DFN E-News: Vol. 2, No. 1
- Disability in the News
- Disability History
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the Medical Board of California to decide whether state agencies have constitutional protection from lawsuits under the ADA. The case will determine whether sovereign immunity applies to states accused of discrimination in the provision of public services. In the case, Michael Hason sued the medical board after he was turned down for a medical license because he suffers from depression. The U.S. District Court initially dismissed the lawsuit, but the Court of Appeals reversed the decision, saying that the state is not “immune from all such suits.” The medical board has appealed to the Supreme Court, holding that the state has “the right and duty…to regulate the licensing of physicians for the public safety.” [California Healthline, 11/7/02, and The New York Times, 11/18/02]
Due to budgetary concerns, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to close Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. The closure, scheduled for June, is expected to save the county $58.6 million to $70 million in the coming years. Rancho Los Amigos provided “highly specialized” rehabilitation services to 2,600 inpatients and 8,700 outpatients last year. In response to this news, a number of county health care workers, several independent living centers and a coalition of patients with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, diabetes and other conditions have organized teleconferences, letter campaigns and online petitions against the closure. The Department of Health Services has stated that the closure is due to a “budget situation” and not to “Rancho’s excellence.” [California Healthline, 11/13/02]
On January 10, Senate Republican leaders agreed to repeal language in the homeland security law approved last year that would have helped to shield pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly from lawsuits involving thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that some people contend is a factor in childhood autism. According to congressional aides, the provision was added to the homeland security law during negotiations between House and Senate Republican aides. In a later interview, House Majority Leader Richard Armey said he inserted the provision to “keep vaccine-makers from going out of business under the weight of mounting lawsuits.”
Part of an agreement crafted by Republican moderates — Senators Lincoln D. Chaffee (R.I.), Susan Collins (ME), and Olympia Snowe (ME) — in negotiation with party leaders, the repeal of the vaccine language will allow “most if not all of the lawsuits that would have been terminated by the earlier bill to continue.” In addition, if Congress goes along with the agreement — which will be included in a “must-pass” omnibus spending bill for domestic programs — will also commit the Senate to vote on a broader bill to ensure development and production of vaccines while also providing “redress for those who have suffered vaccine-related injuries. [Washington Post, 01/11/03, section A4, and kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports, 12/2/02]
On the occasion of the U.N.-designated International Day of people with disabilities on December 3, 2002, World Bank President James Wolfensohn convened a three-day conference on “Development & Disabilities” at the WB headquarters in Washington, D.C. To an audience of nearly 600, he declared that “disability issues must be mainstreamed within all of the public and private development programs around the world.” The World Bank, in partnership with the U.N., will be at the forefront of this initiative, which is necessary to “break the vicious cycle of poverty leading to disabilities and disabilities leading to poverty.” The WB has created a special disability department, headed by former Assistant Secretary of Education Judy Heumann, and Mr. Wolfensohn pledged that when he convenes another such conference in two years, he will have measurable results to report.
Mr. Wolfensohn also wrote an editorial in the December 3, 2002, edition of the Washington Post: www.wahingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A1160-2002Dec2?language=printer.
The underlying theme of the conference was, as one speaker phrased it, “A society that is good for people with disabilities is better for everyone.”
The Disability History Museum continues to add primary documents and images to its online library collection. From the years 1810-1860, the museum has many articles and documents on “insane asylums.” From the 1950s and 1960s are articles and images from the Toomeyville Gazette, published by polio survivors. In the future the museum will be focusing on the period between 1931 and 1960, particularly on diagnosis groups, such as ARC, the League of the Hearing Impaired and the March of Dimes.
You can visit the museum at www.disabilitymuseum.org.
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Amherst H. Wilder Foundation Form Publishing Partnership
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation Publishing Center have partnered to develop a co-branded series of funders guides. The purpose of the series is to improve the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit sector as a whole by strengthening the approaches grantmakers use with nonprofits. GEO and Wilder plan to publish two to five funders guides per year. The first, titled, “Strengthening Nonprofit Performance: A Funder’s Guide to Capacity Building, “synthesizes the most recent capacity-building practice and research into a collection of strategies, steps and examples funders can use to strengthen nonprofits.” The second guide, due in February 2003, is titled, “Community Visions, Community Solutions: Grantmaking for Comprehensive Impact.”
The guides can be purchased online at www.wilder.org.
The NCD has released, “Significance of the ADA Finding That Some 43 Million Americans Have Disabilities,” the latest addition to the ongoing policy brief series analyzing and responding to certain problematic aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. This paper examines the sources of the 43-million figure, the congressional understanding behind its inclusion in the ADA, the conclusions the Supreme Court has based on it, and the problems with the Court’s interpretation of the figure. The paper can be obtained at www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/43million.html.
The NCD has also released, “Broad or Narrow Construction of the ADA,” the fourth addition to the series. The paper examines the language and legislative history of the ADA, and the legal principles in place at the time it was enacted, to determine what information can be found there regarding how narrowly or broadly Congress intended the definition of disability in the ADA to be construed, and to ascertain whether the Supreme Court’s narrow construction of the definition is consistent or at odds with the statutory language, legislative history, and previously recognized legal principles. This paper can be obtained at www.ncdgov/newsroom/publications/broadnarrowconstruction.html.
Judi Rogers, a disabled mother, activist, and author, was awarded the 2002 Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Program award. Rogers is a staff member of Through the Looking Glass (TLG), a Berkeley nonprofit that focuses on families that have an infant, child or parent with a disability. Trained as an occupational therapist, Rogers specializes in developing adaptive baby care equipment, provides home-based childbirth education, and gives occasional labor-coaching for mothers with developmental disabilities. She is also the author of a landmark book about pregnancy and birthing for women with disabilities, Mother to Be: A Guide to Pregnancy and Birth for Women with Disabilities.
