Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beating death of toddler

Wildwood, New Jersey - 31-year-old Damian Garcia Rodriguez was arrested last Thursday and charged on Friday with beating to death 2-year-old Caden Rivera, who had cerebral palsy. According to the Star Ledger, Rodriguez was babysitting Caden at the home of his girlfriend Jennifer Bowen, who is also Caden's mother.

When the boy's mother, Jennifer Bowen, came home, she saw that her son was unconscious and turning blue.

Bowen and Garcia Rodriguez took him to Cape May Regional Medical Center, where he died Thursday from a blunt force trauma injury to the abdomen, an autopsy revealed.

Garcia is being held without bail in prison.

See also Toddler beaten to death in Woodbine
Danieal Kelly update

Following yesterday's update, the Associated Press now reports that Andrea Kelly has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and child endangerment in the death in 2006 of her daughter, Danieal Kelly. The story in full is here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Danieal Kelly: an update

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 39 year-old Andrea Kelly will plead guilty to third-degree murder today in connection with the death in 2006 of her 14-year-old daughter, Danieal Kelly. For readers unfamiliar with this case, Danieal Kelly, who had cerebral palsy, died of starvation while under the supervision of Philadephia's Department of Human Services. At the time of her death in what has been described as a sweltering apartment, she weight just 46 pounds and her back as full of gaping bedsores infested with maggots. Her death and other failures by the DHS resulted in nine indictments, the firing of two DHS top officials and a number of reforms at the agency. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

The girl's slow death happened while the family, which included 10 children, was under the supervision of DHS. Prosecutors say the DHS caseworkers failed to do their jobs, which was to protect the child from neglect.

The agency had hired a private social services agency, Multi-Ethnic Behavioral Health, to visit the home and make sure the Kelly children were being cared for.

DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said Danieal's death helped bring about a new "culture of accountability" in the agency, and better procedures to assess the risk to children and to find them help. "This is a death that has transformed the agency, hopefully in a good way," Ambrose said.

Charges of involuntary manslaughter are still pending against a caseworker from Multi-Ethnic, Julius Juma Murray, 51, who failed to make the required home visits. Danieal Kelly's father, Daniel Kelly, has been charged with endangering the welfare of children. Andrea Kelly, 39, will agree to serve 20 to 40 years in prison for death of Danieal.
91 ADAPT activists arrested at protest for community care at the White House

An excerpt from ADAPT's Action Report:

Ninety-one ADAPT activists were arrested April 27, many chained and handcuffed to the front White House fence, showing their anger at the Obama Administration’s failure to include long-term services and supports in health care reform.

Ten ADAPT members met with Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, Nancy-Ann DeParle, earlier in the day and were angered that the Obama Administration was not supporting change.

“They said very clearly that they would rather see people with disabilities in institutions, that they would leave them there, because there were higher priorities for this Administration,” said Bruce Darling from Rochester, “this is a civil rights issue and they need to see this as a civil rights issue. No other group of people get locked up in institutions and nursing homes just because of who they are... We are making it clear to the President that this is not acceptable.”

Darling characterized the Administration health care policy as “betrayal.”ADAPT demands the Community Choice Act (S683 and HR1670) be included as part of the overall health care reform package. The White House response seems to prioritize restructuring health insurance and missing the very critical component of long-term services and supports. About 85% of Americans acquire their disabilities and if our
health care policy stops at the hospital, it means thousands of citizens will not get the services they need to remain in the community and in the workforce.
The rest of the report, which includes lots of photos of the protest, is here. Other media reports are here, here and here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Second Baltimore preacher charged with homicide

Baltimore, Maryland, USA - Following last Friday's news that 32-year-old Kevin Pushia, a Baltimore preacher, had been charged with killing 37-year-old Lemuel Wallce, who was blind and developmentally disabled, so he could collect his life insurance, the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that another Baltimore preacher, 31-year-old James Omar Clea has been arrested and charged in connection with his killing; he is suspected of been involved in hiring a hit man to kill Mr Wallace:

Baltimore police, in conjunction with South Carolina law enforcement officials, arrested James Omar Clea III, 31, of the 2800 block of Bookert Drive in Cherry Hill about 3 p.m. at a hotel in Orangeburg, S.C. Clea, who was charged with first-degree murder, is suspected of being involved in hiring a hit man to kill Lemuel Wallace, who was last seen alive Feb. 4, according to police.

Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police are investigating Clea's involvement in the killing, as it is unclear who fired the bullet that killed Wallace.

As reported by United Press International last Friday, Mr Wallace was found with gunshot wounds to his head and back on Feb. 4 in a public Baltimore bathroom. Kevin Pushia, who was an ARC of Baltimore volunteer responsible for his care, has been charged with taking out life insurance policies on Wallace adding up to nearly one million dollars and then paying to have him murdered.

According to WBAL TV a bail review for Pushia was postponed yesterday (Monday) because he is currently undergoing medical treatment in jail for unknown reasons. The man hired to kill Mr Wallace has not been identified.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Shylea Thomas: an update

Flint, Michigan - Following my post on Thursday about the discovery of the body of 9-year-old Shylea Thomas in a public storage facility, ABC News reports that her aunt and adoptive mother, 39-year-old Lorrie Thomas, was charged on Friday afternoon in connection with her death:
Thirty-nine-year-old Lorrie Thomas was arraigned Friday afternoon in 68th District Court in Flint on six charges, including second-degree murder, child abuse, tampering with evidence, welfare fraud over $500 and removing a body without permission.

