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Archive for the ‘wheelchair’ Category

US Airways ejects man with wheelchair: ‘Too disabled to fly’

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

From ABC News, CNN, Grand Rapids [MI] Press:

Johnnie Tuitel, a motivational speaker who uses a wheelchair, says he was forced to leave a recent US Airways flight before takeoff because flight personnel had decided that he was “too disabled to fly.”

Tuitel, who has cerebral palsy, said the incident occurred last month while he was waiting for his flight to take off from Palm Beach, headed for a speaking engagement in Kansas City, Mo. He said he was told that he could not stay on the flight unless he had an attendant with him. Tuitel was removed from the flight and missed his engagement.

US Airways said the decision to deplane Tuitel was because of safety concerns.

:”We just felt it wasn’t safe for him to fly that day, unassisted,” said spokesman Todd Lehmacher. “Our number-one priority, of course, is safety. We transport 80 million passengers a year. The crew just felt it wasn’t safe for him to fly.”

… “I just think that my civil rights were violated, and that I should have the same rights to fly as any other citizen so that I can do business,” Tuitel said in a press release. “All I want to do as speaker is to make a living and take care of my family.”

By Marybeth Hicks, writing in the Washington Times:

Being the reluctant flier that I am, and having visited Mr. Tuitel’s website and watched his videos, I would sit next to him on any flight. Most emergencies require strength of character, courage, tenacity and a sense of humor. It’s clear US Airways kicked off the most able of its passengers that day.

Congressman: More work needed to achieve ADA’s promise

Monday, July 26th, 2010

From the Providence Journal, Boston Globe:

Rep. James Langevin (D-Rhode Island) writes that only a generation ago, people with disabilities were commonly treated as second-class citizens. Langevin, who was paralyzed at the age of 16 as a result of an accident, says the 20th anniversary of the ADA offers an opportunity not just to celebrate our achievements but to reflect on how to improve upon them. An excerpt:

Individuals with disabilities remain one of our nation’s greatest untapped resources, and they continue to face challenges in accessing employment, transportation, housing and even health care. This will only continue as we see increasing numbers of veterans returning with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic-stress disorders and other disabling conditions.

It is more important than ever to educate businesses and link them with resources to create more job opportunities in our communities. We must collaborate with local and state governments to ensure that transportation is available and accessible to everyone so they can get to their job, or the doctor, or the grocery store. We need to provide more resources for our teachers so that every child can receive a proper education, which is the steppingstone to a brighter future.

… We have come so far, but we have much more work ahead. Disabilities don’t discriminate on the basis of party affiliation, income or gender; instead, they have the unique ability to unite us in common purpose. If we act with courage and commitment, then we will provide the means for every individual to fulfill his or her potential and realize the true promise of the ADA on its 20th anniversary, and for years to come.

Langevin will preside over the House of Representatives Monday, using a Speaker’s rostrum that has recently been made wheelchair-accessible through a series of lifts.

Maryland schools open sports to kids with disabilities

Friday, March 26th, 2010

From the Baltimore Sun:

The organization governing school sports in Maryland has changed its rules to allow students with disabilities to participate alongside their peers in some cases.

The decision, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, follows a successful federal lawsuit by Paralympic athlete Tatyana McFadden, who four years ago won the right to compete in mainstream school track meets. The state’s general assembly then passed a law requiring Maryland schools to design programs to accommodate athletes with disabilities.

Under new language adopted by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) this week, students with disabilities may participate in mainstream sports programs if they meet eligibility requirements, do not present a risk to themselves or others, and do not change the nature of the game or event.

The MPSSAA also called on school systems to establish sports programs for students with disabilities who do not qualify to participate in mainstream athletic programs.

Paralympics icon Hansen says Games have come a long way

Friday, March 19th, 2010

In the Toronto Globe and Mail, Canadian athlete Rick Hansen says the Paralympic Games have made great progress since he won six medals for wheelchair racing in 1980 and 1984.

