Sound familiar?

"Blindness must be a terrible handicap, and I would applaud any genius who comes up with a device to make it less burdensome," writes columnist William Raspberry in a Nov. 16 anti-disability rights screed in the Washington Post. He's angry with any disability accommodation that, in his words, is "arguably less attractive for the rest of us."

These bigoted sentiments of Raspberry's are shopworn. They're nearly two decades old: Society cannot solve problems which are caused by disabilities.

Society cannot make disabled people "move as if they did not have disabilities."

For disabled people to "be able to function as if they did not have [disabilities] is simply not attainable."

Their "unrealistic hopes" "obstruct public needs."

These are quotes not from Raspberry's November column but from editorials in the Washington Post and New York Times dating back to the early 1980s. Andy Rooney said much the same thing, too. "No one is against the handicapped," he wrote in a column in the 1980s when violinist Itzhak Perlman had dared to call for access to concert halls, "but we cannot make life normal for people who have bodies that do not work properly. The question of how much money we should spend trying to make life normal is one I wouldn't want to have to answer."

The same tired anti-disability rights themes have continued, unchallenged for decades, in the mass media.

Why hasn't the disability movement been able to change public perception on these very basic points? Have we even mounted a concerted effort to try?

If these things concern you, as they do us (and as they concern the Mainstream magazine's Cyndi Jones and Bill Stothers) you'll join us May 21 in Louisville for the disability movement's first-ever mass "Media Meeting." We're going to try to come up with some way to break through this decades-old impasse. Join us if you want to be part of the solution. Click here for more information.

It's only money
Our cover story points out how nurse practice acts nationwide keep the cost of in-home services artificially high. Disability activists in Kansas amended their nurse practice act in 1989 to allow delegation of what's termed "nursing-related tasks." Last year Kansas Medicaid saw a savings of $52 million dollars as a result using a home- and community-based Medicaid waiver to provide "consumer-controlled" attendant services to disabled people, including those who use ventilators--that group of disabled people whose "nursing care" is always touted as being so extremely costly. Christopher Reeve, who's called "ventilator-dependent," likes to tell his mass audience that his "nursing care" costs well over $30,000 a year. Too bad Chris isn't working to solve the nurse practice acts problem.

$30,000 a year--a magic number?
Reeve says his "round the clock nursing care" costs $30,000 a year,

Hiring a "nurse" for vent-using Cedar Rapids highschooler Garret Frey would cost his school $30,000 a year, argued the school attorney in its case before the US Supreme Court this fall (see sidebar to In Thrall to the Medical Model).

Several years ago when ADAPT first began its push for national attendant services, it said that hiring an attendant would cost less than $10,000, keeping someone in a nursing home cost $30,000 a year. The World Institute on Disability used that figure, too.

What is it about that $30,000 figure? Is it real? Or is it just a sum that has come to mean "a lot of money?"

Reading the columns
Does anybody read The Media Edge column? We're not sure. To find out, we're offering $20 cash to the first five people who send us a letter of 100 to 250 words commenting on this month's "Media Edge" or "News Bites Gimp" columns. You can agree with the column--or you can say you hate it, think it's ridiculous. Doesn't matter; we'll award the cash in either case. But to be eligible for the $20 cash prize, readers must send in their letter accompanied by this paragraph explaining the offer. No money will be awarded to anyone who does not include a clipping of this paragraph making the offer (the one you're reading right now). All letters must be for publication, and must include the writer's name and address. This offer ends Jan 25, 1999.

Branching out
A lot of you may be reading Ragged Edge for the first time -- one of our new subscribers who learned about Ragged Edge through a mailing this fall.

If you're a new subscriber, we hope you'll take time to find the articles that interest you and write a letter commenting on some of the issues you read about in this issue. We'd love to hear from you.

A big "thank you!" goes out to many of you, as well as many of our longtime subscribers, for giving Ragged Edge your gift that enabled us to reach many new readers this past fall. We hope to continue our outreach throughout 1999, especially our effort to reach those people who are not already connected to the disability rights movement. If you know of a group of individuals who should know about Ragged Edge, and you think you can help spread the word, please write us and tell us about them. We'll help you get the word out.

The many mailings we did this past fall caused some of you some problems, though. "I sent in my $17.50 renewal in September --now, two weeks later I get this subscription request!" wrote one of our long-time subscribers. "I already renewed--why do you keep sending me forms?" We got a number of notes like this last fall (and some folks weren't this nice about it).

Yes, it's true that you may have received several mailings from us. Here's why:

We mailed subscription offers to readers of many different newsletters and publications (some of the biggest lists we mailed to were subscribers to Mouth magazine and the TASH Newsletter).

Some of you subscribe to both Ragged Edge and another publication whose list we were using. And if your name or address was in any way different on any of these lists--if, or, for example, you subscribe to one at work the other at home--you got several offers in the mail. You probably got a subscription offer after you'd already sent in one just a few weeks earlier.

When loyal longtime subscriber John Smith, who has just sent us his renewal check, gets another mailing from us saying "subscribe!"--particularly if he could save $1.50 in the process--it's understandable that he wonders what's up.

What's up is that we have a tiny staff and we can't catch all duplicates. Please bear with us on this. And yes, we do often mail new subscription offers at a rate slightly lower than our $17.50 renewal. We offered that deal to Rag readers when we started back up as Ragged Edge. And we'll do it again. Be patient.

And thanks for your wonderful, ongoing support.

A word about getting the word out
We had a very good response from some readers to our offer to have them give gift subs for $1--but we only got a few responses when we ran the same offer in the pages of the magazine last spring. Can anyone explain that? We'll run the offer again one of these days. Be watching.


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