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  • Advocates trounce Actor Eastwood at ADA hearing
  • Kevorkian award prompts resignation of civil rights activist
  • Parents protest Peter Singer
  • Mad Movement activists gather at Highlander Center, announce protests of Tipper Gore
  • Crips win suit for more accessible public housing
  • Supreme Court to tackle ADA Title 2 again
  • Missouri activists get legislature to have Medicaid $$ "follow the person" to implement Olmstead
  • Not Dead Yet angered at Kevorkian award
  • Activists want changes in access guidelines -- comment now!
  • ADAPT of Texas slams Candidate Bush
  • Bill would give access foes 90-day reprieve

  • Advocates trounce Eastwood at ADA hearing
    If Kyle Glozier had any qualms about going up against actor Clint Eastwood, he didn't show it. The youngster from Pennsylvania was one of 13 people who testified May 18 before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution on H.R. 3590, the ADA Notification Act. The bill would prohibit individuals from bringing lawsuits to enforce Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act without first providing notice of the alleged violation to the defendant and then waiting 90 days for the defendant "to take corrective action."

    Janine Bertram Kemp of Capitol Area ADAPT characterized Eastwood's testimony as "very weak". The actor's statement is one of the few that does not appear on the Judiciary Committee website. But Kemp characterized it as consisting mostly of "gee, I'm just a private citizen victimized by this law."

    Observers think Eastwood, not used to criticism, may have been unnerved by the large group of people in wheelchairs who met him in the hall, calling to him. "Don't weaken our ADA!" and "Sign the Pledge!" were a few of the comments made to Eastwood before the hearing. Sources say Eastwood has been working with an independent living center in his area and some believe that he had been "used" by those opposed to the ADA to further the effort to dismantle the law.

    The American Association of People with Disabilities' Becky Ogle thrust a copy of the group's Pledge into the actor's hand and urged him to "renew the pledge" to support the ADA in its 10th year.

    Glozier, who had earlier made his way into the press room with the actor before the hearing, testified that " It's already bad enough when I go on field trips with my school. I always have to be segregated from my classmates to enter the building that we are visiting.

    "Why are people with disabilities singled out as the only class required to give advance notification of their violation of civil rights?" he said.

    Advocates termed the hearing a success, with observers noting that the bill, which had been on a fast track to passage, now likely to be slowed if not stopped altogether. Subcommittee chair Rep. Charles Canady (R. FL) called for "further investigation" into the issue at the hearing's end.

    "All our groups were working together to protect the ADA," said Kemp. "The National Council on Independent Living, the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, the Paralyzed Veterans" were all represented, she said.

    More on this story

    About the bill

    Kevorkian award prompts resignation of civil rights activist
    Morris Dees, the outspoken head of the anti-racism Southern Poverty Law Center, has resigned from the Gleitzman Award jury following letters sent to him by disability activists when Jack Kevorkian was chosen to receive the Gleitzman Award.

    Mees joins Harvard psychiatrist Robert Coles in disapproving of the award.

    Kevorkian "comes off as goofy and egocentric," Dees wrote in an April 17 letter to chairman Alan Gleitzman. Dees sent a copy of his resignation letter to Not Dead Yet.

    Parents protest Peter Singer
    An April 23 protest at Princeton University targeting controversial bioethicist Peter Singer had a new twist: this one was organized not by Not Dead Yet, but by Parents of children with disabilties, including Mary Wilt. Reports noted the distinction between Not Dead Yet and the less-confrontative Not Dead Yet. Several dozen NDY protesters joined Saturday's group.

    Wilt and her 10-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, met with university Vice President Thomas Wright, asking him to fire Singer and presenting petitions bearing 1,500 signatures from around the world.

    More coverage of the protests from

    The Daily Princetonian
    The New Jersey Star Ledger
    The Boston Globe
    Philadelphia Daily News

    About the Not Dead Yet Protests
    The disability rights case against Peter Singer

    Mad Movement activists gather at Highlander Center, announce protests of Tipper Gore
    Support Coalition International organizers from groups for human rights of people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities met Mar. 23-26 at the Highlander Center outside Knoxville, Tennessee "to teach one another what's worked." The group called for Tipper Gore, who has made mental health her issue, to affirm that "forced drugging and inpatient and outpatient commitment" are "inherently suspect" and "incompatible with the principle of self-determination."

    Read more about the Tipper Gore protest at the MadNation website.

