WBEZ | Americans with Disabilities Act http://www.wbez.org/tags/americans-disabilities-act Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The GOP votes against international disability accord http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-12/gop-votes-against-international-disability-accord-104204 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5134_AP120317161830-scr.jpg" style="height: 220px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Former Sen. Rick Santorum was a leading voice behind the scenes against passage of an international treaty to protect the disabled. (AP)" /></div><p>In the midst of all the headlines about how the cold-hearted GOP won&rsquo;t pass a middle-class tax cut until the president agrees to a tax cut on the rich, on Tuesday the Senate came up short on the two-thirds vote required to ratify the <a href="http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml">Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities</a>, a United Nations treaty aimed at securing rights for disabled people around the world.</p><p>The vote was <a href="http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&amp;session=2&amp;vote=00219">61-38</a>,&nbsp;and all 38 votes against setting international standards to protect and accommodate the disabled were cast by Republicans.<br /><br />The treaty, based on the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, is a non-binding international standard &mdash;&nbsp;as opposed to law or requirement &mdash;&nbsp;and demands <em>no change whatsoever</em> to U.S. law. The ADA, if you&#39;ll recall, was signed into law by GOP president George H.W. Bush in 1990, and was renewed by Barack Obama in 2009.<br /><br />This treaty has eight guiding principles: respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one&#39;s own choices; non-discrimination; full and effective participation and inclusion in society; respect for difference; equality of opportunity; accessibility; equality between men and women; respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.<br /><br />Because the treaty is designed as an international agreement that must also accommodate the resources and abilities of its complying countries &mdash; many of whom, like Afghanistan and Uganda, don&rsquo;t necessarily have the money to do all they might want to do&nbsp;&mdash; it goes out of its way to ease compliance. For example, it only requires &ldquo;reasonable accommodation&rdquo; of the disabled, what the treaty calls &quot;necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden.&quot;<br /><br />In fact, the treaty provides a great deal of flexibility to its signers. So much so that a number of countries &nbsp;&mdash; understanding that the treaty is in great part about <em>intent</em> &nbsp;&mdash; adopted it with exemptions and conditions. Both Malta and Poland interpreted the agreement without a right to abortion, in accordance with their constitutions; the Netherlands interpreted the right to medical treatment as also including the right to <em>refuse</em> medical treatment. And so on.</p><p><span style="font-size:16px;">Eight Republicans did vote for the treaty, including all three outgoing senators, plus John McCain, Susan Collins, John Barraso, the ever more independent Lisa Murkowski and that other presidential candidate in the wings, Kelly Ayotte.&nbsp;</span>So what was it that made 38 Republican senators, including all-but-announced presidential candidate Marco Rubio, vote against it? Here&rsquo;s an explanation from GOP Sen. <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/un-treaties/270831-senate-rejects-un-treaty-for-disabled-rights-in-vote?tmpl=component&amp;page=">Mike Lee, who led the floor fight </a>against the treaty: &ldquo;I and many of my constituents who home-school or send their children to religious schools have justifiable doubt that a foreign body based in Geneva, Switzerland, should be deciding what is best for a child at home in Utah.&rdquo;<br /><br />Setting aside the ungrammatical use of &ldquo;I,&rdquo; who is Sen. Lee talking about? The UN is an international body based in New York.<br /><br />Sen. Lee&rsquo;s partner on the quest to defeat the treaty was former Republican senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the father of a special needs child, who&rsquo;s been <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/protecting-the-rights-of-parents-and-their-children/">crusading</a> since at least July on this issue.<br /><br />Their big complaint, besides fear of all things outside the Great 48, is anxiety that the treaty could somehow undermine parental rights over disabled children, especially those in home schools.<br /><br />But the treaty, which requires nothing and merely sets aspirational standards, does no such thing. And, even if it did, the U.S. Constitution&rsquo;s federal supremacy clause would trump any international agreement&rsquo;s particular clause.<br /><br />I shared the news of the treaty&rsquo;s defeat Tuesday on my Facebook page and my brother Mario responded with what I think is the best rejoinder to these very ignorant and shameless lawmakers: &ldquo;As a parent who homeschooled their kids, I&#39;m confident my kids would understand the phrase &lsquo;<em>nonbinding</em> treaty&rsquo; and know how to spot xenophobia.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 08:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-12/gop-votes-against-international-disability-accord-104204 Settlement improves living opportunities for disabled Chicagoans http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-improves-living-opportunities-disabled-chicagoans-91260 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/748709408_ae955a68f6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Disabled Cook County residents have reached a settlement with the state of Illinois about the rights of disabled Medicaid residents in nursing homes. U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in Chicago ruled Tuesday that people living outside of nursing homes can receive state-provided services in their alternate housing.