Friday, October 31, 2008

Paul K. Longmore : Sara Palin's policy proposals are vague and unspecific

via PatriciaEBauer

Guest commentary
By Paul K. Longmore

On Friday, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin delivered a talk on “special needs children” that’s being described as her “first major policy speech.” (“Palin’s Speech on Children with Special Needs,” October 24, 2008.)

As someone who grew up with a significant disability and faced bias and discrimination, I commend her for affirming the value of disabled children’s lives. Unfortunately she also indulges in a sentimentalism that undermines disability rights advocacy. But what’s most significant in this speech is her discussion of public policies. This is important to examine because, according to NBC News, some parents of kids with disabilities are “flocking” to her campaign events. Desperate to get politicians to pay attention to their difficult family situations, they are looking to her to be, as she promises, “a friend and advocate” tasked by John McCain to make “special needs children” one of her primary “missions.” Those parents—not to mention tens of millions of other voters with and without disabilities who are concerned about disability issues—want to know what policies a McCain-Palin or an Obama-Biden administration would pursue. So, what policies is Palin proposing, and what is her track record as an advocate?

In her speech, Palin said she would discuss “three policy proposals.” Her explanations of them turned out to be vague and unspecific.

I’ll take the third one first. It is the vaguest. She promised to “reform and refocus” the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, “modernizing” it so that “we can better serve students with disabilities in our high schools and community colleges.” What this means specifically is anybody’s guess.

Her first proposal has gotten the most attention: a McCain-Palin administration would give parents “choices” about what schools, whether public or private, they want to send their disabled children to. Apparently their administration would establish a voucher program.

Finally, she pledged full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that guarantees children with disabilities the right to go to public schools just like nondisabled children. Congress adopted that law in 1975 after years of lobbying by parents of disabled children. (Joe Biden was one of the original sponsors.) Before 1975, most such children were barred from public schools and got little or no education. Nowadays most go to school and graduate. But a major difficulty with IDEA all along has been that although Congress promised to provide up to 40% of the funding it has never fully appropriated those monies. Criticizing IDEA as a classic “unfunded mandate,” some districts have resisted parents of disabled children. Senators Obama and Biden have all along favored “full funding.” Sen. McCain nowadays says he does too, though in past years he repeatedly voted against it.

Read the rest of Professor Longmore's commentary here ....

Paul K. Longmore is a professor of history and director, Institute on Disability, at San Francisco State University. He also wrote a commentary “Open letter to the disability rights constituency” that appeared exclusively at PatriciaEBauer last month.
British woman loses her appeal for clarification on assisted suicide laws

London: UK - Reuters UK reported yesterday that 45-year-old Debbie Purdy has lost her High Court case to clarify the law on assisted suicide. For readers not familiar with the case, Ms Purdy, who was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 1995 and can no longer walk, is considering going to a clinic in Switzerland to end her life, but fears her husband may be charged on his return to the UK. She had wanted a guarantee from the High Court that her husband, Omar Puente, would not be prosecuted if he helped her to commit suicide abroad. Details of the High Court ruling are here. Ms Purdy, speaking outside the court, said she was "really disappointed" with the ruling and would take her case to the Court of Appeal.

Australia - Doctor refused visa because of his son's disability

From the Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia):

The immigration department has defended its decision to deny residency to a German doctor because his son is disabled.

Bernhard Moeller moved with his family to rural Horsham in Victoria two years ago to help fill a doctor shortage.

Dr Moeller has a temporary 457 visa which is valid until 2010, but has been denied permanent residency because his 13-year-old son, Lukas, has Down Syndrome.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said Dr Moeller's application had been refused because Lukas did not meet the health requirement.

"A medical officer of the commonwealth assessed that his son's existing medical condition was likely to result in a significant and ongoing cost to the Australian community," a departmental spokesman said.

"Decisions by these medical officers are legally binding. The department must follow them." The department stressed the decision was not discriminatory.

"A disability in itself is not grounds for failing the health requirement - it is a question of the cost implications to the community."

The health requirement contains spending on health and community services, he said.

"If we did not have a health requirement, the costs to the community and health system would not be sustainable."

Dr Moeller intends to appeal the decision to the Migration Review Tribunal.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has no power to intervene in the case until such time as the tribunal or a court affirms the department's decision.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall 2008 Issue of Disability Studies Quarterly is out now

The latest issue of Disability Studies Quarterly (the journal of the Society of Disability Studies) is out now, and it's now on-line and completely open-access (no passwords required). This issue includes a special feature on "Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom," co-edited by Dr. Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson (Miami University of Ohio), Dr. Margaret Price (Spelman College), and Dr. Amy Vidali (University of Colorado-Denver). Here is the table of contents:

Editors' Introduction < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139966#>

Scot Danforth and Brenda Brueggemann

Calls for Papers and Announcements < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139967#>

Peer-Reviewed Articles

How Will the Changeover to Digital Broadcasting in 2009 Influence the Accessibility of TV for Americans With Disabilities? < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139968#>

Robert Pedlow

Disability, Citizenship, and Uncivilized Society: The Smooth and Nomadic Qualities of Self-advocacy < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139969#>

Griet Roets and Dan Goodley

'I Don't Think I'm the Right Person For That': Theoretical and Institutional Questions about a Combined Credential Program < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139970#>

Kathryn Young

Cultural Commentary Cultural Commentary: Trig or Treat? The 2008 Election, Sarah Palin, and Teaching Disability < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139971#>

Laura Mauldin

Creative Writing Excerpts from Cripple Poetics: A Love Story < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139972#>

Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus

Two Poems < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139973#>

Daniel Simpson

Two < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139974#>

Catherine Cole

Book & Film Reviews

Tobin Siebers, Disability Theory < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139975#>

Michael Davidson

Fleshing out the Field: The University of Michigan's Corporealities Series < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139976#>

Krista Paradiso, Nicholas Hetrick, Alina Bennett, and Tiffany Anderson

Agent Orange: A Personal Requiem < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139977#>

Sarah Boslaugh

Carol Poore, Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139978#>

Justin J.W. Powell

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part One: Introduction Introduction: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139979#>

Amy Vidali, Margaret Price, and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part Two: Disability Studies as Agent of Change Vision, Passion, and Action: Reflections on Learning to Do Disability Studies in the Classroom and Beyond < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139980#>

Jennifer Paterson, Jessica Hogan, and Heather Willis

The Mobius Strip: Team Teachers Reflecting on Disability Studies and Critical Thinking < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139981#>

Joy Cypher and Deb Martin

Questioning Representations of Disability in Adolescent Literature: Reader Response Meets Disability Studies < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139982#>

Valerie Struthers Walker, Tara Mileski, Dana Greaves, and Lisa Patterson

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part Three: Reflections on Disability "Before and After," "Self Inventory," and "Self Reflection" < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139983#>

Erin Lower and Diane Driedger

Reflections on Sociology of Disability Course < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139984#>

