FCC proposes rules for video description
Washington DC, Nov. 22 -- The Federal Communications Commission last week announced proposed rules for video description of television programming, calling for broadcasters affiliated with the ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC networks in the top 25 television markets to provide at least four hours per week of video captioning, with more to be phased in as television switches from analog to digital broadcasting. The rules are modeled after those for closed captioning, said the FCC.

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Work Incentives Act passes
Washington, DC, Nov. 18 -- After weeks of haggling, House and Senate negotiators finally reached agreement on spending for the Work Incentives Improvement Act, and the bill, attached to a bill extending expiring tax breaks, was approved 418 to 2. Activists say there's little doubt Pres. Clinton will sign the measure.

For people now on on Social Security disability insurance who return to work, the law will extend Medicare Part A premium coverage for four and a half years over current law, "which has the net effect of a total of 7.5 years of Medicare Part A free after SSDI cash benefits cease due to work earnings above certain levels," said Byron MacDonald, an activist who worked on the bill.

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ADAPT's MiCASSA Medicaid bill aims to end nursing-home bias
WASHINGTON DC, Nov. 16 -- The Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act, designed to reform the Medicaid program by allowing people a choice to remain at home rather than go to a nursing home, has been introduced in the Senate. The average yearly Medicaid expenditure for a person using community-based services is $7,276, compared to a taxpayer cost of $23,225 for a person receiving Medicaid services in a nursing home, according to figures released by the NIDRR-funded Disability Statistics Center.

MiCASSA is the result of years of work by ADAPT, a national grassroots disability rights group. A number of ADAPT activists have been in nursing homes and other institutions.

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Crip sues U.S. Olympic Committee
Denver, Nov. 4 -- Mark Shepherd, manager of the USOC's Disabled Sports Services, filed suit against the U.S. Olympic Committee today, charging discrimination against disabled athletes. He says USOC offers "dramatically inferior services, benefits and financial support" to Paralympians.

In our Sept./Oct. cover story, Ragged Edge details many of the allegations in Shepherd's suit.
Read our cover story on USOC discrimination from the Sept./Oct. issue.
Read the Associated Press story.

Wheelchair racers' suit to change NYC Marathon
New York, Nov. 4 -- Disabled road racers say this Sunday's New York City Marathon will be a test of whether their July lawsuit has had any effect. The suit, filed against the New York Road Racers Club, the organizers of the Marathon, charges the club with violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act for inequitable treatment, stopping them during the race to let nondisabled runners pass and refusing to award prizes.

More on this story from the Nov. 4 New York Times. (You must fill out a free registration to read The New York Times online.)

ADAPT pushes Ohio on in-home services
Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 2 -- Midway through a week of activism marked by over 100 arrests, ADAPT sought a meeting with Ohio Department of Human Services Director Jackie Senski today. The group wants Senski to set a timetable for getting people out of nursing homes. The group took over Ohio Gov. Bob Taft's offices yesterday; news media reported on the 15-hour siege.

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Story as reported in the Columbus Dispatch (available online through Nov. 6)

British disability law takes effect
A law modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect in Britain in October. The grumbing by businesses is just like it is in the U.S., too. .

Read this story.

Columbus discovers ADAPT
Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 30 -- ADAPT activists descend on Ohio next weekfor rallies and actions aimed at forcing attention on the "institutional bias." Ohio spends 89% of its Medicaid Long Term Care funding for nursing homes and other institutions, rather than letting people receive services in their homes.

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Hearing set on bill that would nix
access rules for housing

Washington, DC. Oct. 25 -- A bill that exempts contractors from making new condos and apartments accessible, as required under the Fair Housing Act,. is in the House. This Thursday, Oct. 28, the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a hearing on HR 2437, the so-called "Justice in Fair Housing Enforcement Act of 1999". Advocates say it's just the opposite.

More on this bill and what you can do.

Asch says Singer doesn't see whole picture
Princeton, Oct. 13 -- Bioethicist Adrienne Asch, the Henry R. Luce Professor in Biology, Ethics and the Politics of Human Reproduction at Wellesley College. and longtime figure in disability studies, chided Peter Singer last night for thinking disabled people would lead unproductive lives. The bioethics debate drew a packed house at Princeton.
Watch or hear the debate from Princeton archives
Debate coverage from the Daily Princetonian.
One woman's thoughts on the Singer protest

California says college textbooks must be accessible
California has become the first state in the nation to require textbook publishers to provide a digital version of their books to state universities to be used by students who can't use conventional ink-print.

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Leaked Surgeon General draft on electroshock reverberates on Internet
A draft chapter of a forthcoming Surgeon General's report has made national headlines, thanks to Joseph Rogers, who leaked it on the Internet. The draft "gives a clean bill of health to the controversial procedure of electroshock," said Support Coalition International when the document was first leaked. electroshock is "regarded as a safe and effective treatment for depression."

