Friday, April 29, 2005

Signs that Bush won't exempt disabled from cuts in Social Security

President's Comments on People with Disabilities and Social Security (x - Marty Ford)

In his televised press conference last night, President Bush outlined parts of his plan for changes to Social Security. His remarks made distinctions between treatment of seniors and treatment of people with disabilities. He stated: "As we fix Social Security, some things won't change: Seniors and people with disabilities will get their checks; all Americans born before 1950 will receive the full benefits." There is an important distinction here. He did NOT say that people with disabilities will receive their FULL BENEFITS (as he did for seniors); he only stated that people with disabilities will get their CHECKS.

Similar distinctions were made when he appointed the Commission to Strengthen Social Security in 2001. Two of his principles for the Commission were: Modernization must not change Social Security benefits for retirees or near-retirees.
Modernization must preserve Social Security?s disability and survivors insurance programs.
The principles did NOT protect BENEFITS for people with disabilities; the principles just protected the disability and survivors PROGRAMS. And, in fact, the Commission?s final proposals in 2001 included cuts in benefits for people with disabilities.

These distinctions in how the President talks about seniors versus people with disabilities are significant. Especially given the final recommendations of the 2001 Commission, we cannot afford to assume that people with disabilities will be protected in the Bush plan. We need to remain vigilant and continue to educate Members of Congress and the public about the importance of Social Security to people with disabilities and to oppose privatization of Social Security.

Marty Ford
The Arc and UCP Disability Policy Collaboration
1660 L St., NW Suite 701
Washington, DC 20036
FAX (202)783-8250

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Disabled Birdwatchers and a Film Alert

I loved this recent entry at Rolling Rains Report, probably because I grew up traipsing behind my grandmother and her Audubon friends on birdwatching trips to Hawk Mountain in eastern Pennsylvania, or Brigantine in New Jersey, or elsewhere.

And there's another disability-themed movie to watch for: It's All Gone, Pete Tong is a 2004 English film getting its US release in the coming weeks. It's about a club DJ who becomes deaf. (Haven't seen it yet myself, of course, but there are reviews out that make it sound worth a peek.)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Tchoukhrova v. Gonzales

A recent decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit finds that a Russian boy and his parents are all eligible for asylum because of the persecution they faced at home, on account of the boy's cerebral palsy. That persecution included (for the boy) beatings, forced institutionalization, withheld medical treatment, denied access to schooling, and verbal abuse from strangers in public. The parents were pelted with stones, lost their jobs, were pressured to stop advocating for disability rights, and had their car vandalized. The ruling finds:

"Because the parents and their disabled child incur harm as a unit, it is appropriate to combine family members into a single social group for purposes of asylum and withholding [of removal]."

Read the whole decision here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Green maps for accessibility features?

The blog The Map Room pointed to this story yesterday, about the possibilities of "Green Mapping" for directing people to "anything that makes life worthwhile"--is that category broad enough to include ramps, accessible bathrooms, and other accommodations for people with disabilities, parks with good pathway surfaces and shady benches? Are the maps themselves accessible? The story doesn't say, but it turns out one of the official Green Map icons is "Mobility," which includes wheelchair accessibility. Another, "Culture & Design," includes a component to point folks to "senior friendly sites" with easier walking and frequent rest places. The "Toxic Hot Spots and Pollution Sources" icons might be of use to folks with multiple chemical sensitivities. The Green Map project for New York City (called the Green Apple Map) is looking at having a larger-print version in the next edition. Here is the website for the non-profit Green Map project, for more information.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Color into sound

Mike Dorn invited me to join in here. I'm Penny L. Richards, a lapsed geographer (BS and MS) with a PhD in Education. I mostly do history of disability now, as a research scholar at UCLA's Center for the Study of Women. I believe Carol Marfisi and I are both from the Scranton area--it's a small world.

I came across this today--I hope this isn't old news here (didn't see it in the archives). A lab at Cornell is working on ways to make the colors on maps readable via sound: The blog Curb Cut Design linked to this story. Says the engineering graduate student who's working on the project, "Sometimes I just want to know where is the land and where is the sea."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Amending the UK Disability Discrimination Bill

Debates last week in the British Parliament underline once again the role of politics in the definition of disability. See coverage from the but please don't come after me about the language. 'Depressives,' indeed!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Philadelphia Webloggers Meeting Wednesday, April 20th at 7:00pm

Attention Philadelphia bloggers! Are you tired of staring at a screen all day? Is your keyboard your only friend? Do you want to meet and greet (and drink) with other Philadelphia bloggers and discuss life, liberty and the pursuit of bloginess? Well then, the monthly Philadelphia Webloggers Meeting is just the thing for you!
When: Wednesday, April 20th at 7PM
Where:Independence Brew Pub, 1150 Filbert Street

I'll be there, and so should you. RSVP now, you won't be sorry.

Jamaica: Is Universal Design on the Map? (x-Rolling Rains Report)

Scott Rains notes the challenges that Jamaica presents to travelers with disabilities, as well as some of the steps being taken to overcome them.


John Kelly, a graduate student at Brandeis University, writes for Boston's 'Disability Exchange' website about the experience of setting up his own grassroots action group to tackle access issues in that city. What to call it? Neighborhood Action Group, or NAG for short!

Disability and Social Policy

Hello!  In case you missed it, our spring semester course Disability Studies 430: Disability and Social Policy, an important part of the new Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies, was featured in this week’s Temple Times, and on the Temple University main webpage. Mike &  For more information on our Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies, see