The Justice Department today announced agreements with Lumpkin County, Georgia (Lumpkin) and Robeson County, North Carolina (Robeson), to improve access to all aspects of civic life for people with disabilities. Under the agreements, Lumpkin and Robeson will take important steps to improve access for people with disabilities, such as: physically modifying facilities surveyed by the Department so that parking, routes into buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, public telephones, and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities; posting, publishing and distributing notices to inform members of the public of the provisions of the ADA and their applicability to Lumpkin and Robeson’s programs, services and activities; officially recognizing Georgia and North Carolina telephone relay services, respectively, as key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing, or have speech impairments and training staff in using the relay service for telephone communications; developing a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of Lumpkin and Robeson’s accessible services, activities and programs; and ensuring that all of the Lumpkin and Robeson webpages comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 and website accessibility.

The Justice Department today announced agreements with Lumpkin County, Georgia (Lumpkin) and Robeson County, North Carolina (Robeson), to improve access to all aspects of civic life for people with disabilities.

Under the agreements, Lumpkin and Robeson will take important steps to improve access for people with disabilities, such as: physically modifying facilities surveyed by the Department so that parking, routes into buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, public telephones, and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities; posting, publishing and distributing notices to inform members of the public of the provisions of the ADA and their applicability to Lumpkin and Robeson’s programs, services and activities; officially recognizing Georgia and North Carolina telephone relay services, respectively, as key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing, or have speech impairments and training staff in using the relay service for telephone communications; developing a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of Lumpkin and Robeson’s accessible services, activities and programs; and ensuring that all of the Lumpkin and Robeson webpages comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 and website accessibility.

Disability and gadgets: low-cost robotic hands could wave in the future

Robert Wemyss is the IT guru at Really Useful Stuff. RUS is delighted to join in with Disability Horizons to offer a monthly roundup of all things tech and gadget. We will take a quick look at new ideas on the horizon as well as great new inventions already on the market that make life easier and a lot more fun.

#DHgurus

Nesta and Google know the power of investing in a great idea that is currently just a small start-up enterprise but has the vision to change the world. With the right seed funding, a great idea can become a market reality. That is exactly what the technology4good awards and Nestas Inclusive technology prize are designed to do. The Inclusive Technology Prize seeks to inspire innovations in assistive technology. The Prize is now moving into its final stage and we take a look at some of our favourites that we think are fantastic gadgets and gizmos for the future.

3D Handshake

There are an estimated 11.4 million hand amputees worldwide. But Bionic limbs can cost anything from £20,000 to £80,000, and can take up to three months to make. That makes getting a decent prosthetic unaffordable for many. Open Bionics offer a bionic hand for £1,000, and by using 3D scanning, modelling and printing, it can be created in just five days. This is definitely the world’s most cool advanced 3D Printed Robotic Hand

Now that is a handy idea!

Open Sesame

The Sesame Phone is the world’s first completely touch-free smartphone, designed by and for people with disabilities. You make head movements, the camera tracks your movements and the App algorithm does something clever with numbers- and the phone responds by letting you control an on screen cursor with just head movements. Voice control is integrated to provide a truly hands-free experience for accessing the device. To turn the phone on just say “Open Sesame” and it will wake up and start tracking you. Watch how it all works…

Everywhere can have an address

Not everyone has an address! This is frustrating and costly in developed nations; and in developing nations this is life-threatening and growth limiting. what3words is a unique combination of just 3 words that identifies a 3mx3m square, anywhere on the planet.

It’s far more accurate than a postal address and it’s much easier to remember, use and share, than a set of coordinates. Better addressing improves customer experience, delivers business efficiencies, drives growth and helps the social and economic development of countries.

Around 75% of the world suffers from inadequate addressing systems – around 4 billion people. An address means that people can receive vital deliveries and aid, disease can be reported and basic human rights can be exercised, all because they have a simple way to communicate where they live. This App has divided the entire planet into 3m squares and assigned a random 3 word sequence to each square. Using this cool system means that you can locate anywhere in the world anytime to a 3 meter accuracy.

Skoog music is easy music
Free the musician inside with the easy-to-play instrument made for everyone. The Skoog is not a typical instrument. It’s like a big band bundled into one squeezable box. Just plug it into your computer’s USB port and play. Whatever your musical skills or physical ability, the Skoog software allows you to customise the instrument’s sensitivity to suit your playing style, which means that anyone can rock out to their favourite tunes, or use programs like GarageBand to open up a new world of amazing music and sound.

