Tag Archives | discrimination

Some Disabled Workers Won’t Be Eligible for American Minimum Wage Hike

minimum wageSorry for another political post, but I’m a little annoyed right now. At President Barack Obama and his promise to raise the minimum wage in the United States.

Don’t get me wrong. I support any sort of initiative that will raise the minimum wage in the US. I’ve been following this issue ever since I learned that the current minimum wage in the US is only $7.25. It’s been over $10.00 in Ontario for years, going up to $11 in June. Heck, student minimum wage in Ontario in 1998 (the last time I worked as a student in Ontario) was $8.

What I don’t support is nonsense about the minimum wage raise not applying to disabled workers that currently earn less than minimum wage – the employees of organizations holding a 14(c) certificate. And apparently, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. The words came right from Joe Biden himself, in a phone call to disability advocates last Wednesday. Read more here

It’s such blatant ableism that it makes me feel ill.

Minimum Wage, Disabled Americans, and the 14(c) Exemption

This ableist action is built on policy that was already ableist. The 14(c) exemption, put in place in the 1930s. It says that “workers with disabilities are excluded from minimum-wage protections if they are employed in certified training programs.” Read more here These are also referred to as sheltered workshop programs, and in the past I’ve gone into why the disability community is deeply divided about them (well, I know where I stand on them, but the community itself is divided).

Goodwill Industries has a 14(c) exemption. It was outed last year for paying disabled workers as low as $0.22 cents an hour, and for engineering their evaluation process so that it was almost impossible for people to get out of jobs that they didn’t want. keeping Regular readers will remember how disgusted that whole business made me.  The story was highly publicized, and people protested Goodwill and did organized boycotts all over the country. No one from the White House has addressed the 14(c) exemption as something that’s keeping Goodwill employees, and employees of other organizations that have the 14(c) exemption, as something that’s contributing to keeping disabled people in this country living in poverty.

Read more about my thoughts on Goodwill here, here, and here.

Recent comments to Ari Ne’eman, head of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), may explain the administration’s failure to even publicly mention the situation. Ne’eman was recently told by the the White House that the Obama administration doesn’t believe it has the authority to raise the wages of people who work for organizations with a 14(c) exemption. Read More Here

Doesn’t have the authority? It’s my understanding that Obama is going to use Executive Agency to raise minimum wage to $10.10 for everyone else…and yet he doesn’t have the power to step in on a labour issue that’s keeping disabled people trapped in poverty and under the heel of organizations like Goodwill, who can afford to pay all their workers minimum wage but don’t? That doesn’t make one iota of sense to me.  ASAN had a legal analysis done that agrees Read More Here

Not only can I not can’t see how Obama doesn’t have the power to make organizations with the 14(c) exemption raise wages, but because I can’t see, granted the havoc that raising the minimum wage using Executive Agency is going to cause for him in general, politically, how it’s going to make things much worse. The only downside that I can see it for him is that it requires him to come down on a side on this particular disability issue. And by doing that, he risks alienating people and losing votes for the Democrats in the next election.

But I’d suggest that he’s alienated much of the disability community at this point anyway, unless he takes some drastic actions in support of it.

Obama, Meet Me at Camera Three

Obama, you’ve got little to lose and the 420,000 disabled Americans employed in organizations with the 14(c) exemption have got everything to gain. 420,00 may sound like it’s too small a number to matter, but “minimum wage” is called that for a reason because it’s what *all* workers get paid, as a bare minimum.

Not just the non-disabled ones.

Throw the disability community something after nearly two terms in office and get on the ball with this one. Disabled Americans have been waiting long enough for you to do something for them.

UPDATE: On February 13th, the news broke that the Obama administration reversed this decision and declared that workers eligible for the minimum wage increase, disabled or not, would receive it. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/02/12/obama-disabled-workers-subminimum-wage/5409927/ Thanks, Obama, for doing the right thing.

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Amelia Rivera Update: Home with a New Kidney!

amelia riveraI’ve been covering the story of Amelia Rivera and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) refusal to give her a new kidney since her mother Chrissy Rivera blogged in 2012 about her belief that CHOP had refused the transplant because Amelia has an intellectual disability. Well, there’s a happy ending to this story. Doctors at CHOP performed the transplant July 3, using a kidney that Chrissy Rivera donated.