Kathryn Burris and Sharon Dale Stone

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part Four: Researching and Writing a Disability Perspective Globalization and the Black Market Organ Trade: When Even a Kidney Can't Pay the Bills < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139985#>

Karen Hudson and Elizabeth A. Wheeler

The Nature of Risk: HIV/AIDS and the Deaf Community in the United States < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139986#>

Margot Moinester, Steve Gulley, and Samantha Watson

What Makes Mr. Hyde So Scary?: Disability as a Result of Evil and Cause of Fear < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139987#>

Sami Schalk and Kerry Powell

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part Five: Writing Autism in the College Curriculum Autistic Acceptance, the College Campus, and Technology: Growth of Neurodiversity in Society and Academia < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139988#>

Scott Michael Robertson and Ari Daniel Ne'eman

Inclusion vs. Seclusion: A Review of Looking After Louis by Lesley Ely < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139989#>

Hila Hirad and Amy Vidali

Autism: The Lived Experience < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139990#>

Kerry Bowen and Chris Foss

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part Six: Intersections with Gender and Sexuality Disability and Gender in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139991#>

Caroline Leach and Stuart Murray

Resistance Training: Re-reading Fat Embodiment at a Women's Gym < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139992#>

Margaret Shalma and Rod Michalko

Let's Talk About Sex ... And Disability Baby! < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139993#>

Megan Albertz and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson

Threads of Commonality in Transgender and Disability Studies < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139994#>

Ashley Mog and Amanda Swarr

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part Seven: Disability Autobiography and Representation Drawn Out of Dejection < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139995#>

Timile Brown and Margaret Price

Heading to the Big Show: The Story of a Disabled College Undergraduate < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139996#>

Anthony Jackson

Three Legs of a Bedroom Life < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139997#>

Alan L. Samry

A Disability Awareness Poster Contest at Bronx Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY) and Caraballo's poster ("Not Fragile") (JPG image) < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139998#>

Julia Rodas and Carmen Caraballo

Special Topic: Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom, Part Eight: Accessing Spaces and Histories Opening the Door to Higher Education: The Rights of the Intellectually Different to Access and Peace < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225139999#>

Steve Sunderland

Participatory Research on Universal Design and Accessible Space at the University of Arizona < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225140000#>

Nick Rattray, Sarah Raskin, and Jackie Cimino

Snapshots in Review < inate&view=body&content-type=html_1&handle=osul.dsq/1225140001#>

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A 14-year-old girl allegely raped on a bus by a sex offender

Knox County, Tennessee - According to Knox News, a $3 million civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the Knox County School District in connection with the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome by an alleged sex offender who, according to the report, had been deemed “too dangerous” by his court-appointed guardian to be unsupervised. The 18-year-old boy “was being transported to a sex offender treatment program at Halls High School when the alleged rape occurred.” Remarkably, the bus driver had warned school officials not to leave the girl alone on the bus but it seems that noone listened:

According to the lawsuit, bus owner Stanley Rudder had warned Knox County school officials the girl, identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, "would not make it two days" on a special education bus crammed with "rowdy" troubled boys.

His prediction proved correct, with the girl immediately being subjected to sexual harassment on the bus, the lawsuit alleged. Her mother complained to school officials to no avail, Isaacs wrote.

Meanwhile, Knox County Juvenile Court officials were worried about the supervision of an 18-year-old boy who was being transported on the bus to attend sex offender treatment classes at Halls High School, and his guardian warned against leaving the teenager alone with other students, according to the lawsuit.

"The 18-year-old male student was in therapy for a sex crime related matter and has been characterized as a sexual predator," Isaacs wrote.

The teenager is identified only as John Doe. Police records indicate the teenager's alleged sexual assault of the autistic girl is under criminal probe, but a spokesman for the Knox County District Attorney's Office was not immediately available for comment Monday afternoon.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged sexual predator plotted an attack on the girl, taking advantage of her autism and inability to recognize deception."

In a calculated manner, the male student pretended to have an earpiece that enabled him to communicate with the persons in the other vehicle in order to deceive and frighten the autistic (girl)," the lawsuit stated. "The 18-year-old male student terrified (the girl) into believing that she would be harmed by the persons in the other vehicle if she did not let the male student fondle her and sexually assault and batter her person."

Hat tip to Autism Vox.
Fatal fire in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California - Fox News reports that a 38-year-old disabled woman has died in a fire in a converted garage in the San Fernando Valley. According to a fire department spokeswoman, firefighters searched the garage after the blaze was out and found the woman in a bathroom already killed by the fire. Sadly, it appears the woman was unable to reach her wheelchair.

More details are here ....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Study shows that women with disabilities are more likely to experience intimate partner violence

From Reuters 27 October:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study shows that women with a disability are far more likely to experience a physical assault by a spouse or other intimate partner than those without a disability.

Intimate partner violence is "an understudied issue in much need of attention," Dr. Brian Armor, who led the study, told Reuters Health. "We need to ensure that prevention initiatives designed to reduce intimate partner violence explicitly include the needs of adults with disabilities (e.g. ensuring shelters are accessible).

To estimate disability prevalence and differences in intimate partner abuse among women with and without a disability, Armor and his colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, analyzed data from the CDC's 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System -- a large annual telephone survey of Americans designed to monitor the prevalence of key health behaviors.

They found that women with a disability were significantly more likely than women without a disability to report experiencing some from of intimate partner violence in their lifetime (37.3 percent versus 20.6 percent).

Women with a disability were more likely to report ever being threatened with violence (28.5 percent vs 15.4 percent) and hit, slapped, pushed, kicked or physically hurt (30.6 percent vs. 15.7 percent) by an intimate partner.

Women with a disability were also much more apt to report a history of unwanted sex by an intimate partner (19.7 percent vs 8.2 percent).

"Future work is needed to get at why" this is so, said Armor, who reported the findings today at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in San Diego.

"Perhaps, women with disabilities are vulnerable to intimate partner violence because their disability might limit mobility and prevent escape; shelters might not be available or accessible to women with disabilities; the disability might adversely affect communication and thus the ability to alert others or the perpetrator might control or restrict the victim's ability to alert others to the problem."

Fear is another possibility, Armor said. "That is, a catch-22, stemming from reliance on the perpetrator for caregiving needs that might go unmet or lead to some form of undesirable placement if they tell authorities."

He concluded, "Since intimate partner violence is a public help problem, we need to ensure that prevention strategies for people with disabilities are widely adopted."

Loveland, Colorado: a woman dies after her wheelchair is struck by a car

From Fox Colorado:

LOVELAND – A 54-year-old woman died Monday after she was struck by a vehicle while crossing a busy road in a motorized wheelchair.
Authorities in Loveland say the woman was attempting to cross Highway 287 near 62nd Street -where there is no crosswalk or signal- at about 10:30 a.m. She was hit by a 39-year-old woman driving southbound on 287, causing massive injuries.
The victim, identified as Deborah McCoul of Loveland, was transported to McKee Medical Center and pronounced dead later in the afternoon.
Loveland Police say there is no indication drugs or alcohol were involved and the driver was not arrested.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Feminism and Bioethics conference 11/14/08 at Stony Brook Manhattan

via email from David Clinton Wills, co-managing editor of International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (IJFAB):

Readers who will be in New York on November 14 might be interested in attending this conference at Stony Brook Manhattan, which includes a section on disability studies.

