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  • Life insurance co. found guilty of charging discrminatory premium to crip
  • Mom's latest flagpole protest angers parents
  • Not Dead Yet Boston protest a "success," say advocates
  • Thirteen NDY protesters arrested
  • Nursing homes used unnecessarily, says study
  • Activists sue San Francisco over Laguna Honda
  • House Republicans plan "end run" to pass ADA Notification Act
  • MO Gov. signs law letting money "follow the person" for services at home, not nursing home
  • Study finds Americans with disabilities more liberal than norm
  • Advocates flood Access Board with comments
  • Judge says woman with epilepsy not 'disabled' under Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Sides taking shape for ADA Supreme Court fight this fall
  • Public forums on the new work laws continue
  • A historic ride -- on Greyhound
  • Housing model code slated to reduce access; advocates urge phone calls

  • Life insurance co. found guilty of charging discrminatory premium to crip
    Oakland, CA, Sept. 11 -- A life insurance company discriminated against a man with muscular dystrophy when it charged him twice its going rate for life insurance, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled today. The case, say attorneys, should send a "wake-up call" to the insurance industry.


    Mom's latest flagpole protest angers parents
    Deanna Lesneski, the mom who tied herself to the flagpole outslde her son's elementary school in rural Pennsylvania last week to protest the school's refusal to accommodate his needs, is back at the flagpole again. Carolyn Reed's story at Cando.com puts Lesneski's protest into context in the disability rights movement.

    Lesneski, who thought she'd won her battle on Sept. 2, marched back to the flagpole on Sept. 5. when she saw the school's promises to give son Max his medicine weren't being kept. The newly-hired sign language interpreter had quit, too, after just a day on the job.

    On Sept. 6, parents of nondisabled pupils of the elementary school were inside the school protesting Lesneski's protest. Story from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

    Not Dead Yet ends successful Boston protest
    Not Dead Yet advocates have characterized their protest at the World Right To Die society meeting over the Labor Day weekend "success," noting that Boston news media focused on the group's protests.


    13 arrested in Sunday protests
    Boston, Sept. 3 -- Thirteen people were arrested this afternoon and charged with unlawful assembly after successfully blocking the Intersection of Arlington and St. John's Streets near the site of the International Euthanasia Conference in Boston.


    Nursing homes used unnecessarily, says study
    People are put in nursing homes when they are able to live at home with the help of community-based services, because they don't know that's an option, says a joint study from Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research and Learning and Chicago-based Access Living. The majority of nursing home residents surveyed would rather live elsewhere if the opportunity were available, said researchers, but nursing home residents often are unaware of alternatives.


    More Olmstead repercussions:
    Activists sue San Francisco over Laguna Honda
    San Francisco, July 14 -- California disability activists, using the Olmstead Supreme Court decusion, are suing San Francisco for failure to provide in-home services. They charge the County of warehousing people in its 1200-bed Laguna Honda Hospital rather than using its Medicaid funding for in-home services. "A de facto policy bias toward institutional care exists," said the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, one of the groups representing the 10 plaintiffs who are being forced to live at Laguna Honda.

    Last summer's Supreme Court decision upholding the Americans with Disabilities Act's "integration mandate" "confirms the right of people to receive services in their own homes instead of in institutions," says DREDF. "It is against the law to deny people this right and to force them into institutions as the only alternative.

    "Nobody ever needs to live in an institution if there are services in the community," says Kathy Uhl of the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco, who is also involved in the suit. "The ADA is 10 years old and it's time the law was followed."

    More on the suit from DREDF

    More on the fight against Laguna Honda

    More on using Olmstead to fight institutions

    Coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle

    House Republicans plan "end run" to pass ADA Notification Act
    House Republicans are planning their own surprise ADA celebration. Sources have learned that House Republican leadership is planning to pass the ADA Notification Act (H.R. 3590), a weakening amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act, under a "suspension of the rules," bypassing the committee process. "This is an end run" around the House Judiciary Committee, says TASH. The Committee heard persuasive testimony from the disability community on May 18, which made a strong case for dropping the bill.

    The ADA Notification Act Notification Act (H.R. 3590), introduced by Florida Republican Reps. Foley and Shaw, would create a new 90-day notice requirement to a defendant before a lawsuit could be filed.

    National disability leadership is urging advocates to contact their Representatives immediately and urge them to oppose placing the ADA Notification Act on the Suspension Calendar -- and to vote against H.R. 3590 and any other weakening amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act. ( Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121; House web site: www.house.gov.)

    "When you call, they will tell you that they know nothing about" any plans to pass this law, says the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund's Pat Wright. "Do not be fooled; they are trying to count their votes right now. They need votes of two-thirds of the House to bring it up on Suspension.