Amelia Rivera and CHOP: The Timeline

Amelia Rivera has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, “a chromosomal disorder affecting about 1 in 50,000 people that’s marked by the presence of intellectual disability, developmental delay, seizures and distinct facial characteristics.” http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/01/17/claim-girl-transplant/14777/ For those that haven’t been following this story, or who need a review, here’s a timeline of the events in Amelia Rivera’s story:

  • January 2012 –> Chrissy Rivera blogs about an appointment at CHOP where a kidney transplant was discussed. She talks about seeing a paper that called Amelia Rivera “mentally retarded”, and describes a conversation with a doctor and a social worker where she was told that Amelia was not a viable transplant candidate because of her intellectual disability. Read Chrissy Rivera’s blog here. Over 40,000 people signed an online petition calling for the hospital to reverse its decision.
  • February 2012 –> CHOP apologizes for how Amelia Rivera’s case was handled and agrees to evaluate Amelia for a transplant, insisting that it doesn’t discriminate on the basis on intellectual disability. 
  • August 2012 –> CHOP clears Amelia Rivera for a transplant, with Chrissy Rivera as the donor. Read Chrissy Rivera’s blog here.

Chrissy Rivera’s most recent update, posted on July 30, tells of how she donated her kidney to her daughter on July 3. Mother and daughter were released from hospital on July 12 and both are doing well.

Amelia Rivera and My Sadness

I am so happy that CHOP came around and that Amelia Rivera got the life-saving surgery that she needed. After all, she was only three years old when all of this began. I am saddened, however, and angered, that Chrissy and Joe Rivera had to fight so hard to get Amelia this surgery to begin with.

I’d been working with intellectually disabled people for almost twenty years when I started this blog, but I was terribly naive in many ways. The doctors with whom I’d had to work when I was supporting people had been great – I’d always been satisfied that the people I supported (of whom I’m very protective) were getting the same quality medical care from their doctors, specialists and surgeons that I was getting…that anyone was getting…and after my stroke, I was fairly experienced with doctors and with medical advocacy.

But still naive.

Learning that there are members of the medical establishment who are confident enough in their assumption that an intellectually disabled person can’t have a good quality of life or contribute to society that they’d deny a three-year-old a life-saving transplant was a real eye-opener.

And just in case you think that this sort of attitude is an isolated incident, here are some other stories that I covered that were eye-openers for me:

AWA: Shocking Story of Ableism by a Hospital

Paul Korby Denied Heart Transplant; Autism Cited as One of the Factors

Protecting Babies with Down Syndrome

Let us be ever mindful that there’s still much work to be done.

But for today…

…let’s celebrate with Amelia Rivera and her family. I couldn’t be happier that this story has turned out so well.

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Willie Forbes, Fish Fingers, and a Discrimination Debate

willie forbesI recently read about an alleged incident of discrimination against Willie Forbes, a man with Down Syndrome, that I found interesting. Willie Forbes’ story comes to us from a restaurant in Inverness, Scotland, called Ash. Ash adjoins the Royal Highland Hotel.

The discrimination allegation comes from the fact that the restaurant refused to serve Willie Forbes, who is 47 years old, fish fingers off of the kids’ menu. Willie Forbes’ niece, who was with him at the time explained to the waiter that Willie Forbes had Down Syndrome and could only eat small portions. The regional manager for the hotel chain, Indranil Banerjee, said that the restaurant offered Willie Forbes a smaller portion of the fish goujons from the menu’s adult meals section, but Willie Forbes and his niece left before the issue could be settled.

A member of the public created a “Ban the Royal Highland Hotel” after Willie Forbes’ niece talked about the experience on her own Facebook page. Banerjee explained in an apology on the hotel’s Facebook page, after the restaurant started to take some serious flack on social media and in Trip Advisor for its actions, that on Sundays children eat off the kids’ menu for free and that they’re not able to charge the adult price for an adult who wants a children’s meal.

