Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for July, 2009

Debate roiling over end-of-life benefit in health care proposal

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Rebecca Reisner, writing in Business Week, says an obscure end-of-life provision in the administration’s health care proposal is stoking passions in the “conservative blogosphere,” with claims that it is a step toward government-mandated euthanasia.

During an AARP-sponsored town hall meeting earlier this week, a woman told the President: “I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that’s Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die. This bothers me greatly, and I’d like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.” Obama replied that the intent of the provision was to promote advance planning and living wills.

Advocates of the measure say critics have misinterpreted the provision, while opponents are contending that their criticism of it has been misunderstood. An AARP spokesman criticized “baseless scare tactics put out by those who seek to derail health-care reform.”

See also:

False euthanasia claims: The claim that the House health bill pushes suicide is nonsense — Factcheck.org

Earlier posts here, here and here.

Commentary: Obama backed off on community-based supports

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Writing in ProPublica.com, Jennifer LaFleur says President Obama endorsed the wording in the UN disability treaty guaranteeing equal access to community life, but has backed off his earlier promises to mandate such access in the United States.

Obama co-sponsored the Community Choice Act while a member of the Senate.

But since he has been in the White House, Obama has not said he will support moves to make community services mandatory.

… A White House spokesman told ProPublica “the President believes that investing in health and long-term services for people with disabilities is an important national priority,” but would not say whether the President will support legislation to make community services mandatory.

“Ultimately this becomes a bureaucratic conversation about spending health care dollars,” said Bruce Darling, a disability activist with ADAPT. “And we completely lose the concept that this is a civil rights issue for Americans. No other group gets locked up like this. No one would stand for it.”

Utah: Problems at schools for blind students don’t violate law

Friday, July 31st, 2009

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Incomplete student evaluations, untrained teachers and poor Braille translations of textbooks and test booklets are among failings cited in a state probe of Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind.

But these problems don’t constitute a violation of state and federal laws guaranteeing visually impaired children a “free, appropriate education,” say the report’s authors.

Advocates who called for the investigation are appealing the decision. Ron Gardner, president of the Utah chapter of the National Federation for the Blind, said the report amounted to “people within the state office asking themselves if they’ve done a good job.”

Complaint: Baltimore schools discriminate against blind students

Friday, July 31st, 2009

From the Baltimore Sun and WJZ Baltimore:

The National Federation of the Blind has filed a formal complaint with the Maryland Department of Education, charging that Baltimore public schools are allowing blind students to graduate as functional illiterates.

The complaint alleges that the school system has failed to teach Braille, provide effective evaluations, and train students to use technology or mobility services to help them become more independent.

A school district spokeswoman said the district has received the complaint and it is being reviewed by counsel.

Texas man brings hope, wheelchairs to Iraqi kids

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Brad Blauser, CNN photo courtesy of Brad HauserFrom CNN ‘Heroes’:

Brad Blauser came to Iraq as a civilian contractor in 2004, but quit that job to devote himself fulltime to distributing free wheelchairs to Iraqi kids.

So far, his Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids has distributed nearly 650 free pediatric wheelchairs. He works without compensation.

UNICEF estimates that one in seven Iraqi children aged 2 to 14 lives with a disability. Blauser says his group is the only source of pediatric wheelchairs in the country.

“By providing what they need, I’m hoping to start a movement to change the way people think about disabled children,” said Blauser. “They are not a curse, they are a blessing and they deserve to have their needs met.”

See also:

(CNN photo courtesy of Brad Hauser)

U.S. signs disability rights treaty

Friday, July 31st, 2009

From AP/Los Angeles Times and Reuters:

The United States Thursday signed a United Nations treaty aimed at protecting the rights of 650 million people with disabilities worldwide.

The Bush administration had refused to endorse the convention, arguing that it would weaken protections offered to U.S. citizens by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The treaty will next be submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

… “We all still have a great deal more to do at home and abroad,” said U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice. “As President Obama has noted, people with disabilities far too often lack the choice to live in communities of their own choosing; their unemployment rate is much higher than those without disabilities; they are much more likely to live in poverty; health care is out of reach for far too many; and too many children with disabilities are denied a world class education.”

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, announced the creation of a  high level post in the State Department to promote the rights of people with disabilities around the world.

UPDATE: Remarks by Valerie Jarrett and Rice are here.

Wheelchair shows problems of health care reform

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

From CNN:

Debbie Brown, a Sacramento woman, has been using a no-frills wheelchair provided by Medicare at a cost to taxpayers of about $1,200.

CNN went to Apria Healthcare, the same company that charges Medicare for the rental of Brown’s wheelchair, and paid cash for a comparable model. The cost: $349, or about a fourth of what taxpayers have paid to rent a chair for Brown.

Brown says taxpayers should be outraged.

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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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