Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for September, 2010

‘Pennhurst Asylum’ attraction opens in former Pa. institution

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, Delaware County [Pa.] Daily Times, AP, with historic photos from Philly.com:

Pennsylvania’s historic Pennhurst Center, once the focus of landmark litigation that sparked nationwide changes in treatment for people with intellectual disabilities, opened last night as a Halloween-themed haunted house attraction over the protests of disability rights advocates.

Advocates had unsuccessfully sought an injunction to prevent the opening of the “Pennhurst Asylum” show on the grounds of the property, once known as Eastern State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic.

Even before the injunction was denied on Friday afternoon advocates called for a boycott of the attraction, which references historic abuse and neglect of the institution’s patients and features a “registration nurse” who tells visitors what the asylum’s “doctor” has planned for them. (See video here.)

The crumbling facility was closed in 1987 in the wake of a federal lawsuit alleging years of abuse and neglect. The suit, which spawned years of appeals and three U.S. Supreme Court rulings, alleged that residents had been beaten by nurses, strapped to beds, left naked or alone and drugged into stupors. At the time, the closure of the 600-acre facility was hailed as a civil rights victory.

Pennhurst property owner Richard Chakejian said said he and his crew are “just trying to pull off a fun, orderly event and we’re excited about that.”

House OKs ‘Rosa’s Law’

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Would eliminate term ‘mentally retarded’ from federal law

Press releases from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, The ARC of the United States:

Acting unanimously, the House of Representatives last night approved a bill to remove the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” from federal education, health and labor laws. The measure, called “Rosas’ Law” in honor of a Maryland girl who has Down syndrome, has already passed the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

“This law is about families fighting for the respect and dignity of their loved ones,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), one of the measure’s sponsors. “This change will have a positive effect on more than 6 million Americans.” She said the law will make the language of federal law consistent with that used by the Centers for Disease Control and the United Nations, and will not affect any services, rights, responsibilities or educational opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Rosa’s law substitutes the terms “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability” for the earlier terms, now considered outdated and stigmatizing by many self-advocates and their families. It does not cover entitlement programs, which include SSI, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Peter V. Berns, CEO of The ARC of the United States, hailed the measure’s passage as “another historic milestone in our movement.”

“We understand that language plays a crucial role in how people with intellectual disabilities are perceived and treated in society,” Berns said in a statement. “Changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their basic civil and human rights.”

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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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