“We see every human being as a human being, but they’re either an adult or a kid, and that is that,” Banerjee told Caterer & Hotelkeeper website.  “The kids’ menu is only for people under 12, as the prices are lower and the portions are very small.”

Well, it’s good to know where you stand.

Ash and Willie Forbes: Discrimination or Not?

I didn’t think that this was discrimination at first.  Assuming that this policy is being applied uniformly and consistently to all adult diners regardless of their health needs, how could it be? If it’s the restaurant’s policy that adults can’t order off the kids’ menu, then no adult should be able to order off of the kids’ menu. This includes adults with Down Syndrome or any other type of disability. The management treated Willie Forbes presumably like it treats any other adult that eats in the restaurant on a Sunday. No discrimination here.

Just bad business sense, as people order off the kids’ menu in restaurants for many reasons. Even healthy people often find adult-size restaurant meals too large. Seniors often have reduced appetites and can’t finish an adult-sized meal. People that are trying to cut portion sizes to lose weight may appreciate the option to order off the kids’ menu. Sometimes people just aren’t hungry and want a smaller meal.

And why should a person have to have fish goujons in a restaurant when fish fingers is what they actually wanted and is available?

Does it not make sense, in this economic climate where “the customer is always right”, that a restaurant should make a small change and find some way to allow adults to order off the kids’ menu, granted that it potentially allows the establishment to meet the dining preferences of a wide cross-section of customers? I’d think so.

Just as even a small move toward increasing accessibility makes a business more welcoming for everyone, this seemingly small gesture could actually substantially increase the restaurant’s potential clientele.

But didn’t I say that this wasn’t about disability discrimination? I actually started to rethink that once I read more of Banerjee’s comments on this issue.

Methinks He Doth Protest Too Much

Banjeree’s also told Caterer & Hotelkeeper, “…waiting staff were therefore unable to pass the request through the till as a meal for an adult, because it would automatically register it as a child’s order and not charge. The kitchen would “not normally” prepare a dish from the child’s menu without an appropriate till ticket,”

So, apparently because it’s too much effort to make a notation on a till ticket for a child dish to note that the customer is to be charged the adult price, it’s impossible to accommodate an adult that’s willing to order off the children’s menu, even if they’re willing to pay the price for an adult meal.  But apparently it’s not too much effort to somehow make sure the kitchen knows to prepare a smaller order of an adult dish for a patron that desires it.

It doesn’t make sense.

And the absolute, ultimate refusal of the restaurant to compromise at all on this issue, even though it meant customers walking away unhappy and the alienation of other customers (both current and potential) makes me think that there’s something deeper going on here.

It’s just speculation on my part. I can’t prove anything. Banerjee explicitly said that they weren’t discriminating against Willie Forbes.

But I just don’t buy it.

I’ll let you make up your own mind:

http://www.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/Articles/16/7/2013/349252/inverness-restaurant-hits-back-at-disability-discrimination-claims.htm#sthash.SzNeQZnB.dpuf

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2365167/Hotel-bosses-refuse-sell-fish-fingers-man-47-Downs-Syndrome-claiming-meal-available-12s.html

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I Stand With Henry

I’m back to the blog this weekend to talk about a self-advocate that I found out about this week, and to ask you to take five I stand with Henryminutes out of your schedule to let him know, “I stand with Henry!”

Self-Advocacy Rocks

I used to work with teens with intellectual disabilities. Some of them weren’t even aware when they started with my agency that they had any rights. A few from that same group left my program see me on the street now and are excited to tell me about the latest way in which they stood up for their rights.

It’s an amazing privilege, to work with someone on becoming a good self-advocate…to examine with them what that means, and to see it start to sink in. Seeing the person start to apply the skills in their lives – well, that’s a real “this is why I do this work” moment.

It takes courage to stand up for your rights, and practice – it’s a skill. I was always proud of the teens I worked with for trying, no matter how it turned it. I’ve had to do it myself as a person with disabilities, and it can be pretty daunting, even when you’re got support around you. I’m sure that I don’t have to tell many of you this.

Keeping all this is mind, you can understand why I stand with Henry, and why I think you should too.