Planhub
PlanHub is a new, customisable platform designed to enable a disabled person to have a voice. By linking emergency information, plans, administration and services into a single, online location, opened using a Near Field Communication Chip accessed via a reader or mobile with NFC, users can decide what information the system holds about them, and who they want to be able to see it.

Supportspace
Supportspace is a multi-platform application that connects Personal Care Budget recipients with support workers and the Social Services agency that administers funding. The makers believe this will be a great empowering tool for disabled persons and a time and money saving device for statutory authorities.

The Inclusive Technology prize fund runs every year, so if you have an idea – start planning now for a chance to be next year’s winning entry!

By Robert Wemyss

Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com or leaving your comments below.

Odds stacked against : Multiple discrimination is keeping women with disabilities from reaching their true potential

Women with intellectual disabilities are more likely to become victims of domestic violence. They are more likely to be sexually abused, and, if pregnant, more likely to have their children taken away from them. They are also more likely to be forcibly sterilized or trafficked, but at the same time, lack of reasonable accommodation means their testimonies are more likely to be dismissed in court. This list could go on and on. In most areas of life, women with disabilities in general, and intellectual disabilities in particular, are faced with systematic, multiple discrimination, as a result of the interplay between their gender and disability status.

With this in mind, Inclusion Europe welcomes the draft General Comment on Article 6 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). As a comprehensive interpretation, Inclusion Europe hopes it will give a much-needed impetus to Member States to immediately begin putting anti-discrimination provisions into place, to benefit all women and girls with disabilities.

While Inclusion Europe supports the stance of the CRPD Committee in including violence against women with disabilities, the restriction of sexual and reproductive rights and intersectional discrimination as its three main subjects of concern, Inclusion Europe believes further additions and clarifications are needed to ensure the General Comment will indeed improve the lives of women and girls with intellectual disabilities. In a submission to the UN CRPD Committee, Inclusion Europe stressed the need to emphasize that women with different impairments may face different barriers. The situation of women with profound intellectual disabilities or with complex needs is especially concerning, as many can easily become victims of violence or abuse and targets of coercion and harm. Moreover, women with intellectual disabilities are many times victims of forced abortion, are likely to be denied the possibility of adopting a child, and often have their children taken away from them and placed in institutions, foster care or given for adoption. They are also rarely provided with sexual education, so are unable to detect and report abuse. Therefore, Inclusion Europe believes the General Comment should particularly reference Article 23 on the ‘Right to respect for home and the family,’ as it interrelates with the right of girls and women with disabilities. The Committee should also mention Article 25 on the ‘Right to Health,’ knowing that studies show women with disabilities face clear discrimination when it comes to accessing health and prevention services, with serious, long-term consequences.

National governments should strive to remove all physical, structural and informational barriers that prevent women with disabilities from enjoying their fundamental rights on an equal basis with others. Women and girls with disabilities should be empowered to make decisions related to their own lives and should be closely involved in the development of all policies that affect their well-being. Only when these measures are implemented will women with disabilities become more likely to succeed.

For more information, please contact Silvana Enculescu, Inclusion Europe Communications Manager, at s.enculescu@inclusion-europe.org

Happy Bday ADA!

image from eeoc.gov

The Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25 tomorrow on July 26, 2015. This statute garnered substantial widespread support when it was enacted over two decades ago, and continues to be a cornerstone of civil rights law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes a close look at this anniversary, reflecting on the importance of the law and providing a number of historical and current resources on the topic. The EEOC’s recognition of this anniversary is available here, and includes a statement from Chair Jenny R. Yang.

The ADA  demonstrates how a civil rights law can achieve widespread support and effectively protect the rights  of all individuals.  The EEOC materials  are worth a look if you are interested  in this area of the  law.

— Joe Seiner

Source: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2015/07/happy-birthday-to-the-americans-with-disabilities-act.html

“Towards barrier – free Europe. European Disability Card”

Dear Mr Secretary of State, Honourable Members, Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first of all thank MEP Marek Plura for his invitation to address you today – and indeed for his continued support and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities at the European level.

It is estimated that currently 80 million people in the European Union have to cope with a disability in their everyday lives. That is one in six people who are still facing far too many obstacles preventing them from fully exercising their rights; and far too many barriers to meaningful participation in society and economy. This is not acceptable.

