UPS could let folks fly in their wheelchairs
The news that United Parcel Service is expanding its operation in Louisville
is great news for our community. UPS is very innovative: who else would
have thought of creating modules with seats that can be slipped in the
cargo planes so passengers can fly on the weekends? .
As a person who knows many people who use wheelchairs, I would like
to urge UPS to be truly innovative with their modular concept: have one
of the sections installed complete with tie-downs for wheelchairs built
into it! .
This would make flying truly accessible to wheelchair users, allowing
them to ride in their own chairs (like they do on buses). This would also
avoid the horrors of transferring to an aisle chair to get aboard, having
batteries drained on motorized wheelchairs, worrying that your chair will
be destroyed in the baggage section-or lost. .
Yes, this does exceed current access requirements; but UPS could set
an example and be the first carrier to allow the use of tiedowns so wheelchairs
users can fly in their own chairs!.
John W. Garrett II .
Death demands coverage
The death of a brother in a chair because he didn't complain about the
lip in the doorway of a favorite breakfast place is unconscionable ("Death
in a Doorway," March/April). This event demands continuing coverage
and, since it happened in Louisville, we hope you will take this on.
Your summary of the Mouth investigation of DOJ was concise and to the
point. What is needed to round out the coverage is the view from the other
side. What has been the experience of disabled people who have either consulted
DOJ or filed complaints with that agency? On several different occasions
we have gone through the formal process of initiating a complaint, and
on several other occasions we have turned toward DOJ as a resource. Usually
the results have been less than satisfactory.
Ed and Toni Eames
Ragged Edge will run a "view from the other side" in an
upcoming issue. -ed.
Who speaks for Not Dead Yet?
In the last issue of Ragged Edge, a letter appeared from one of us,
Mary Jane Owen, expressing concerns about the relationship between Not
Dead Yet and organizations and individuals representing the religious opposition
to assisted suicide. The letter responded to an unattributed quote by a
Not Dead Yet member, presented out of context. The member was challenging
organizers of the Harvard International Conference on Euthanasia, organizers
who had excluded Not Dead Yet from the broad array of presenters. .
The original quote asserted that neither the Catholic Church nor hospice
organizations "speak for Not Dead Yet." It was statement of fact
to the conference organizers, medical students, the majority of whom appeared
to favor assisted suicide, and was not meant as a statement of disrespect
toward the other opposing groups. .
Now is a time of significant and growing legislative advocacy by pro-euthanasia
groups like the Hemlock Society, which recently called (a) for the creation
of a lesser class of "homicide" for killing ill or disabled people,
and (b) for a judicial process to authorize the involuntary euthanasia
of incompetent individuals including a "demented parent, a suffering
severely disable (sic) spouse, or a child." (December 3, 1997 Hemlock
Society press release.) .
Not Dead Yet has consistently worked alongside other groups who oppose
legalization of assisted suicide, including the National Catholic Office
for Persons With Disabilities, as well as other religious and medical groups,
at the U.S. Supreme Court, and in several state battles that have ensued
since the high court overruled a constitutional right and turned the issue
back to the individual states. Although Not Dead Yet argues against assisted
suicide from a strictly secular perspective, many members of Not Dead Yet
share affiliations with these other organizations and we welcome the involvement
of people of all beliefs. It is essential that respect be shown to all
our confederates engaged in this life-and-death struggle. Society's devaluation
and oppression of people with disabilities must be challenged by all of
us in its many forms. .
But perhaps the greatest threat to all our progress in recent decades
is the idea that being severely disabled is worse than being dead. Now
that idea is being pushed as legislation, discriminatory legislation. We
must work side-by-side. Make no mistake, we are in the fight of our lives,
the fight for our lives. .
- Diane Coleman
- Not Dead Yet
- Mary Jane Owen
- National Catholic Office for
- Persons With Disabilities
We can't isolate ourselves
Mary Jane Owen's comments ("Distancing also isolates," Letters,
March/April) reminded me of something. About a month before the NDY Supreme
Court Rally in January 1997, Evan Kemp and I were talking, and I mentioned
to him, "You know we should involve the Catholic Church in this. I
know a priest that could really get things rolling." Evan thought
it was a good idea, too.
Anyway to make a long story short, I totally forgot to call the priest
until the Saturday before the rally. When I called him, he told me he would
see what he could do. On the day of the rally he showed up with about twenty
kids from Bishop O'Connell High School (he's the chaplain there.).