I Stand With Henry…Do You?

Henry has the makings of an amazing disability self-advocate. A young man with autism, he’s non-verbal and uses a communication device. He wants you to know something:

Personally, I don’t see why he can’t go to his neighbourhood school. I stand with Henry.

If you do too, please show your support by leaving a comment on his video at YouTube, or on the blog that he wrote:

http://ollibean.com/2012/08/23/my-civil-rights/

There’s also a Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/IStandWithHenry

It takes a lot to put yourself out there like this. Let’s let Henry know that there are people who have heard his message and that agree that inclusion is the best way to go!

Have a great weekend…

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AWA – A Shocking Story of Ableism by a Hospital

I talked recently about institutions, and how many of them were environments that left people with intellectual disabilities AWAlittle to no control over their lives or power to make basic choices about what was right for them on even the most fundamental level. I’ve also written about how some members of the medical community (or even families themselves – see the posts that I’ve made about Annette Corriveau and her belief that she should have the right to terminate the lives of her two adult children with severe disabilities) believe that people with severe disabilities don’t have anything to live for. When those two things attitudes toward people with disabilities – the idea that non-disabled people have the right to deprive them of control over their lives and to take their power to make choices on a fundamental level, and that their lives aren’t worth living – combine, you get horrid stories like those of the man that the media is referring to as AWA.

Doctor Puts Do Not Resuscitate Order on Patient With Down’s Syndrome Without His Consent or Knowledge

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19570364

I know we’ve discussed ableism in hospitals before, such as Amelia Rivera and Paul Korby and their organ transplant refusal issues, and the struggle that mother’s sometimes have to get medical treatment for infants with Down’s Syndrome. But nothing beats coming home from the hospital and finding a DNR in your luggage that you didn’t know about (let alone consent to).

AWA, a man with Down’s Syndrome and dementia, found himself in exactly that position after being released from The Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Britain, last year.  51 years old, AWA was in the hospital to have a feeding tube fitted. His attorney, Merry Varney, says that this is an extreme case, but that doctors frequently authorize DNR orders “without consent or consultation”.  http://uk.news.yahoo.com/downs-patient-not-resuscitate-row-160531147.html

The DNR stated that staff was not to perform resuscitation on AWA in the event of a cardio or respiratory arrest with no provision of review, because of “Down’s syndrome, unable to swallow (Peg [percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy] fed), bed bound, learning difficulties”. The family was not told about the DNR either, even though they say that they and a carer were there to visit with AWA almost daily.

This is beyond reprehensible.

Medical Establishment, Meet Me At Camera Three

I’ve covered some low ways that doctors have treated people with intellectual disabilities and their families, but this is…pretty goddamned low. Thank God the doctors that have cared for the people I’ve supported in my career have been, almost without exception, very attuned to the issues involved with working with this particular population…treating them with dignity and sensitivity…because if any of them had tried to pull a stunt like this with people that I supported, they’d be toast. I hope that the doctor who signed off on this DNR never practices medicine again, and that the family takes the NHS down with their lawsuit.

Too harsh? No. None of the reasons for the DNR are justifiable, on their own or with any other reason. There was simply a decision made that, if something should happen, this person was too disabled to live a life that was really worth bringing him back to.

In addition to being disability discrimination by a hospital, that’s an insult that cuts to the bone – to AWA, and to everyone who’s life he’s touched. And it’s a shocking (and disgusting, quite frankly) abuse of the medical establishment’s power.

It’s also a disrespect to the system in which all doctors and nurses work. Informed consent for these sorts of things is a cornerstone. And if there were concerns that AWA didn’t have the capacity to give consent, the hospital should have tracked down the next of kin and talked to them – not given up because no one couldn’t find them at the hospital (as the hospital says they couldn’t).

Everyone involved in making this DNR legal should have known that.

Beyond AWA – This Is Getting Old

I’m getting tired of saying this. I’m almost 35, and I’m getting middle-aged and cranky.

Enough with the blatant discrimination.

It’s the 21st century, and it’s time that people got with the program.

