Disability Rights Nation
A memorial monument to Tracy Latimer, the 12-year-old girl killed by her father because she had cerebral palsy, is being erected by the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities.
"A couple of years ago we started to think about something that we might be able to do to express our views on the Latimer case in a more permanent and tangible way than simply having a protest every now and then or writing the occasional article for the newspaper," said David Martin, Provincial Coordinator of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities. "A couple of us had seen a story on the CBC news about the way monuments for War Veterans--the many monuments that we have all across Canada for the various wars, the Korean War, the First and Second World Wars--had been developed.
"We were struck by the fact that these memorials were created by small groups of volunteers at the very grassroots level," he said.
The group thought also of other monuments. "In Winnipeg, the women's movement has a monument at the Manitoba Legislature grounds. It raises awareness about their community and violence against women." The League felt they could create a similar memorial.
The monument, "a heart that is not quite complete and has been broken off at the top" and shattered down the middle is designed to symbolize more than Tracy Latimer. "The whole disability community has had its heart broken to a certain degree around the events of the Tracy Latimer case," said Martin.
"To remember all persons with disabilities who have been killed by people seeking to excuse their terrible acts with the mistaken notion of mercy," reads the proposed text. "To reaffirm the capacity of all persons to respect others' equal rights to live their unique lives."
Several thousand dollars have been raised so far, but more is needed. Donations may be sent to: MLPD, 200-294 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 0B9 CANADA.
activists call it "justice"
"We are very hopeful that justice will be done--and seen to be done--for Tracy Latimer, who we assert is the victim in this whole case,'" Jim Derkson, a human rights advocate with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, told the Canadian press.
Under the new sentence, Latimer can apply for parole after 10 years. Latimer's attorneys are appealling the new court ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. Because the ruling was unanimous, however, the top court can refuse to hear the appeal.
Disability advocate, author and lecturer Toni Eames was inducted into the National Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities in October. In 1968, Eames organized the National Society of Guide Dog Users (which later became Guide Dog Users, Inc.) and was an organizer of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. She writes frequently about issues surrounding assistance dogs and disability issues and works nationally with veterinary associations. Eames was past president (and currently vice-president) of the Fresno Chapter of the National Federal of the Blind.
Founded in 1981, the Hall of Fame honors "outstanding Americans with disabilities" for their achievements and contributions to humanity. Previous inductees include Judy Heumann, I. King Jordan and Ed Roberts.
new DOT rules
Just six days after the Department of Transportation issued new accessibility requirements for over-the-road buses, the American Bus Association, a trade organization of the intercity bus industry, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, challenging the legality of DOT's final regulations.
The regulations require all large carriers that operate fixed-route intercity bus service to equip 50 percent of their fleet with wheelchair lifts by 2006 (100 percent by 2012). The trade group claims the 100-percent rule is unnecessary to meet demand, and says the final rule will impose an extreme cost burden on intercity bus companies.
The suit against DOT Secretary Rodney Slater alleges the federal agency's rules fail to consider . . .
--the most cost-effective method of providing accessibility;
ABA says DOT has failed to adequately review the safety of requiring passengers to ride in wheelchairs on intercity buses.
The bus trade group is also challenging DOT's new "denied boarding compensation" penalty, under which a bus company would have to pay compensation to a passenger with a disability if the carrier does not provide an accessible bus for any reason. ABA asserts the rule is arbitrary because it does not provide an option to dispute or appeal a passenger's claim. The suit also charges that the compensation estabilished by the DOT far exceeds the agency's regulatory authority, and asks the court to set aside the new rules and send them back to the DOT for further consideration.
© Copyright 1998 The Disability News Service, Inc.
After a national ADAPT takeover of the building housing their headquarters, the group agreed to meet with ADAPT to discuss dropping the lawsuit.
got civil rights leader to rescind
opposition to lifts on buses
A day before the Dept. of Transportation issued its rule requiring lifts on Greyhound and other over-the-road buses, DOT Secretary Rodney Slater received a second letter from Martin Luther King, III.
King's first letter, saying lifts would "result in millions of low-income Americans losing access to . . . intercity bus service" had stirred outrage in the disability community (see "Divide and conquer," D.R. Nation, Nov./Dec.). His second letter revealed a change of heart: "After much deliberation and after talks with groups and individuals on all sides of the issue, I stand in support of the position of the disabled community."
What had happened? Lots of behind-the-scenes work, say Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and Kate Gainer of the Multicultural Coalition on Diversity and Disability.
An Aug. 25 letter from DREDF Governmental Affairs Director Pat Wright to King noted the "organized effort by the over-the-road bus industry to pit the race community against the disability community."
"I am sure that when buses were first racially integrated, opponents of equality threatened that routes would be terminated because whites whould refuse to ride the buses. Is this not a similar situation?" she wrote.
Wright, a 20-year member of the executive committee of Washington, D.C.'s Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, sought from King "an opportunity to arrange a briefing for your members."
Gainer was contacted by ADAPT, she said, and since her group had a history with King's group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, she also arranged a meeting of her group with King. "We did a history and comparison of the disability rights movement and the civil rights movement, and brought him up to speed on the Greyhound situation.
"He immediately apologized when he saw the issue."
King had not been aware of the issue, she said. "He admitted to us that he had not done his homework."
Gainer says her group, the Georgia-based affilate of the National Family for the Advancement of Minorities with Disabilities, is now working with SCLC on "how the group can approach the issue of disability in the future."