Leyton says the charges stem from an examination of the evidence that police say shows that the child was extremely neglected. Her weight was down 61 pounds from 2007 and she had deep sores on her body."

We believe Lorrie Mae Thomas caused the death of this child," Leyton said. "Our forensics pathologist has ruled this a homicide. She found no physical abuse or trauma to the body but found severe ongoing chronic malnutrition and neglect."

As noted earlier, Shylea was quadraplegic as a result of nearly suffocating in her crib when she was 3 months old. She was reported missing on Wednesday, but according to prosectuors, relatives told workers with the state Human Services department that she had not been seen for six weeks. In this report by CNN, relatives describe Shylea as "a happy child who loved music and had an infectious smile." Lorrie Thomas is been held without bail and is scheduled to appear in court again on Tuesday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday round-up

From Chicago Breaking News (April 24) - Former Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckwort was confirmed by the Senate for a post in the Obama administration as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Veterans AffairsDepartment. Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq War who was injured when the Blackhawk helicopter she was piloting was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, will be Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Duckworth lost her left leg and her right leg has since been amputated due to injuries she sustained in the attack. (h/t Media dis&dat)

From the St. John's Telegram in Canada (April 23) - A Newfoundland woman has lodged a complaint with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary after her 18-year-old autistic son was arrested by police officers who thought he was drunk. (h/t Media dis&dat)

From the Union Leader in Concord, New Hampshire (April 22) - A 67-year-old local woman has been charged with stealing $49,000 in Social Security disability payments intended for the benefit of her child. The indictment alleges she converted the money to her own use. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000.

From KPLC TV in Lake Charles, LA (April 22) - A 68-year-old man who uses a motorized wheelchair has been arrested for burglary and theft. According to deputies, several witnesses say they saw the man making several trips into a house in Moss Bluff, that's been unoccupied since 2005, and taking items out. Numerous items from the house have been found inside the man's home.

From The New York Times (April 22) - The city’s public housing agency is violating the rights of tenants with disabilities and other health problems by failing to properly maintain its elevators, leaving them stranded for hours during frequent breakdowns, according to a federal class-action lawsuit to be filed April 21.

From the Times-Union in New York (April 22) - Last month's fire which killed four disabled people in an Adirondack group residence has prompted a state senator to propose legislation that would give local building inspectors more say in the structures.

From the Austin [Texas] American-Statesman (April 21) - The Texas legislature is considering a bill that would ban variations of the word “retarded,” inculding "mental retardation" in official state business. The bill, promoted by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), would replace the terms with variations of the phrase “intellectual disabilities.”

From the New York Times (April 21) - Clark Hoyt, public editor of the New York Times says the organization’s style manual now decrees that the word “dwarf” — not “midget” — should be used to refer to people with a genetic condition resulting in unusually short stature (h/t Patricia E Bauer).

From The Guardian in the UK (April 20) - A British teenager who was refused a place at his local school because he has Asperger's syndrome has won a conditional offer to study engineering at Cambridge.

From the Los Angeles Times (April 18) - LA County prosecutors have filed murder charges against a 30-year-old woman who uses a wheelchair accusing her of fatally stabbing a teenage girl earlier this week. Her 54-year-old mother and codefendant faces one count of assault with a deadly weapon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What happened to Shylea Thomas?

Genessee Co., Michigan - According to the body of 9-year-old Shylea Thomas has been found in a Michigan storage unit. Shylea Thomas, who was physically disabled, was living with her adoptive mother and sister when she went missing. According to the report:
Someone told authorities the girl was out of state on a visit, but police said they found her wheelchair inside the home, and later found her body in a storage facility.
The cause of her death is yet to be determined.
Blog a-bout

Recommended readings:

Disability: Almost There by Simi Linton at Disability Culture Watch.

Drunkenness and Demonic Possession Are Not Autism by Autism

Faith Hope Walker: Story of an anencephalic baby by Medical Futility.

Update on Kaylee Wallace and hospital for sick children by Not Dead Yet.

Open Floor - What is the opposite of disabled? by Three Rivers Fog.

April 19: Erastus Deaf Smith (1787-1837) by Penny Richards.

Why I hate the New York Times by William Peace at Bad Cripple.

Design/disability by Wheelchair Dancer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reckless abuse charges

Berea, Kentucky, USA - According to the Richmond Register, 27-year-old Ryan Whitaker was arrested and charged on April 15 with encouraging two intellectually disabled men to make sexual contact during a ride to an adult day care last week. According to police, Whitaker was the driver of the van that took the the men to the center. He is being held in jail on $10,000 cash bond and is scheduled to appear in court on May 8.

Read more here.
Mary Johnson: ‘Write’ Stuff for the Disability Movement

Is the title of Mike Ervin's essay in Independence Today about Mary Johnson, the founder and editor of the Disability Rag. It includes a recent interview in which Johnson discussed the influences in her life, how The Disability Rag came into being and the role it played in shaping the culture. Here is an excerpt:
Independence Today: What occurrences in your life helped shape your political and disability consciousness?