It will be an intellectually invigorating time, with talks from Professors Eva Feder Kittay, Jackie Leach Scully, Lisa Diedrich, Lisa Eckenweiler, Ruth Macklin, and James V. Nelson. We have a vibrant day planned with a free catered continental breakfast in the morning and a free catered reception/open bar at the close at the Black Duck.

The conference starts at 9:00 a.m. (and ends at 6 p.m.) and our all inclusive registration is free! Stony Brook Manhattan is located in the heart of Manhattan on 401 Park Ave South (between 27th and 28th streets)

Here is a link that provides added details and the free online



Eva Feder Kittay – The Personal is Philosophical
Stony Brook University

Jackie Leach Scully – Hidden Labour: Disability and the Negotiation of Autonomy
Newcastle University

Response by Lisa Diedrich


Lisa Eckenweiler – Caregiving in the Context of Globalization: Towards
Transnational Justice
George Mason University

Ruth Macklin – Global Gender Justice: Health Disparities in Women in
Developing Countries
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Response by James V. Nelson

Friday, October 24, 2008

Adult day care program supervisor arrested for sexual abuse

Tallahassee, Florida - A 30-year old man employed as a direct care staff member at ARC Gateway was arrested yesterday in connection with sexually abusing three women with developmental disabilities; according to Foster Folly News, the man, Mark Harris, was employed as a supervisor and mentor to the three women, whose ages range between 24 and 36. Harris has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious battery of a disabled person, six counts of lewd or lascivious molestation of a disabled person, and two counts of lewd or lascivious behaviour in the presence of a disabled person. If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 70 years in prison and up to $60,000 in fines.
Two men charged with break-in and burglary at home of disabled woman

Buffalo, New York - Two men were charged on Wednesday with first-degree robbery and burglary stemming from a break in and enter at the home of an 80-year-old woman who uses a wheelchair. According to the Buffalo News, the men allegedly put a gun to the woman's head before making off with an undisclosed amount of money and personal papers. The men, 25-year-old Brandon King and 19-year-old Christopher Beyer remain in jail (King, on $150,000 bail, and Byer, $15,000) and will appear in court on Monday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A man with disabilities dies before receiving the DC help he needed and was qualified for because of a "fatal focus on paperwork protocol"

The Washington Post reports that the District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty admitted at a news conference on Tuesday that the city had mishandled the case of the man, known as "Mr Johnson," and that a city investigation is planned. Here is an excerpt that goes someway towards describing the details surrounding the case:

Mr. Johnson, the pseudonym used by lawyers who took up the man's case in recent years, was hit by a bus when he was a toddler, in the 1940s. Doctors concluded that he was left mentally disabled, and for decades he remained at home under his mother's care.

When the mother died 15 years ago, the man's well-being fell to a volunteer who cleaned, shopped and tried to arrange medical care from the city's agency for the mentally disabled. But the volunteer's efforts could not keep the man from living in squalor, hurting himself, skipping his medication and ultimately dying in a diabetic coma.

Mr. Johnson was caught in a bureaucratic loop. Because his childhood care was provided by his mother, he was not part of the government system and therefore was denied services as an adult, according to a report released by University Legal Services last week.

Instead of getting the services the man needed and qualified for, "he was rejected," Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said at a news conference he called yesterday in response to The Washington Post's questions about the case. "The Department of Disabilities Services, upon review of the records, mishandled the case on two occasions."

The legal advocacy group said it wrote the report to shine a light on a bureaucracy's fatal focus on paperwork protocol that kept a person in need from getting help.

"We have other clients like him who have been waiting around for services, and they are denied services simply because they don't have the right records, usually documents from D.C. public schools," said Mary Nell Clark, managing attorney for University Legal Services.

Palin opposes Colorado Ballot Initiative that raises sales tax to help people with developmental disabilities

From, Colorado, October 21 (via Justice For All Blog)

DENVER - Republican Vice Presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) is speaking against a Colorado ballot initiative designed to help the state's developmentally disabled population by raising the sales tax.

Palin made the comments Monday in Colorado against Amendment 51 which seeks to raise the sales tax by one cent on every $10 spent in each of the next two years.

The money would go to help the roughly 12,000 kids and adults in Colorado who currently are on a wait list to receive state services such as home nursing care and job training. They suffer from autism, Down syndrome and mental retardation. Palin's son has Down syndrome and she has campaigned as an advocate for special needs families.

"There's got to be an alternative to raising taxes," Palin said, while answering a question submitted by former Colorado First Lady Frances Owens, who describes herself as a "fiscal conservative," a supporter of the McCain-Palin ticket and as one of the spokespeople in favor of Amendment 51. "It's a matter of prioritizing the dollars that are already there in government. What I did as governor in Alaska is prioritize for a great increase in funding for students with special needs up there and I think Colorado can do that also.

"It doesn't necessarily mean increasing taxes to meet those needs. It's all a matter of prioritization," said Palin.

Supporters of the amendment have said there is no "extra money" sitting around state government to help people who deserve it. Owens says compassionate conservatives should support helping people with developmental disabilities because it's a moral issue as much as it is a fiscal one.

"If they cannot get services that will help them get into the workforce then they are relegated to staying at home and they will never prosper in their own lives," said Owens in an interview the day after Palin spoke. "So, I think it's more of a human rights issue that we're just trying to help people that can't always help themselves."

A group called End Colorado's Wait List is promoting the measure ( There is no organized opposition to Amendment 51 although Colorado critics have articulated the point Palin made; that there has to be money available in state government to divert toward those with developmental disabilities.

Read more about Amendment 51 here.
Fort Myers, Florida - Nine-year-old girl with mental illness arrested at school

Wink News (Lee County, Fla.), News Press, and First Coast News report that a nine year girl with a mental illness was arrested last Tuesday at Royal Palm School, a school for special needs students, and is now facing charges for battery on an education employee. According to First Coast News, "the girl went from a timeout room to a criminal holding cell Tuesday, and faces two counts of felony battery against her teachers." Lots of questions, not addressed in these reports, about the medical treatment, if any, she was receiving for schizophrenia (it appears that her mother was unable to get her treatment at a core health care centre), support for her mother (who has another child with a mental illness), use of time-out rooms and restraints, the involvement of the Department of Children and Families (it appears that teachers tried to address the issue on their own -why didn't they contact DCF?), of using jail as the means for dealing with social problems. Here is an excerpt from News Press:

Williams [her mother] said after her daughter was prescribed several medications with no success, doctors began suggesting experimental drugs. Williams didn't agree to that, so treatment ended and the family moved to Lehigh Acres. Williams said she tried to get help from the Ruth Cooper campus of Lee Mental Health, but couldn't get an appointment.

