Monday, July 31, 2006

July 31: Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus (10BC-54AD)

Disabilitystudies at Yahoogroups notes that today is the birthday of Emperor Claudius. While we were recently posting here about disabled Members of Parliament before 1900, Claudius was a disabled Emperor--he is said to have had a pronounced limp, weakness in his hands and knees, and a stammer from childhood, such that his own mother and grandmother referred to him as 'half-formed' and 'a fool.' (Today, it's most often assumed that he had cerebral palsy.) He was the butt of insults as a boy; his family hid him from public view in his youth, and expected little of him. Claudius took advantage of the enforced leisure, and studied history. After Caligula's assasination, he was left as the only surviving male in his family, and became Emperor in 41 AD.

Read an online edition of Suetonius' The Life of Claudius (c. 120 AD), in English, Latin, French or Italian, here. Suetonius had access to the Imperial Archives; he quoted letters written by the Emperor Augustus to his wife Livia about what should be done about their young grandson Claudius (I'm using the Robert Graves translation here):
The question is whether he has--shall I say?--full command of all his senses. If so, I can see nothing against sending him through the same degrees of office as his brother; but should he be deemed physically and mentally deficient, the public (which always likes to scoff at such things) must not be given a chance of laughing at him and us.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

ADA Day 2006, East Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times today featured photos from the Third Annual Wheelchair Wash in East Los Angeles, sponsored by Familia Unida and Blue Cross of California. Timed to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (July 29), the event featured a visit from the mayor of Los Angeles, free wheelchair cleaning, polishing, and tune-ups, live music, free haircuts and manicures.

Now in case those freebies sound too much like patronizing give-aways, well....they were more like an outreach, to get folks who might otherwise be reluctant to be out in their wheelchairs to come and get multi-lingual information about their rights and opportunities under the ADA. Familia Unida/Living with Multiple Sclerosis was founded by Irma Resendez in 1998, because she found (from her own experience with an MS diagnosis as a young mother of preschoolers) that there were not enough reliable, culturally-aware resources targeted at Spanish speakers. Now they also provide free referrals, advocacy, training, and other supports in Chinese too.

The photo above is from last year's FULWMS Wheelchair Wash--that's LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa taking a turn at polishing a chair for the cameras.

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28: Edith Lanchester (1871-1966)

Edith Lanchester (right) was born on this date in 1871, daughter of a prosperous English architect. When she was 24, living in Battersea, working as a secretary, she announced that she intended to live with her lover, Irish factory worker James Sullivan, without marrying him, as a feminist protest against marriage itself. In response, her father hired a "mental specialist" to interview Edith; he determined that she was threatening suicide--in the form of "social suicide"--and so he signed emergency commitment papers, under the Lunacy Act of 1890. Edith's own father and brothers bound her wrists and dragged her into a carriage that would deliver her to the Priory, an institution at Roehampton.

Edith Lanchester's socialist connections spread the word--within days, newspapers around the world carried news of the "Lanchester Kidnapping Case." The New York Times carried headlines like "Imprisonment in London Insane Asylum: Sullivan's Habeas Corpus Proceedings" (3 November 1895) and "Marriage --Without Ceremony: English Girl (Lanchester) Declared Insane" (also 3 November 1895). Four days after her commitment, Edith was released. The examining doctors this time declared her "misguided," but not insane. Upon her release, she and Sullivan resumed their intended domestic arrangements, raised their two children, and lived together until his death in 1945.

(If her name sounds familiar but her story doesn't, you may be thinking of her daughter: actress Elsa Lanchester, who played the Bride of Frankenstein and married Charles Laughton.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Disability Blogs Roundup #12: Midsummer Quotathon Format

Number 12--so yes, it's been a year of monthly Disability Blogs Roundups, more or less (the very first appeared on August 7 2005).

Two reasons for the uncooked, buffet format this time: It's hot in Los Angeles, record-breaking hot, so having a laptop anywhere near me isn't an appealing prospect (plus, rolling blackouts may interrupt composition of this post). And it's ADA Day--July 26 marks the 16th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. So, instead of writing up a real roundup, I'll be festooning the nearest placard parking space with crepe paper and balloons. (Not really. But if you do anything creative in observance of the day, I'll be interested to hear about it.)

So, here's the format: Alphabetical tour through a lot of disability blogs (and still it's only a segment of the whole disability blogging universe), with a quote from a July 2006 post at that blog. I tried not to take things out of context, but click the links to find out for yourself what these bloggers are talking about.