Mary Johnson: I came of age in the 1960s, and so I was attuned to civil rights, women's rights, etc. I went to a small local college and wasn't really an activist in any way. I got a degree in English, worked for a time doing reporting for weekly papers, did some PR work for nonprofits. My involvement in disability rights started when a friend asked me if I'd be willing to serve on the board of a newly formed group. This was in the early 1970s, and as you know, nonprofits often want people with PR backgrounds on their boards. I said OK but didn't really know what I was getting into. The director, a woman with CP, was starting the first "consumer group" of disabled people in Louisville. I got a real education from her. She explained to me that disabled people -- "handicapped adults" was the term used back then -- had a right to transportation, housing, etc. It was like the proverbial light bulb going off, and I was hooked. I was particularly appalled that nobody seemed aware of any of this, and since I wanted really to be a journalist -- and hoped someday to land a good job on a newspaper -- I guess I got into investigating it like a journalist would.

IT : How did this lead to The Rag ?

MJ: Several years later, I was still involved in what we were just starting to call "disability rights" in Louisville. Our group had gotten VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteers and was doing some community organizing, but it was clear that we weren't reaching enough people. As is even the case now, the big problem was transportation. People couldn't get to organizing meetings! Our VISTAs were really into "consciousness raising" as a concept, so I got the idea of putting out some sort of a publication, and we called it The Disability Rag . It was just local; it was just one 11x17 sheet folded. But people really took to it! After a couple of years we made it bigger, we incorporated an organization -- The Advocado Press -- to publish it. Cass Irvin, one of the incorporators, decided it should be circulated nationally and
spearheaded that effort. That effort, which I have to admit I wasn't too interested in, was a big success by the measure of the day. People seemed to want it, and it became popular in activist circles. I think the time was right. It was just at the time of the grass-roots disability rights movement taking off. A couple of years later, ADAPT started and moved to the national stage and The Rag was there to report on all this.
The first edition of the Disabilty Rag, which chronicled and fueled the emerging disability rights and independent living movements, came out in January 1980. It ceased publication in 1996 but started again as the Ragged Edge in January 1997. The print version of Ragged Edge ceased publication in 2004. The Advocado Press (, which published The Disability Rag and Ragged Edge , still sells a few books written by Johnson and others.

Mike Ervin is a freelance writer and member of American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, a group that works for the civil rights of people with disabilities.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Caregiver mistreatment conviction

Medford, Oregon - According to the Mail Tribune, 30-year-old John Hopkins was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Friday for stealing medications from his girlfriend, who is physically and intellectually disabled, and denying her relief from pain. As stated in the report, the 34-year-old woman and Hopkins were in a relationship for 10 years, and he was her caregiver. According to Deputy District Attorney Michelle Pauly:

Instead of caring for his girlfriend, Hopkins stole her medications and denied her relief from pain — even after the victim had surgery on both feet last November, Pauly said.

"He told police he was taking half of her muscle relaxers and up to 12 Vicodin a day," Pauly said.

Hopkins attended the victim's medical appointments so that she could not speak freely about her concerns. When her doctor finally refused to write any more prescriptions, the woman called a local disability advocacy group.

When the advocates began investigating the victim's case, Hopkins' crimes came to light, Pauly said.

The victim testified at trial that "on a scale from 1 to 10, her pain was a level 9," said Pauly.

John Hopkins has been convicted of first-degree criminal mistreatment and given the maximum available sentence for his crimes by Judge Ron Grensky, who has ordered that he not be not eligible for early releasee.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Guest column - A question for all: Do you doubt my puberty?

I came across this column by that title over at Planet of the Blind. It's concerned with disability and sexuality and is written by Ralph James Savarese, who is the author, with his son, of "Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption.

Here's an excerpt:

On the whole, we’ve come a long way from the incarceration, sterilization, and eugenics of the 20th century, but not far enough. The dream of full participation in life’s richness for those with cognitive differences remains just that: a dream. Who of us doesn’t want a job, a home and friends? Who of us doesn’t want a share of that sublime and affirming activity we call sex (or what my son at age 12 memorably termed “great feelings”)?

We need to stop behaving like hysterical Puritans and provide people with disabilities with rigorous sex education. Not only that but opportunities, even trained sexual facilitators, if need be. Kids with disabilities grow up. Let them look forward to what the rest of us look forward to. We can do this responsibly, ethically.

Read the full article here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday round-up

From ITN in the UK (April 16) (h/t to Media dis&dat) - Five-year-old amputee Ellie Challis, who lost her arms and legs to meningitis at 16 months of age, has become the youngest person ever to be given prosthetic blades.

From the Toronto [Ontario] Star, (April 15) - The parents of Annie Farlow, an infant with Down syndrome who died at an Toronto hospital in 2005, are pressing a claim before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal alleging that their daughter received inadequate care because the hospital withholds life-saving treatment from infants with disabilities. According to Barbara and Tim Farlow, Annie was admitted to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children with breathing problems but did not receive proper care because a “do not resuscitate” order was issued without their knowledge or consent.

