Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for October, 2009

Mental health advocates push for nursing home reform

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

From the Chicago Tribune:

Mental health advocates in Illinois are seeking a major overhaul in the way the state manages patients with mental illness, arguing that the state should not be placing people in nursing homes when they could be treated more cheaply and effectively in community settings.

The volatile mix of felons, mentally ill people and seniors in Illinois facilities today serves none of those populations, advocates said, and records show elderly and disabled residents have been assaulted, raped and even murdered in the homes.

Group criticizes casting for ‘Miracle Worker’

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

From the New York Times:

A group of disability advocates has sharply criticized the casting of Oscar-nominated child star Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) for the role of Helen Keller in this winter’s Broadway revival  of “The Miracle Worker.” The Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts says the role should have been given to an actor who is blind or deaf.

Producer David Richenthal said that casting a star as Helen was essential to securing a $3 million investment for a commercial production, and that his research did not turn up any well-known young actresses who were deaf or blind. He said he would consider casting a deaf or blind actress as Breslin’s understudy.


Advocates protest Halloween ‘Asylum of Terror’

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

"Asylum of Terror," Star-Ledger photoFrom the [Newark, NJ] Star-Ledger:

A haunted house at the Red Mill Museum in Clinton, NJ, has angered mental health advocates, who say  the “Asylum of Terror” theme reinforces negative stereotypes about mental illness.

Advertisements for the fictional show warn visitors that the wretched souls imprisoned in the asylum were tormented by “dementia, paranoia, violent sociopathic behaviors, physical abnormalities and deformities,” which led them to torture and murder all 200 staff members in 1942.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness issued a nationwide alert about the haunted house, saying, “It’s trick or treat time again. We don’t mind ghosts and goblins, but when ‘haunted house’ attractions become ‘insane asylums,’ featuring ‘mental patients’ as murderous ghouls, we protest.”

(Star-Ledger photo)

Journalist Tim Page explores Asperger’s from the inside out

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

From the Washington Post:

Tim Page, author of “Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’s” and a Pulitzer Prize winning music critic, answers readers’ questions about Asperger’s syndrome and its effect on his life.

Some excerpts:

“The diagnosis was helpful in a lot of ways — mostly in explaining some of the things that had proved difficult, sometimes even impossible, for most of my life. And I didn’t exactly “give in” to the condition, but being aware that I had it helped me make smarter choices.

“… I also admire the radical new autism activists, such as Aspies for Freedom, who believe that autism and Asperger’s should be considered “differences” rather than afflictions. I have some mixed feelings about this –  although I do think some of the things I ended up doing were enabled by my Asperger’s Syndrome, I still wouldn’t wish it on anybody, for I’ve felt pretty unhappy a lot of my life. Still, I love their punchy, radical spirit — and who knows? Perhaps the depression and anxiety that seem to accompany most cases of AS wouldn’t be there if we didn’t always feel so strange.”

‘The human cost of screening for DS’

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Writing in the [UK] Guardian, columnist Tom Shakespeare says the statistics on Down syndrome diagnoses mask the “human cost” of the UK’s prenatal screening program.

Shakespeare supports a woman’s right to choose, as well as the right to terminate a pregnancy in which Down syndrome is diagnosed. But he says scientists need to examine the high emotional price that couples are paying for prenatal testing, as when invasive tests cause the miscarriage of healthy pregnancies, or when tests pose “morally and emotionally burdensome choices” for couples.

An excerpt:

I have long felt that it is a priority to provide better information to prospective parents about what Down’s syndrome is, and the effect it has on individuals and their families … I believe as much money should be spent on information and counselling as is spent on the technology, because humans matter more than statistics and cost/impact calculations.

Shakespeare is among the developers of a website that provides information about various disabilities that can be diagnosed prenatally.

Obama signs hate crimes bill

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

From AP, CNN (with video), the Washington Post and elsewhere. Transcript from the White House blog:

President Obama signed hate crime legislation Wednesday that extends protections to people based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. From the transcript of the President’s remarks:

No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability.

At root, this isn’t just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another — whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus.

Artist with autism dazzles with realistic drawing of NY skyline

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Art by Stephen Wiltshire, from CBS NewsFrom CBS News (with video) and the CBS Early Show (with video and blog):

Artist Stephen Wiltshire, 35, is drawing a detailed panorama of New York’s Manhattan skyline from memory. He has autism.

Wiltshire flew over New York City in a helicopter on Friday. That 20-minute viewing from the air provided the memory for a 20-foot panorama of the city that he is drawing throughout this week at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute.

(Photo from CBS News)

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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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