19th Floor
(Mark Siegel): "I used to joke with people that I use a wheelchair and ventilator because I'm incurably lazy, but I never thought that laziness would become a bona fide justification for using a mobility device."

A Letter to my Children: "It is ALL ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE. I cannot stress to you enough how much this country's screwed up dismal disgrace of a health-care system has ruled both D and my life."

Along the Spectrum
(Shawn): "Three out of four people with an ASD are male. Less than two out of ten autism conference attendees are male."

Amputeehee: "I am often asked about how I manage to bellydance on one leg."

Autism Diva: "No one is saying that parents of autistic children don't need support, or even lots of support. Sometimes the support needs to be fairly intensive, but frequently this intensive support is necessary for relatively short periods of time."

Autism Vox (Kristina Chew): "Is it possible that Greenspan is suggesting that a child can be 'at risk for ASD' due to improper care from the child's parents?"

Autismland (Kristina Chew): "Learning how to advocate for Charlie has taught Jim and me something simple about advocacy. It is not calling up people and yelling at them. It is strategy."

Awake to Dream (Josiejose): "People like to ask me questions in public places that they would NEVER ask an able-bodied person except in the strictest confidence and in private."

Ballastexistenz (Amanda Baggs): "The moment you create a kind of person that institutions have to be there for, you are creating an artificial 'need' for institutions where there was none before."

Blind Chance: "I have often wondered if there is a braille equivalent for stenography where perhaps each braille character--and there are 63 potential dot combinations--might represent a unique syllable of English?"

: "Rules that only apply to blind students that get enforced entirely by sighted people rub me poorly."

Blob (David N. Wallace): "I was in a meeting with four, yes four, people paid to tick boxes....It's unsaid, but the reality is that they don't really expect somebody with a disability like I have to be working in the position I am. Certainly not full-time and in managerial/decision-making role."

Blog of a Blind Bookworm (Kestrell): "I was under the impression that sort of comment is typically considered a faux pas in modern literary criticism, like 'This work couldn't possibly be written by a female author--it must have really been written by her husband.'"

Chaironwheels Blog
: "I found out yesterday that both Jerry Kainulainen, of the Sitka SAIL program, and Alice Rocke, of the Ketchikan DVR program, passed away."

Chronic Pain Lifestyle
: "I've freed-up my hands, and solved one of mankind's great mysteries. I now know what women carry in pocketbooks."

Deaf in the City (Joseph Rainmound): "I think you find your Deafhood when you stop apologizing to people about who you are and stop being embarrassed by it."

DeafDC Blog (Rob Rice): "According to WJZ-TV 13, the Maryland School for the Deaf is considering the admission of hearing students who are proficient in sign language. If this were to happen, MSD would essentially be rendered as a mainstream program."

Diary of a Goldfish: "Why do we push difference out to the edge, why do we discourage variation when it is so very good for us?"

Did I Miss Something? (Imfunnytoo): "It's kind of seductive. On the Internet, we can 'pass' better than anywhere else. We can talk about feminism, the war, domestic spying....And unless we bring it up, no one knows we are disabled."

Disability Rants: "I am fiercely independent. Fiercely. Combine that with all the times I've been patted on the head, told I'm such a nice girl (by strangers who have no freaking idea how nice I am) been given help when I didn't want it and wasn't asked, and yes, I have a big chip on my shoulder. I know it. I admit it. I embrace it. That's me, I'm not gonna change. Deal."

Dispoet (EMMLP): "Political/economic oppression has a much larger role in the landscape of South African disability poetry than in American. The literal landscape is a key feature as well, in much South African work."

Fangworld (Agent Fang): "For the first time in 10 or more years I have been able to go outdoors and explore where I am living."

Fey and Strange (Feystranger): "I really wish I could be an anonymous citizen who could ride public transport without requiring an entourage of employees to aid me, whose simple use of public facilities didn't create delays and fuss. I wish I didn't have to dredge extra politeness and patience out of a store already depleted by fatigue and pain in order to deal with a bunch of people who I would rather hide from."

The Future Doc Wilson (Arlene Wilson): "At first conference attendees looked shocked. The group pulled out protest signs with slogans such as 'Not Dead Yet,' 'Democracy not Dictatorship,' 'ADAPT' and perhaps most importantly, 'Nothing About Us without Us!'"