From The Daily Mirror in the UK (April 15) - Paralympic gold-medalist Oscar Pistorius has told how a boating accident shattered his face and threatened his life - but will not stop him competing at next month's BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

From WCBS-TV in New York (April 15) - A group of New York City police officers have been accused of beating a man with a mental illness. The NYPD says the incident was a case of self-defense, but the man's family says it went beyond that.

From The Daily Mail in the UK (April 15) - An 18-year-old man with cerebral palsy claims he was refused entry to a pub and verbally abused when bouncers mistook his disability for drunkenness.

From WABC-TV in New York city (April 14) - A 59-year-old woman who uses a wheelchair is is being sued by a man she shot in the elbow after he allegedly tried to steal from her. Margaret Johnson was slapped with a lawsuit by Deron Johnson, who she shot with a .357 Magnum. She accused Johnson of choking her for her gold chains and trying to mug her as she rode her scooter.

From the Des Moines Register in Iowa (April 13) - Federal, state and county investigators are advancing their probe into Henry’s Turkey Service, the company that is suspected of exploiting and neglecting workers with intellectual disabilities in Atalissa, Iowa.

From Times Union in New York (April 12) - TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. - Eleven developmentally disabled adults were evacuated from a group home in Tupper Lake, NY, on April 9 when a frayed electrical wire on an air mattress started a fire in a bedroom, state officials said. No one was injured in the blaze, which came less than two weeks after four residents died in a fire at the Riverview group home in Wells.

From the New York Times (April 11) - In the midst of deepening and widespread budget deficits, more than 34 states have cut programs for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.

From the Cape Cod Times (April 10) - Local police are investigating the alleged abuse of a special needs student on a school bus, according to school district administrators and Mashpee parents. Video tapes recorded on a Cape Cod Collaborative school bus appear to show evidence that a bus driver and bus monitor verbally, and possibly physically, abused the unidentified student, who has social and emotional disabilities.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Justin Hamilton torture case: an update

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - Further to my posts in October and December 2008 about the kidnapping, assault and torture by four men and one woman of 24-year-old Justin Hamilton, who has developmental disabilities, the Star Tribune has reported that 20-year-old John Maniglia pleaded guilty on Tuesday to his role in the attack:

As jury selection in his trial was about to begin, John M. Maniglia pleaded guilty to one count each of kidnapping, third-degree assault and theft. He faces at least eight years in prison, twice the recommended sentence.
As reported earlier by FRIDA, Mr Hamilton was kidnapped on two successive days and s kicked and beaten more than 100 times, tied to a tree and burned repeatedly with a lighter. In November, Maniglia's 16-year-old girlfriend, Natasha Dahn, who provoked the beating by lying to Maniglia and others, claiming that Hamilton had hit her, pleaded guilty to four felonies in exchange for extended juvenile jurisdiction. Three other men, Johnathon Diepold, age 22, Glen Ries, 34, and Timothy Ketterling, 22, are scheduled for jury trial on April 27, May 11, and June 22 respectively for various charges in connection with the attack, including kidnapping, theft, third degree assault and false imprisonment. Maniglia will be formally sentenced on June 15.

For earlier reports, see here and here and also here and here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

May First is Blogging Against Disablism Day

via Diary of a Goldfish
Blogging Against Disablism day will be on Friday, 1st May. This is the day where all around the world, disabled and non-disabled people will blog about their experiences, observations and thoughts about disability discrimination. In this way, we hope to raise awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we've made.
Diary of a Goldfish's instructions for getting involved are here, along with banner codes and links to BADD archives from the past three years. In short, go to Diary of a Goldfish and post a comment that you want to join in. Then pick up a link and spread the word. Finally, write a post on a disability related topic and publish it on May 1, or as close as you are able.

h/t to Wheelie Catholic
Right to read

To read and sign the Reading Rights Coalition's petition, go here. Here is an excerpt:

The Reading Rights Coalition, which represents people who cannot read print, protested the threatened removal of the text-to-speech function from e-books for the Amazon Kindle 2 outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street on April 7, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m. The coalition includes the organizations that represent the blind, people with dyslexia, people with learning or processing issues, seniors losing vision, people with spinal cord injuries, people recovering from strokes, and many others for whom the addition of text-to-speech on the Kindle 2 promised for the first time easy, mainstream access to over 245,000 books.
h/t to What sorts of people

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The killing of Donna Slater: an update

Grange Grove, Texas - Further to my post of March 10 about the stabbing death of 46-year-old Donna Slater, WKRG-TV has reported that 44-year-old Johnny Lee Townsend and 41 year old Joe Anthony Loggins have been charged with her murder. According to the report, Ms Slater, who had spina bifida and used a wheelchair, knew her killers and them into her house; their intention, it is said, was robbery:

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd didn't say what led to their arrests, but he did say, "She (Slater) knew them and they were let into the house."

Byrd believes the two may have done some work around (Slater's) house in the past. When asked if Townsend and Loggins have prior criminal records, Byrd said, "They do, but I'm not at liberty to disclose that."

The sheriff said both were on probation, but wouldn't say for what. Byrd said, "Robbery was the intent here, the motive. I can't go into anything else other than the murder took place after the robbery."

