Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for January, 2010

Temple Grandin: Claire Danes ‘brilliant in playing me’

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Best-selling author and animal scientist Temple Grandin, well known for her work advancing the humane treatment of cattle, is again the focus of media attention as the subject of an upcoming HBO biopic, to be aired in February.

She’s played by actress Claire Danes (left, as Grandin).

Dr. Grandin has written and spoken widely about her life as a person with autism.

On NPR, Talk of the Nation’s Neal Conan conducts an extended interview with Grandin.  “You may also know that she is autistic and spends a lot of her time explaining how that makes her different, not less,” he says. “You may not know how she avoided being institutionalized as a young girl, how she learned the social skills to engage the world, and how she overcame bullies, skeptics, ignorance, and her own fears to make a real difference in the world. An excerpt of the interview:

CONAN: And I wonder, did HBO get the story right?

Dr. GRANDIN: Yes, Claire Danes was just brilliant in playing me. The movie is all in the ’60s and the ’70s, when I was a lot more autistic acting and when I first started my work.

CONAN: There’s a picture of you on the Web standing next to Claire Danes at a premier, at the screening of this film in New York last night.

Dr. GRANDIN: Well, the thing was amazing is how Claire totally changed into me. You know, if you look at her from a picture from last night at party you’d never think that, you know, that she could become like me. I mean, shes just amazing, and how she totally turns into the character that she’s acting.

New York Times writer Rick Lyman interviews Claire Danes, and says she “manages to be both emotionally transparent and intelligently complex” in the role.

(Photos from New York Times)

Sundance film features leading man with Down syndrome

Friday, January 29th, 2010

From EITB.com:

Among the featured offerings at this year’s Sundance Film Festival is Yo, También (Me, Too), a Spanish film about a college-educated man with Down syndrome who falls in love with his free-spirited co-worker.

The film explores themes of conformity and difference, and challenges public perceptions about the capabilities and needs of people with Down syndrome.

Pablo Pineda, who is reported to be the first person with Down syndrome to earn a college degree in Europe, received the Silver Shell best actor award at Spain’s leading film festival last year for his performance in the film. Co-star Lola Dueñas took best actress honors.

From the trailer:

She: Why me? You don’t know anything about me.

He: Because you make me feel normal.

She: And why do you want to be a normal person?

A music video featuring the film’s title song is here.

An interview with Pineda (in Spanish) is here.

(Photo from www.sundance.com)

Ad campaign uses humor to promote disability hiring

Friday, January 29th, 2010

From the New York Times:

Employment agencies in 30 states have launched a national ad campaign that uses a light-hearted approach to encourage businesses to employ workers with disabilities.

The ads try to challenge misconceptions about workers with disabilities by offering humorous examples of “differences” among people who are already employed. Among them: a young man doing a victory dance who is labeled “rhythm impaired.” The accompanying ad copy reads: “Just because someone moves a little differently doesn’t mean they can’t help move your business forward.”

A related website, thinkbeyondthelabel.com, offers information debunking myths about hiring people with disabilities. The ads are paid rather than pro bono, and the agencies say they plan to raise a $10 million budget for the year. “We knew it needed to be disruptive,” said an organizer, “but we wanted it to be tasteful.”

(Photo from the New York Times)

Opinion: Open charter doors to students with disabilities

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Harvard University professor Thomas Hehir, writing in Education Week, calls for action to make sure that students with disabilities have access to charter schools. Presently, he says, students with special needs are conspicuously underrepresented in such schools.

Hehir, who served as director of the U.S. Department of Education’s office of special education programs in the Clinton administration, says officials should develop policies to assure that charters are not discriminating against students with disabilities.

He recommends increased monitoring of charters, enforcement of civil rights protections, financial sanctions against charters which fail to enroll equitable shares of students with disabilities, and support to assist schools in serving students with diverse needs. An excerpt:

The charter school movement shows much promise, and is providing important choice options within the American education system. It’s time to assure that all children benefit from it.

Doctor censured over research claiming vaccine-autism link

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

British panel says he acted ‘dishonestly and irresponsibly’

From the BBC, [UK] Times, AP/San Jose Mercury-News:

A British doctor whose research stoked fears that vaccinations cause autism has been censured by a medical panel, which found that he had “abused his position of trust” in doing the research. Research published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in the Lancet medical journal led many parents to refuse to vaccinate their children.

Britain’s General Medical Council found Wakefield guilty of a series of misconduct charges, including putting children through painful and unnecessary tests.

The disciplinary panel said Wakefield was misleading in describing the study, and should have disclosed that he was being paid to advise parents who believed their children had been harmed by the vaccine. Ten of the study’s 13 authors have renounced the study.

Wakefield has denied all charges.

See also:

How MMR saga shaped science’s rules of engagement with the media. Fiona Fox, writing in the [UK] Times, says the scientific community should have raised a concerted voice to counter erroneous claims that children had been damaged by vaccines. The consequences for silence have been catastrophic, she says, as a fearful public withheld vaccinations from their children.

Arc condemns comment attributed to Obama aide, seeks apology

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Officials at The Arc of the United States demanded an apology today following a news report that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel used the epithet “f–ing retarded” to criticize a proposal in a strategy meeting.

The advocacy organization said the report in the Wall Street Journal amounted to “the second  serious verbal miscue by the Administration about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” President Obama apologized last year after he equated his poor bowling performance with the Special Olympics in an appearance on The Tonight Show. An excerpt from the Arc statement:

Mr. Emanuel’s use of hateful language would suggest that it is the White House staff that needs to be taught a lesson in respect for people with disabilities.

Statements such as these – particularly when used by someone at high level – amplif[y] pervasive societal attitudes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities somehow don’t measure up – that their lives are worth less.  “Using a slur about people with intellectual disabilities to criticize other people just isn’t right,” said Peter V. Berns, chief executive officer of The Arc of the United States.  “For people with disabilities it is disrespectful and demeaning and only serves to marginalize a constituency that already struggles for empowerment on every front,” Berns added.

… The more than seven million individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families demand an apology for Mr. Emanuel’s use of language that denigrates our constituency. The White House needs to lead by example and demonstrate through words and actions that it is not acceptable to use people with disabilities as a source for ridicule. To condone this language is to deny opportunities for people with disabilities in the workplace, in the community, in school, and in every other quarter of society.

The Arc of the United States is an advocacy organization that promotes the human rights of Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and actively supports their full inclusion in the community.

Shriver to Emanuel: Let’s work together to end ‘R-word’

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

In the wake of a news report that the White House chief of staff used the words “f–g retarded” in a strategy session, Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver called on Rahm Emanuel to join his campaign to stamp out the “R-word.”

Shriver’s letter to Emanuel, released today, said the terms “retard” and “retarded” perpetuate stereotypes and stigma against people with intellectual disabilities, and are “just as painful as any number of racial or ethnic slurs, jokes or taunts that society has committed to eradicating from our lexicon.”

“Of course, I have no way of knowing if this expression was actually used by you or anyone else,” Shriver wrote. “Regardless of whether the term was actually used or not, I would ask you to join us in this important fight.”

He called on Emanuel to take the pledge at www.r-word.org to avoid using the terms, and to help “change the conversation and raise awareness about the power of language and the hurtful nature of the R-word.”

“I know that private political discourse can sometimes include profanity,” Shriver said. “But at the same time, our community cannot accept the idea that they will remain the butt of jokes and taunts.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Emanuel used the epithet in a meeting when told about a plan by liberal Democrats and White House staffers to attack conservative Democrats on health care

The Special Olympics serves more than 2.5 million athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 180 countries.

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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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