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Eagle, Turkey Awards Presented by DRA

graphic of eagle and turkeyWhat do Taco Bell, Hotels.Com, the state of Georgia and California's Schwarzenegger administration have in common? As of today, they're all not-so-proud recipients of Turkey Awards from Disability Rights Advocates, the disability rights law firm in Oakland, CA. This is the 8th year for the Eagle and Turkey Awards, which were presented today at an awards luncheon. "The Turkey Award recipients usually don't attend," joked executive director Larry Paradis. "We FedExed them their awards."

Eagle Awards -- now they're the ones to covet. This year's winners are ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," for designing accessible homes that let families live independently (and, not incidently, spreading the message that homes with "universal design" features can be trendy); Shane's Inspiration, an organization which helps communities design accessible playgrounds; Wilderness Inquiry, offering outdoor adventure trips -- "their collaboration with outdoors equipment designers has lead to such innovates equipment such as the Eureka! Freedom tent, which is accessible for wheelchair users," says DRA, and Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA for its commitment to job opportunities for young people with disabilities.

0n the other hand --

"This year's Turkey awardees are particularly egregious examples of corporations and bureaucracies that continue to impede the progress of disability rights," says Paradis.

Taco Bell Corp. got its Turkey Award "for refusing to remove architectural barriers that prevent people with disabilities from equal access to their 220 corporate-owned California restaurants," said DRA, including "queue lines that are too narrow for wheelchairs and scooters, inaccessible restrooms, counters and dining areas and insufficient accessible parking."

Hotels.Com won a Turkey for "refusing to guarantee accessible rooms for customers with disabilities." Hotels.Com calls accessible rooms "amenties" and won't guarantee them. Boo!

The State of Georgia's Turkey comes on the heels of its lawsuit appeal, just heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which it claims that ADA suits do not apply in its prisons (they tried a similar tactic with their Medicaid program back in 1999, and lost.) Boo! Hiss!

DRA could hardly pass up honoring its own state's Schwarzenegger administration with a Turkey Award: "To balance the 2005 budget, some deep cuts were threatened by the governor," says DRA. "He proposed to end the state's contribution to In Home Support Service providers' wages -- a cut that would diminish pay to that of minimum wage." He's done other bad disability stuff too, that DRA's awards sheet doesn't even mention.

More about the awards, and past recipients, can be found at the DRA website.