Friday, February 27, 2009

GLOBAL UPDATE: Saudi, Ghana, and the UK

This Global Update includes summaries from Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and the United Kingdom.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia hosts the Third International Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation, a global forum on disability from March 22 to 26. Crown Prince Sultan, who chairs the Sultan Charitable Foundation, sponsors the Conference. Two hundred and thirty free tickets are available to local and international delegates, and Saudi Arabian Airlines is the official air carrier of the conference. The Saudi Press Association says, “The conference will focus on worldwide scientific research conducted in areas related to disability and rehabilitation” that positively affect the lives of people with disabilities.
Read the full Story on Arab News:

The Disability Network, Ghana’s primary disability group calls for President John E. Atta-Mills to “fulfill his promise of forming an all-inclusive government” by appointing at least one person with a disability to a Ministry position. Emmanuel Sackey, Communications Officer of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD), Alexander Kojo Tetteh, Executive Director of the Centre for Employment of Persons with Disabilities, and Charles Appiagyei, acting Executive Director of Action on Disability and Development (ADD) have joined the call for inclusion. The leaders note a high profile person with a disability will serve as a role model for other individuals and begin a process of more full inclusion for all people.
Read the full story on All Africa:

Cerrie Burnell, host of “Do and Discover” on the BBC's “Cbeebies” children’s television show is at the center of a disability-related controversy. Burnell was born with one of her arms foreshortened and has been the target focus of parent complaints. Parents are concerned that Burnell’s appearance will frighten their children and cause them sleepless nights. Fortunately, most public comments have been supportive of Cerrie Burnell, and Burnell herself says "It's brilliant that parents are able to use me as a way of talking about disability with their children and for children who are similarly disabled to see what really is possible in life".
Read full stories in The Guardian: and in the Eastbourne Herald:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pennsylvania VR Hiring

While many state VR agencies are currently under a hiring freeze, Pennsylvania is hiring Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors to meet the agency's staffing needs. The Executive Director has issued a directive to fill all vacant VR Counselor positions by June to prevent these positions from being swept up as part of future state budget negotiations.

Eligible candidates are needed for VR counselor openings available in Erie, Norristown, Philadelphia, and York district offices. Starting salary statewide for VR Counselor is $41,017 per year with benefits. Counselors hired to work in Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices receive higher starting salaries, $44,773 per year with benefits, to adjust for higher cost of living. There is immediate need for a bilingual Spanish-speaking counselor to work in the Reading district office, and a Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf to work in the Dubois district office. Please alert rehabilitation counseling students graduating in May 2009, along with alumni and students seeking internship for the summer semester about these opportunities.

Interested candidates must apply now! Contact Cindy Mundis at (717) 787-2521 or by email at: with any questions.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jerry Lewis Academy Award Protest Update

A protest update direct from the Trouble With Jerry website:

Demonstrations will take place during Oscar weekend in Los Angeles and around the US.
Local LA protest schedules and locations are as follows:
▪Friday, February 20, 12 noon, Motion Picture Academy, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills.
▪Saturday, February 21, 12 noon, Kodak Theatre, Highland & Hollywood Blvd.
▪Sunday, February 22, 2:00 p.m., near the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood & Vine

Correspondence between The Trouble with Jerry and the Motion Picture Academy, as well as some history of disability rights protests against Jerry Lewis, and current protest information, can be found at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dispatches from the Blogosphere

Bauer Reports: Jerry Lewis Receiving Humanitarian Award
at '09 Oscars for MDA Telethon

Patricia E. Bauer’s excellent disability news blog reported today on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists plan to grant its major Humanitarian Award to comedian Jerry Lewis this Sunday during the annual Academy Awards (the Oscars) broadcast for his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Assocation Telethon. The “Trouble with Jerry” group, a collation including 33 disability rights and advocacy groups will protest Lewis’s award this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in advance of the Oscars.

Lewis's MDA Telethon has received heavy criticism from a variety of disability groups for its negative portrayals of people with disabilities. As the Trouble with Jerry website notes, "'Lewis has described disabled individual is 'half a person' and referred to a wheelchair as ' steel imprisonment.' For more than two decades, disability rights advocates have objected to Lewis’ portrayal of life with a disability as tragic and pathetic. In response, Lewis snarled, “You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!”

The Big Picture- Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture: Jerry Lewis on live TV: Julius Kelp or Buddy Love?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NY Governor Blasts Saturday Night's “Cheap Laughs”

Is it time for a Saturday Night Live Boycott?

