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

Friday, June 11, 2004
Year V, Edition 953

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the "Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 46 more news items.

"Rather than debating whether a particular child may slot into our school, we turn it around. We say, 'This child wants to come to our school, so what can we do to meet their needs?'"

--Julie Butters, the head of learning support at Tring School in Hertfordshire, England which includes children that have disabilities in the regular classrooms (Fifth story)

"Who are we to say that just because he's not socially acceptable that we should kill him? Have we come to that in our society, that our hearts are so hardened that we have no love for people outside the norm?"
--Matthew Stein, talking about a decision by an Ohio court to allow the removal of a ventilator that is keeping his infant son Aiden alive. Doctors, who suspect Stein of causing his son's brain injury, want the breathing machine removed (First story)



High Court Halts Removal Of Infant's Ventilator

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 11, 2004

COLUMBUS, OHIO--Less than one hour before hospital workers were scheduled to disconnect 7-month-old Aiden Stein's ventilator, the Ohio Supreme Court stepped in to keep the infant alive while it resolves a dispute between his parents and a court-appointed guardian.

The high court must decide whether to accept an appeal from Aiden's parents, Matthew Stein and Arica Heimlich, who want their son to be kept alive.

Aiden has been hospitalized since March 15 with a brain injury. Doctors at Akron Children's Hospital have said that Aiden's injuries are consistent with shaken-baby syndrome. They claim that the child is blind, deaf and unaware of his surroundings. He does not breathe on his own and would die soon if taken off the breathing machine.

The hospital wants to disconnect the machine so Aiden will die. Doctors feared that Mr. Stein wants the boy kept alive because he could be charged with murder if the child dies.

While Matthew Stein is suspected of injuring his son, police have not charged him with any crime.

In April the hospital asked the Summit County Probate Court to turn over Aiden's guardianship to Akron attorney Ellen Kaforey, claiming the parents did not have the child's best interest in mind.

On Wednesday, the 9th District Court of Appeals upheld the lower-court's ruling which allows Kaforey to have Aiden's life support removed. The ventilator was then scheduled for removal at noon Friday.

According to the Associated Press, Judge Donna Carr wrote separate from the court that state law on withdrawing life support does not apply to minors, and the law on appointing guardians for children doesn't specifically address withdrawing life support.

Mr. Stein denies the allegations that he injured Aiden by violently shaking him. He told Fox News Thursday that Aiden sucks his pacifier and responds to voices.

"Who are we to say that just because he's not socially acceptable that we should kill him?" Stein said. "Have we come to that in our society, that our hearts are so hardened that we have no love for people outside the norm?"

Clair Dickinson, an attorney for the guardian, said doctors have found no activity in Aiden's brain, and that any movements Stein sees are merely reflexes.

"The idea he would react to somebody's voice is, I believe, wishful thinking," Dickinson said.

Attorneys for both sides will now need to present arguments on whether the state Supreme Court should take up the case.



Accessible Voting Advocates Accused Of Being Too Tight With Electronic Voting Machine Makers

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 11, 2004

UNITED STATES--Friday's New York Times ran an opinion piece suggesting that disability rights advocates have gotten "too close" to manufacturers of electronic voting machines in their efforts to make elections more accessible.

Since before the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, disability rights groups and individual advocates have been pushing for accessible polling places and voting systems that would allow every voter to independently cast a secret ballot. The problems with the outdated punch card voting systems became more public during the 2000 general elections. That prompted the federal government to pass the Help America Vote Act, which gave specific guidelines and timelines for polling places to use accessible voting systems.

Electronic voting systems have been favored by disability groups because they have large buttons that can be pressed easily, optional headphones for voters who cannot read because of blindness or other disabilities, along with the option to have the ballot read to them repeatedly to avoid errors.

One problem with some of the electronic systems, however, is that they do not leave a paper trail -- an important feature when ballots might need to be verified or recounted. Additionally, early tests showed that computer hackers could tamper with and alter election results.

The New York Times editorial noted that the National Federation of the Blind, which has been leading a campaign for accessible voting, recently accepted a $1 million gift for a new training institute from Diebold, a leading manufacturer of touchscreen voting systems. Another group leading the movement toward electronic voting, the American Association of People with Disabilities, has received $26,000 from voting machine companies so far this year.

"The real issue, though, is that disability-rights groups have been clouding the voting machine debate by suggesting that the nation must choose between accessible voting and verifiable voting," the editorial read. "It is well within the realm of technology to produce machines that meet both needs."

"Meanwhile, it would be a grave mistake for election officials to rush to spend millions of dollars on paperless electronic voting machines that may quickly become obsolete."

Those who support electronic voting argue that touchscreen systems have been found to be much more accurate than traditional paper systems.

In a related note, the AAPD's Justice For All listserve distributed an alert this week asking advocates to contact members of the League of Women Voters and encourage them to continue to support electronic touchscreen systems during their convention this weekend.

Also, Orange County, California has been given approval by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to use electronic systems in the November general elections. Several counties had been prohibited from using the systems after questions surfaced regarding their reliability. Shelley had given a long list of things that needed to be done so the counties could use the systems.

Orange County chose to meet Shelley's requirements. The counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern and Plumas have challenged Shelley's ban by filing a federal lawsuit, which is scheduled to be heard next month.

"The Disability Lobby and Voting" (New York Times - free registration required)
"State Lifts Ban on O.C. E-Voting" (Los Angeles Times - free registration required),1,7175596.story
"Voting accessibility under attack!" (JFA alert)



Voters With Mental Disabilities Excluded From European Elections

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 11, 2004

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND--More than 1,400 people with mental disabilities were excluded from Thursday's European elections, a Northern Ireland elections official reported.

Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley told Lord Rogan that 848 people in Northern Ireland were removed from the voting register after their relatives or caregivers told the office that they were not fit to vote. Another 614 were dropped from the register because they did not respond to letters from the Electoral Office requesting information about their state of mind.

Under a 120-year-old law, the Electoral Office sends a letter asking for clarification of a person's "mental fitness" if the person was registered by someone else. If the clarification is not returned, the person's name is removed from the voting register.

Current election law also allow for anyone to review the list of registered voters and challenge one's ability to make up their own mind and cast a ballot.

Earlier this year, Mid-Ulster Assemblyman Patsy McGlone researched the Electoral Office guidelines after people with Down syndrome, some of which had voted several years in the past, were suddenly removed from the register. McGlone found that the guide said people with mental disabilities can register to vote, as long as they are not living in a mental hospital or "special establishment".

McGlone was appalled, however, to find that the law still referred to such people as "idiots and lunatics".

"The eligibility of someone who has a profound disability might, however, in certain cases be called into question because under the common law so-called 'idiots' cannot vote," the guidelines read. "So-called 'lunatics' on the other hand can vote, though only in their lucid intervals, and so could not be excluded from the register on this ground."

A spokesperson for Prospects, a day program serving adults with mental disabilities, told the local council, "It is totally unacceptable in the 21st century to be discriminated against in this way."



Killer Mom Requests Restraining Order On Dad

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 11, 2004

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--The husband of Daniela Dawes, who was convicted last week of killing their son, told reporters that he intends to defend himself against her attempt to keep him away from their teenage daughter.

Mrs. Dawes took out an interim Apprehended Violence Order against Craig Dawes this week, the Daily Telegraph reported. An AVO is similar to a restraining order in that it is designed to protect one person from violence, harassment or intimidation by another person, according to a government website. The details of Dawes' AVO were not disclosed, but most usually state that a person cannot contact or be within a certain distance of the other.

Mrs. Dawes asked the Quakers Hill police to issue a temporary AVO Thursday morning, claiming that she feared for the safety of their daughter because her husband is violent.

In the state of New South Wales, police have no choice but to issue interim AVOs upon request. A more permanent order can be challenged later in court.

The couple have been at odds over the custody of their daughter since Mrs. Dawes was released last week on a five-year behavior bond, similar to probation. She was convicted of manslaughter in the death of their son, Jason, who had autism. The judge had changed a murder charge to manslaughter and released her with no supervision, saying she "had suffered enough", and that no sentence he could give would compare to the punishment she would continue to inflict upon herself.

Mrs. Dawes had admitted suffocating the 10-year-old boy to death on August 4, 2003. She said she was experiencing depression and marital stress at the time. Jason's disability, however, was not the reason for her depression, she explained.

Responding to the AVO, Mr. Dawes denied his wife's claim that he is violent. His friends said Thursday that they believed the AVO may have been requested in retaliation because he opposed Mrs. Dawes taking their daughter on a vacation without his permission. He said he worried the holiday trip would affect the girl's schooling.



London Newspaper Features Inclusive Education

June 11, 2004

LONDON, ENGLAND--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from one of three articles about inclusive education in Thursday's Independent Online:

Tring School in Hertfordshire has two children with Down's syndrome, one with cerebral palsy, a few with Asperger's syndrome and many with dyslexia or dyspraxia.

"As the only state secondary school in the area, it is the natural choice for most families in town, including those with special educational needs," explains Julie Butters, the school's head of learning support.

It is among the growing number of Britain's schools that embraces the principle of inclusion so that children with special educational needs (SEN) can fulfill their academic potential, and develop physically and socially, by being educated alongside their peers. This is achieved, says Butters, through preparation and being inventive.

"Rather than debating whether a particular child may slot into our school, we turn it around. We say, 'This child wants to come to our school, so what can we do to meet their needs?' We start this process from the moment we know that a child with special educational needs, currently in primary school, is likely to move on into our school."

Entire article:
"Unlocking everyone's potential" (The Independent)
"Full participation required" (The Independent)
"We are still challenged by the concept of embracing difference" (The Independent)



National Coalition on Self-Determination: Speaking Out For Freedom

The only national partnership of people with disabilities, parents, and family members who work to promote federal policies that support the four principles of Self-Determination -freedom, authority, support, and responsibility and the values of the Community Imperative - a declaration asserting the fundamental human right of all people, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, to community living.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express (Three years ago):

Groups of People With Disabilities Were Exposed To Nuclear Blasts, Director Claims
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 11, 2001

LONDON, ENGLAND--During the 1950s, Great Britain performed a dozen test blasts of nuclear bombs in remote parts of Australia.

According to a story in Monday's The Independent, reports have resurfaced that people with disabilities were transported to the Australian desert from institutions in England to be deliberately exposed to radiation from two of those blasts.

Allegations that people with multiple disabilities were tested in this way had been circulating for years. But a 1985 Australian Royal Commission dismissed those claims, saying there was no evidence to back them up.

The new claims come from Dr. Robert Jackson, director of the Centre for Disability Research and Development at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. Jackson says that during a presentation he gave in the late 1980s, he briefly mentioned the reports that such tests were conducted on people with disabilities. After the presentation a man, identifying himself as a former Royal Air Force pilot, told Jackson the stories were true. "I was one of the pilots," he said, "and we didn't fly them out again."

Jackson says he is now trying to track down that pilot to get more information.

Australian servicemen stationed at one desert blast zone have claimed that two groups of "severely disabled people" were brought into the test area just before a detonation. They said those people were not seen after the explosions, and it was assumed that they died from the radiation.

"Disabled Britons 'used for atomic fall-out tests'" (The Independent)


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