Disability Rights Nation

Oct. 25-31
From Ragged Edge's
D. R. Nation department Sept./Oct., 1998

Nursing homes virtually never penalized

FDR in wheelchair memorial OK'd


Disability Social History online

Did you know . . .

"That Helen Keller was a Socialist?"

"That disabled people were the first to be executed in Nazi Germany?"

"That disabled activists won a significant legislative victory after holding the longest sit-in at a federal building?"

The Disability Social History Project on the web, at http;//www.disabilityhistory.org, is the brainchild of longtime West Coast crip mavens Pat Chadwick and Stephen Dias. They see it as "an opportunity for disabled people to reclaim our history and determine how we want to define ourselves and our struggles."

"People with disabilities have an exciting and rich history that should be shared with the world," the two say on the site. "Preserving and examining the history and culture of the oppression and struggle towards freedom of people with disabilities is important to an ongoing conceptualization of a group identity and the continuation of the struggle for civil rights. The ways in which disabled people have acted and have been treated and viewed must be examined within the social, political, economic, and religious climates of the times and cultures."

The site offers websurfers biographies of crip luminaries Helen Keller, Randolph Bourne, Rosa Luxemborg, Antonio Gramsci; a history of the disability rights movement; a history of institutions (including schools for the Deaf and Blind and state institutions for people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities); information about and events leading up to the T-4 program in Nazi Germany and the history and culture of "freak shows" in the 19th century. More material is constantly being added.

If you know of "anything that you would like to see become part of the Disability Social History Project, including your disabled heroes, important events in disability history, and resources," Dias and Chadwick want to hear from you. Contact them at;

Disability Social History Project
255 3rd Street, #202
Oakland, CA 94607


Nursing homes virtually never penalized

Although a third of California nursing homes have been cited for violations that cause death or life-threatening harm, officials "generally took a lenient stance toward" the institutions, said the General Accounting Office's William Scanlon at hearings before the Senate Special Committee on Aging in late July. The hearings stemmed from a report last fall on abuses in California ("Speaking of nursing home 'quality of care,'"Jan./Feb. '98).

Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) the ranking Democrat on the committee, said, "Other states probably have similar problems." The study showed nursing home inmates were left sitting in urine and feces for days and had bedsores exposing bone.

Committee chair Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said the federal Health Care Financing Administration, which is supposed to regulate nursing homes, "has been comatose too long" and called the situation "horrifying."

Two weeks before the hearings, Pres. Clinton called for more funding for nursing homes, calling them a "godsend for older Americans." He did not mention the Medicaid Community Attendant Services Act now in Congress (MiCASA) which would require states to offer in-home services in lieu of nursing homes (nursing home chains have made large financial contributions to Clinton election efforts).

"Homes can repeatedly harm residents without facing sanctions," said Scanlon. HCFA can cut off federal money to nursing homes but rarely does. Only 16 of California's 1,370 have lost funds said Scanlon--and 14 of the 16 were reinstated.

FDR in wheelchair memorial OK'd

Activists pushing for a sculpture of FDR in a wheelchair at the the Roosevelt Memorial got their wish in July when the National Park Service announced that a sculpture of the president "in the small wheelchair he designed" would be added at the entrance to the popular attraction.

Hugh Gregory Gallagher, author of FDR's Splendid Deception, added, "Disabled people will be able to roll up beside it and have their picture taken. Parents can tell their children, 'This guy did it, and you'll be able to do it, too.'"

News stories say the addition will be paid for with money raised by the National Organization on Disability.

More D.R. Nation


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