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Disability Rights

Essential Voices For The Turn Away From Car Dependency

In forward-thinking municipalities across North America, elected officials and staff members can learn important lessons by taking on the Week Without Driving Challenge. As Anna Letitia Zivarts describes it, “participants have to try to get around for a week without driving. They can take transit, walk, roll, bike, or ask or pay for rides as they try to keep to their regular schedules ….” In most municipalities, the challenge leads to a difficult but eye-opening week. That’s because in most areas getting around without driving is inconvenient, dangerous, very time-consuming, or next to impossible. As Zivarts writes, Even for participants who might already bike, walk or take transit for some of their weekly trips, we’ve heard that the experience has helped them comprehend the difference between taking the easy trips and taking all trips without driving.

What If Non-Drivers Helped Plan Our Transportation Systems?

In the fall of 2021, I was invited by Roger Millar, the head of the Washington State Department of Transportation, to speak to the board of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials at its annual meeting. Before the meeting, Secretary Millar explained that I’d be presenting to the heads of each state department of transportation, and I started to get nervous. I am not a civil engineer. I don’t have a degree in urban planning. I have never worked for a transit agency or department of transportation. What I had was my lifetime of experience as a disabled nondriver and stories from the hundreds of other nondrivers from every corner of Washington State.

Disabled Southerners Are Building New Paths To Grassroots Power

Alongside some of this moment’s biggest grassroots struggles — mass movements to transform American policing, labor, health care and voting rights — the fight against ableism has been a constant undercurrent. During the late 20th century, the disability rights movement emerged in tandem with the long civil rights movement, leading to major reforms at the federal level. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, formally banned discrimination against disabled people in employment, public services and commerce — a watershed moment for anti-ableism work.

Disability Justice And Neurodivergent Community Rally To ‘Stop The Shock’

Stop the Shock – a coalition of more than 30 organizations in the Disability Justice and Neurodivergent community – organized a rally and press briefing at the Boston Common on Sept 9. The rally succeeded in garnering greater publicity and support for passing House H180 in the Massachusetts state legislature to outlaw the use of aversion therapy. Aversion therapy includes skin shocks, pinching, ammonia face spraying, contingent food programs (using food deprivation as punishment), long-term restraints, sensory deprivation and white noise helmets used primarily against children with disabilities. All of these methods are used at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts.

Countering Dangerous Work At Amazon

Amazon workers at the STL8 fulfillment center in St. Peters, Missouri, filed an OSHA complaint August 3 against the company for health and safety violations in their warehouse. The complaint claims that the company deliberately discourages workers from receiving medical care when they are injured. Workers say that AMCARE, Amazon’s in-house medical staff, repeatedly dismiss medical complaints and keep Amazon workers on the job despite sustaining sprains, torn ligaments, slipped discs, pinched nerves, and concussions. Amazon employs more than 3,000 workers at STL8, northwest of St. Louis.

Disaster Relief Often Leaves Disabled People Behind

When disaster strikes, disabled people and low-income communities are hit the hardest and face higher mortality rates. They also take longer to recover. Germán Parodi and Shaylin Sluzalis were protesting in Washington, D.C., for disability rights as they found out Hurricane Maria was on its way to Puerto Rico in 2017. Now the co-directors of The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, they were deployed as part of a disabled first responder team. Parodi, who was born and raised on the island, lives with a mobility disability, while Sluzalis lives with an invisible disability. “Being culturally aware of the dynamics of the island … and knowing how to interact with people with different types of disabilities opened doors that we were being told wouldn’t open in some neighborhoods,” says Parodi.

Disabled People Are Whole People; Media Needs To Address That Reality

July 26 marked the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The 1990 law intended “to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination” against individuals with disabilities. The occasion connected with some serious, multi-layered stories, including news of a critical ruling that the state of Florida has been violating the rights of children with complex medical needs by keeping them institutionalized when they could be living in community. A sizable admixture of stories, though, were reports on buildings or spaces coming into compliance with the ADA—as though complying with a 33-year-old law was a feel-good story, and despite a relative absence of feel-bad stories about decades of noncompliance.

