Friday, July 03, 2009

Friday round-up

From the Baltimore Sun in Baltimore, Maryland, July 2, 2009 - The Rosewood Center, a Maryland institution that was founded in 1888 as an asylum for the “feeble-minded,” closed its doors for good this week after decades of criticism for substandard care and conditions. "It is a great thing for Maryland that this institution is closed," said Nancy Pineles, an attorney with the Maryland Disability Law Center, a watchdog group that promotes the civil rights of people with disabilities.

From the Boston Globe in Boston, Massachusetts, July 1, 2009 - The old Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation has adopted a new name for the start of the fiscal year: The Department of Developmental Services. The change marks a victory for people with disabilities and their supporters who lobbied for years against a word they perceived as offensive. Only five or six states still have the words “mental retardation’’ in the names of agencies serving the developmentally disabled, said Elin M. Howe, commissioner of the department.

From in Christchurch, New Zealand, July 1, 2009 - New Zealand police have shot and killed a male wheelchair user after he injured two people in a shooting spree in Christchurch. Shayne Sime, 42, was shot and killed late June 28, after he fired more than 100 shots indiscriminately from a shotgun and rifle in his quiet suburban street, police said.

From an American Association of People with Disabilities press release, June 30, 2009 - A study by Profs. Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse at Rutgers University has found that voter turnout among people with disabilities rose significantly in the 2008 presidential election. According to the study, 14.7 million Americans with disabilities voted in the 2008 election, compared to 10.9 million in the 2000 presidential election. Among the eligible voting population, 57.3 percent of people with disabilities voted, compared to 64.5 percent of people without disabilities. “While the voting numbers among people with disabilities in 2008 indicates that they continue to face barriers in registration and voting, the fact that 14.7 million people with disabilities voted shows that they play an important role in the political process,” said Schur.

From the Asheville [NC] Citizen-Times, North Carolina, June 30, 2009 - An editorial says it’s time for North Carolina to compensate victims of a historic state-sponsored eugenics programs. Under the program, some 7,600 people with disabilities and others who were deemed “unfit” to reproduce were sterilized. (h/t to Patricia E Bauer)

From the Lexington [KY] Herald-Leader in Lexington, Kentucky, June 30, 2009 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a civil rights investigation into Kentucky’s Medicaid program after a family complained about a reduction in home care services for a man with multiple disabilities. Creasa Reed, who is herself disabled, filed the complaint after Medicaid cut her son’s budget for in-home care by 40 hours each week. The Reeds say their son is in danger of being sent to an institution if home care services are not restored.

From WHYY Radio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 30, 2009 - A Pennsylvania advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against the state’s department of Public Welfare that claims they are not providing the community-based care mandated by the law. The suit was filed by the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania on behalf of the over 1200 people still living in state-run institutions. It states that community based care provides better choices for people with disabilities, and is more cost-effective.

From the Boston Globe in Boston, Massachusetts, June 27, 2009 - Following complaints about inadequate equipment and ill-prepared medical workers, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hopital, both affiliated with Harvard University, have voluntarily agreed to spend millions of dollars to improve accessibility for patients with disabilities.

From the Seattle Times, June 27, 2009 - The families of three children with Down syndrome have sued in federal court to stop the state from cutting the hours of in-home care they receive. The families say budget problems cannot be used to justify cutting back on services the children are legally entitled to receive.

From JFActivist, June 26, 2009 - Kathy Martinez was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, June 25 as ODEP (Office of Disability Employment Policy) Assistant Secretary. Blind since birth, Martinez, who has worked as executive director of the World Institute on Disability (WID) since 2005, has worked in employment, asset building, independent living, international development, and diversity and gender issues in her work at WID.