will see their payrolls reduced, but the vast majority will come in two areas: the Department of Mental Health, which will lay off as many as 254 workers, and the Division of Mental Retardation Services, which will lose 298 workers.

… “We just have to cut everything in sight,” Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz said. “It’s the sign in the window at the closing-business sales, ‘Everything must go.’”

Most of the job losses are expected to come from state institutions which have been gradually shifting residents to state-funded community and home-care programs. Advocates say they will not oppose the reduction as long as the state continues to invest in community programs.

British research finds many undiagnosed kids with autism

Friday, May 29th, 2009

From the BBC News and the [UK] Telegraph:

A Cambridge University study has concluded that autism is much more prevalent than previously thought, estimating that there are two undiagnosed children with autism for every three who have been diagnosed.

The research, published in the current issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry (subscription required), suggests that the true prevalence of autism could be as high as one in 64 UK children between the ages of 5 and 9. Earlier estimates had put that number at one child in 100. The findings raise the possibility that there are some 300,000 UK children with autism who have not been diagnosed, in addition to the 500,000 who have been identified.

Simon Baron-Cohen, the study’s lead investigator, said accurate population estimates are important “so that the relevant services, including education, health and social services, can plan adequate provision for all those children and adults who may need support.”

See also:

Are rates of autism increasing? – Telegraph

Tucson special ed student routinely restrained to fence

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Five employees of the Tucson Unified School District have received warnings after an investigation found that a high school student with disabilities was routinely left tethered to a fence, according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star. The student’s name was not disclosed.

Bus monitor Thomas Giacoma said he regularly attached the student to the fence by his backpack when dropping him off at school so that he wouldn’t fall over or wander away before someone came to get him. The practice came to light earlier this month, when an assistant principal obtained a photo that teachers had taken of the student restrained on the fence.

Giacoma said he had tethered the student throughout the year without hearing any disapproval, and that the student had not seemed distressed. He said he had stopped the restraint in March after a teacher complained that he was humiliating the student.

Sue Kroeger, director of the Disability Resources center at the University of Arizona and who teaches disability studies in the College of Education, said the restraint described in the investigation is “disrespectful, undignified and totally unacceptable.”

Kroeger said she was less inclined to shake her finger than to see the incident as symptomatic of a larger problem – the stigmatizing of people with disabilities.

Op-ed: ‘Sotomayor an inspiration for others with diabetes’

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

By Andie Dominick, editorial writer, in the Des Moines Register:

Sotomayor — like every kid diagnosed with diabetes — likely grew up wondering what the future held. Being told you couldn’t grow up to be a cop was one thing. We also got the message we shouldn’t have children, could expect many health complications — from kidney failure to blindness — and wouldn’t likely live to a ripe, old age.

In coming weeks, Sotomayor will endure plenty of public scrutiny — about everything from her personality to her rulings and even her health. Whether or not she’s confirmed, the 54-year-old judge’s accomplishments are an inspiration — to every kid who grew up poor, or lost a parent, or has lived with a chronic illness.

UCLA endocrinologist: Don’t worry about Sotomayor’s diabetes

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

From the Los Angeles Times:

If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor would be its first known member with Type 1 diabetes. Medical experts aren’t worried.

Said Dr. Peter Butler, chief of endocrinology at UCLA Medical Center:

“There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever that she should be less effective at all. I’m confident she’ll see off most of the other members of the Supreme Court.”

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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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