He cites improvements in training, equipment and sponsorship, but acknowledges that “it’s going to be a difficult challenge” to bring broader acceptance to the Games. An excerpt from the interview with Sarah Hampson:

“Exposure is key,” he says. The sports are “not about fragility,” he says, cautioning me not to be romantic by thinking that a disabled person’s participation in sport is a way to restore faith in a broken body. “It’s just great competition.”

His philosophy is evident in everything he says: Dwell not on what you don’t have, or can’t have; focus on what you have and are able to do …

“Usually the biggest demon is not out there,” he says, gesturing to the world outside his window. “It’s what is inside your head.”

Hansen raised $26 million for spinal cord research and awareness through a 34-nation wheelchair tour shortly after his Paralympics victories, and will soon kick off a new global initiative with a target of $200 million.

Earlier posts here.

(Photo from Globe and Mail)

Op-ed: ‘Wheelchair doesn’t make employee perfect’

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Actor Michael Patrick Thornton, Toronto Star photo from ABCColumnist Helen Henderson writes in the Toronto Star about a scene on the ABC television series Private Practice, in which a hospital executive “feels trapped by the specter of political correctness” because she fears confronting a doctor with a disability.

Henderson says the scene underscores a real workplace problem: Employers are wary of disability hiring because they think “it’s harder to dismiss an underperforming person with a disability than one without a disability.”

A survey by Toronto’s Job Opportunity Information Network found that 36 per cent of executives said they felt uncomfortable reprimanding someone with a disability.

To be truly inclusive, Henderson says, a workplace must encourage people to speak up about legitimate concerns. She gives points to the producers of Private Practice for hiring Michael Patrick Thornton to play the doctor in the wheelchair. Thornton is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair in real life.

(Toronto Star photo from ABC)

Another blown chance to hire actor with a disability?

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Kevin McHale on Glee, Fox photoOn ‘Glee,’ the guy in the chair doesn’t really need one

From the Associated Press:

Disability advocates in Hollywood say the hit Fox series “Glee,” represents yet another missed opportunity. The show hired Kevin McHale, an actor without a disability, to play the role of Artie, a paraplegic high school student.

“I think there’s a fear of litigation, that a person with disabilities might slow a production down, fear that viewers might be uncomfortable,” CSI’s Robert David Hall told AP. “I’ve made my living as an actor for 30 years and I walk on two artificial legs.”

Disability rights activists say television casting doesn’t accurately reflect American society. About twenty percent of Americans have a disability, but a recent study found that fewer than 2 percent of the characters on television do. More than a third of performers with disabilities reported facing discrimination in the workplace.

“Glee” regularly celebrates diversity, and Wednesday’s episode featured a feel-good scene in which all the glee club members performed a dance routine in wheelchairs to demonstrate solidarity with Artie.

Show creator Ryan Murphy told the Los Angeles Times (with video of McHale dancing) that Wednesday’s episode represented a turning point for the show. “Writing this made me feel the responsibility of showing the truth of the pain that outcasts go through,” he said. “It’s not all razzle-dazzle show business. It’s tough, and it’s painful, and it was for me growing up, and it is for most people. So I think this made me realize that amid the fun and the glamour, it’s really great now and again to show the underbelly of what people who are different feel.”

See also:

Spinning their wheels – New York Post

Marlee Matlin on ‘Family Guy’ gag: ‘Lighten up, people’-Entertainment Weekly

(Photo from the New York Post)

Dance company explores bodies, wheels in motion

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

The Axis Dance Company in Oakland, California, is made up of seven dancers. Four of them have physical disabilities and perform in wheelchairs. New York Times writer Bruce Weber says the collaboration among dancers with and without disabilities delivers a powerful message:

Sympathy is irrelevant. Forget what isn’t here, and pay attention to what is. Recognize the chairs for what they are and not as substitutes for what they are not.

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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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