John Gervickas, children's mental health specialist with DCF, spoke with Williams twice Wednesday after The News-Press inquired about the case. He said an appointment for an assessment is being made. While there was DCF involvement with the family before for a claim of neglect, the girl's mental state was never at issue.

Michael McNally, vice president of community relations at Lee Mental Health, said he could not speak specifically on this case, but "given the history and everything else, that would be very surprising to me," McNally said of the girl not receiving help at the agency.

Lee Mental Health serves more adults than children and, while the number of adult patients admitted has increased with the population, he said, treating all children who come hasn't been an issue.

His agency would have had to accept the girl had officer Nicholson chosen to forcibly admit her for mental health care under a law called the Baker Act. But interim Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker said there are many stipulations for a Baker Act, especially for children.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Congratulations, Anne Jennings

Seventeen-year-old Anne Jennings was selected homecoming queen by her classmates at Libertyville High School, Chicago, earlier this month. There are fabulous photos of Ms Jennings, who has Down syndrome, and her "magical homecoming" here, and a story by the Chicago Tribune here:

Now that she's royalty, Anne Jennings dances down the hallways, bursts into excited giggles and hugs her BFFs, or "best friends forever," without warning. Of course, she did pretty much all those things before being named homecoming queen at Libertyville High School, but somehow, life has become more magical.

As a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, the senior "has been walking on air" since being crowned this month."Before, I was just plain me," said Jennings, selected by student vote out of 17 nominated girls. "When I was queen, it changed. It's amazing. Everyone loves me. I love me.

"Her mother's videotape of the Oct. 3 school assembly when her daughter was crowned says it all. After Jennings learned that she was among the top five members of the court, the video images began shaking. By the time the crown was placed on Jennings' head, the background noise boomed with the sounds of students cheering wildly.
See also Aledo High seniors pick classmate with Down syndrome as homecoming queen, which reports on the recent selection of Kristen Pass as Aledo High (Dallas, Texas) homecoming queen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Norwalk, Conneticut - charges of sexual assault by a former sex offender

A 61-year-old resident of Marathon Healthcare Centre, who, remarkably, has a prior conviction for sexual assault, has been charged with sexually assaulting a fellow female patient with developmental disabilities, Newsday reports. According to police, Windell Jordan entered the woman's room and touched her without her permission on several ocassions in recent weeks. Jordan, who was placed on the state's Sex Offender Registray after a 1989 conviction for second degree sexual assault, has been charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, and is being held on $100,000 bond. He will appear in court on October 24.
Tacoma Goodwill fined for safety violations in connection with the death of man with developmental disabilities

From Seattle PI News Source:

Tacoma, WA - The state fined Tacoma Goodwill Industries nearly $50,000 for safety violations that contributed to the death of a developmentally disabled worker.

The 27-year-old man, Nick Miller, was crushed April 15 by a machine that lifts trash into a compactor.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports the Department of Labor and Industries found that Goodwill failed to properly train and supervise disabled workers and failed to make sure the trash-tipping machine had emergency stop controls.

Tacoma Goodwill CEO Terry Hayes disputes the findings and says it will appeal. She says Goodwill has worked with the department in the past and inspectors did not find problems with the trash machine or ask for special accident prevention training for disabled workers.

See also Goodwill fined in death of developmentally disabled worker
Time out rooms may be harmful for students with disabilities

Some educators say time-out rooms are being used more often to discipline children with disabilities and that the isolation might be harmful: for children with autism, it might be particularly counterproductive, according to this story from the Associated Press. Here is an excerpt:

After failing to finish a reading assigment, 8-year-old Isabel Loeffler was sent to the school's time-out room - a converted storage area under a staircase - where she was left alone for three hours.

The autistic Iowa girl wet herself before she was finally allowed to leave.

Appalled, her parents removed her from the school district and filed a lawsuit.

Some educators say time-out rooms are being used with increased frequency to discipline children with behavioral disorders. And the time outs are probably doing more harm that good, they add.

"It really is a form of abuse," said Ken Merrell, head of the Department for Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon. "It's going to do nothing to change the behavior. You're using it as an isolation booth."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Loreen Arbus scholarship opportunity for a woman studying film, television or communications

via Mik Danger over at Coffee and Gender

Through the generosity of Loreen Arbus, New York Women in Film & Television is offering a $2,500 scholarship for a woman with a physical disability who is studying film, television or communications in the Tri-State area. Students enrolled in an established technical program, community college, college or university are eligible. Students enrolled in graduate programs are also eligible.

The funds may be used for tuition and fees or for production costs for a student film or video project. The deadline for application is Friday, October 17, 2008.

To apply for the scholarship, send a resume and a written 2-4-page description of your current work and goals as a filmmaker. If funds will be used for a film or video project, and a work-in-progress is available, a DVD should be included.

Applications should be sent to:
New York Women in Film & Television
Loreen Arbus Scholarship
6 East 39th Street, Suite 1200New York, NY 10016

The deadline for application is Friday, October 17, 2008. If you have any questions, please call Sue Marcoux at 212-679-0870, ext. 25.
National Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Readers who will be in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Ca, on October 24 and 25 might be interested in attending this symposium on euthanasia and assisted suicide at the Victorial Inn Hotel and Conference Centre. Speakers include Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake of NOT DEAD YET, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and others. The registration fee is $99CA, with a reduced rate for students and disabled people. For more information, visit the conference website:

h/t to what sorts of people

Madonna: "This song is for the emotionally retarded"

Via the UK Telegraph

Any thoughts?
Call for Papers: Bodies in Motion - University of Rhode Island Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

"Bodies in Motion"
The University of Rhode Island’s Third Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference.
Saturday, March 28th, 2009.
Submission Deadline, Friday, November 28th, 2008.

Across academic disciplines, "bodies" — animal, epistemological, textual, or otherwise — defy singular definition and elude our efforts to pin them down. As they parallel, intersect, and inform one another, these "bodies" demand rigorous research, creative thinking, and ever-evolving methodologies. How do we account for these "bodies in motion" and the complex ecologies of knowledge that they form? From what critical perspectives — scientific, mathematic, literary,
historical, political, rhetorical, ethical, philosophical — can we examine these "bodies" in order to learn from them and from others? The graduate community at the University of Rhode Island invites submissions for posters, papers, presentations, performances and panels from a variety of disciplines exploring "bodies in motion."

Possible topics and areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Theorizing the body or bodies
• Bodies and environmental crisis
• The legal body
• Economic bodies
• Political bodies
• Bodies and health care
• Biotechnology and ethics of the body
• Mass media and the global image of bodies
• Migration, displacement, and/or diasporas
• Bodies in literature
• Bodies as machines/Machines as bodies
• The aesthetics of movement
• Bodies in the digital age
• Bodies and the flow of technology
• Artistic interpretations of the body

Submission Guidelines:

Please propose individual papers or panels and indicate whether you are willing to moderate a panel. Panels of 3-4 presentations are especially welcome.