Get Around Guide (Darren Hillock): "Can we really wait for everyone who is ambivalent about accessibility to injure themselves so they can finally appreciate it?"

Gimp Parade (Blue): "This is no longer science fiction, it's real. I wonder why exactly a bracelet or other external accessory containing the same type of information has been bypassed in favor of an implanted device."

Gimpy Mumpy: "The dog trainer who kept asking 'So you'll never run again?' was actually a very nice man but for some reason he could not grasp that no matter how he phrased this question the answer would always be 'No.'"

Help! I'm Turning Normal (James Medhurst): "I can relax my eyes but they tend not to stay relaxed, and my eye contact drifts unless I concentrate on maintaining it. Imagine having to concentrate to breathe, or make the heart beat."

John McManamy's Bipolar Blog: "A number of years ago it became politically correct for mental health groups and government agencies to start euphemistically referring to patients as consumers. Consumers? Have you ever heard of an AIDS consumer? A heart consumer? A cancer consumer? Let's analyze the term." (via Liz Spikol)

The Joy of Autism (Estee Klar): "...and as I talk my joyful talk, a look of subtle skepticism crosses her face. I've seen that look before. The kind where I feel like I have to talk wiser, faster, smarter....a glace like a drop of poison that could seep in slowly, killing everything."

Left Brain/Right Brain (Kevin Leitch): "I've set up a petition to make sure that the film-makers realise that not all parents of autistic people, or autistic people themselves, or professionals who work with autistic people, are harbouring thoughts of murder."

Marmite Boy: "If bands refused to play at venues with bad access or facilities for their disabled fans, then maybe some of the more reluctant venues might get their arses in gear."

Meanderings of a Politically Incorrect Crip (Charles Dawson): "This is a true story. My great-grandad told it to my grandad, my grandad told it to my mother, and my mother told it to me. They didn't want to let the memory of such an unrecorded incident die; and since I have no children ... I am doing the next best thing and putting it on the web, so that he who runs may read."

Moving Right Along (Sara): "I've been meaning to get back to ice skating for years, assumed I'd have to give it up forever after my transfemoral amputation, but now am not so sure."

NAG (Neighborhood Access Group) (John B. Kelly): "We were reminded of why we were out there when we saw a man zip by in a wheelchair, right in Massachusetts Avenue. This should be a scandal! Man risks his life to go somewhere, because a city and an institution can't be bothered to ensure access."

Ouch! (Crippled Monkey): "Equability UK--That's like equal and ability merged together and cleverly not having to say that awful word 'disability'? C'mon with yer, Equability. It's not clever, it's just two perfectly good words mushed into something meaningless and apologetic."

The Perorations of Lady Bracknell: "It is with unalloyed joy and considerable relief that Lady Bracknell can reveal to her readers that her local lending library has at last re-opened its doors to the public....She is also pleased to note that the designers of the new interior have taken accessibility issues into account."

Planet of the Blind (Stephen Kuusisto): "Contrary to what the movies might tell you, blind people do not generally go about touching the faces of people as a means of 'seeing.' I think it's safe to say the visually impaired are willing and even happy to know you by means of imagination and some good old fashioned common sense."

Rettdevil's Rants (Kassiane): "Unless you have phenobarb on you there isn't a damn thing that can be done about my seizures except waiting them out."

Rolling Rains (Scott Rains): "Vasile Stoica is on his way to somewhere I'd like to visit--Finisterra, Galicia. The difference is, he's going by land, by wheelchair actually, from his home country of Romania!"

The Seated View (Lene Andersen): "The first time I was in that hospital, I stayed for three months. My memories tell me that the book was always with me, either in my hands or in the pocket of my anorak, ready to take me away to Russia when I needed to escape. I no longer know if this is true."

Wheelchair Dancer: "I want to be able to get into a house and have accessibility be a core part of the design (and have it NOT look like a nursing home unit). I don't want to talk about well, if we smoothed this staircase, put a lift in here, removed that wall..."

Whose Planet is it Anyway?
(ABFH): "If we end up in a society so intolerant of natural differences that millions of autistic children are routinely aborted...what do gay supporters of Autism Speaks expect will happen when researchers discover the gay gene?"

That's it today--the next round-up will probably be a back-to-school special in early September. Until then, Happy ADA Day, and stay cool.