The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) has selected Harilyn Rousso as one of its 2003 National Women’s History Month honorees. Harilyn is a disability rights activist and psychotherapist, who for over 20 years has worked as an educator, social worker and pioneering activist in the disability rights field, with an emphasis on issues of women and girls with disabilities. Harilyn also works as a project consultant with DFN, so we are especially proud to announce this honor.
NWHP selected women exemplary of the many women who inspire and serve as role models in pioneering our future. Among the other honorees are: Rebecca Adams, Native American advocate; Rachel Carson, scientist and environmentalist; Linda Chavez, labor leader; Mae Jemison, scientist, educator, former astronaut; Yuri Kochiyama, civil rights advocate; Margaret Chase Smith, congressional representative and senator; and Wilma Vaught, brigadier general, USAF, retired. A complete list and more information can be found at www.nwhp.org.
Solutions Marketing Group has selected PAX-TV for the December 2002 Profile in Excellence for its current work in portraying the lives of people with disabilities. Anna’s Dream, a two-hour made-for-TV movie, depicts the story of a girl who returns to the daily trials of teenage life after a paralyzing spinal-cord injury. Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye is a series that follows the cases faced by a deaf FBI agent. In addition, both programs have involved people with disabilities on the creative team.
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announced that, at its Leadership Gala on March 4, 2003, the Henry B. Betts Award will be presented to Dick and Ginny Thornburgh, longtime advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. Their son, Peter, suffered a serious brain injury as a result of a 1960 car accident. It is he who has inspired and grounded their advocacy efforts on behalf of all people with disabilities. For more information about the Thornburghs or this event, please go to www.aapd-dc.org. [From HalfthePlanet News]
DFN Joins the National Disability Community in Mourning the Loss of Two Leaders: Doug Martin and Drew Batavia
Doug Martin, a scholar and disability advocate who helped in the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1988), died early this month at the age of 55. A wheelchair and iron-lung user due to polio, Martin died when his iron lung, which he used while sleeping, became detached.
After completing high school, Martin earned a major scholarship to the University of Nebraska but was turned away when officials saw his wheelchair. “I made a vow then and there that I would pursue my education and use it to make sure this would not happen to anyone else,” Martin once told a UCLA publication.
Enrolling at UCLA, Martin earned simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1973 and a doctoral degree in urban affairs two years later. He became a department scholar and in 1972 was the first person with a disability to be named a UCLA Chancellor’s Fellow.
Impressed with the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, the first ILC, Martin co-founded the Westside Center for Independent Living in 1976. He worked as an advocate in Sacramento and Washington on state and federal disability legislation, returning to UCLA in 1989 to become special assistant to the chancellor for disabled affairs compliance. When he took that position, 75 percent of the campus buildings were largely inaccessible to people with disabilities. He supervised the conversion of them all. Under his tenure, enrollment of students with disabilities increased markedly, from 237 when he arrived in 1989, to 1,082 by 1996.
Batavia, who had quadriplegia, was an associate professor of public-health policy at Florida International University and a former partner at the Miami law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery at the time of his death. He had been in a wheelchair since he was injured in a car wreck when he was 16 in Yonkers, New York.
During his time in Washington, from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, he helped write the ADA and served as the executive director of the National Council on Disability. He was a special assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh in the first Bush administration and associate director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. He was a White House Fellow and later served as Arizona Sen. John McCain’s legislative assistant.
In 1997, Drew and his wife, Cheryl, adopted two Russian children: Joe, now 12, and Katerina, now 11. [Adapted from the Miami Herald, January 7, 2003.]
Steven Tingus, director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, wrote the following about Drew’s contributions to disability research:
Drew Batavia conducted groundbreaking research on access to health services for persons with disabilities, including a group of related articles published in the late 1980s that helped create a framework for investigation of the linkage between primary and rehabilitation medicine. In these articles and other articles on access to health care, Mr. Batavia contributed to an awakening concern about access to routine health care for individuals with disabilities and the physical access and other barriers that limited such access. Mr. Batavia and his colleagues were also among the first to identify the role of access to health care in limiting employment options for persons with disabilities.
Drew also conducted research on two other areas of critical importance to disability policy research: managed care and long-term care. His research on the impact of managed care on access to health care for persons with disabilities helped policy makers understand that managed care has, on the one hand, improved access to routine services for persons with disabilities, and, on the other, established some access barriers to needed specialty services and durable medical equipment. The research on long-term care reflected Drew’s great concern with quality of life for persons with disabilities.
On a personal note, I knew Drew for 15 years. I met him and his wife-to-be in Puerto Rico, where we were attending a disability conference. We had great adventures there, including a standoff with an overly solicitous ferry boat captain who did not want to let us leave the boat because he thought we were getting off in an area where Drew would not be safe — even though we knew we had someone waiting to usher us back to our hotel. Drew diplomatically persuaded the captain to allow him to make that decision for himself. I attended Drew and Cheryl’s wedding about 10 years ago — a joyous occasion. After they moved to Florida, our major contact was their annual holiday letter. I had just received this year’s letter when I heard of Drew’s death. The Batavias had just come back from another cruise — their ninth — and had just established the New Joy Initiative in their house, which held that “there must be Joy in life, and negativity will not be tolerated.” Like many, many others, I will miss him greatly.
— Jeanne Argoff
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