To propose a paper, submit a cover page with your name; institutional affiliation; contact information (mailing address, phone number, and email); a 250-word abstract of the paper; a roughly 100-word bio; anda detailed request for audiovisual equipment (if needed).
Presentations will be limited to fifteen minutes (about seven double-spaced pages).

To propose a panel, submit a cover page including the title of the panel and the names of presenters; a panel abstract of 150-250 words; a separate page with the names of presenters, their contact information (mailing address, phone number, and email) and institutional affiliation(s), the titles of their presentations; and a 250-word abstract for each paper. Panels will be one hour and fifteen minutes long.

The conference committee requests the submission of materials in the body of an email or as an attachment in a Word, text, or PDF document. All submissions should be emailed to Please refer any questions you may have to this address as well.

The deadline for submissions is 8:00 a.m. on Friday, November 28th, 2008. Notification of acceptance will be by Friday, December 19th, 2008.

Stephen Marchand
University of Rhode Island
114 Swan Hall
Phone: 401-874-5931
Fax: 401-874-2580

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sun City, Arizona - Missing woman

Sun City, Arizona - Arizona Central reports that a 39-year-old women with developmental disabilities has been missing since Tuesday night. Paula Jean Collis was last seen heading southeast on Grand Avenue near 107th street after 11 pm.
Collis was described as a white female, 5 feet 2 inches tall and 250 pounds. She has brown hair and blue eyes.

Collis was reportedly wearing a red T-shirt, pink Capri pants, and had no shoes on when she disappeared.

Anyone with information should contact the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office onn 602-876-1011.

A photo of Ms Collis is here.

Man with disabilities tortured and left for dead

Update: Twin Cities reports that new felony charges have been filed against three of the men in connection with the beating and torture of Mr Hamilton, including "assault motivated by bias." It also reports that a 16-year-old girl has also been charged in connection with the beating. It is alleged that Natasha Dahn encouraged the attack by making up a story that Mr Hamilton had assaulted her. According to authorities, her story is not true. Ms Dahn took part in the attack by kicking Mr Hamilton, it is reported.

Minneapolis, Minnesota - According to the Star Tribune, four men have been charged with assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment in connection with the torture of a 24-year-old man with developmental disabilities last weekend. According to criminal complaints, the men tied Mr Justin Hamilton to a tree with a belt, beat him, and burnt him with cigarette lighters for hours over two days, and then when he became unconscious, left him for dead. According to Mr Hamilton's mother, Carolyn Hamilton, who is caring for him at home, his body "is entirely black and blue. He may lose sight in one eye and has broken ribs and possible kidney damage."

Jonathon Michael Diepold, 22, Glen Richard Ries, 33, John Maxwell Maniglia, 19, and Timothy John Ketterling, 22, have been charged with third-and-fourth-degree assault, false imprisonment and theft. They remain in jail in lieau of $100,000 bail each. Additonal charges against the men, as well as a 16-year-old girl, are expected. According to authorities, the motive for the assault may involve the 16-year-old girl, whom Mr Hamilton had befriended.

How could it happen that Mr Hamilton could be beaten two days in a row? Was anyone looking out for him?

See also: Northfield Men Get Tougher Charges in Beating of Disabled Lakeville Man

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Second teenager is sentenced in Ohio beating

Hamilton, Ohio - The Oxford Press reports that a Hamilton teenager has been sentenced to 39 years in prison for his part in the beating of 19-year-old Ashley Clark, who is developmentally disabled, in February.

Joseph Nagle, 17, of Progress Lane, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, complicity to aggravated robbery, felonious assault, two counts of kidnapping and vandalism for assaulting Ashley Clark, 19, all day Feb. 22. Nagle faced a total of 59 years in prison.

Last month, Nagle's girlfriend and codefendant, Cheyenne Blanton, 17, was sentenced by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Nastoff to 44 years in prison for the same charges.

As reported in an earlier FRIDA post, Nagle and Blanton were accused of binding, gagging and beating Ashley Clark, sometimes with a baseball bat, for at least six hours at her home. The abuse included shaving her head, dousing her in a cold shower, and forcing her to walk barefoot in the snow. Her pleas to her assailants not to strike her in the head because she had had brain surgery went unheeded, she told the police. The couple, who have a baby together, also plotted to steal the car belonging to Ashley Clark's mother, Sheila Clark.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Missing Colarado teen's body has been found

Colorado Springs, Colorado - KKTV reports that the body of 19-year-old Judilianna Lawrence, an African American teenager with learning disabilities who has been missing since Friday morning, has been found on Old Stage Road. Known as "Judi" to her friends and family, authorities have arrested 21-year-old Robert Marko, a Fort Carson solider whom Ms Lawrence met through Myspace, in connection with her death. Marko is presently in the custody of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office with-out bond.

Rest in peace, Judilianna.

See also: Learning-Disabled Teen Missing; Soldier Named 'Person of Interest'
New: International Network of Women with Disabilities Listserv

via Ambertracker:

A new listserv has been set up for women with disabilities around the world interested in international treaty work. Here is the listserv summary:

The participants in a global Summit on the Rights of Women with Disabilities, held in Quebec, Canada, in August 2008, launched a global network of women with disabilities, which aims to include women with ALL types of disabilities from ALL over the world. The goals of the network are to share our knowledge and experiences, speak up for our rights (through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the human rights framework), bring about change and inclusion in our communities, and empower women with disabilities to be leaders of today and tomorrow. We invite ALL women with disabilities to join us and we will achieve these goals TOGETHER.

To join, visit

Monday, October 13, 2008

Danieal Kelly update

Philadelphia, PA - Two more municipal employees will be fired for their roles in the death by starvation of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly, LD News reported on Saturday. It also reported that one other employee has retired and a fourth has resigned. Nine people face criminal charges in the case.

As reported by FRIDA in earlier posts, Danieal Kelly, age 14, had cerebral palsy, and died in 2006 from starvation and neglect. Her mother, Andrea Kelly, 39, has been charged with her murder, and her father, Daniel Kelly, has been charged with child endangerment.

For earlier reports, see:

Parents charged in starvation death sue Philly
A Timeline of Neglect
9 charged in starvation death of teen
Dan Savage - In defense of dignity

Via The Stranger (Seattle, WA):

Columnist, author, journalist, and newspaper editor Dan Savage, widely known for his weekly column Savage Love, has written this thoughtful essay, "In Defense of Dignity," about the recent death of his mother from pulmonary fibrosis. It's written, in part, in the context of this coming November's ballot (Initiative 1000) in Washington State on assisted suicide. Lots of discussion follows the article in the comments section. Here is a small excerpt:

... Without the intervention of man—and medical science—my mother would have died years earlier. And at the end, even without assisted suicide as an option, my mother had to make her choices. Two hours with the mask off? Six with the mask on? Another two days hooked up to machines? Once things were hopeless, she chose the quickest, if not the easiest, exit. Mask off, two hours. That was my mother's choice, not God's.

Did my mother commit suicide? I wonder what the pope might say.

