Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Thursday, March 27, 2003
Year IV, Edition 058

This edition includes 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.

"She is a perfect example of the fact that despite the very worst injuries there is always hope."

--Gerhard Weber, talking about his patient Christiane Kittel who recently awoke from a 7-year-long coma, while at a Bryan Adams concert in Germany (Fifth story)

"I am feeling rather upset."
--Patricia Chubb, who has been excluded from receptions at the Bristol (England) Mansion House, because it is not accessible to her wheelchair (Fourth story)



Sidney Miller's Right To Life

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 27, 2003

HOUSTON, TEXAS--On August 17, 1990, Karla Miller was admitted to the Woman's Hospital of Texas in labor -- just 23 weeks into her pregnancy instead of the usual 40 weeks.

Doctors informed Karla and her husband Mark that she would be giving birth prematurely to a fetus that weighed about 630 grams. The Millers were told that the baby could be kept alive through 'heroic measures' but that it would probably have physical and mental disabilities.

The Millers requested that after the child was born, no extraordinary efforts should be made to keep it alive.

Hospital employees then told the Millers that hospital policy was to provide all necessary medical care to any newborn over 500 grams.

When Sidney was born the hospital used a throat tube to get oxygen into her lungs.

Her parents say Sidney is blind and has mental retardation because of the treatment that was given against their wishes. They sued the hospital and its parent company Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp, claiming the hospital was negligent for keeping Sidney alive. A jury awarded the couple $60 million. But an appeals court reversed that decision, ruling instead that Millers could only have refused treatment if the baby was not expected to live.

The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments in the case nearly a year ago. A decision is expected soon.

More than 20 disability groups filed "friend of the court" briefs supporting the hospital's decision to keep Sydney alive. Many see the case as one that -- if the hospital loses -- could reinforce the idea that it is better to be dead than to have a disability.

Related article:
"Baby case tests rights of parents" (Christian Science Monitor)

Related resource:
"Sidney Miller's Right To Life" (Inclusion Daily Express)



IDEA Provision Would Limit Advocacy By Non-profits

March 27, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--The following three paragraphs are excerpts from an alert by OMB Watch, an independent organization that monitors federal government operations:

Less than a week ago, Rep. Michael Castle introduced a bill to reauthorize a law that requires the education of disabled children, called Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Buried in the proposed legislation is language reminiscent of the 1996 Istook amendments that would have restricted the advocacy voice of nonprofits.

At this time, the provision only addresses grants going to nonprofits that provide training and information to parents of children with disabilities. The Castle provision would make a nonprofit that does any type of "federal relations" -- no matter how little and no matter whether it was paid for with private dollars -- ineligible for these parent center grants. Moreover, a nonprofit would be prohibited from receiving these grants if a board member or a paid staff serves on the board of another organization that engages in any "federal relations."

Two other factors add to the troubling nature of this provision.

Related alert:
"Gag on Nonprofit Advocacy in House Disability Ed Bill" (OMB Watch)



Eeney, Meeney, Miney, Moe -- Which Institutions Should We Close?

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 27, 2003

AUSTIN, TEXAS--Many state lawmakers here agree that it makes financial sense to close at least one state-run psychiatric hospital and one institution housing people with mental retardation.

The Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation has been ordered to come up with a budget proposal that is 12.5 percent smaller than the current one. Closing two such facilities could save the state about $14 million. Selling the properties could generate millions more.

The tough question now -- the one that lawmakers and bureaucrats do not want to answer -- is: "Which of the state's two dozen institutions should close?"

Austin State Hospital and the Austin State School have been suggested by some. After all, the land they sit on could bring in an easy $85 million. But people who support keeping them open are already rallying to keep their own "oxen from being gored".

Related article:
"Budget may force MHMR closures" (American-Statesman)



Wheelchair User Snubbed At Mansion House, Again

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 27, 2003

BRISTOL, ENGLAND--Patricia Chubb recently accepted an invitation to attend a reception at The Mansion House, where Bristol's Lord Mayor holds such events.

Unfortunately, the building, which is the heart of Bristol's government, is not accessible to Chubb's wheelchair.

Perhaps the building will be ready by next spring, a spokesperson for the city council explained after apologizing.

Chubb, 69, has heard it before.

"I have had an opportunity to go to the Mansion House three times now in recent years," said Chubb, who has been head teacher at a local primary school for the last 12 years.

"And each time I have been disappointed. I am feeling rather upset."

"Other places I go people make the effort and put up temporary ramps," she told the BBC.



Woman Recovers From Coma At Rock Concert

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 27, 2003

REGENSBURG, GERMANY--Seven years ago, doctors operated on Christiane Kittel to remove a lung embolism.

The 17-year-old immediately lapsed into a coma during the surgery. She has been comatose since.

Recently, Christiane's mother decided to take her daughter to a rock concert featuring Bryan Adams.

"Bryan Adams was always her biggest hero and she loved his music before she fell into the coma," Adelheid Kittel explained.

During the concert Christiane, now 24, started coming out of her coma.

"She opened her eyes and actually watched what was going on, she started to move in the wheelchair, and she was totally fascinated by the music and the singer," her mother told Ananova news service.

"I will never forget it, I could have hugged the whole world. When we got back to the clinic she was still animated, and three times she called my name, she said 'Mama'".

Christiane's doctor Gerhard Weber, who confirmed she has not relapsed since the recovery, said: "She is a perfect example of the fact that despite the very worst injuries there is always hope."



HIGH SCHOOL/HIGH TECH provides career paths for disabled youths

Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, Maryland are in one of the richest technology concentrations in the Nation. Continuation of growth as a high-technology center depends on improving the high-technology work force. There will be a continuing dire need in the near future for qualified individuals to enter fields involving high technology. Individuals with disabilities are a large potential pool of high quality candidates to fill this demand. Presently, however, only a small percentage of adults with disabilities receive high tech training and opportunities. High school students with disabilities need be exposed to the vast array of careers in high technology.

The goal of HIGH SCHOOL/HIGH TECH is to provide youths with disabilities in the Montgomery County Schools and Prince George's County Schools with early exposure to careers in the science and technology-related fields. This exposure will be multifaceted to insure opportunity for realistic career exploration and let our participants have an opportunity to test their interests and abilities. We provide supports for success for our participants and cooperating agencies and high tech firms. Most of our participants go on to post secondary education and training. The program is now in its 11th year.



Quote worth noting:
"Life is extinct on other planets because their scientists were more advanced than ours."
-- Source unknown


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