The European Union has a shared responsibility to make sure that discrimination has no place in Europe. We must put in place the right conditions allowing all people to participate fully, and equally in society and the economy. And we need to ensure that every EU citizen can enjoy his or her full rights – including the right to free movement.

European Commission initiatives in relation to people with disabilities are guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As you know, the EU became a party to that Convention in 2011 – marking it the first time it ratified an international human rights treaty.

The UN Convention covers all aspects of people’s lives: from legal status to the right to work, from political participation to independent living. As such, it also sets in stone a shift in disability policy. It does away with the old fashioned protective and almost caritative approach.

A modern disability policy is one that focuses on enabling and empowering people. People who are capable of claiming their fundamental rights and of making decisions for their own lives as active members of our society and Social Market Economy. Indeed, what we’re interested in is how to give every single person the opportunity to make the most out of his or her Abilities.

The EU’s actions to implement the UN Convention are set out in the European Disability Strategy 2010 to 2020. They aim to complement the Member States’ efforts to build a barrier‑free Europe where people with disabilities can enjoy their fundamental rights.

 These rights also include social and occupational integration. As you know, ‘Employment’ is a top priority for this Commission, but so too are ‘fairness’ and ‘inclusion’. We vow to create growth and jobs – but they must be jobs that are open to ALL citizens – including those with disabilities.

Clearly, more needs to be done to combat the low levels of people with disabilities in our workforce and to reduce the employment gap between people with and without a disability, which stands at 23.6 percentage points.

Across the European Union, the employment rate for people with a disability is currently around 48%, while only 27.8% of people with disabilities have completed third-level education. One‑third of people with a disability are currently at risk of poverty. If we want to meet our Europe 2020 targets in these domains, we need to step up our efforts.

We must make sure that the Employment Equality Directive that prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability in employment and occupation is fully implemented. That includes its obligation for employers – public or private, to make the necessary adaptations for persons with disabilities: enabling ALL people to work on an equal basis. This is crucial to help people with disabilities to enter and stay in the labour market.

The European Commission is also continuously monitoring progress through the European Semester. In 2015, most country reports touched on issues concerning people with disabilities.

We can underpin this policy guidance to Member States via the European Social Fund. The European Social Fund invests in equality of opportunity in employment, in education and generally, social inclusion. Some €86 billion euro will be targeted at job creation and improving human capital. And at least 20% of this amount has to be allocated to social inclusion. Disadvantaged groups – such as people with a disability will receive specific support in finding work and exercising their rights.

In addition, a new pre-condition was added for Member States wishing to access the current round of European Structural and Investment Funds. This required them to demonstrate that they have administrative capacity to implement and apply the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Ladies and gentlemen, as well as creating work opportunities for all, this Commission is actively seeking to remove barriers to the free movement of people and workers who wish to take up these positions. Free movement is a basic right – and should not be reserved for a select few. All European citizens, with or without disabilities should be enabled to exercise this right to move and to work in another Member State.

The Commission will bring forward a Labour Mobility Package at the end of this year. A first task is to analyse and report objectively on mobility flows and their consequences on national labour markets and social security systems – both in sending and receiving countries. On that basis we will propose solutions which facilitate cross-border mobility and close loopholes to prevent errors, abuse or fraud.

I firmly believe that it is in our economic and social interests to remove barriers to the mobility of ALL people in the European Union. Mutual recognition of a person’s identity and status is an essential element of this right to free movement. This counts in particular for people with disabilities. It is clear that the recognition of disability status is decided exclusively at national level. But today, no system exists to allow for mutual recognition across borders.

This creates practical problems for people with a disability when travelling to another EU country. They are deprived of equal treatment because their disability cards or status are not always recognised – and their rights, therefore, are not always respected.

True, EU competence is quite limited in this area, but we are commited to do our most to facilitate the free movement of all EU citizens – including those with disabilities, and to their equal treatment.

 This is why we are acting upon the call by the European Disability Forum and other campaigners. Today I am happy to announce that we will take forward the project of a European Disability Card for the mutual recognition of the disability status.

A dedicated study by the Academic Network of European Disability experts has shown the diversity of benefits provided in Member States, of the classification of disabilities, of additional eligibility criteria and so on. All these differences serve to highlight the magnitude of the challenge ahead.