Accessibility Lawsuits Bring Slow But Steady Wins For Disabled City Residents

In 2019, just months after New York City opened the new, eye-catching Queens library to much fanfare from the design world, local library patron Tanya Jackson filed a lawsuit against the library and the city. As architecturally interesting as the library was, her lawsuit claimed, it was inaccessible to her and other patrons who use mobility devices. In May 2023, city officials filed another lawsuit—this time against the architectural firm, for “professional malpractice” in developing inaccessible designs. “It’s really a shame,” says Sharon McLennon-Wier, the executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled of New York and a blind Black woman, in an interview with The New York Times.

Disabled Mothers Are Fighting Back Against Social Services

We have come together to make the situation of disabled mothers and our children visible. We are launching a Charter of Rights which will spell out what support we are entitled to, and what councils and the family courts must do to end the discrimination and abuse of power we face at their hands, especially if we’re also single, of colour, immigrant, working-class, a victim of domestic violence, a sex worker and/or were in care as children. The universal bond between mother and child must be respected and supported, financially and in every way, not the privatised child removal industry where disabled children/of colour are placed disproportionately. The state of social services and family courts in the UK is dire.

A Cruel Attack On The Disabled

You might have missed it amid the impeachment coverage, but the Trump administration has recently rolled out plans for draconian cuts to everything from Medicaid to school lunches. Latest on the chopping block? Social Security disability payments. Cuts to the social safety net are often justified for budgetary reasons, but I find that hard to swallow while Amazon is still paying $0 in federal taxes. If the budget is the problem, then the wealthiest corporations should pay their taxes. If the administration won’t see to that, then it’s not about the budget at all — it’s about cruelty. If anything, disability programs aren’t generous enough. I’ve lived my entire adult life with a disability.

On International Day Of Persons With Disabilities, Disabled Activists, Allies Demand Elevators, Not More Subway Cops

The United Nations established the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3, 1992, in a victory for the worldwide struggle of people with disabilities. IDPD has been celebrated around the planet to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities. For the fifth consecutive year, People’s Power Assemblies/NYC marked the IDPD with a Dec. 3 protest inside of Macy’s, which linked struggles for accessibility and against police repression in New York’s mass transit system.

How PG&E’s Power Shutoffs Sparked An East Bay Disability Rights Campaign

Stacey Milbern didn't lose power during the recent blackouts, but if she had, things could have gotten dicey fast. Milbern, whose East Oakland apartment was just outside PG&E's public safety power shutoff zone, has muscular dystrophy and uses a ventilator to breathe. For her and other members of the disability community — many of whom depend on electrical devices like ventilators, CPAP machines and wheelchairs — losing power signifies much more than just an inconvenience: It can be life-threatening.

80 Arrested In Nation’s Capital At Disability Rights Protest

Dozens of disability rights activists — including some in wheelchairs — were arrested near Capitol Hill while pressing for more access to community-based services. U.S. Capitol Police arrested 80 people who were demonstrating Monday morning outside the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The protesters were with the disability rights group ADAPT. They were seeking a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to ask that he support adequate funding for Medicaid...

Does “Special Ed” Serve Students? Disability Activists Say No.

As a child born with cerebral palsy in the 1950s, Gail Cartenuto-Cohn had one option when she was old enough to go to school: enroll in an isolated public program specifically for kids with disabilities. There was no interaction with nondisabled kids, and there were just three classrooms: one for kindergarten through second grade, another for grades three through five, and a third for sixth through eighth. Occupational therapy, as well as physical therapy and speech therapy, were provided on-site, and although Cartenuto-Cohn describes the education she received as better than adequate, when it was time for her to enroll in high school, she says she was clueless about what to expect.

Disabled Prisoners Decry Unfair Treatment

It started, as prisoner complaints so often do, with a gripe about not being able to visit the law library. In 2015, a prisoner at Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York contacted attorneys at Disability Rights New York, an Albany-based nonprofit, to complain that he couldn’t get access to the law library to craft an appeal in his case. The law library at the maximum-security facility in Erie County wasn’t closed nor did it lack books; he simply wasn’t allowed in because he uses a wheelchair for mobility. Like the roughly 350 other disabled and ailing prisoners housed in the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision special medical units, prison officials wouldn’t let him visit the law library...
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