I know what my mother would say: The same church leaders who can't manage to keep priests from raping children aren't entitled to micromanage the final moments of our lives.

If religious people believe assisted suicide is wrong, they have a right to say so. Same for gay marriage and abortion. They oppose them for religious reasons, but it's somehow not enough for them to deny those things to themselves. They have to rush into your intimate life and deny them to you, too—deny you control over your own reproductive organs, deny you the spouse of your choosing, condemn you to pain (or the terror of it) at the end of your life.

The proper response to religious opposition to choice or love or death can be reduced to a series of bumper stickers: Don't approve of abortion? Don't have one. Don't approve of gay marriage? Don't have one. Don't approve of physician-assisted suicide? For Christ's sake, don't have one. But don't tell me I can't have one—each one—because it offends your God.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

St. Petersburg, Florida - Disabled man robbed and beaten

via Tampa Bays 10 News:

Pinellas County Sheriff's detectives are looking for two men who beat and robbed a disabled man Thursday afternoon outside a convenience store in unincorporated St. Petersburg.

The victim is deaf, cannot speak and works part-time at the Quick Food and Deli at 7539 46th Avenue North.

Investigators say one of the men lured the victim outside where the other suspect attacked, kicked and robbed him.

Pinellas County Sheriff's detectives released surveillance video which shows one of the suspects. Both men are described as white, in their 30's, around 6' tall.

Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (727) 582-6200.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Medical health technician charged with sexual abuse

Via Hymes over at Charlottesville Prejudice Rights Watch:

Tacoma, Washington - The News Tribune reports that a 51-year-old man has been charged in connection with the sexual assault of a teenage girl with developmental disabilities at Western State Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. Remarkably, the man, a 51-year-old mental health technician at the state-run psychiatric hospital, had been reported for sexually assaulting female patients twice before, but no criminal charges were laid. Following an investigation prompted by the third woman's allegations of sexual abuse, five criminal accounts have now been filed against him, including charges stemming from the previous two complaints. The man has been released after posting $50,000 bail and will appear in court on November 13 for a pre-trial hearing.

Hymes post, titled "Another day, another sexual assault of a female state hospital paitent ...," is here. Hymes is an advocate for single gender living and personal care options for state hospital patients.
ElderSpeak, RaceSpeak, DisabilitySpeak

Wheelchair Dancer has written this post by that title about the power of language. Here is a very small part of it:

Well, OK, then. Words have effects. Detrimental effects; they can transform you into someone else's negative image of you. True enough. I'd like to see this go fullscale. I'd like to see recognition of the power of language to create negative space in which others must live, must see themselves, and must accept if they are to gain access to some of the basic needs of everyday life. Why limit the discussion to just senior citizens? We know it is true for people of colour; I (and I suspect many of you) know exactly how this kind of language works for disabled people.

It is hard to enter a room, a conversational space, or a professional environment if you know that you will potentially be considered defective by some of those with whom you must interact. The thought gets in the back of your mind; you push it away. It persists; you tell it you're not. You tell it to go away. You look down; you remember the pain; you feel the hurt. It all tells you that, at the very least, you aren't like them. Are you, possibly, less than them? It goes on. And soon, the thought gets into your head. You stumble in your answers to the questions, because, well, you know. You are worried about them thinking poorly of you, you want to do well, but then you stumble and then you *Know* they were right; there is something wrong with you after all.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sexual abuse of women with developmental disabilities

Sadly, there have been lots of cases of sexual abuse against women with developmental disabilities in the news this past week; here are but a few of them:

Syracuse, New York - WSYR reports that a man has been charged with a felony count of criminal sex act in connection with the sexual abuse of a female patient with developmental disabilities at Crouse Hospital. Remarkably, the man, 23-year-old Jamison Adist was hired as a "safety companion" for the woman. A hospital spokesman says that from now on, all safety companions will be matched with a person of the same gender.

Moundsville, West Virginia - A man has been senteced to 5 years in jail in connection with the sexual assault of a 57-year-old women with developmental disabilities at the Dora Allietta Memorial Home where she was a resident, the Charleston Gazette reports. Roy Reed Sheldon, who reportedly lived at the facility with his wife (who worked there), pleaded guilty on Monday to third-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual abuse and indecent exposure.

Sparks, Nevada - KRNV reports that a man charged in connection with the rape of a 13-year-old girl with developmental disabilities at the Sparks Marina last July pleaded not guilty on Wednesday. Richard Bunch, 49, is charged with one count of sexual assault of a child.

Fresno - On October 1, The Fresno Bee reported the arrest of a 57-year-old man for sexually assaulting a 45-year-old woman with developmental disabiities on the bus he was driving. The man, Gilbert Chavez, drove the bus for the Safe Harbor Adult Care Center in Fresno. It is alleged that he assaulted the woman several times on the bus before picking up other Safe Harbor Clients. He remains in jail on $100,000 bail.

UPDATE: CBS reports on October 2 that an administrator for the Safe Harbor Adult Care Center is also being investigated in connection with the assault. According to the Fresno County Sheriff's Department, Ms Joanie Ballantyne is being investigated for witholding evidence about the crime from police.

Riverside - On October 2, KTLA reported that a 57-year-old man has been convicted of 38 sexual assault- related charges in connection with the sexual assault of as many as 11 homeless women with developmental disabilities over a four-year period. According to prosecutors, 57-year-old Peter Frances Milosavejevic invited the women, whose ages range from 30 to 59, into his home on the pretext of providing them with shelter and then sexually abused them. Remarkably, Milosavejevic was paroled in 2000 after serving 5 years of a 13-year sentence for the brutal assault of a woman with developmental disabilities in 1993. Milosavjevic will be sentenced on November 21 and faces life prison.

Yeadon, Philadelphia - A man charged in connection with raping a 70-year-old woman with developmental disabilities waived a preliminary hearing last Friday, the Delco Times reports. In addition to felony rape of a mentally disabled person, 46-year-old Timothy Patrick White, is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, simple assault, aggravated assault, indecent assault, and reckless endangerment. The woman, according to the affidavit, has multiple health issues, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and was not able to communicate what happened to her. White, who was linked to the crime by DNA, remains in prison in lieu of $200,000 bail, and is schedule to be formally arraigned on November 6.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Michelle Dawson wins her human rights case

Ottawa, Canada - The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has upheld a complaint against Canada Post by Michelle Dawson, a former mail carrier in Montreal, the Leader Post reports.
In a ruling released Monday, the tribunal said Canada Post violated the Canadian Human Rights Act by failing to accommodate Michelle Dawson's disability and by allowing management staff to harass her.
Ms Dawson, who was diagnosed with autism in the early 1990s, is a autism researcher and writer. The details of the case (with lots of congratulations in the comments) and links to the Tribunal's decision are at her blog Autism Crisis. There are also posts and congratulations over at Ballastexistenz and Autism Vox. Here is an excerpt from Ms Dawson's post on the ruling, titled "Another autism victory".