    "Tell them when they see it to 'just say 'no'!' "

    More coverage from halftheplanet.com

    MO Gov. signs law letting money "follow the person" for services at home, not nursing home
    June 28 -- With his signature on Missouri House Bill 1111, Gov. Mel Carnahan "has given 53,576 Missourians a choice in the use of the long-term care dollars," says Freedom Clearinghouse organizer Candace Hawkins. The appropriations bill signed Wednesday is the first in the nation to implement the requirements of the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision by adopting "money follows the person" language allowing people to get personal assistance in their own homes rather than having to enter a nursing home.

    Individuals "eligible for or receiving nursing home care must be given the opportunity to have those Medicaid dollars follow them to the community and choose the personal care option in the community that best meets the individual's needs," says the new law.

    "Missouri is the first -- but not by any means the last -- to emancipate all of its citizens with disabilities," says Hawkins.

    More on this story from Freedom Clearinghouse.

    Study finds Americans with disabilities more liberal than norm
    June 27, 2000 -- A new political-attitude survey of people with disabilities has found them to be more liberal than the general population, as might be expected in a group that often accepts government services, but also reveals a strong streak of skepticism about government, says study author John Gastil, a University of Washington assistant professor of speech communication.

    The findings were based on telephone surveys of 302 disabled and 1,485 non-disabled people ages 18-64 in New Mexico, a state whose party affiliations and election results closely mirror the nation's as a whole.

    In the surveys, 52 percent of those with disabilities identified themselves as Democrats and 23 percent as Republicans, compared with the general state population surveyed of 43 percent Democrats and 39 percent Republicans.

    Social exclusion and acceptance of aid, Gastil said, may push people with disabilities toward liberal and egalitarian views and make them less inclined than the general populace to believe that rugged individualism can guarantee success. When questioned about specific issues, people with disabilities voiced more concern than other New Mexicans about health care. However, the group with disabilities also shared interests with the rest of the populace in issues such as education, crime and drug abuse.

    "It overturns the stereotype that people with disabilities would be overwhelmingly focused on health care to the exclusion of other things," Gastil said.

    For the survey, disabilities were defined as physical or mental impairments that substantially limit major life activities such as work, education, mobility, personal care or social interaction. Despite the diversity of experience and types of impairment -- from birth, or as a result of disease or accident -- a political group portrait emerged.

    "A constituency group isn't effective in the long term," Gastil said, "unless it is understood."

    Hampering the clout of the disabled, however, is an attitude that was also commonly found among the survey group: that they feel they have little power to bring about political change and that involvement will do little good. The survey found that people with disabilities were, in fact, less likely to be involved in political activities than New Mexicans as a whole.

    This attitude could mean there's room for political growth, Gastil said. If Democrats offer an effective message about rights and services, they could garner stronger support from the millions of Americans with disabilities who follow politics but are uninvolved, he said.

    Republicans, meanwhile, might mine the vein of dissatisfaction with government ineffectiveness and red tape revealed in the survey, and offer plans that stress efficiency and accountability.

    George W. Bush's "New Freedom" plan announced in June follows a decade of legislative victories by people with disabilities, especially the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, said Gastil, but that no substantial study had ever before gauged political opinions of the disabled as a group until political questions were inserted into 1995 surveys by the University of New Mexico's Institute for Public Policy and state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

    "A significant increase in the political involvement of people with disabilities," Gastil writes, "could tip the scales of public opinion and partisan elections."

    Contact Gastil at his office, (206) 543-4655; his home, (206) 525-9766, or at jgastil@u.washington.edu.
    Advocates flood Access Board with comments
    Activists "did their stuff" and sent in over 2,500 comments to the Access Board's proposed update to the ADA Access Guidelines.

    The vast majority of comments -- 74 percent -- were from individuals, mainly people who identified as having a disability. "Most of these comments addressed reach range requirements for people of short stature, access for people with multiple chemical sensitivities, movie theater captioning for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and access to certain elements, such as ATMs, for people with vision impairments," said the Access Board's newsletter.

    Another 9 percent came from trade associations and manufacturers; design and codes professionals' comments made up 5 percent of the total. Some of the most common topics from these groups included alarms, handrails, assembly areas, van spaces and ATMs.

    About 140 persons provided testimony at two hearings held earlier in the year; the hearing testimony is posted on the Board's website at http://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/LAHearing.htm. The Guidelines cover the construction and alterations of facilities covered by the ADA and by the Architectural Barriers Act (facilities built or leased with federal funds).The final Guidelines will be published in the Federal Register later this year.