If you think that it’s okay to violate someone’s rights because they’ve got a disability – you’re wrong. It’s really that simple. That sort of discrimination is called ableism, and there’s just no place for it anymore.

And it’s time to start holding corporations and systems that perpetrate systemic ableism accountable. Yes?

But where to start…I’ll have to do some thinking about this over the weekend…

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Disability Discrimination by Airlines – Enough is Enough

I blogged about disability discrimination by airlines not long after I launched this blog (http://www.girlwiththecane.com/physical-disabilities-1/ ), when I learned that sometimes airlines insist on breaking down electric wheelchairs to put into the luggage hold for a flight even when it’s not necessary. I also talked about a story where an airline returned a wheelchair to it’s owner unassembled at the disability discrimination by airlinesend of the trip and just said, “Sorry”.

I’ve heard about other stories of disability discrimination by airlines since then.

Disability Discrimination by Airlines: Physical Disability

William Peace regularly talks about stories of disability discrimination by airlines in his blog, “Bad Cripple”. Peace is a paraplegic that regularly travels by airplane. In a post that astounded me (http://www.badcripple.blogspot.ca/2012/06/cant-you-walk-little-bit.html), he talked about an experience where airline staff that were supposed to be assisting him to exist the plane said:

  • “Just walk a little bit to get to the wheelchair.”
  • “You can’t walk just a little bit?”
  • “You mean he cannot walk at all? What do we do? How do we get him out of the seat?” (This after he’d told the staff repeatedly that he needed a straight-back wheelchair to get off the plane and out to his own wheelchair).

He was on the plane for 45 minutes after it landed before they figured out how to disembark him. That could make a person late enough to miss a connecting flight, particularly if they have to board that flight in a wheelchair.

And according to Peace, it’s not far from how he’s normally treated as a passenger in a wheelchair:

“When one travels via any American carrier and uses a wheelchair it is an invitation for abuse. There is a deeply entrenched bias against people with a disability in the airline industry–especially paralyzed people who are perceived as a burden and flight safety risk. European based airline carriers are even worse. What I wrote about pales in comparison to other experiences I have had. More than once I have crawled out of a plane in frustration and anger.” (bolding mine)

Disability Discrimination by Airlines: Other Disabilities

Peace’s blog also has stories about disability discrimination by airlines against people with autism, people with intellectual disabilities, and, most recently, a story that’s gotten a lot of attention about American Airlines refusing to let a 16-year-old with Down’s Syndrome and his family fly. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/09/teen-with-down-syndrome-barred-from-american-airlines-flight.html

Joan and Robert Vanderhorst and certain that their son, Bede, is the latest target of disability discrimination by airlines. The family has flown together many times without incident. The only difference this time was that they decided to fly first class. They were apparently barred from flying because the pilot was concerned that Bede was too unruly to fly to be seated so close to the cockpit. There was a concern that he could become a disruption if the pilot had to make an emergency landing. Video of Bede that Joan took while the family was being informed of this decision shows him sitting quietly at the gate.

The family was rebooked on a United flight. They were put in the back row of economy class, and no one was seated around them.

From the media acounts…it’s suspect at best. Peace has much stronger feelings:

http://www.badcripple.blogspot.ca/2012/09/american-airlines-bigotry-abounds-yet.html

http://www.badcripple.blogspot.ca/2012/09/american-airlines-attempts-to-explain.html

He’s been tracking these things for much longer than I have. I’m more inclined to go with his assessment that American Airlines simply didn’t want someone with Down’s Syndrome in first class on the airplane…perhaps not even on the airplane at all.

What to Do About It?

I’ve been lucky (very lucky, apparently)…I’ve not had any truly negative experiences with airlines since I’ve had my stoke, and I’ve flown several times. It does seem that at the very least the policies and procedures around assisting passengers with disabilities need to be updated, and that airline and airport staff need to undergo mandatory disability sensitivity training. But who will enforce this, and handle complaints?

Peace says that he complains to the Department of Justice when he experiences profound disability discrimination by airlines, but  that it doesn’t do much good. Who do you complain to when the DOJ won’t do anything?