    The group's statement is available at www.MadNation.org/action/highlander.htm

    For a sample of the latest issue of Support Coalition's 64-page newsjournal, Dendron #43, call 1-877-MAD-PRIDE (1-877-623-7743), e-mail: office@MindFreedom.org.

    Crips win suit for more accessible public housing
    For the first time, a federal court has ruled that housing authorities must make 5 percent of all their public housing units accessible to people in wheelchairs. The ruling came April 14 in a case filed by ADAPT of Philadelphia and Liberty Resources, a Philadelphia independent living center. The ruling was from the federal district court in Philadelphia.

    The ruling is an important victory because it requires housing authorities to make 5 percent of all their units accessible, not just 5 percent of those they renovate, said attorney Stephen F. Gold. "Suppose a housing authority has 1,000 units in all," said Gold. If they're renovating 200 of them, they have to make 50 of those accessible -- because 50 is 5 percent of the total of 1,000 units -- not just 5 percent of the 200 they're renovating.

    In Philadelphia, out of nearly 7,000 "scattered site" public housing units, the public housing authority had made only 22 of them accessible, said Gold. Public housing authorities around the nation have interpreted the 1998 HUD rules as requiring only 5 percent of the units they renovate to be accessible. But the Court has now said that the rule applies to 5 percent of all units.

    "The 'five percent' rule should have resulted in 350 accessible units," said Gold. "We have people in wheelchairs living in inaccessible third-floor apartments, and people who use walkers having to crawl up and down stairs," said Gold. "With this ruling, we will now finally get moving." Gold said housing authorities nationwide have constructed very few accessible units.

    "This decision should be a wake-up call both to housing authorities and to advocates," said Gold. "Inaccessible low-income housing is a significant problem throughout the country."

    Supreme Court to tackle ADA Title 2 again
    April 17 -- The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hear another Americans with Disabilities Act case in which a state contends that the federal law has no jurisdiction over states. The case, like the other two settled earlier this spring, involves state employees who have alleged disability discrimination on the job. And like the other cases, it involves the claim that states have a constitutional immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to lawsuits under the ADA.

    This case, Garrett v. Alabama, say disability court watchers, is actually a good case "for our side."

    Patricia Garrett, who had been an employee of the University of Alabama for over 15 years, got breast cancer and underwent surgery. Her supervisor told her that she would lose her job if she took leave; and she was, in fact, demoted to a job with a lower salary.

    "Garrett was really mistreated because of peoples' fears and stereotypes about breast cancer," said Bazelon Center attorney Ira Burnim in an interview in February. He calls the Garrett case "a straight-out discrimination from bad motivation case -- a relatively strong case" from a disability rights perspective.

    When another case, the Dickson case, was settled in February, disability advocates had asked the court to hear the Garrett case in its stead.

    The Garrett case is actually two cases, consolidated by the court; the other plaintiff, Milton Ash, who has asthma, asked his state employer, the Dept. of Youth Services, to enforce a no-smoking rule as a reasonable accommodation, and was denied.

    A decision is expected in early 2001.

    Read a story on this case from the Associated Press. (Note: this link may not work after April 19 or so; if not, try searching for the story at www.washingtonpost.com.)

    Read more about the ADA's "Constitutional Crisis"

    Read the lower court ruling in Garrett v. Alabama

    Missouri activists get legislature to have Medicaid $$ "follow the person" to implement Olmstead
    April 11 -- The Appropriations committee of the Missouri State Senate has agreed with the Missouri House to change language concerning Medicaid dollars to ensure that they do not automatically flow to nursing homes but that they 'follow the person." Missouri activists wanted this change to implement the Olmstead Supreme Court decision.

    More on this story from Freedom Clearinghouse

    Not Dead Yet angered at Kevorkian award
    Disability group Not Dead Yet will protest at the April 10 Gleitsman Foundation awards ceremony at Harvard University, where the Foundation will honor Jack Kevorkian with its Citizen Activist Award. Not Dead Yet calls Kevorkian a "serial killer," and had urged members of the awards committee to vote against bestowing the honor on a man who has ended the lives of over 100 people.

    In response to a letter from Not Dead Yet, Harvard University's Dr. Robert Coles, famed child psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Spiritual Life of Children, told the group he was "not at all in favor of Jack Kevorkian as a recipient."