But we believe that this challenge is worth tackling. We take inspiration from the European Parking Card for Disabled Persons. This is an important indication of what can be achieved when the political will is there.

The EU disability parking card was introduced by a Council Recommendation in 1998. It is based on the mutual recognition of national cards. People with disabilities can apply for a standardised parking card in their own Member State – which is recognised in all others for access to nationally-defined parking-related benefits. It is an example of ‘Europe working for citizens’.

In 2013, the Commission joined forces with the European Disability Forum and 15 participating Member States in a Project Working Group on the European Disability Card. The group met four times and exchanged information on benefits granted at national level, comparing the national systems in place: For example: the criteria to grant disability status; eligibility for different benefits. They also looked at benefits that might be extended to non-national cardholders.

What is important is the willingness to cooperate to bridge these differences and overcome barriers faced by persons with disabilities when travelling across the EU.

To capitalise on this, I have decided to make over €1.5 million available to support Member States in the establishment of the European Disability Card. We will launch a call for projects this summer and expect work to start early in 2016.

This means that Member States participating in the project working group can introduce the European Disability Card with financial backing from the Commission in the start-up phase. This is the fastest way to deliver results for persons with disabilities and will mark an important step in the direction of mutual recognition of disability status in all Member States.

Once established, the Card will not only grant people with disabilities recognition of status as they travel between participating countries, it will also allow access to certain benefits. Such access, on the same conditions as country nationals with disabilities, is an essential element of equal treatment.

The benefits concerned are in the areas of culture, leisure, transports and sport. The Card will not change national eligibility criteria or the nature of benefits offered at national level. It will be issued and managed by each Member State.

Of course the Card will have a common format – agreed at EU level, with simple, uniform features to allow its production with the minimum cost.

The European Commission will also assist with promotion and awareness-raising. A specifically targeted webpage will outline how the Card works, which countries are participating and who is responsible for the Card’s issue at Member State level.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am confident that once the Card is used in the first Member States – and once the full benefit of its ease and transparency are felt, other countries will come on board. I am convinced that it can even be an incentive for those Member States who currently do not have national disability cards to develop these.

I sincerely believe that the European Disability Card will be a real success: A milestone on the path to equality for ALL citizens. We cannot underestimate the social dimension of this initiative and its importance to the everyday life of a person with a disability. He or she will be afforded the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society – not just in their home country – but for the first time, in others too.

The roll-out of this Card will also give a boost to tourism – and give new impetus to accessible tourism providers. It will most likely lead to more travel and more people with a disability partaking in cultural, leisure and sport activities across borders.

Ladies and gentlemen, we should all play our part in creating a more inclusive society, where all people – with disability or without, are treated equally and have the same opportunities and rights.

Exclusion and poverty come with a long-term cost for the economy, for society and above all for people. Therefore, equal treatment for people with disabilities and disability policy in general will remain high on my agenda in the coming years. But I call on ALL Member States to join us on this path to a more equal and inclusive society: a society which first and foremost takes the abilities of each and every person as a starting point.

Thank you for your attention.

Source: http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/thyssen/announcements/keynote-speech-conference-towards-barrier-free-europe-european-disability-card_en

Why Disability-Rights Advocates Are Fighting Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Why Disability-Rights Advocates Are Fighting Doctor-Assisted Suicide
Opponents of a proposed California bill to legalize the practice argue that it may make it easier for people with disabilities to end their lives—and leave them vulnerable to coercion.
When he was 19, Anthony Orefice hit a telephone pole on his motorcycle going 100 miles per hour. Doctors told his family he wouldn’t survive. He did, but the accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, unable to do what he loved—surf, snowboard, or ride dirt bikes.

“All you are thinking is the worst, worst, worst—everything you can’t do,” said Orefice, who lives in Valencia, California. “I wanted to be dead.”

More than two decades after breaking his back, Orefice, 40, is married, has a 7-year-old son, and owns a medical-supply business. He also counsels patients newly disabled from spinal-cord injuries. “Depression,” he often tells them, “is part of the healing process.”

As California legislators consider a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to get prescriptions to end their lives, disability-rights advocates are speaking up in opposition. They worry that if it becomes law, depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely.
The bill poses “considerable dangers” to people with new disabilities who may have suicidal thoughts, said Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund. “It would almost be too easy to make an irrevocable choice,” she said. “It could lead to people giving up on treatment and losing good years of their lives.”