…..this Tribunal decision, for all its faults with respect to the facts of the specific case, is instead a step in the right direction. It’s a step towards human rights for autistics in Canada, and towards all the possibilities human beings have, when we are regarded and treated as equals, and can proceed in society as fully human beings with human rights and dignity.
Buffalo, New York: elderly woman terrorized in her home

Via WIVB News:

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - An elderly woman in a wheelchair was terrorized in her north Buffalo home.

Police said two men rang her doorbell, and when she answered, they put a gun to her neck and demanded money.

Police said the attackers then pushed her out of the way and stormed into her home, and took off with her purse.

She was not seriously hurt.

Anyone with information is asked to call Buffalo Police at 847-2255.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Kennewick, Washington - SUV driver sought for hit and run

Kennewick, Washington - KNDO reports that a Kennewick woman in a motorized wheelchair was hit on Sunday evening by a driver in a white SUV who made no attempt to stop. According to police, the accident happened on 10th Avenue near south Garfield Street just after 10.00pm. Dianna Law, who has MS, is reported to have pulled out of the parking lane into oncoming traffic so as to go around a vehicle that was parked in her way. Ms Law was taken to Kennewick General Hospital for treatment and has since been released.

Police do not know the make or the model of the white SUV but believe there should be noticeable damage on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Anyone with information about the crash or the location of the vehicle is asked to call Kennewick police at 628-0333.
Paul K. Longmore oped: Palin talks about special needs children, but Obama has substantive plans for all people with disabilities

The Huffington Post has a commentary by Paul K. Longmore, who is Professor of History and Director of the Institute of Disability at San Francisco State Univerity: he argues that although there has been lots of talk about "special needs" children since Sara Palin's presidential acceptance speech, there has been little talk about the issues that concern the 54 million Americans with disabilities of all ages. He also compares the stances of the McCain-Palin ticket and the Obama-Biden ticket on healthcare, health insurance and social services for people with disabilities. Here is an excerpt:

Ever since Sarah Palin's acceptance speech, there has been a great deal of talk about "special needs" children but little about the issues that concern the 54 million Americans with disabilities of all ages. Pollsters and pundits almost completely ignore the tens of millions of voters in the disability rights constituency---adults with disabilities, family members, and many professionals---but they will play a much larger role in this election than most observers recognize. That makes understanding their issues important.

Palin's promise to be a "friend and advocate" for the families of children with disabilities has some parents understandably excited. In August, University of North Carolina researchers reported "chilling" rates of "hardship" among both middle class and poor families with disabled children as they struggle "to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and to pay for needed health and dental care." Large numbers of adults with disabilities face the same hardships.

Even though 90% of the 54 Americans with disabilities are adults, Palin, John McCain, and the news media have talked almost exclusively about children. And that talk has been mostly about "compassion" not "issues." The McCain-Palin campaign website has a single page on "Americans with Disabilities for McCain," but it says nothing about policy positions. Other pages mention autism and disabled veterans but no other issues.

In contrast, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have said little on the campaign trail about disability issues but their campaign website provides detailed policy proposals in
a comprehensive "Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities."

Here's a comparison of McCain-Palin's and Obama-Biden's stances on 'healthcare, health insurance, and social services for people with disabilities.

Read the rest of his commentary here ....

Paul K. Longmore is the author of Why I Burned my Book and Other Essays on Disability.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Abuse of Women with Physical Disabilities


Abuse of women with disabilities is the title of a Doctoral Dissertation by Morris, Rusty Lee, Union Institute and University (2004, 174 pages; ProQuest Dissertation and Thesis Number AAT 3146434). According to ICAD, there is a lot of useful information in this thesis, which is available from Proquest Digital Dissertations for a fee (or you may be able to download it for free if your library subscribes). Here is a brief discussion/overview of it (via ICAD):

In this study the researcher conducted an internet-based survey of 143 women with physical disabilities or sensory disabilities. Most (140) had physical disabilities, 9 were blind, and 23 were hearing impaired or deaf, so some had more than one disability. There are some limitations in generalizing from this kind of survey to the general population, but this is a good start.

Of all the women who took the survey 95.1% indicated that they had experienced physical abuse, and almost as many 84.5% of the whole group indicated that they had reported the abuse. The high rate of abuse is disturbing but the high rate of reporting is encouraging. However, many indicted that they had experienced some instances of abuse that they had not reported.

About a third (20.3%) indicted that they felt they had been abused because of their disability, 33..8% strongly disagreed and the rest were someplace between strongly agreeing and strongly disagreeing.

Many (53.5%) strongly agreed that they could not leave the abusive situation because of a lack of economic resources, while only 28.2% strongly disagreed. Sadly, 17.5% strongly agreed that the abuse was their fault, but happily 37.3% strongly disagreed. This leaves a large number in the middle who are unsure, or who feel that they are partly responsible.

Call for Proposals: 25th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities

May 4-5, 2009 • Honolulu, Hawai‘i • Hawai‘i Convention Center

Working toward a brighter future

The Center on Disability Studies ( at theUniversity of Hawai‘i cordially invites you to the 25th Annual PacificRim International Conference on Disabilities on May 4-5, 2009 inHonolulu, Hawai‘i. Celebrate the collective achievements of the past and look forward to create an inclusive vision for the 21st century. As we face economic uncertainty and global challenges, it is even more important to honor tradition, and use this foundation to navigate ourfutures.

In the tradition of PacRim, the 2009 conference will revisit familiar themes and explore new directions through scholarship, best practice,and international networking. Join us, and continue this extraordinary journey. We will have several pre and post conference sessions, including an accessible sports Sunday at the beach; an international film festival; and the 2nd Annual International Forum: Securing theRights of Persons with Disabilities: Eradicating Poverty.

Envisioning the Future

· To achieve human and social progress we will address poverty.

· To maximize human potential we will highlight indigenous/nativepeoples; girls and women; and veterans with disabilities.

· To realize our dreams for inclusion and self-determination, we will ensure all people have access to services and opportunities: transitionto adulthood, employment, family support, independent living.

· To create an accessible world, we will showcase Universal Design forLearning and Living and feature products and design elements for home,school, play and office.

· To ensure our future we will prepare our youth to take responsibilityfor the future by bringing them together to dialogue about experiences,visions, insights, and futures.

· To support your attendance PacRim 2009 will provide an early acceptance notice within 2-3 weeks of your submission. Conference ratesare very reasonable and we have secured room blocks for under $160 pernight. We will also help facilitate room-shares if you are trying tokeep your costs low. We all need to be together!

If you are only able to attend one conference this year, choose PacRim2009 in Waikiki, Hawaii at the beautiful Hawaii Convention Center.

Traditionally this conference is one of the most exciting for attendees and presenters – providing a unique balance of cultures, and issues oflocal, national and international importance. This year’s conference will seek to better these efforts and provide you with a most unique and exceptional experience – we hope to be seeing you in Honolulu inMay.

