Thursday, December 11, 2008

Texas State School Deaths Spark Protests

AUSTIN, Texas— Protesters gathered at a Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) board meeting yesterday to demonstrate against alleged mistreatment of state school residents who have disabilities, including intellectual disabilities. Wearing shirts with the number 53 on them and chanting “Shame on you” and “53 deaths on your watch”, the protesters disrupted the meeting for about 10 minutes, until security personnel escorted them out. The protesters belong to an Community Now, an advocacy group. According to the Austin-American Statement, “A federal Department of Justice report released last week found at least 53 patients in Texas' large residential facilities died in 2007 from preventable conditions that were often the result of lapses in care.” Since 2004, the state has terminated or suspended over 800 employees for mistreating consumers.


Protesters disrupt meeting about Texas' state schools for the disabled.

Protesters disrupt state meeting

Protesters disrupt state council meeting, angry about conditions at state schools



Sunday, December 7, 2008

NRCA Disability Legislative Update

From the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association:
Major Events Last Week
Obama Administration: President-elect Barack Obama announced that he will nominate Peter Orszag, Congressional Budget Office Director, to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the White House which oversees the federal budget. Orszag has significant expertise in health policy. If confirmed, he is expected to play a major role in the development of health care reform policies, focusing on health care costs . President-Elect Obama also announced the nomination of Rob Nabors, Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee to be OMB Deputy Director.
Medicaid : The Department of Health and Human Services has published a list of the federal matching rates for the Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for Fiscal Year 2010. This list shows the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) that the federal government will pay for approved services under the state Medicaid plan from October 1, 2009, through September 30, 2010. The list also includes Enhanced FMAP percentages which are to be used for the SCHIP program and for certain children in the Medicaid program. The state list can be found at:
Major Events Ahead
U.S. Congress: The Congress is not in session this week. It will convene next week for a lame duck session.
Economic Stimulus/Medicaid: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will meet with the leadership of the National Governors Association (NGA) to discuss elements of the economic stimulus package that Congress is expected to consider in early January. A temporary increase in the federal share of Medicaid spending (known as the FMAP) is high on the NGA's wish list.
Education: The U. S. Department of Education published final rules this morning for certain provisions of the IDEA Part B State Grant Program. The rules deal with parental consent for special education services, fees for non-attorneys in due process hearings, and efforts to employ and promote individuals with disabilities. See the regulation at:
Access Board Leadership: The Access Board, an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities, named David Capozzi as its new Executive Director on November 24th. Prior to this announcement, Mr. Capozzi served as Director of the Board’s Office of Technical and Information Services and as Acting Interim Director. Capozzi states that he has “a vision of a higher performing agency that will grow to meet the demands of our complex society.”
Policy Recomendations for Obama Administration: The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of more than 100 national disability organizations, submitted its policy recommendations to the Obama transition team. View the document at
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Annie Acosta
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Disability Policy Collaboration

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dec. 3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, established by the United Nations, is December 3, 2008. This year’s themes are Dignity and Justice, and the "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and Justice for All of Us". It is also the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

About 10% of the world’s population (650 million people) has disabilities. However, many people with disabilities still do not have rights equal recognition before the law and legal, freedom of expression and opinion, and the right to participate in political and public life. About 80% of the global population of people with disabilities, or about 400 million people live in poor countries where a significant link between poverty and disability exist.

The UN. Enable website says, “2008 is a significant year in the international human rights movement, given the entry into force on 3 May of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, legally binding instruments which set out the legal obligations of States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities”.

To find out which countries have ratified the Convention, and which have not, visit the UN website at:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Recent Books Consider Theology and Disability

Three recent books investigate disability from the perspective of Christian theology, according to The Christian Century. Theology and Down Syndrome: Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity (Baylor University Press), by Amos Yong; Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality (Brazos), by Thomas E. Reynolds; and Spirit and the Politics of Disablement (Fortress), by Sharon V. Betcher all examine the theological implications of different types of disabilities from various perspective, both personal, professional, and pastoral.

Disability and spirituality has become an increasingly important topic in disability studies and rehabilitation counseling. Various authors have considered disability through the theological lenses of Judaism, such as Judith Z. Abrams’ “Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli” and Islam, as in “Disability in Islamic Law”, by Vardit Rispler-Chaim, just to name two.

Toward a Theology of Disability
Disability in Asian Cultures and Beliefs: History and Service Development– Some Collected Papers by M. Miles