The fact that no one will stand up to the airlines about these injustices revictimizes the people that go through them. And sometimes there really is no choice but to fly – it’s like making someone go back to an abuser and say, “I need you…please don’t hurt me.”

If you think I’m being melodramatic, go back and read Peace’s words again. He’s crawled off a plane rather than put up with the way the airlines treat him. I don’t know what was going on, to put him in that headspace, but I’d argue that those experiences were trauma-inducing. He might disagree (making him, as I’ve suspected, a far stronger person than I am.)

But I think we can all agree that disability discrimination by airlines has to stop. Somehow, they must be held responsible for these actions.

 

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Protests Happening at US Goodwill Locations This Weekend

goodwilllIf you’re looking for something to do this weekend and maybe looking for a worthy cause that needs your time and energy, consider taking a walk down to your local Goodwill location on Saturday at around 10:30 am. Perhaps it will be one of the 80 at which the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the disability advocacy group ADAPT have organized one of their informational protests regarding Goodwill’s compensation policy for people with disabilities.

People With Disabilities Working for as Low as $0.22/Hour at Some Goodwill Locations

Regular readers may remember that earlier in the summer I wrote a post about this when it first became public knowledge. I thought the lowest that people were being paid was $1.44 an hour. As you can see, apparently it’s been much lower in some places (http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/08/21/protests-target-goodwill/16285/).  The NFB and other American disability organizations called for a boycott of Goodwill in America until they stopped the (sadly, legal) practice of giving locations discretion to pay workers with disabilities substantially below minimum wage.  64 of the 165 Goodwill-affiliated agencies in the US engage in this practice.

Goodwill argues that the certificate that allows them to pay people with disabilities below minimum wage is a “tool” that facilitates job creation for people that would otherwise find it very difficult to find work.

I don’t know what’s scariest about that “justification”: that Goodwill actually believes that paying anyone $0.22 an hour to do anything is a “job”, that they have the guts to put themselves out there as believing they do…or that there are people in this country, with or without disabilities, that need employment that badly or put so little value on the work that they they can do that they’d actually do work for that little money. It’s a whole lot of wrong, on a whole lot of levels.

Breaking It Down a Little Further

It’s difficult to understand how Goodwill doesn’t see how this creates more issues than it solves.

  • It’s exploitative. No two ways about it.
  • It does nothing to assist people with disabilities who are living in poverty to better their financial situation.
  • It sets a poor example for the rest of the business community: “Goodwill does it, and we all know that they do good work for everyone, so it must be okay.”
  • It sets a poor example for the community, the country, and the world. Do we really need any more examples of people with disabilities being devalued?

I wrote more about this at:  http://www.girlwiththecane.com/goodwill-industries/

The Goodwill Protests

As I said, the informational protests are happening at Goodwill locations across the country this Saturday, August 25, 11 am – 1 pm local time. You can keep tabs on what’s happening by following @NFB_Voice on Twitter. Also check out this article for anything you’d ever want to know about the protests (including how to organize one in your area if one isn’t going on, complete with promotional materials) and the Goodwill controversy: https://www.nfb.org/fair-wages#Protest

Spread the word and try to get to a protest yourself if you can!

 

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Paul Corby Denied Heart Transplant; Autism Cited as One of Factors

Philadelphia hospitals, I’m now caught up on what’s happening with Paul Paul CorbyCorby. Congratulations, you’re the first in the blog to hear this in Paragraph One of an entry: Meet me at camera three.

Because, seriously, what are you thinking?

Paul Corby’s Story

Let’s bring everyone else in on this, shall we?

Paul Corby is 23 years old and happens to have Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, which is an autism spectrum disorder. He also needs a heart transplant. The doctors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania don’t think he’s a good candidate, “given his psychiatric issues, autism, the complexity of the process, multiple procedures and the unknown and unpredictable effect of steroids on behavior.”

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/08/14/claim-heart-transplant-autism/16251/

I admit that while I’m very grateful for the successful resolution of Amelia Rivera’s case at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I’m hotter under the collar about this than I used to be. I’m getting really tired of reading about people with disabilities being discriminated against by the medical community because of outdated ways of viewing them and their potential.