Robert Stodden
Director, the Center on Disability Studies

Charmaine CrockettCo-Chair, PacRim 2009

Valerie ShearerCo-Chair, PacRim 2009

Web Site Links

Text Only version of the Call for Papers
About PacRim:
PacRim Themes:
About the Convention Center:

Friday, October 03, 2008

John L Horace: parole denied

Rochester, New York - The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports on the release of the July parole hearing for John L. Horace, 64, who is serving 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison in connection with the rape of a comatose patient at a Rochester nursing home more than a decade ago. This was his third bid for parole, and a three-person panel has refused to release him. The case became widely known when the woman he raped gave birth to a son in March 1996. She never came out of her coma and died in March 1997. It's noteworthy that Horace, who worked as a nurses aid at the nursing home, still claims that he did not have any sexual contact with the woman, but rather, that he artificially inseminated her in order to bring her out of her coma. According to Horace,

"Because she was my patient (at Westfall) I felt she should have the life to walk around like every other person," Horace told the Parole Board in July. "Having read books and studied what I studied in gynecology, that a trigger reaction could cause this lady to come out of this coma, at least probably talk if not walk."
While working at the nursing home, Horace also operated as a “sex therapist. He was charged with, and pleaded guilty, to performing gynecological exams without a medical license. Horace was also convicted of sexually assaulting another patient at the nursing home, a 48-year-old woman who had multiple sclerosis.

Horace's victim was known publicly as "Kathy." Kathy's son went to live with his maternal grandmother after his birth.
Side-by-side comparison of the presidential candidates positions on disability-related issues

The Ohio Legal Rights Service has prepared a side-by-side comparison chart of the presidential candidates' positions on disability-related issues.

FRIDA provides a link to this comparison for educational purposes only. FRIDA neither supports or endorses any political candidate or party.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Kathi Wolfe: Campaigns need to address disability issues

Kathi Wolfe is a legally blind writer and poet in Fall Church, Va., who often writes about disability issues. The following Progressive Media Project op-ed about the presidential campaign appeared in The News Observer, North Carolina.

At last, the issue of disability has surfaced in a presidential race.

Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin has repeatedly pledged to be an advocate for parents of children with special needs. On the Democratic side, Sen. Joe Biden has voiced his concern for children with disabilities.

Yet neither campaign is addressing the issues - from health care to education to employment to access to technology - that are of vital concern to people with disabilities, like myself. We often have the greatest need for medical care, but the most difficulty obtaining health care coverage.

Frequently, we can't obtain (individual) private health insurance because our disabilities are considered pre-existing conditions. Millions of us depend on Medicare or Medicaid (two troubled, underfunded government programs) for our health care. Others who don't qualify for Medicare or Medicaid end up being uninsured.

Parents struggle daily to obtain health care coverage for their children with special needs. They worry about how their offspring will get the medical care they'll need when they become adults. Yet the candidates aren't talking about what can be done to address the health care struggles of people like us and our families.

Nothing is more important to anyone's development than education. This is especially true for people with disabilities. Many of us would not be part of society or the workplace if we had not had the chance to obtain an education. I wouldn't be a writer today if my mother hadn't fought for my right to an education when I was a child.

Today, years since the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was passed in 1975, people with disabilities still face discrimination in schools - from kindergarten to high schools to colleges. To combat this prejudice, the act needs to be fully funded and enforced. But I don't hear the presidential campaigns talking about how to do this.

Though many of us are able and willing to work, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is 70 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Frequently, we're unemployed because of prejudice (some employers don't want to hire disabled people) or barriers (such as the lack of wheelchair ramps or other forms of accommodation). Neither Sens. John McCain nor Barack Obama has spoken on the stump about how to remove these barriers.

Internet-based technologies such as social networks are rapidly changing how our culture operates. Yet, because many of these innovations are inaccessible if you're blind or deaf, people like me are often being left behind in this technological revolution. Even the Web sites of the presidential candidates aren't accessible to disabled people, according to the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet.

There are 51 million Americans with disabilities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In this presidential campaign, the candidates have an opportunity to pay more than lip service to our issues. I hope they will seize it.

Readers may write to Kathi Wolfe at Progressive Media Project,

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Two more charged in connection with the abuse of disabled East St Louis woman

East St. Louis, Illinois - Last Thursday, FRIDA reported that three teenagers had been charged with aggravated battery in connection with the severe beating of a 34-year-old woman with developmental disabilities in East St Louis. WTHI TV reports that two more people, Phillip Gilmore and Willie Bender, have been charged with neglect of a disabled person. According to police, both men were in the home with the woman and did nothing to stop the abuse she suffered or report it to police. Bail for both men has been set at $50,000. The woman suffered broken bones and bruising as a result of the beatings and her right leg was amputated after becoming gangrenous. It is alleged that the beatings took place on a regular basis over a three year period under the direction of the woman's now deceased sister.

Certified nurse charged with sexual abuse

Cohoes, New York - A certified nurses aide has been charged with sexual abuse in the first degree and with forcible touching in relation to the sexual abuse of a patient with physical disabilities and multiple sclerosis at a Cohoes nursing home, the North Country Gazette reports. According to court documents, 51-year-old Robert Gunderson, who was assigned as a nurses aide to the nursing home in August and September 2008, assaulted the woman on the night of September 2. She is described as being unable to control her movements and as needing considerable help and assistance with her daily needs. Gunderson is being held on $20,000 bail and if convicted, faces up to 7 years in prison.

Medical driver charged with sexual assault

Hennepin County, Minneapolis, Minnesota - A contract driver for NAB Transportation Incorporated has been charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the sexual assault of a woman with developmental disabilities, TwinCities. com reports. Vladimir Andreyevich Yulchinchuk, 40, is alleged to have sexually assaulted the woman after picking her up from a Minneapolis residential treatment facility on June 18 for an appointment at Hennepin County Medical Center. In an interview, the company manager of of NAB, Andrew Dmitruk, said it is unclear how the woman got into Yulchinchuk's van: "she was not a client" of the NAB transportation and the "company wasn't scheduled to transport her to the appointment," he reportedly said. Yulchinchuk is being held on $50,000 bail.
Hearing begins for skate park beatings of two disabled men

Santa Rosa, California - Testimony began yesterday morning (Monday) at a preliminary hearing for five men charged with assaulting, kidnapping and robbing two men with developmental disabilities at a Santa Rosa skate park in April, CBS News reports.
Victim John Doe testified in Sonoma County Superior Court this morning that he was beaten, kicked and hit with a tree branch in a clearing off a path at the Fulton Skate Park on April 26. He said one of his assailants poured beer on his head, another urinated on him and two assailants with knives said they would kill him.
The defendants, Pierre Jacques Guidry Jr., 18, Mark Anthony Echemendia, Reid Rogers, Frederick Caddell Jr., 19 and Bryan Stanley, 21, have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are being held in the Sonoma County jail. According to police, the defendants beat both men and forced one to withdraw money from an ATM machine. Three of the defendants have been charged with additional sexual offenses. The two men were treated at a hospital for their injuries.