Authorities said Slater's purse was stolen and later found on a nearby road.

Townsend and Loggins, who appeared before a judge last Thursday, were denied bond and are both being held in the Jackson County Adult Detention Center.

Ms Slater, who lived in the home with her teenage son, whom her parents now hope to raise, was found by her father, who lives next door.

An earlier report is here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Homicide in Martinsville, Virginia

Martinsville, Virginia, USA - Over the weekend, the Roanoke Times reported that James Cleveland Miller, 41, was charged with first degree murder after admitting he killed his mother-in-law early on Saturday morning. Pamela Carmille Hall, 59, who was quadriplegic as a result of motor vehicle accident a decade ago, was found dead in her bed from several stab wound to her chest. According to the report:

“He [Miller] was on the scene and readily surrendered to the first arriving officers,” [Franklin County Sheriff Ewell] Hunt said. “He admitted he committed a murder to both the dispatcher and the arriving officers.”

No one else was in the home at the time, Hunt said. He said he could not comment on a motive because the case is still under investigation.

He did say Hall was a quadriplegic and that Miller’s wife was her caregiver.

Hall lived in a doublewide trailer with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, said Gordon Metz, their landlord.

Hall was being held without bond at the Western Virginia Regional Jail and is scheduled for arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Franklin County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

See also this report in the Martinsville Daily.
CACL press release on Kaylee Wallace

via Not Dead Yet

Following my post last week about Kaylee Wallace, the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) have issued the following press release about the issues surrounding the case:

April 9, 2009
Family’s Heartbreaking Plight Sheds Light on Deeper Issues

From Day One it’s been all about what Kaylee Wallace won’t do. She won’t go to school, she won’t walk, she won’t live a typical life. One of the first suggestions was not to feed her. It seems there has been very little about what she might do, what she could become and that her life, while following a different path, could be just as fulfilling, just as wonderful and just as valued as any other. The take away message has been that a life with a disability is a fate worse than death.

The Wallace family, and many that have come before them, have found themselves in a heartbreaking predicament. They are told by medical professionals and experts that their daughter’s life is in immediate peril. That efforts to support her are futile, that the family should leave her be and let her die with dignity. Families, under pressure, often sleep-deprived and in the throes of emotional trauma rely on their trusted doctors to provide them with unbiased information. They rely on their doctors to treat their children, not just with dignity and respect, but to treat their medical conditions.

Life-and-death medical decisions are being made on a particular perspective of quality of life. If your child is not expected to follow a particular path perceived by others as typical development then the quality of their life is brought into question.

As a family-based, national association which advocates for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, the Canadian Association for Community Living is concerned that this tragic situation is another example of a child’s treatment being defined and determined by disability. Joubert Syndrome is not described as a terminal illness. The breathing difficulties often associated with the Syndrome are more commonly known as apnea which is a highly manageable condition - one that most people with Joubert Syndrome outgrow. It is hard to get an accurate account of the specifics with Baby Kaylee. Joubert Syndrome, as with many disabilities, doesn’t not have one predictable outcome. Yet, the focus of Baby Kaylee’s short life has been that imminent death was the only outcome.

The active devaluation of the lives of persons with disabilities is a disturbing trend. Misinformation about disability is a real concern for individuals and families who live with disability. The lack of public discussion about the impact of devaluation makes
people with disabilities and their families extremely vulnerable. The perception that a life with a disability is not worth living is perpetuated in the media interest surrounding the Wallace family and other similar stories. The increased demand for prenatal testing and the pressure prospective parents experience to terminate when an “anomaly” is detected risks leading us down a dangerous road reminiscent of our eugenic past.

Baby Kaylee may not survive. If that heartbreaking outcome is to be her reality it should not be because she hasn’t received all of the treatments and health supports she deserves.

For more information contact Anna MacQuarrie 416-602-3015

The Canadian Association for Community Living is a national association of 40,000 members, 400 local and thirteen provincial and territorial associations for community living, working to promote and achieve the full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of community life.

Contact Information:
Canadian Association for Community Living
Kinsmen Building, York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3
Tel.: 416-661-9611 ext 204
Fax: 416-661-5701

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday round-up

From the Globe and Mail and CBS News in Toronto, Canada (April 9) - (CBS) A heart transplant between two baby girls in Canada had to be abandoned because one of the baby's continued to breath on her own after being removed from life support. Kaylee Wallace, 2 months, has a rare brain called Joubert Syndrome that affects motor functions and the ability to breathe. Believing their child would soon die, her parents decided to donate her heart to another little girl in need. But when they took her off life support, Kaylee continued to breathe on her own, despite warnings from doctors that she would not be able to survive without the help of a respirator. To read Not Dead Yet's analysis and response of this case, see here.

From the Los Angeles Times (April 9) - Blind pianist and singer Scott MacIntyre was eliminated from "American Idol" tonight. He received the lowest number of votes after Anoop Desai, and the four judges, although they said they had a 2-2 tie on whether to save MacIntyre, voted not to save him, which would have allowed him to remain on the show.