Golden added that many people who initially received terminal diagnoses have “lived full lives [for] years or even decades” longer than expected.

RELATED STORY
Doctors’ Secret Language for Assisted Suicide

Disability-rights advocates have fought against bills and referendums in Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, and elsewhere that would have allowed doctors to prescribe lethal medication. They have met with legislators, participated in forums, conducted letter-writing campaigns, and submitted newspaper opinion pieces.

“We have had success after success in stopping these bills,” said John Kelly with Not Dead Yet, a grassroots group of advocates opposed to physician-assisted suicide. The coalition was less organized when laws passed in Washington, Oregon, and Vermont, Kelly said. Now, he said they are determined to defeat any bill, including the one in California.

Allowing doctors to prescribe such medication would “open the floodgates” to people taking their lives under the mistaken impression that they are imminently dying or because they think they are a burden on their families, he said.

The proposed California legislation, Senate Bill 128, was prompted by the highly publicized death of Brittany Maynard, a young Bay Area woman with terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon so she could get a lethal prescription. She took the medication and died in November.

The End of Life Option Act, introduced by Democratic state Senators Lois Wolk and Bill Monning, would allow patients to get fatal prescriptions if they are mentally competent and have six months or less to live. Patients would have to make one written and two oral requests 15 days apart.
Disability rights advocates say there aren’t enough safeguards in the bill. In a letter to Wolk late last month, Deborah Doctor, a legislative advocate for Disability Rights California, wrote that disabled people are vulnerable to abuse and could be coerced by family members not acting in the patients’ best interests. Relatives, she said, could put pressure on people to take life-ending medication.

“Everyone is not Brittany Maynard,” Doctor said in an interview, noting that the young woman’s family supported what she wanted. “Our responsibility is to think of people who are the most vulnerable to coercion, abuse, and pressure.”

“Our responsibility is to think of people who are the most vulnerable to coercion, abuse, and pressure.”
Doctor also worries that in other cases, physicians may simply be wrong about how long someone has to live. Insurance companies also might overrule treatment for people with disabilities because of the cost of care.

Supporters of the bill say it has many protections built in. For example, they say, people wouldn’t qualify based solely on having a disability. The bill also wouldn’t allow medication to be prescribed if the person were suffering from a mental disorder that impaired judgment.

In addition, physicians would have to attest that the patient’s request didn’t result from undue influence from someone else. And patients would have the final say—they must administer the medications to themselves.

“We don’t want to see this law abused, and we certainly don’t want to see it used against people with disabilities who have enough problems with the healthcare system,” said Toni Broaddus, the California campaign director for Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization that supports the bill.

In any event, Broaddus said the vast majority of disabled people wouldn’t meet the criteria for life-ending prescriptions. “Most people with disabilities don’t immediately have terminal illnesses and most disabilities are not terminal,” she said.

Previous efforts to pass similar bills in California have failed under opposition from doctors, religious groups and disability advocates. But the new bill recently passed in the state Senate, and its chances may be buoyed by Maynard’s case and by the California Medical Association’s historic decision to declare a neutral position.
Laurie Hoirup, 59, strongly opposes the bill based on her own long experience. She has had spinal muscular atrophy since she was a toddler. With a curved spine and rods in her back, she cannot eat, bathe, or go to the bathroom on her own. She has trouble breathing.

Physicians told her family that she wouldn’t live past 10 years old. “Anyone could be given the wrong diagnoses,” she said. “I am certainly the perfect example of that.”

Hoirup, who is now a grandmother, spent many years working in government and other positions on behalf of people with disabilities. She said she is particularly concerned about people being coerced into ending their lives so they aren’t a burden on others.
Anthony Orefice, working from home (Heidi de Marco / Kaiser Health News)
Orefice, who wished for death when he was 19, said he is now glad for what he calls the years of “bonus time.” He still struggles with physical problems, including bladder infections and pressure sores. And three years ago, he had another unrelated health scare—colon cancer. He is now in remission.

But Orefice said he doesn’t dwell on his disability or think much about death. Instead, he focuses on his family and thinks what he’s been able to accomplish and what he still hopes to. He paddle boards, plays wheelchair hockey, and races specially equipped off-road vehicles.

“I have affected more lives than I would have if I was walking,” he said. “When you are in the trenches, you don’t see that.”

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/disability-rights-assisted-suicide-california/397235/

ANNA GORMAN JUN 30, 2015