[Illustration above: A self-portrait by German painter Anna Dorothea Therbusch-Lisiewska (1721-1762), showing her trademark spina frontalis monocle, which fit over the top of the head and brow rather than across the nose and ears. Read more about antique spectacles of all configurations here.]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

An incomplete list of disabled MPs

Natalie Bennett wonders, "There must have been disabled early modern MPs - certainly you’d think after all that Civil War fighting. Anyone know any?" The Guardian article she cites mentions Henry Fawcett (MP 1864-1874; he was blind), and the noted 19c. Irish MP Arthur Kavanagh, who was "born with vestigial arms and legs."

How can I resist tracking down some answers? Thanks to the search options at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, I can at least list a few disabled members of Parliament from before 1900 (all found using the search combination "MP" and "leg"--just as an experiment):

Charles Stewart Hardinge (1822-1894): lost leg in a boyhood accident
MP in the 1850s

Edward Lombe (d. 1852): had a leg amputated during 1820s
MP 1826-1830

Sir James Lowther (baptised 1673, d. 1755): had a leg amputated in 1750, while he was an MP (he served in Parliament from 1694 until his death)

Thomas Boulden Thompson (1766-1828): lost a leg in naval service, 1799
MP 1807-1816

George Thomson (bapt. 1607-1691): lost a leg in 1644 battle
MP 1640s-1650s

Sir Brook Watson (1735-1807): lost a leg to a shark bite while in the Navy
MP 1784-1793 (image above is an 1803 etching of Watson, made by Robert Dighton)

Sir Richard Weston (1578/9-1658?): "pronounced lameness" on his left side
MP 1640s

I love a parade....

On Saturday, the third annual Disability Pride Parade will wind through downtown Chicago, with the theme Disabled and Proud 2006: Celebrating Disability Arts and Culture. The grand marshal is actor Robert David Hall from television's CSI (pictured at left), who is also national chairman of the Performers with Disabilities Caucus of the Screen Actors' Guild. Among the bloggers in attendance, watch for Croneway (anyone else?).

You can't actually march in the parade if your contingent didn't register before July 5, but you can still watch and cheer on the parade, offer rides to/from the route, or attend some of the ancillary events (an open-mic/poetry slam on Friday night, and a film festival on Saturday night). Interested but not in the Chicago area? The organizers are also welcoming tax-deductible donations to help defray some of the costs of the parade.

What's the occasion? July 26 marks the 16th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There will also be picnics in New England, a walk-roll-or-run in Florida, an anniversary celebration on Capitol Hill, a town-hall meeting at the National Press Club... and maybe something near you, too.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Go Park Yourself

Found this via Stay Free!, a blog and zine that critiques advertising and marketing.

No one seems quite sure who created this series of extremely blunt parking signs, but the photos are circulating among advertising bloggers. Anyone know where they started? Are they really posted in parking lots? Kinda hard to imagine the one I've included at right being suitable for many public locations... but gentle, civil signs seem not to work, either.

For an audio approach to the problem, check out the Spacehog, a British system that senses a newly parked car in the designated space and greets the driver with a custom-recorded audio message (as in "if you are parked in this space without a permit, your tires may be clamped").

UPDATE (7/14): Stay Free! now links to this blog, which says it's a translation of an award-winning Latvian ad campaign from 2004. The edgy Riga-based agency, ZOOM!, proclaims as its motto, "We hate advertising. That's why we make it." Reading around on their site (which is in English), you find this isn't their only work on disability themes. In 2005 they did a drunk-driving campaign in cooperation with Apeirons, a Latvian disability rights organization, called "Drink. Drive. Join." Part of the campaign involved pwds distributing x-rays of broken spines to DUI violators. It's online here (in Latvian, but you get the flavor--one of the print images is at right).

And ad-blogger Coolzor found another campaign--this time by the Organization for Equal Rights of the City of Brussels--"tickets" placed on windshields of illegally parked cars. (A closeup of the ticket is shown at left. Click to read the fine print.) Coolzor also has translations of a French campaign, called Pain without Borders (Douleur sans Frontieres), which attempt to convey the physical experience of pain from a landmine injury, from napalm burns, from an appendectomy performed under conditions that mirror torture.

UPDATE (7/18): Scott Rains points out another fine series of disability road signs, by Caroline Cardus. Here's one, at right...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Suitcases

When the Willard Psychiatric Center near Albany NY was closed in 1995, 400 inmate suitcases were found in an attic, covered in dust. They contained the belongings of patients at the moment of their arrival (many expected short stays): letters, photographs, books, diaries, even handmade quilts, silk gloves, sheet music. I remember reading about the 2004 exhibit at the New York State Museum, and wishing I could see it. Now, there's a new online version, and a touring version too, so many more of us can explore these artifacts and learn more about the suitcases and their owners. Never has "Click to Enter" seemed so ominous a request.