Assumption of Bad Outcome

Penn Hospital, this part’s for you in particular.

I see here an assumption that because Paul Corby has an autism diagnosis, there’s automatically such a large chance of a bad outcome that a heart is better off with someone else.

I know that donated organs are scarce, and that a lot of consideration has to go into especially who gets a heart. Yes, there could be aspects of stereotypical behaviour associated with autism that could make the recovery process associated with a transplant difficult. However, I saw a heck of a lot of people when I was in stroke rehabilitation and recovering that had a lot of difficulty with the process, and it wasn’t because of any diagnosis that I knew of…they were just people having a difficult time with recovery! Regular readers know that I went through a few difficult periods myself, that certainly weren’t anticipated and required some extra support from staff while I worked out whatever was happening…but the support got put in place, and the issues got worked out.  You can’t assume that a diagnosis automatically means that a person can’t deal with transplant issues (or that a lack of one automatically means that they’ll be able to, for that matter).

This attitude of “Hands off our heart because all these things could happen because you’re, you know, autistic” is just blatantly discriminatory, offensive to people with disabilities everywhere, and suggests that you don’t have much confidence in the team that would be offering Paul Corby care afterward. Are you so frightened of the word “autism” that you doubt your ability to work with this young man, who is obviously creative, accomplished and, most importantly seems perfectly capable of expressing what he needs and wants? And who seems to have a loving family committed to assisting him to meet the challenges in his life? It seems to me that your support teams would have had to deal with individuals that present many more barriers to positive outcomes after serious medical procedures.

Running Down the Case

Here’s another article about Paul Corby’s struggle:

http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/08/07/family-young-man-denied-heart-transplant-because-hes-autistic/

Taking the two articles together, we’ve got this support for him:

  • 2 doctors that suggests that “autism”, as an exclusionary term, is too broad.
  • Other hospitals that are willing to give a second opinion.
  • Paul Corby has an extensive support network.
  • Paul Corby isn’t a smoker or a drinker.

The Point

Penn Hospital. Really?

I’m not asking you to give him the transplant. I understand that you may have legitimate reasons for denying him the transplant that I don’t understand.

But, for God’s sake, take the autism diagnosis out of it. Do the right thing.

Get it together, Philadelphia hospitals.

Petition: “Help My Autistic Son Get a Life-Saving Heart Transplant” - http://www.change.org/petitions/help-my-autistic-son-get-a-life-saving-heart-transplant

 

 

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Lack of Accessible Taxis in New York City is Okay, According to Appeals Court and Bloomberg

There are only 231 accessible taxis in New York City. The appeals court ruled on Thursday that,  accessible taxis in New York City in a city where there are over 13 000 taxis, this is okay, as long as a person with who wants to drive a cab isn’t discriminated against on the basis on disability. The appeals court ruling overturns an earlier ruling by Judge George Daniels saying that the low number of accessible taxis in New York City violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/nyc-taxis-dont-have-to-accomodate-disable-appeals-court_n_1637026.html

Michael Bloomberg Says There’s No Need For More Accessible Taxis in New York City, So It Must Be True

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pleased with the appeals court ruling. In a quote in the Huffington post, he demonstrates the lack of insight into the needs of New York City citizens and visitors in wheelchairs that’s become sadly characteristic of him since this story broke last year: “”This ruling is consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled, and we will continue our efforts to assist disabled riders,”

Here’s the comment that I left on the Huffington Post story last night (with the punctuation errors corrected; it was late):

“If Bloomberg is content with knowing with knowing that by limiting access to convenient, reliable transportation for people with physical disabilities in his city, he also limits their access to employment and volunteer opportunities, as well as opportunities to put their money back into the city’s economy, I guess there’s no talking him out of it. Lord knows people have tried.

I hope he’s also considered that tourists to New York with disabilities are also affected by how difficult it is to get a cab. If I were planning a leisure trip to an American city and I was still using a wheelchair, or with someone in a wheelchair, this news would definitely make me consider going elsewhere.