    Other members of the awards committee contacted by Not Dead Yet include Ted Danson of the American Oceans Campaign, the Children's Defense Fund's Marian Wright Edelman, Human Rights Watch's Stanley Sheinbaum, feminist Gloria Steinem and Morris Dees, Jr., of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    "It is true that Kevorkian is a 'citizen activist,' and it is undoubtedly also true that he is strongly committed to his cause," Steven J. Taylor, Ph.D, Director of the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University wrote to Dees. "The same might be said of members of the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation." Taylor called Kevorkian's selection "a deep affront to all persons with disabilities and a dishonor to other recipients of this award."

    Kevorkian, 71, is in prison in Michigan serving a sentence for his second-degree murder conviction in March, 1999 for the death of Thomas Youk, whose "suicide" he assisted. Michigan is looking into seizing some of the Gleitsman prize money under a 1935 law allowing the state to charge a prisoner for upkeep during incarceration.

    News reports note that Melody and Terrence Youk, the wife and brother of Thomas Youk, will accept the award on Kevorkian's behalf.


    More on Not Dead Yet from the July/August, 1999
    issue of Ragged Edge magazine

    Activists want changes in access guidelines -- comment now!
    You're a rising star in the world of high cuisine. A young chef with impressive credentials, your career is blossoming when a car accident puts you in a wheelchair.

    After rehab, you job hunt. A new restaurant is starting up -- you've got the background and talent to run it -- and the owner knows it. But you can't get up to the stove or the prep area in the kitchen; the space between the storage areas is just too narrow.

    It's a new restaurant. Why wasn't its kitchen made completely accessible? ADA access guidelines didn't call for that, so the owner just didn't bother with it.

    The story could have a different, happier ending if revisions being proposed to the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines included a mandated "accessible route to individual work stations". But they don't.

    The technical-sounding phrase is found in Section 203.3 of the Preamble in the proposed revisions.


    The deadline to comment on the proposed guidelines is May 15 (extended from March 15). The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund offers suggestions-- including responses to the "accessible route" problem -- at www.dredf.org/adaag.html

    Little People of America, Inc. want the "unobstructed side reach ranges" (ADAAG 308.3.1). changed. They oppose the current 54-inch side reach range. "More than 300,000 of us can't reach 54 inches up," says LPA's Angela Van Etten, nor can an estimated 20 percent of people in wheelchairs. "ATMs, elevators, public phones, credit card readers at gas pumps, vending machines, and automatic ticket dispensers. You name it, we can't reach it!" -- unles the side reach range is lowered to 48 inches.

    Read more about LPA's concerns with reach ranges at the Justice for All website.

    Read the ADAAG proposed revisions online at www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/guidenprm.htm

    Send your comments -- before May 15 -- by email to docket@access-board.gov. Comments sent by e-mail will be considered only if they include the full name and address of the sender in the text. Comments can also be snail-mailed to: Office of Technical and Information Services, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, 1331 F Street NW., Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111. Fax number (202) 272-5447.

    ADAPT of Texas slams Candidate Bush
    "There are currently over 110,000 people with disabilities, old and young, in Texas nursing homes and other institutions," says Bob Kafka of ADAPT of Texas. Kafka was responding to commentary about Presidential Candidate George W. Bush's record on disability rights.
  • There are over 250 children with disabilities in Texas nursing homes

  • The state nursing home waiver has a waiting list of approximately 20,000 people

  • The state institutional waiver for people with brain injuries and related conditions has a waiting list of approximately 6,000 people

  • The state institutional waiver for people with cognitive disabilities has a waiting list of approximately 13,000 people
  • "All state-funded community-based programs have long waiting lists," says Kafka.

    Bush refused to take Texas's name off the Supreme Court brief opposing the Americans with Disabilities Act's "integration mandate" in last spring's Olmstead case. The Clinton Administration says the Court's Olmstead ruling requires states let people in nursing homes get those services in their own homes.

    "Texas was one of only seven states to remain against the integration mandate as written in the Americans with Disabilities Act," says Kafka.

    ADAPT has repeatedly asked to meet with Gov. Bush and received no response, says Kafka. "The Disability Policy Consortium, an organization made up of almost all the disability rights organizations in Texas, offered to broker a meeting between Governor Bush and national disability rights groups," Kafka continued. "The offer was turned down."

    Bill would give access foes 90-day reprieve
    Anyone planning to sue a public accommodation for lack of access under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act would have to notify the business 90 days before they filed the suit, according to a bill introduced in February by two Republican Congressmen from Florida, Mark Foley and Clay Shaw, in response to lawsuits filed against businesses there.

    The ADA notification Act -- HR 3590 -- was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

    HR. 3590 is available on the Congress website: thomas.loc.gov



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