Electric EDGE
Web Edition of
The Ragged Edge
Nov/Dec 1997

Electric Edge

Show FDR hiding it -- and tell why
The fact of the matter is that FDR went to great lengths to hide his disability from the U.S. public ("FDR Wheelchair Now Law," D.R. Nation. Sept./Oct.). This was not due to shame but to a very real assessment of the prejudicial (and ignorant) attitudes toward people with disabilities that could have led to his defeat at the polls.

The monument should not be a depiction of a proud man in his wheelchair, as so many revisionists wish; nor should the issue be avoided. The monument should include a sculpture depicting FDR hiding his disability, and an ample on-site explanation of why he felt it necessary to do so. This would be accurate and enlightening for those who visit the memorial.


Never be equal
There are many websites that blind people can use with text-reading software such as Lynx, which I have found quite satisfactory, despite Sally Rosenthal's seeming terror at it ("Adrift on the Information Highway," Sept./Oct.) The problem isn't finding the software as much as it is the website designers who rely heavily on visual content that cannot be translated at all. It is ironic that just as a technology emerges that can really make blind people equal to sighted people -- the internet -- the "trendsetters" turn it into something we once again find ourselves unable to access with the same results as sighted people.

The ADA cannot begin to address such problems. I sometimes long for the old days of the Internet, when only computer geeks used it. Then it was text text text -- and it was equally available to all of us.

Why is it that society cannot ever seem to comprehend that a portion of us cannot see -- but that our problem is not our blindness so much as society's refusal to take this into account when designing new things. Yes, the technology to make us all truly equal exists -- but nobody wants to bother with it.


Fan Letters
Fabulous cover art on your Sept./Oct. issue. Kudos!.

E-Mail Cheryl Marie Wade

I enjoyed last Robert Mauro's fiction in this last issue ("Max & His Electronic PCA") as well as his Coney Island Geek article (Freak Show Redux," July/August). Mauro is a talented writer.


Firemen fixed the bus
I read Bill Bolt's article ("The Fireman," Sept./Oct.) with an increasing sense of recognition. I too have had decent experiences with firemen. Once firemen were called when the "special" lift bus broke down with the lift jammed in the "up" position. I think what the driver had in mind was for the burly firemen to carry us crips off the bus. What the firemen did was fix the lift.


Covering the bills in Congress
I hope the attendant services bill endorsed by ADAPT will help the Peggy Heckers of the world ("I have little choice anymore," Sept./Oct.), But I worry about it. How CASA will affect states that already have attendant service programs, like California, isn't clear. I hope it provides consumer control, but I am not sure that is guaranteed under it.

The attendant services bill in the Senate, introduced by Sen. Russell Feingold (D. - WI) is based on a program that has worked well in our state. I hope Ragged Edge will cover this bill as well, and not give exclusive coverage to the ADAPT bill. Both are good and both deserve to be reported on.

Green Bay, Wis.

We will continue to cover both bills in the coming year. -- ed.

I want to try it here
Loved your article on consumer-driven care in home health in Kansas ("How Kansas got 'consumer control' into the law," July/August) and how they changed the laws. I'd love to try for the same results here in Nebraska. I don't see consumers being given choices and it is very frustrating. My daughter has to go to bed by 7:00 p.m. because of the agency's policy. Would you want to go to bed at 7:00 p.m. if you were a 23-year old young lady?.

The agencies seem to try to please Medicare/Medicaid more than their clients. What's wrong with this picture? The agency should be working for the person experiencing the disability. These procedures deprive people of self-esteem and dignity. Many individuals with speech difficulties and expressive skill deficits are afraid to speak up for fear they will lose the caregiver because they are so dependent in their daily living needs. .

I'm going to fight for our daughter and others' rights for better home health care.

E-Mail MARY S. McALPINE Act normal and you'll be better
There are disabled people already working in newsrooms ("More than Magoo," Sept./Oct.). The problem, as your article stated, is that they want to put as much distance from themselves as possible when it comes to covering a disability rights issue. I have tried several times to talk to a man who walks with Canadian crutches who is a reporter at our local newspaper. He is very cold to me (I am in a wheelchair). Once I told him about ADAPT doing a Greyhound bus action -- unfortunately no one was doing it in our city -- and he said "there's no story for us." End of discussion.

I would like to get him to "see the light" but I do not believe he has any interest in the "disability community." I think he's typical.


18th century attitudes
As a society, we are approaching the 21st century with many 18th century attitudes toward people with disabilities. A story by Brooke A. Masters of The Washington Post illustrates this ongoing social injustice:.

Masters reports that on a spring morning, on the Metro's Orange Line, a 23-year-old file clerk, Lavita Haugabrook, was grabbed by a man having an epileptic seizure. The young woman was frightened because the man said nothing and began to pull her from her seat. One of her co-workers freed her and the man silently moved away and got off at the next stop. Two days later, Scott Vining was arrested by Metro police and charged with assault. .

The young file clerk learned that Vining has epilepsy, but chose not to withdraw the charges, saying that his epilepsy is "just an excuse" and that "If his medication wasn't working, he shouldn't have been on that train." She continued, "It's my transportation, and I shouldn't have to be inconvenienced.".

Despite documentation from his doctor, Arlington, VA judge Griffin Garnett Jr. found Vining guilty and threatened him with jail if he ever grabbed anyone again.

I can't help but wonder how many self-righteous and ignorant judges and "Ms. Haughabrooks" exist in our ever-hardening world. .

The ranks of the disabled are ones which any of us, through accident or disease can join at any time. With the carnage on the American freeways alone, a percentage of those fighting against the rights of the disabled are destined to one day require the very compassion that they themselves are today refusing to show.

Let us hope they think again.


Sposto reports that Vining was cleared of assault charges after the judge watched videotapes of Vining having seizures (taped in a six-day stay at George Washington University Hospital) --ed.


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