The bricks-and-mortar version, and its online successor, share the structure of presenting a few of the suitcase owners' stories in detail, drawn from their own possessions and the hospital's records of their decades as inmates. As it's my research interest, I'm caught most by the women's stories:
  • Theresa was German-born, a nun known as Sister Marie Ursuline. When her assigned mission in North Dakota failed, she was adrift. She returned to New York, and hoped her father could help her return to Germany, but in 1917 her letter was stopped under wartime restrictions. She was confused, but insisted "I don't hear voices, I don't see visions. I feel silly--I am not crazy--I am nervous." She stayed at Willard for 30 years.
  • Ethel was a gifted needlecrafter, who raised her two children by working as a seamstress after she left her abusive husband. In 1930, a landlady complained of Ethel's refusal to be evicted, and Ethel was committed to Willard. She stayed for 43 years. In that time, her grown children visited her three times.
  • Madeline (shown above, before and during hospitalization) was a Sorbonne graduate, who taught French at various girls' schools in the US. She was interested in the occult, which was enough to render her "unemployable" during the Depression, so in 1931 she too was committed to a psychiatric unit, and eventually arrived at Willard, furious: "I want out of here immediately. I think it is an outrage to be here." She stayed for 47 years.
One of the men stayed for 62 years, from 1919 to 1981--even hospital officials admitted in the 1960s that his admission was "a mistake." And these are only a few stories from hundreds found in the attic, from many thousands at Willard and other similar hospitals across the US. Go look in their eyes; look through their possessions (which no heir has come to claim); many had family, friends, jobs, cars, skills, college degrees. Nonetheless, it didn't take much for circumstances to place them all in a mental hospital for life. And only now are their stories being told.

[Thanks to Arlene Wilson for giving us the link to this online exhibit in comments.--PLR]

Friday, July 07, 2006

DS,TU Shopping Report: Kids' Clothes

[I was doing some digging for another project, but I'm not one to waste research, so I'll put it up here, too.]

Wheelchair Dancer recently mentioned that she's wanting some sexy, funky clothes that work with a wheelchair--and nicely outlined the ways that can be a shopping challenge (with lots of interesting links). But looking for workable children's clothes is hard, too--because so many websites for "adaptive clothing" are geared to seniors, with styles and sizes to match. (Because my son's size and age don't match on anyone's standard charts, I'm also fighting the opposite demographic--he often fits into clothes made for 3-year-olds, but he wouldn't want to attend middle school in teddybears and "lil slugger" motifs.)

So here's what I did find. Special Clothes for Special Children (based in Harwich MA) has a doubly "special" name, but otherwise it looks like a good online catalog--plenty of practical adaptations around fit, closures, durability, washability, sensory needs, g-tubes and trachs, chair-friendly tailoring, and allergies; mostly age-appropriate, basic styles (the same company also sells adult clothes, under a different label). Adrian's Closet (San Marcos CA) has adult and children's sizes too--their styles run mostly in the sporty-fleecy vein, with a lot of attention to alternative closure placements and easy fasteners. In the UK, Rackety's has message T-shirts (as in "There's no need to stare, I know I'm cool" and "wicked on wheels"), tracksuits, pajamas, shirts, and swimsuits that are good-looking and thoughtfully designed (the tracksuit above is theirs). They also sell soft dolls and bears who use wheelchairs.

Then there are some specialties within this specialty market. Go Squeak and Pipsqueakers sell toddler shoes that squeak with each heel fall--apparently to encourage walking with audible feedback, and discourage tiptoe walking. They might also work as a "where's baby?" signal in the exploring years. (Yes, you can remove the squeakers when the novelty wears off.) Cameron's Special T's covers some therapy territory, making weighted T-shirts and similar clothes with sensory feedback function. Babylinq specializes in beautiful, tiny clothing to fit preemies (4-6 lbs) and even micro-preemies (1-3 lbs). I remember that it was discouraging when all my tiny new son's clothes were much too big (even the ones marked "newborn"), and how right it felt to dress him in something made for his size and shape.