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San Francisco installs ATM blind can use
Oct. 4 -- "This is a knock-out," said Bill Gerrey of the Smith-Kettlewell Institute on Friday. "This is the first time in my life I've been able to use an ATM!" said Damien Pickering as he used his infra-red audible Talking Signs receiver to find the ATM, and then used the machine with no assistance.

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Greyhound will finally install lifts in 2001, says DOJ
Washington, Oct. 1 -- Greyhound Lines agreed Thursday, in an out-of court settlement with the Justice Dept., to make lift-equipped buses part of its fleet by Oct. 28, 2001. The buses must be made available "on 48 hours' notice," says the agreement.

According to a statement released by Greyhound, "Between now and March 31, 2000, Greyhound will begin providing lift-equipped buses or station-based boarding devices along its major routes and will try to make them available on its other routes if passengers call Greyhound's toll-free ADA hot line, 1-800-752-4841, 48 hours before they travel.

"At first, the company does not expect to be able to fill all requests for equipment but will still provide assistance, by carrying if necessary, to get on and off at all stops, including for rest and meals. --Beginning April 1, 2000, Greyhound's 'Access Greyhound' program will guarantee accessible buses between any of the 2,600 locations it serves if it has 48 hours notice -- except when there are sudden breakdowns in the bus or the lift, an unforeseen lack of trained personnel, an unusually high demand or the service at a particular site would be very costly."

Harrisburg crips celebrate accessible pizza
Oct. 1 -- Crips in the Midtown section of Harrisburg, PA have invited reporters along to lunch at Pasquale's Pizza today. They can get in now. There's a new ramp, thanks to the 3 month-old Midtown Sweep making this gentrifying area of Harrisburg accessible. There's a new ramp at Good Taste Chinese Food, too.

And a new round of lawsuits has just been filed against another three inaccessible businesses in the area, continuing the sweep that began July 26, the 9th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabiilties Act. Slapped with suits for their inaccessible entrances were Neato Burrito, Okechi Beauty Salon and C&M Variety Stores. The group vows to continue filing suits each month until the entire area is accessible.

More on the Midtown Sweep

Surgeon General to OK electroshock, say activists
A leaked copy of a forthcoming Surgeon General's report "gives a clean bill of health to the controversial procedure of electroshock," says Support Coalition International. The report will say that electroshock is "regarded as a safe and effective treatment for depression."

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Crip campus suit goes before judge;
ADA 'not legit,' says SFSU

San Francisco, Oct. 1, 1999 -- Rather than make its campus accessible, San Francisco State University is "challenging the legitimacy" of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a move that has become the tactic du jour for those being sued under the 9-year old law.

The Sept. 27 The San Francisco Chronicle, reporting on a 4-year-old lawsuit filed by disabled students who face barriers at the archaic and inaccessible campus, reports that the University, "as part of its response to the suit, is challenging the authority of Congress to impose the ADA on state entities. "It is an overall issue of state sovereignty," said Jack McCowan, an attorney for San Francisco State.

The access lawsuit -- and the University's challenge to the law -- go before U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney oOctober 8. If that fails, the case goes to trial November 1, said the Chronicle.

The suit is being handled by Disability Rights Advocates, an Oakland-based. public interest law office .

"What is really extraordinary about this case is the resistance that San Francisco State has displayed from the very beginning to addressing this problem," DRA attorney Alison Aubry told the Chronicle. "They are one of the worst defendants that we have ever litigated against in terms of their attitude toward people with disabilities."

States fight against the ADA

Michigan residents now in nursing homes
sue to get out

Detroit -- A lawsuit filed in August by the Michigan Dept. of Protection and Advocacy on behalf of 6 nursing home inmates charges the state of Michigan with keeping people in nursing homes when the state's own evaluations showed they didn't need nursing home placement. The move is one of many efforts starting across the nation in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision last June. State P&A officials told the Detroit Free Press that more than 500 individuals were in a similar situation.

Read the Sept. 16, 1999 story, "Nursing home residents sue to move out" by Wendy Wendland, from The Detroit Free Press archives

U.S. District Court Rules in Favor of Accessible Over-the-Road Buses
An American Bus Association lawsuit against the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's access requirements for over the road buses was went down to defeat last month when the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia ruled that the Dept. had complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act in its regulations.

The bus association had claimed that the department's regs "failed to adequately address safety issues related to transporting passengers with disabilities on intercity buses in their own wheelchairs or other mobility devices,",and that the rule "providing denied boarding compensation" went beyond USDOT's authority. Under the new rules, if you request "advance notice" service, and the bus company doesn't provide it, it must compensate you.

Between January and May 2000 the Federal Transit Administration's sponsored Project ACTION will conduct ten training workshops on motorcoach accessibility for bus and tour operators from across the U.S. and Canada, educating them in the requirements of the USDOT OTRB accessibility regulation.

According to an September, 1999 American Bus Assn press release, it is considering an appeal of certain aspects of the decision,. but by October no action had been taken.

Earlier D.R. Nation stories

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