From the NY Daily News, (April 8) - A bus matron charged with leaving a severely disabled man on a freezing bus at a Brooklyn depot faces three years' probation, prosecutors said April 6. Linda Hockaday, 51, who pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count in the case, also faces 100 hours of community service when she is sentenced April 22. An earlier story is here.

From CanWest News Service, (April 8) - Air Canada is challenging a deaf and blind man's contention that he should be allowed to fly without an attendant.The airline will argue in Federal Court that not allowing Burnaby resident Eddy Morten to fly alone is justified discrimination. Morten counters that he has a system for safe air travel with his service dog, he has been self-sufficient all his life, and that he has made many past trips on planes, trains and buses.

From the Chicago Tribune (April 8) - A Paris, Texas judge has refused to re-consider the 100-year prison sentence he gave to an 18-year-old teenager with an an IQ of 47 after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 6-year-old boy.

From the Dallas Morning News, (April 7) - An investigation of personnel records by the Dallas Morning News has found that the 11 Corpus Christi State School employees accused of staging “fight club” brawls between residents with intellectual disabilities were hired despite limited work experience, limited education and poor work histories.

From the Caller-Times in Corpus Christi, Texas, (April 4) - The sixth person charged in suspicion of staging fight-club style brawls between patients at Corpus Christi State School was arrested April 3 in South Carolina. US. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested D’Angelo Riley, 22, on a warrant for injury to a disabled person. Riley was taken into custody at 5:45 a.m. at a relative’s home in Charleston, S.C.

From the Examiner in Aurora, Colorado (April 3) - A lawsuit claims a developmentally disabled 5-year-old was regularly strapped into a chair in an Aurora school and that a teacher once refused to release her because she "had not been broken yet." Her family's attorney, Jack Robinson, says the girl has epilepsy and other impairments and didn't need to be restrained. Robinson says the girl, now 8 years old, Robinson says the girl, now 8 years old, is doing well in the Cherry Creek School District.

From The Oregonian (April 3) - Telephone surveys of former students in every Oregon school district found that only about 1,150 of the 4,200 special education students who finished their high school education in 2006-07 spent the next year without getting a job that paid minimum wage or any post-secondary education.

From the Legal Intelligencer/ (April 3) - In what some say is the first decision of its kind, a federal judge has ruled that a sperm bank may be sued under product liability laws for failing to detect that a sperm donor had a genetic mutation. (h/t Patricia E Bauer)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Link: Advocates protest limits on Kindle read-aloud feature

Post by Patricia E Bauer:

Some 200 protesters representing people with disabilities demonstrated in New York yesterday against limits on the text-to-speech function on Amazon’s new Kindle electronic book device.

Led by the National Federation of the Blind and the Reading Rights Coalition, demonstrators picketed the headquarters of the Author’s Guild, chanting such slogans as, “No need for greed, we want to read.”

Following complaints by the Author’s Guild, Amazon announced recently that it would allow authors to disable the read-aloud function on any of their e-books available for the Kindle2.

Advocates argued that the Amazon decision will unfairly limit access for the estimated 15 million Americans who are not able to read printed material. This includes people with vision impairments, dyslexia, or learning or processing issues; seniors losing vision; people with spinal cord injuries, and people who have had strokes.

Read the rest here.

Sex abuse

A sampling of sex abuse cases recently reported in the media that shows the range of characteristics found in these cases:

From Delmarva, Salisbury, Maryland, USA (April 8) - 41-year-old Patrick Quesenberry will serve life in prison plus 10 years for assaulting a 14-year-old intellectually disabled girl last summer in her home. The State's Attorney’s office also said Quesenberry had an extensive criminal history in Cecil County including several batteries against women.

From the Toronto Sun, Oshawa, Ontario, (April 4) - A month after an elderly Oshawa man was charged with sexually assaulting a mentally disabled man, three other alleged victims have come forward, police said. The accused, who was a support worker for mentally challenged children and youths, was charged in March after a relative told investigators she witnessed the assault of a 23-year-old man, Durham police said. Since then, three other men from Oshawa and Whitby have approached detectives and said they were victimized. Police said the allegations involve young men under the age of 17, all with either physical or mental challenges.

From the News-Tribune, Jeffersonville, Indiana, (March 25) - Police are investigating claims that a 33-year-old disabled woman was sexually assaulted at a Jeffersonville nursing home. The woman, who has cerebral palsy and cannot speak or walk, was staying at Hillcrest Centre for Health and Rehabilitation at 203 Sparks Ave. A hospital worker discovered a male patient in the bed with her Sunday.

From the Salt Lake Tribune, West Jordan, Utah, (March 25) - A 56-year-old West Jordan man charged in connection with allegedly tying a mentally disabled 14-year-old girl to a bed and sexually assaulting her made his first appearance in court on Tuesday. He is charged with first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping, four counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse and lewdness, a class B misdemeanor. The two lived at the same apartment complex, West Jordan police Sgt. Drew Sanders previously told The Salt Lake Tribune .

From Chicoer News, Oroville, California, (March 18) - A judge Wednesday ordered a Gridley man to stand trial next week on separate rape and escape charges. Michael Nunley, 52, was being held on a charge of sexually assaulting a mentally disabled woman in Gridley when he allegedly escaped from custody Feb. 14 while undergoing a medical procedure at an Oroville hospital. He was recaptured about two weeks later.