When I saw him, he apologized for not having more kids there and asked
me if I would explain to the kids why I and other disabled people were
there. I talked with the kids and the following day my quasi-adopted son
who goes to the same school heard about what a "cool" person
I was from the kids I had talked with.
Mary Jane Owen is right on. We can't isolate ourselves. If I hadn't
called that priest, those kids would never have been there to back us up
or to learn more about disabled people.
A few weeks later Evan and I were again talking and he told me that
some in NDY did not want to be associated with the Catholic Church and
its views on assisted suicide. He said that he couldn't support that view.
I agreed with him. I'm both - Catholic and disabled and I say, "Whatever
it takes, baby.".
- Leye Jeannette Chrzanowski
- Disability News Service
A hard place for handicapped people
The idea behind genetics is not creating the perfect human being, or
great leaders. Geneticists, however, seem determined to work in this direction,
hybridizing, inbreeding or monkeying with the mechanisms themselves. None
of these techniques advances genetics, and often they work against it.
They may develop the biggest, most beautiful rose, but if it cannot survive
without help, it is a genetic failure.
The purpose of genetics is survival. The survival of the species, the
survival of the individual, and the survival of the gene.Genetics places
bets across the board. Genes that are strong survivors not only survive
when coupled with other favorable genes, but often pull genes that seriously
handicap along with them. More survival means more reproduction, and more
survivor genes. Variability within the limits of the environment is preserved
and the species advanced, as to survival, reproduction and flexibility.
There is a place in this system for the handicapped, a hard place but
an important place. It may not be politically correct, but that's the way
it works ..
- Benjamin A. Greaves
- Georgetown, CT
Watson is wrong
I do not consider myself "degraded" or somehow less of a person
for being disabled ("You probably won't like James Watson's ideas
about us," March/April). I may not ever rise to achieve what James
Watson defines as greatness; but I am more than happy with my current life,
I am content with it.
I lost my right leg below the knee in 1989 and I consider it one of
the best things that have happened to me in my life . I am 44 years old
and now more physically active than before. My marriage is stronger. I
have a much more positive outlook on life. I am more comfortable with myself
and others. And the friends I have made working in the disability rights
field are better friends than my 'old' friends.
James Watson is the one with a limitation. His ignorance, prejudice,
and narrow mind is the biggest disability of all. I feel sorry for him.
- David L. Sandbrook
- Westwood, CA
Poem deserves a larger audience
Jim Ferris's wonderful long poem (Notes from the Surgeons: Drs. Sofield,
Louis, Hark, Alfini, Millar, Baehr, Bevan-Thomas, Tsatsos, Ericson, and
Bennan, March/April) rewards a careful reading. The tragedy of the child
forced to go through years of mutliation resonates with me, as it will
no doubt for many of your readers. Yet this issue is very seldom ever discussed.
It really needs to be exposed, maybe in articles as well as in this superb
I hope Ferris's poem gets an audience beyond Ragged Edge. Besides, the
title itself is really very clever!
Those ridiculous parking spots
I can walk but a short distance. I can make it into stores if the disabled
parking spot is located near the store entrance, but some quick-stop stores
display the signs at the far end of their parking area, away from the store
entrance. This may meet the requirements of the law, but not the needs
of a real disabled person. .
Let us suppose you have broken your leg and are on crutches. Would you
be happy to park at a disabled parking spot so far away?.
It is alarming to find so many places of business meeting only the minimum
requirements of the law. I am sure many of these problems are oversights
at the store management level. The real solution will come only from disabled
- Bob Williamson
- Meridian, TX
Living on SSI
Being disabled feels like I have stepped into quicksand. Or maybe I
should say "'fallen into quicksand.".
I have gone from someone in business for myself to someone living on
SSI. I use the term "living" jokingly. I take solace in my few
remaining abilities. .
What's my beef? Though our government hypes savings, I am not allowed
to have more than $2,000, or my SSI ends. So I am forced to spend. I cannot
allow any bank account to go over that $2,000 mark. .
Why doesn't the government just pay itself - why am I caught in the
middle of it? If thousands of dollars were at stake, I might be able to
understand it, but not for this piddling amount. Where did they get that
$2,000 figure from?.
How do I save to pay taxes (which are close to $6,000) when, if I have
more than $2,000 it all ends? What a mess!.
The other choice is a quantum leap to millions, so it does matter. .
Being disabled is hard enough, and they make it even harder.
- J. H. Finkle
- Huntington, NY