</p><p>Ben Wolf, associate legal director of the ACLU, said the organization hopes the rest of the state will follow suit with Cook County. "We expect that the reform process will demonstrate both that people, many people want to move to the community when given the chance with the right services and support, and that moving them to the community will actually not cost the state more money, and in some instances will actually save the state money," Wolf said.</p><p>The lawsuit, <em>Colbert v. Quinn</em>, is not the first of its kind. The 1999 Supreme Court case <em>Olmstead v. L.C.</em> held that institutionalization of disabled people is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Marca Bristo, President &amp; CEO of Access Living, a disability advocacy group, compared <em>Olmstead </em>to cases like <em>Brown v. Board of Education</em> and <em>Roe v. Wade</em>.</p><p>Wolf believes that that's an accurate comparison.&nbsp;"<em>Olmstead </em>is a case that crystallizes the rights of people with disabilities who were needlessly institutionalized," he said. "And we're delighted that Governor Quinn and Michael Gelder, his chief health advisor, have signed on to a legally enforceable committment to move the state in a different direction."&nbsp;</p><p>Plaintiffs, including Lenil Colbert, the disabled man for whom the case was named, claim that Illinois could save over two thousand dollars a year per person by housing patients in apartments and not nursing homes. After having a stroke at the age of 32, Colbert became partially paralyzed, and was placed in a nursing home. "I volunteered my time, my name, and my story to this case for several reasons," said Colbert. "I was never given the choice to receive support in my own home." Colbert now lives alone, where he receives about five hours of services a day.&nbsp;</p><p>The state of Illinois will be required to spend $10 million in the first 30 months of implemenation to help over a thousand residents move. Court approval, and a fairness hearing set for December 20, are required before the case becomes state policy.</p><p>"We expect and hope that the number of people who will be [in nursing homes] for long term stays will radically diminish," Barca said.</p></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 17:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-improves-living-opportunities-disabled-chicagoans-91260 Ill. officials to celebrate accessibility law http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-officials-celebrate-accessibility-law-89154 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-14/AP900726013.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois state officials will celebrate the 21st&nbsp;anniversary of the signing of the <a href="http://www.ada.gov/">Americans with Disabilities Act</a>.&nbsp;</p><div>The special event at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago's&nbsp;Loop on Thursday will highlight the accomplishments of people with&nbsp;disabilities through an art exhibit and demonstration, hands-on art&nbsp;activities, entertainment, interactive exhibits, workshops and a&nbsp;three-on-three wheelchair basketball tournament.&nbsp;</div><div><br> The festivities will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a speaking&nbsp;program at noon.&nbsp;</div><div><br> Guests will include the directors of the Illinois departments of&nbsp;Human Services, Human Rights, Natural Resources and the&nbsp;commissioner of Chicago's Mayor's Office for People with&nbsp;Disabilities.&nbsp;</div><div><br> The ADA was a landmark law that improved accessibility for&nbsp;disabled people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 14 Jul 2011 15:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-officials-celebrate-accessibility-law-89154 Parents resume sit-in at school field house http://www.wbez.org/story/parents-resume-sit-school-field-house-88287 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-24/Whittier2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some parents in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood have resumed a sit-in at the Whittier Elementary School field house. Their protest concerns the fate of that building and the location of a library for the school.</p><p>A plan by Mayor Richard Daley’s administration to tear down the field house led to a month-long sit-in last fall by the parents and their supporters. The occupation ended after the district promised to spare the building and provide a library.</p><p>But the sides never agreed on the library’s location.</p><p>On Thursday, the district sent a dump truck and construction workers to Whittier. Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll says the crew’s job was to clear space for the library within the main building.</p><p>“That room is not ADA accessible,” says Lisa Angonese, who has two kids in Whittier. “It’s one room. And they are going to demolish the field house and replace it with [artificial] turf.”</p><p>About two dozen Whittier parents and neighborhood activists were successful in turning away the crew. They want the library in the field house.</p><p>In a letter to the parents last week, new CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard said he supported the agreement to leave the field house standing. But the letter said putting the library in the main building remained “the best option.”</p></p> Fri, 24 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/parents-resume-sit-school-field-house-88287