What else are the people of New York with physical disabilities to take from this except that their mayor doesn’t care about their transportation needs or value the contribution that they make to city life? Congrats on spitting in your constituents’ faces, Mr. Bloomberg.”

More information on the new ruling on accessible taxis in New York City:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304058404577495052575426594.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Other posts that I’ve made about accessible taxis in New York City:

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/attn-editor-of-the-new-york-post-re-americans-with-disabilities-act-editoral/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible-taxis-in-new-york-city/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible-taxis/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/michael-bloomberg-accessible-cabs/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible_cabs/

 

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Goodwill Industries…Champion for the Disabled Worker! *rolls eyes*

The National Federation of the Blind in the United States has called for people to boycott goodwill industriesGoodwill Industries International. This story actually broke about ten days ago, so many of you likely already know about it.

The Issues Behind the Call to Boycott Goodwill Industries

The issue around the call to boycott Goodwill Industries is that the National Federation of the Blind had discovered that Goodwill had been paying some of its workers with disabilities significantly below minimum wage – as low as $1.44 an hour. Apparently it’s permitted to do this through a nearly 75-year-old provision of the US Fair Labor Standards Act. The National Federation of the Blind is seeking to have this provision repealed, supported by 45 other organizations in the United States. But it’s taking more immediate action through the call to boycott Goodwill Industries.

I hope that they can find some way to get it into legislation that people with disabilities have to be paid minimum wage. I know that from watching the struggle in Ontario to get businesses to pay people with intellectual disabilities minimum wage that until recently, success has varied from region to region and business to business. Especially in towns made up of mostly small businesses that don’t have a corporate policy dictating hiring practices and may not have a lot of money to spare.

Work is Work and Employees are Employees. Period.

I’ve seen people with intellectual disabilities do a lot of different kinds of work.  People I’ve worked with have cleaned tables and taken out the trash in restaurants, stocked shelves in grocery stores, done cleaning in a variety of establishments, answered phones for businesses, and  even started their own businesses like walking dogs and doing housekeeping.

Sometimes in those days (as it is now), it was appropriate for someone with a disability to go do a job and charge a flat rate for their services. I remember working with a woman who got $15 a week from a local business to come do their cleaning each week. It took her about hour. That was reasonable compensation for her time and effort.

However, in those days I also saw people with intellectual disabilities go into businesses to help out with activities that were required to keep the business running, such as facing shelves, and not get paid or get paid very little. That’s not appropriate or fair. The employees were expected to face shelves. Having someone do it freed up their time to do other things. That made the work that these people with intellectual did an important part of store work, for which they should have been compensated properly (at the minimum wage)…even if it was the only thing they did as an employee and even if they did it for only an hour a week.

Yeah, I’m Taking This Personally

Those days weren’t so long ago…but it’s gotten a lot better. The tide’s turned quickly on this one (at least in Canada, and at least from what I can see). I’m really grateful that it’s gotten easier for people with intellectual disabilities to earn a decent wage.

But am I offended by this type of nonsense coming from Goodwill Industries? You bet I am. I’ve focused on intellectual disabilities so far, but everything that I’ve read about Goodwill Industries’ discrimination has been about people with disabilities in general. And I’m a person with disabilities.

Goodwill Industries, Meet Me at Camera Three

Hi Goodwill. As a person with disabilities, I’m really insulted that you think that my time and energy is worth so much less to you than those of a person without disabilities. I’m angry that you think it’s okay to pay me slave wages because I have a disability. And I’m furious that you think it’s okay to contribute to the further social devaluement and hardship of a group that’s already socially and economically vulnerable.

I’m not naive enough to think that this sort of thing still doesn’t happen. But, considering what you do, you were one of the last organizations that I would have suspected of doing it.

You’ve got a lot of damage repair to do. Better get on it.

 

For Readers Outside the US: I can’t find any information about Goodwill’s hiring practices in other countries, or whether advocacy organizations in other countries are supporting the boycott to ban Goodwill Industries. Does anyone have any information?

 

More about the call to boycott Goodwill Industries:

http://www.nfb.org/national-federation-blind-urges-boycott-goodwill-industries

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/06/12/goodwill-paying-less/15827/

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