Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for August, 2010

‘Temple Grandin’ a big Emmy winner

Monday, August 30th, 2010

From Yahoo.com (with video), Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly:

The HBO biopic ‘Temple Grandin’ was among the big winners in this year’s Emmy awards contest, sweeping 7 awards including best actress for Claire Danes, best directing for Mick Jackson, and best made-for-television movie or miniseries. The project portrayed the early life of the agricultural scientist and best-selling author who, with the help of her mother, struggled to live a satisfying life with autism before the condition was widely recognized or understood.

Wearing the rodeo gear that has become her uniform, Grandin was seen onscreen frequently during the Sunday Emmy ceremony and at one point rose from her seat in the audience to excitedly swing an imaginary lasso.

From the LA Times:

And while standing on stage after the movie had won its top award, she warmly embraced a sobbing executive producer Emily Gerson Saines, who said she found inspiration in Grandin’s life story as her own child had been diagnosed with autism.

“I hope this movie is going to educate a lot of people about autism because there’s a lot of people who don’t understand it,” Grandin said backstage. “Somebody [with autism] might be a Silicon Valley genius, and somebody might be handicapped and non-verbal.”

In addition to the five awards announced Sunday evening, ‘Temple Grandin’ captured Emmys for picture editing and musical composition that were announced at a ceremony last week.

Earlier posts here.

Job prospects dismal for people with disabilities

Friday, August 27th, 2010

From the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post ‘Federal Eye’ blog,  and the Kansas City Star:

In its first detailed look at employment for workers with disabilities,  the federal government reports that these workers are far more likely than people without disabilities to be out of work or working only part-time.

According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 19.2 percent of all Americans with disabilities are earning a paycheck, compared to 64.5 percent of Americans without disabilities. Of those with disabilities who are working, nearly one third are employed only part time.

The BLS also reported that the average unemployment rate for workers with disabilities was 16.4 percent as of July, up sharply from 14.5 percent last year. For those without disabilities, the unemployment rate last year was 9 percent. About 8 in 10 persons with disabilities are not considered part of the labor force because they aren’t looking for or holding a job. That compares to 3 in 10 people without disabilities.

Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary for the Labor Department’s office of disability employment policy, says some employers are hesitant to hire disabled workers because they fear added costs to provide special accommodations or additional training. In some cases this could be considered discrimination, which is illegal. “The biggest barrier for us is attitude and fear-the misconception of what hiring people with a disability might mean,” she said.

… That the overall jobless rates tend to be higher among workers with disabilities is partly a symptom of the recession and partly the result of a system that places income support – such as disability benefits – over employment assistance, said Andrew Houtenville, an economist and the research director of the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire.

“We have really low expectations for the population with disabilities as a system,” said Mr. Houtenville. “We want to provide people with financial support…but we have to do a better job providing employment services in a very timely fashion.”

Lawsuit: Special Olympics unfairly barred girl with service dog

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Student with dog, oxygen tank wasn’t allowed on the basketball court

From the Chicago Tribune, CBS/AP:

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a 17-year-old girl claims that the Special Olympics has improperly barred her from playing basketball in an after-school sports program at her West Chicago high school.

Jenny Youthwith, who has developmental disabilities and a respiratory problem, wanted to play with the help of her dog, Simba, who carries her 4-pound oxygen tanks in gym class and other non-school sports activities.  The girl’s mother says Special Olympics has said only that it’s “not appropriate” for Jennifer to be on the basketball court with the dog or the oxygen tank.

“This is Special Olympics; they should be able to accommodate,” said Janice Youngwith. “If not Special Olympics, where else does she fit in?”

Psychologist did pioneering work in autism

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

From the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times:

Ole Ivar Lovaas, a UCLA psychologist who developed one of the most widely used therapies for children with autism, has died at the age of 83.  Dr. Lovaas was the first researcher to suggest that autism can be treated. He is credited with helping to change the treatment and public perception of people with the condition.

“His work first of all showed that the kids were teachable,” said Tristram Smith, a psychologist at the University of Rochester. “It was also very important in deinstitutionalization, showing that you could teach the kinds of skills that the kids needed to succeed at home and in the community.”

Dr. Lovaas proposed that the symptoms of autism could be addressed through a rigorous program of behavior modification, centered around a system of rewards and punishments. His early work was criticized as abusive because it involved researchers slapping children and using electric shocks, sometimes delivered with a cattle prod. These practices were later eliminated. The Lovaas model today relies on positive reinforcements.

See also: 1965 Life Magazine article about Lovaas’s work at UCLA. “Screams, Slaps & Love; A surprising, shocking treatment helps far-gone mental cripples”

Vanderbilt welcomes students with intellectual disabilities

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

From the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required):

Vanderbilt University’s new Next Step certificate program is providing a college experience to six students with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to participate in classes and extracurricular activities with typical college students. The Next Step students also get job training and work on basic life skills.

The two-year Next Step program is among an estimated 250 postsecondary offerings for people with intellectual disabilities across the country, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.

Elise D. McMillan, co-director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Vanderbilt, says the trend reflects the growing aspirations of disabled people.

“This is a whole generation of young individuals with disabilities that have grown up benefiting from the Americans with Disabilities Act,” she says. “They have been included in their public schools, and, in many ways, they have the same dreams and aspirations as their brothers and sisters and other students.”

Emmy exec: ‘Down Syndrome Girl’ will not air on awards shows

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Press release from the National Down Syndrome Congress:

John Shaffner, chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, has pledged that the Emmy-nominated song “Down Syndrome Girl” will not be aired on the primetime Emmy telecast or the broadcast of the Emmy’s Creative Arts awards.

Shaffner’s promise came in response to a letter of protest from the NDSC’s Self Advocate Council, which characterized the musical number as “hateful” and said its recognition by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences carried the unjust message that “those of us who have Down syndrome are less valuable than others and deserve ridicule and abuse because of our disability.”

Shaffner thanked the group for sharing its concerns about the song. “The Television Academy is always sensitive to these types of issues and had already planned not to air this song,” Shaffner wrote.

The musical number, which appeared this spring on Fox Television’s “Family Guy,” describes a character with Down syndrome as a “little whore” who is “poorly grooming,” “as-of-Monday-shoelace-tying,” “just a little crooked walking” and “a special person’s wettest dream.” The lyrics also include a reference to the “shorty bus.”

It was nominated in the category “Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics” but lost out to Randy Newman’s music and lyrics for “When I’m Gone” from the finale of USA Network’s “Monk.”

Hingsburger on ‘R-word’: ‘Tremble when you say it’

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Disability advocate Dave Hingsburger uses Jennifer Aniston’s recent gaffe (calling herself a “retard” during a televised interview)  as an opportunity to examine the word’s implications in modern society. His conclusion: The word is an unacceptable attack on a group of people who have historically been marginalized, stigmatized and oppressed. An excerpt:

The people who ‘ARE’ what the ‘R’ word refers to have a long history.

They have been torn from families and cast into institutions.

They have been beaten, hosed down, over medicated, under nourished, sterilized, brutalized, victimized.

They have been held captive, have been enslaved, have had their being given over to the state.

They are the group in society most likely to be physically, sexually and financially abused.

They are the group least likely to see justice, experience fair play, receive accommodation or support within the justice system.

… The ‘R’ word is an attack on a people who know discrimination. Tremble when you say it. Because those who should know better will be held accountable to those who know best.

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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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