From in Salem, Oregon (March 15) - Police are looking for a 41-year-old man identified as a person of interest in the sexual assault of a disabled woman at an adult care facility in Salem.According to the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the victim is a 41-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair. She requires 24-hour care because of her disability and was unable to defend herself.

From the Pottstown Mercury, Norristown, Pennsylvania, (March 13) - A Pottstown man has been sent to state prison after a jury convicted him of charges he raped a 17-year-old girl who suffered from cerebral palsy. Christopher Lee Levengood, 22, was sentenced to eight to 20 years in a state correctional facility on charges of rape, sexual assault, corruption of a minor, terroristic threats, simple assault and lying to authorities in connection with the April 2007 assault.

From KCRA 3 in Atwater, CA (March 11) - Juan Manuel Martinez, a 58-year-old college counselor was arrested at Delhi High School on allegations of of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and continuous sexual abuse of a child. The alleged victim is a 13-year-old girl with disabilities. The report does not indicate the nature of her disabilities.

From The Star in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, (March 10) - Durham Region Police have arrested and charged a 70- year-old man in connection with the sexual assault of a 23-year-old mentally disabled man.

Tampa, Florida, (March 10) - According to Richard Chotiner, 47, a licensed practical nurse was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexual battery of a man with mental disabilities. According to, however, after the conviction, Chotiner was released on $50,000 bail pending appeal. (h/t ICAD)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New book by Rosemarie-Garland Thomson

via Media dis&dat:

Disability scholar and feminist Professor Rosemary Garland-Thomson has a new book coming out on April 17 called Staring: How We Look. Garland-Thomson is Professor of Women's Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and a scholar in the fields of feminist theory, American literature, and disability studies. Her previous books include Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Literature; Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body; and Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities (MLA Press, 2002).

Here is how describes it:

From a very young age we are told not to stare, and one hallmark of maturation is the ability to resist (or at least hide) our staring behavior. And yet, rarely do we master the impulse. Despite the complicated role it plays in our development, and its unique brand of visual enticement, staring has not been considered before as a suitable object for socio-cultural analysis. What is it about certain kinds of people that makes it impossible to take our eyes off them? Why are some visual stimuli irresistible? Why does staring produce so much anxiety? Drawing on examples from art, media, fashion, history and memoir, Garland-Thomson defines staring, explores the factors that motivate it, and considers the targets and the effects of the stare. A bodily inventory then enumerates how stares actually operate in daily life. A section on "Bodies" focuses on the question of size and scale as key indicators of normalcy, while certain body parts show themselves to be disproportionately arresting, as
passages on "Faces" "Hands" and "Breasts" reveal. A concluding chapter on "Beholding" considers the frisson at play between starer and staree and offers an alternative way of understanding visual communication between people. Featuring over forty illustrations, Staring captures the stimulating combination of symbolic, material and emotional factors that make staring so irresistible while endeavoring to shift the usual response to staring, shame, into an engaged self-consideration. Elegant and provocative, this book advances new ways of thinking about visuality and the body that will appeal to readers who are interested in the overlap between the humanities and human behaviors.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Today - Reading Rights Coalition protest in New York City

Via the Justice for All blog

Reading Rights Coalition Staging Protest in NYC Over Threatened Removal of Text-to-Speech Feature

WHAT: The Reading Rights Coalition, representing millions of disabled people who cannot read print, will protest the threatened removal of the text-to-speech function from e-books for the Amazon Kindle 2 which promised for the first time easy, mainstream access to over 255,000 books. Hundreds of disabled Americans (the blind and people with dyslexia, learning difficulties, spinal cord injuries, seniors losing vision, stroke survivors) will march to demand that the Authors Guild reverse its decision.

WHEN: April 7, 2009 - noon to 2:00 p.m. EDT

WHERE: Outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street

AVAILABLE TO INTERVIEW: Coalition spokesperson: Dr. Marc Maurer, President, National Federation of the Blind Various coalition member representatives

DISABLING THE DISABLED: When Amazon released the Kindle 2 electronic book reader on February 9, 2009, it promised the device would be able to read e-books aloud using text-to-speech technology. Under pressure from the Authors Guild, Amazon has agreed to give authors and publishers the ability to disable the text-to-speech function on any or all of their e-books available for the Kindle 2. This decision has serious discriminatory and censorship implications for the disabled and is simply bad business.

READING RIGHTS COALITION: Coalition members include: American Association of People with Disabilities, Association of Blind Citizens, American Council of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, Association on Higher Education And Disability, Arc of the United States, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Burton Blatt Institute, Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), IDEAL Group, Inc., International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet, International Dyslexia Association, International Dyslexia Association--New York Branch, Jewish Guild for the Blind, Knowledge Ecology International, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Lighthouse International, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, National Federation of the Blind, NISH, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, United Cerebral Palsy, and Xavier Society for the Blind.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Monday blog-around

Tears by Dave Hingsburger over at Chewing the Fat.

Mik Danger at Coffee and Gender's post entitled Assessing New York.

Michael Berube's post entitled Special "special" edition.

