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.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Year V, Edition 975

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 38 more news items.

"Yeah, I use the chair to get around. It's quick. But I don't think of myself as disabled."

--San Francisco's Jeanne Marie Storseter (Fifth story)

"I think we really need to take a stand. We saw this happen to black athletes 50 or 80 years ago, we saw it happen with women athletes."
--Canadian Jeff Adams, who has been invited along with 15 other wheelchair athletes to participate in a demonstration during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games next month. The wheelchair athletes, however, will not be allowed to participate in the opening or closing ceremonies, or to stay with other athletes from their countries (Third story)



Students Sue For Extra Time On Medical School Exam

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 21, 2004

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA--Four students with learning disabilities who want to become doctors filed a discrimination suit Monday against the organization that administers the medical schools' admission exam.

The students claim that they should be given more time, as a reasonable accommodation under California disability law, to take the Medical College Admission Test, which is administered through the American Association of Medical Colleges.

"Without accommodations, I really can't show what abilities I have," said plaintiff Brendan Pierce, 28, who has dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.

The proposed class-action suit alleges that the association violated state disability rights law, which defines disability more broadly than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The four are asking for a temporary injunction that would allow them extra time to take the next scheduled MCAT test on August 14.

Pierce and the other students asked for more time when tested in April. Administrators told them that their disabilities were not severe enough for them to be given the extra time. Pierce chose not to take the exam, while the other three plaintiffs took it but were not able to finish in the time allotted.

Sid Wolinsky, an attorney with the Oakland-based firm Disability Rights Advocates, said that the number of complaints regarding the medical entrance exam have increased sharply over the past six months.



Baby Stein Moved To Nursing Home

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 21, 2004

AKRON, OHIO--Eight-month-old Aiden Stein was moved Tuesday from Akron Children's Hospital to a nursing home near Cleveland, while the Ohio Supreme Court decides his fate.

The baby's court-appointed guardian, Ellen Kaforey, said that there is nothing more the hospital can do for Aiden, so she requested he be moved to Aristocrat Bureau, a nursing home that includes a 60-bed unit for infants, children and adolescents who have chronic illnesses or developmental disabilities.

Aiden was taken to the hospital on March 15 with a brain injury which doctors said are consistent with shaken-baby syndrome. They have claimed that the child is blind, deaf and is unaware of his surroundings. He does not breathe on his own and would die quickly if taken off his ventilator.

Since that time, suspicion has fallen on Matthew Stein, the boy's father, who was with Aiden the morning he was admitted to the hospital.

Mr. Stein and Arica Heimlich, Aiden's mother, want their son kept alive. They have accused the hospital staff of discriminating against the boy -- marking him as a "hopeless case" -- because of his disabilities.

The hospital asked a local court to appoint a guardian to make decisions regarding Aiden's treatment, including the removal of his life support. They claim that Mr. Stein wants his son to be kept alive because he could face murder charges if the boy does not survive.

Hospital workers were within one hour of disconnecting Aiden's ventilator last month, when the state Supreme Court intervened and ordered him to be kept on the ventilator until they decide whether to accept an appeal from his parents.

Aiden's guardian said that Medicaid is paying the infant's $2,000-a-day medical bill and his stay at the nursing home.



Wheelchair Athletes Say There's 'No Logic' To IOC Exclusion

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 21, 2004

TORONTO, ONTARIO--The International Olympic Committee has invited 16 wheelchair athletes to race in two demonstration events during the track and field schedule at next months' 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

The wheelchair athletes, however, have been informed that they will not be considered part of the official Olympic delegation and will not be allowed to participate in the opening or closing ceremonies. Neither will they be allowed to stay with the other athletes at Athletes Village for the rest of the Olympic Games.

"It's really, really frustrating, because there's no logic to it," Canada's Jeff Adams, 33, told the Canadian Press. "We're on the same night as the 100-meter men's final, so there's some kind of realization it's a fun sport to watch, the top eight guys are going to be within a second and a half of each other, it's all of the things we want when we watch sports."

"But we've got this caveat in it where we're not part of the official delegation, and I don't understand why not."

Adams, a six-time world champion and four-time Paralympian, said the wheelchair athletes should be treated the same as all of the other participants.

"Kick them out if that's what you want, or stop this quasi-second rate citizen treatment we're getting," said Adams, who will be competing in four events during the Paralympic Games two weeks later in September.