These clothes don't come cheap, but if the adaptations are helpful, they may be worth the difference. Kids need to be comfortable, and clothes shouldn't be more of a struggle than necessary. Also worth considering with the price: the sites often mention good quality construction and fabric, and have the kind of customer service you'd expect from small family-run stores (as many of them are).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Parade, and a Podcast

Go check out the Patient-Consumer Parade #1, for some familiar faces from our our Disability Blogs Roundup (The Gimp Parade got the gold medal, but there's also Rolling Rains, and A Letter to My Children). This is planned as a weekly event, so submit your "best writing about being a medical patient or healthcare consumer." The criteria must be fairly broad: for example, I'm not really sure how Scott Rains' travelogue at Oregon's Lithia Park counts as a "patient" experience (using a wheelchair, by itself, doesn't give you permanent and constant patient status, right?), but it's always good to see him linked anyway. Thanks to Gimpy Mumpy for pointing this one out.

And while I'm making referrals, the new BBC Ouch! Disability Podcast (#4) is available for download. Hear about Mat Fraser's encounter with the Queen (no kidding), an interview with performer Laurence Clark (pictured, left), and an on-air adoration ritual, with megaphone, at the Trafalgar Square statue of Alison Lapper Pregnant.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cute kids, betrayed parents

(Learned about this story from Nicole. Thanks for the heads up!)

Jan in Indianapolis was excited to learn that her handsome little son Nash (front and center in the image at left) was going to be featured on the cover of Indy's Child, which bills itself as "Central Indiana's Only Parenting Publication." She understood that the kids--all found through a call to the Indianapolis Down Syndrome Foundation-- were photographed at a pool, in swimsuits, because they were shooting the cover for a "Summer" issue.

That's not what happened. Instead, the photo was used for the current special issue on "Maternity" (shown here, below) --where it is apparently meant to relate to a story about pre-natal testing. The story features a mother saying, "I was fortunate. My daughter was born May 12 and shows no signs of Down syndrome. That's reassuring." There are no quotes from families who are happy to have children with Down syndrome, no suggestions toward learning more about parenting a kid with Down syndrome if you get a pre-natal diagnosis.

Did someone at the magazine think the families of these smiling children were, by contrast, unfortunate? The parents would never have consented to have their children pose as someone's worst-case scenario.

As you'd expect, Jan is feeling terribly betrayed. She's posted the address of the Indy's Child editors at her blog, in case others want to express dismay at this misguided juxtaposition. The families surely deserve an apology, and the magazine's readers deserve better information.

UPDATE Wednesday morning (5 July): Indy's Child has now pulled both the pre-natal testing story and the cover art from its website.

UPDATE Thursday (6 July): Jan writes at her blog, in an update to the above link, "Received a call from the VP of Indy's Child today. The Publisher and the editor (married couple) are in London vacationing and will return July 10th. Profusely apologetic he was, they never have received a response like this, positive or negative, in their 20 year history, meeting to be scheduled asap upon their return. While its good to be acknowledged, what is sad is that he said they had NO IDEA what they did.....we have some advocating to do people." Indeed.

UPDATE Monday (24 July): I just clicked on the Indy's Child link again--now the cover art is back up--but without the "Special Maternity Issue" or "prenatal tests" headlines. So, the cute kids stay, the story goes. And according to Jan's blog, the magazine is going to make it up to the IDSF by covering the annual Buddy Walk prominently, and featuring a story about families and Down syndrome sometime in the near future.

July 1: Happy Canada Day!

It's Canada Day, and it's also the sixtieth birthday of judge Rosalie Silberman Abella, who was appointed to the Canadian Supreme Court in 2004.

Justice Abella wrote for the majority in the big immigration cases last fall, Hilewitz v. Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, and deJong v. Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. In both cases, families who tried to immigrate to Canada were initially turned away, because their disabled children might impose "excessive demands" on state services. Wrote Abella in favor of the families:
The issue is not whether Canada can design its immigration policy in a way that reduces its exposure to undue burdens caused by potential immigrants. Clearly it can. But here the legislation is being interpreted in a way that impedes entry for all persons who are intellectually disabled, regardless of family support or assistance, and regardless of whether they pose any reasonable likelihood of excessively burdening Canada's social services.

Abella herself was once an immigrant child: she was born in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany, to parents who had survived the Holocaust. The Silbermans immigrated to Canada in 1950, and twenty years later their oldest daughter graduated from law school. In 1975, she became the youngest person ever appointed to the bench in Canada (and the first pregnant judge in Canadian history too).