Friday music: Mark E. Smith and The Fall by Kay over at the Gimp Parade.

Dora Raymaker's post over at the blog entitled "Disability Models, Tragedy, and Identity" by Dora Raymaker over at

And this response entitled "Affirmation and Impairment" by the blogger over at Whose Planet is it Anyway?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Homicide charges

Green Cove Springs, Florida - According to the Miami Herald, 35-year-old Kenneth McBride will be indicted on April 15 in connection with the killing of Roberta Laws, his former girlfriend. Acting on a tip from McBride's present girlfriend, police found the remains of Ms Laws buried in McBrides backyard. Ms Laws was 46-years-old and had cerebral palsy. The cause of her death is unknown. According to the report, McBride gave her wheelchair to the Salvation Army after killing her.

The full story is here.

(h/t to ICAD)
Friday round-up

From The AP, Port Lucie, Florida (April 2) - A teacher who held a vote to kick a 5-year-old autistic student from his kindergarten classroom lost her appeal for reinstatement. On March 31, an administrative law judge upheld the St. Lucie School Board's decision to suspend Wendy Portillo for a year without pay and remove her tenure.

From the Boston Globe (April 2) - Massachusetts officials say reports of fraud, abuse and neglect by personal health care attendants in the state have tripled over the past few years, just as the state’s Medicaid program has significantly increased the amount of money it spends on the workers.

From the Tennessean in Nashville, Tennessee (April 1) - The recent handcuffing and arrest of a twelve-year-old boy with autism has fueled an ongoing debate in Tennessee about how school officials should handle behavioral outbursts by students with developmental disabilities.

From the National Council on Disability (April 1) - The number of people with disabilities employed in the federal workforce is less than one percent and has been steadily shrinking, according to a report released this week by the National Council on Disability. The nine conditions targeted for coverage in the report are: “deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, convulsive disorders, mental retardation, mental illness, and distortion of limb and/or spine.” (h/t Patricia E Bauer)

From CBS 5 TV in San Francisco (April 1) - A year-long CBS 5 investigation that uncovered numerous incidents of locking school children up in closet like "quiet rooms" for misbehaving is going national.

From the Associated Press (March 31) - The Special Olympics campaign to ban the R word goes nationwide. Among those who endorsed the campaign were governors Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Brad Henry of Oklahoma and Chet Culver of Iowa.

From the News Times in Norwich, Connecticut (March 31) - Police say a 61-year-old Connecticut man tricked a 54-year intellectually impaired co-worker into handing over hundreds of dollars a week for a bogus lottery, a theft that added up to $45,000 over eight years. Sixty-six-year-old George Flynn of Stonington was arraigned on a first-degree larceny charge Monday in Norwich Superior Court and is being held on $150,000 bond.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dorothy Dixon update: First jury trial scheduled for next week

Via the blogger at What about our daughters? comes word that the first jury trial in the killing of Dorothy Dixon has been scheduled for next Thursday April 9, at 9.00am (here is a link to the court document). For readers unfamiliar with this case, Dorothy Dixon was a 29-year-old, pregnant, African American woman with an intellectual disability who died earlier last year from the injuries she had accumulated after being subjected to months of physical abuse. According to the coroners report, Dorothy had been beaten, scalded, burned with a glue gun, as well as shot repeatedly with a BB gun. Her unborn child was delivered stillborn during her autopsy. Michelle Riley, 35, Judy Woods, 43, three teenagers and a 12-year-old boy have been charged with her murder.

The full post is here.
Mencap (UK) report: Death by indifference

These links come via Wheelie Catholic, who notes:

Mencap has issued a report on death by indifference cases involving people with disabilities. Serious failure to provide minimal health care, such as feeding or assessment of physical care, led to the death of these six individuals. Full reports are
linked to at the site.

The site also includes an audio version of the report.

Mencap is the UK's leading learning disability charity working with people with a learning disability and their families and carers. Mencap works collaboratively, fighting for equal rights, campaigning for greater opportunities and challenging attitudes and prejudice.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Two wounded at B.C assisted-living home shooting

From the Associated Press

Gibsons, British Columbia (AP) — A woman angry at plans to evict her from an assisted-living facility shot a staff member in the parking lot and then was shot by police responding to the gunfire, authorities and news reports said.

Both the woman and the staff member were in serious condition Tuesday after being airlifted to a hospital, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported on its Web site.

The woman was in a wheelchair when she shot the building manager outside the Good Samaritan Christenson Village after lashing out at plans to evict her, according to news reports.

It was not immediately clear why she was being evicted.

Witnesses said the manager was shot in the stomach and arm.

The Globe and Mail reported that police shot and wounded the woman. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Mounties shot one of the two people wounded
in the incident, but they did not release any details.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority confirmed the shooting occurred, but did not release any information pending notification of the victims'

"We know this is an isolated incident and that residents and staff at facilities in neighboring areas are not in any danger and not at any risk right now," said Trudi Beutel, spokeswoman for the health authority.

The assisted living facility was locked down Tuesday night. There are about 140 residents in the Lutheran home in Gibsons, about 30 miles northwest of Vancouver, the Globe and Mail said.

Other reports are here and here.