    Can't use law to fight discrimination
    Judge says woman with epilepsy not 'disabled' under Americans with Disabilities Act
    Last June's Supreme Court rulings are having their effect. A judge for the Western District Court of Kentucky ruled in late May that a woman with epilepsy does not qualify as "disabled" because medication has kept her seizure-free. The Court last summer ruled that people whose disabilities were controlled by medication could not qualify as "disabled" under the ADA.

    Stefany Prince, who has epilepsy, sued the Jefferson County, Ky police deptartment when she was denied a job due to her epilepsy. But she has no standing to use the ADA, said the District Court, because she isn't disabled, based on the Supreme Court's interpretation of the law.

    These are the kinds of denials of rights that are starting to result from last summer's Supreme Court havoc, say advocates.

    Read more about Stefany Prince's dilemma from the Courier-Journal

    Sides taking shape for ADA Supreme Court fight this fall
    June 5 -- The state of Hawaii will file a friend-of-the-court brief in this fall's Americans with Disabilities Act Supreme Court case Garrett v. University of Alabamacontending that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to states. Disability activists have just a short time left to pressure the state to drop its states-rights stance. Tthe brief is rumored to be virtually ready for the printer.

    According to the National Association for Protection and Advocacy Systems, a group of legal services focusing on disability rights, California, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont will stay neutral.

    Minnesota is filing a brief supporting the law, and West Virginia is also said to support it. "Advocates should continue to pressure their state to sign onto the Minnesota brief, and do all they can to make sure their state does not sign onto the Hawaii brief," says NAPAS' Sharon Masling.

    Read about legal challenges to the ADA at the Protection & Advocacy website.

    Public forums on the new work laws continue
    June 3 -- Regional Social Security Public Education Forums on the various new laws such as the Ticket to Work are continuing throughout the summer. Dates are:
  • June 13 -- Seattle, Washington
  • June 26 -- Boston, Massachusetts
  • August 1 -- Chicago, Illinois
  • For more information, email Mildred Owens or Rona Harper

    A historic ride -- on Greyhound
    For years, ADAPT activists have been fighting Greyhound for lifts on its over-the-road buses. Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, the transportation giant -- ADAPT calls them the "dirty dog" -- dug in their heels and fought access all the way. Finally, they reluctantly told the feds they'd start lift service by April, 2000.

    ADAPT Activist Kathleen Kleinmann checked out their promise. She took an historic ride on a new Greyound bus -- an accessible one! Here's her report!

    "I had a wonderful ride on a Greyhound Bus from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh on May 19, 2000.

    I called on Tuesday for a ride on Friday. Making the reservation was NOT a smooth process -- and left me with great doubt as to whether or not I would actually get a bus with a lift. To add a margin of safety, I made a special trip down to the bus station to physically buy a ticket the night before.

    Lo and behold, the bus actually DID have a lift on it! There were two wheelchair sites, side by side. It took a small army of about 10 bus employees to figure out how to use the lift and tie down my wheelchair properly. Due to the space required for my wheelchair, six regular seats were folded or otherwise unusable. However, the seats were still sold so passengers were forced to sit or stand in the aisle.

    But the driver was jolly and so were the passengers. It was a new bus that was clean, bright, with beautiful windows all around. It was a gorgeous ride through the heart of Pennsylvania.

    I wore my ADAPT tee shirt, of course. Every half hour or so, I became overwhelmed with the full significance of what we have accomplished and I chanted in a whisper, 'The People United Will Never Be Defeated!'

    It was a great day for a magnificent, VICTORIOUS ride. Can't wait to do it again!"



    Housing model code slated to reduce access; advocates urge phone calls
    On June 15, the International Code Council meets in Washington to approve its Code Requirements for Housing Accessibility. "Unless persuaded otherwise" before then, the code will include "a mechanism for builders to use to undo existing home access requirements," says Concrete Change's Eleanor Smith.

    The ICC exists to publish model building codes. Many states adopt them, giving builders uniform construction standards from state to state.

    Appendix C to Code Requirements for Housing Accessibility -- Part 2 of that Appendix, to be exact -- "is in effect a sort of recipe for reducing current state accessibility codes," says the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund's Marilyn Golden. Many states' current codes now go well beyond the requirements for access in the proposed Appendix, and advocates fear that approval of the Appendix will cause states to slacken off their current level of access.

    Overall, the ICC draft is "basically a good document, intended to create uniform, nationwide, construction standards" says Golden. But it seems that the National Association of Home Builders, in yet another effort to undermine housing access requirements nationwide, is pushing hard for approval of this "less-access" Appendix. Details are technical, but housing access advocates are urging people to contact ICC president Bill Tangye and HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo to express opposition to this Appendix C, "which would undo decades of work for access in the states," say advocates.

    Contact Tangye and Cuomo to voice your opposition



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