"I think we really need to take a stand," he continued. "We saw this happen to black athletes 50 or 80 years ago, we saw it happen with women athletes. When you take a stand, things change."

Caroline Assalian, an official with the Canadian Olympic Committee, called the IOC's decision "ridiculous". She said the wheelchair athletes are considered part of the Canadian team and that she expects them to be treated the same.

"We consider the three Paralympic athletes as part of the Canadian team, we'll clothe them, they'll be they'll be living in the village, getting their accreditation, we go above and beyond the organizing committee," said Assalian. "They're going to be part of the Canadian team, we'll make space for them in the Village."

"There's only one class of athletes, so if you're on the team, you're treated equally just like everyone else," explained Assalian.

Wheelchair demonstrations have been a part of the Olympic Games since 1984.



Travelers Balk At Airline's Support Person Requirement

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 21, 2004

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND--Three individuals with disabilities and two disability groups have filed complaints so far with the country's Human Rights Commission, over a new Air New Zealand policy requiring passengers using wheelchairs to be have their own support person accompany them when they are lifted off the planes at the end of each flight.

The disability organization CCS, formerly the New Zealand Crippled Children Society, and the Disabled Peoples Assembly, joined the three passengers in filing complaints against the airline.

The Commission is considering how it will resolve the issue, according to Monday's New Zealand Herald.

An Air NZ spokesperson said the airline was protecting the safety and health of its staff, who would still be required to cooperate with the passengers' support people.

CSS chief executive Viv Maidaborn accused Air NZ of paying too much attention to the occupational safety law while ignoring its obligations under the Human Rights Act.

CSS, which represents about 6,000 people with disabilities, offered to train airline staff on how to lift passengers into aircraft seats if that would help change the new policy.

Air NZ's Rosie Paul said the staff have gone through lifting workshops, but that the issue was not simply a matter of training. She said the airline was reviewing the machinery it uses to help passengers with disabilities to get on and off its aircraft.



"Disabled? Not Really."

July 21, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Tuesday's San Francisco Chronicle:

She [Jeanne Marie Storseter] zips by in her electric wheelchair so fast, she's usually just a blur of color. Leather racing cap, pink or orange or green, to match her outfit. Black bomber jacket to con the street people into thinking she's too tough to mess with.

Despite her disability -- or because of it -- there is almost nothing that Storseter won't do or at least try to do. She's gone horseback riding and parasailing and snorkeling. She's gone on long cruise trips, and on one, swam in the ocean with dolphins. She learned how to drive and got her license. She ran for homecoming queen at Lincoln High. She went to modeling school and was named Barbizon Model of the Year 1997. She competed in a Miss San Francisco beauty contest. She sang in a church choir and in karaoke bars. She tried out for "American Idol" and "Star Search."

"Disabled? Not really," she says. "Yeah, I use the chair to get around. It's quick. But I don't think of myself as disabled."

Maybe the next time she tries out for "American Idol" -- and she will try out again -- the judges will listen to her voice rather than look at her wheelchair.

Entire article:
"Disabled dynamo makes sure that people pay attention" (San Francisco Chronicle)



The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is a membership organization that advances the independent living philosophy and advocates for the human rights of, and services for, people with disabilities to further their full integration and participation in society.


# EXTRA!!! From the IDE Archives -- Three years ago:

With A Little Help From His Friends, Brian Cortez Finally On Transplant List
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 19, 2001

TACOMA, WASHINGTON--Brian Cortez, 21, has congestive heart failure. He also has a developmental disability, and schizophrenia, and is deaf.

Right now he also has a stable home with people who care about him. That may, in fact, be what saves his life.

Over a year ago, the University of Washington Medical Center refused to put Cortez on a waiting list for a heart transplant. Disability rights advocates and Cortez' friends threatened to sue the hospital for discrimination. University officials responded by saying their decision had little to do with the man's disabilities and more to do with his lack of consistent support to make sure he would do what was needed after surgery.

This spring, Cortez' longtime teacher and advocate, Ted Karanson, stepped forward and agreed to assume guardianship and home care for his former student.

After Cortez lived with Karanson and his partner for three months, the UW placed him on the list for a transplant. That's a good thing because even though his medical condition stabilized with medication earlier this year, his heart is starting to deteriorate.

"Disabled man is given chance for a new heart" (Seattle Times)
"A New Heart For Brian Cortez" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
[Editor's note: Brian received a new heart on September 12, 2001]


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