New York Governor David A. Paterson blasts the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) for the recent and ongoing skits about his blindness. The show mocks the Governor’s blindness and repeatedly him as clueless and bumbling. Paterson notes that his portrayal on the show degrades not only him, but also all people with disabilities, creating and perpetuating negative stereotypes and attitudes toward people with disabilities.

Paterson notes that 71% of people who are blind are unemployed, and 90% of people who are Deaf are unemployed, despite outperforming non-disabled individuals educationally. This, the governor says, is evidence that “one of the biggest problems finding work for the disabled are attitudes."

New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman says SNL is treating Gov. Paterson “as if Mr. Paterson were Mr. Magoo come to life”. Paterson, the former lieutenant governor, took office March 17, 2008 after Eliot Spitzer's ouster due to involvement in prostitution. Gov. Paterson is New York’s first African-American governor, and the second blind individual to serve as a governor anywhere in the US.

SNL has offered no comment, and NBC, which broadcasts SNL, has offered no comment. To see the Governor’s comments about SNL, visit, “Paterson Rips SNL Spoof as Degrading” at

Gov. Paterson: SNL is Enabling Prejudice Against the Disabled
A Governor’s Sense of Humor Is Put to a Rigorous Test
New York governor slams 'SNL'

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NRA Urging Calls to Congress to Retain VR and IL Dollars

The National Rehabilitation Association is urging its membership and other interested individuals and groups to contact their Congressional Representatives to urge support for Ovcational Rehabilitation and Independent Living money currently in the Stimulus package. The NRA's Washington Wire reports, "The Senate Conferees are: Senators Harry Reid (D.NV.); Senator Chuck Grassley (R.IA.); Senator Daniel Inouye (D.HI.); Senator Thad Cochran (R.MS.) and Senator Max Baucus (D.MT.) House Conferees include: Congressman Dave Obey (D.WI.); Congressman Henry Waxman (D.CA.); Congressman Charles Rangel (D.N.Y.); Congressman Jim Oberstar (D.MN.); Congressman JERRY Lewis (R.CA.) and Congressman David Camp (R.MN.)".
NRA further urges, "Call your Senators and Congresspersons, as well as the Senators and Congresspersons immediately listed above, who comprise the Conference Committee, and advise them that the additional funding for VR is critical to the continuation of securing and retaining employment and community living for individuals with disabilities who want to work."

To find the contact information for your representatives, visit:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Promising Stem Cell Research for MS

CHICAGO, USA— On January 30, researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago published promising stem cell research results in patients with Multiple Sclerosis in the online The Lancet Neurology Journal. The study was small, involving only 21 patients with relapsing-remitting type MS. Autologous stem cells—cells from the patient’s own body—were used. At a three-year follow up, 81 % of study participants had improvement in their MS symptoms, and none had deterioration.


Stem Cell Transplantation Shows Benefit in MS

Stem Cells Could Be Used to Treat MS, Study Says


Stem Cell Basics ;

PBS Nova Science Now: Stem Cells

U.S. Senate Passes Children's Health Legislation

From the National Rehabilitation Association's Legislative Network (Patricia Leahy, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy):

On January 29, the U.S. Senate passed, on a roll call vote of 66-32, The Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (SCHIP). The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of this legislation on January 14, 2009. The SCHIP program had been scheduled to expire on March 31 of this year. Both bills extend the program for 4-1/2 years and renew the SCHIP program.

Highlights of the bill include continuing coverage for 7 million children currently enrolled in SCHIP, plus an additional 4 million children who do not currently have insurance. The Senate version of the legislation, like its House counterpart, abolishes the five-year waiting period and allows States to offer coverage immediately to children of legal immigrants. The Senate bill will remove higher co-payments and stricter limits on the number of treatment visits, creating parity between mental health services and medical and surgical benefits provided by the plans. The Federal cigarette tax, which is currently at 39 cents a pack, is being raised to $1.00 per pack to cover the extension of SCHIP.

The bill:

  • Gives States the option of providing dental coverage to some families with slightly higher incomes and provides additional money to States to recruit and enroll eligible children.
  • Caps the Federal government’s contribution for children in families above 300 percent of the poverty level.

Both bills are headed to a Conference Committee where they will iron out the differences of the House and Senate versions. The President is expected to sign this legislation, once the Conference Report is completed and passed by both Houses of Congress.

Two Disability Leaders to Serve White House

From the American Association of People with Disabilities Newsletter, and contributed by the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services:
Two Prominent Members of the Disability Community will Serve as Special Advisors to the President

At the Disability Pride and Power pre-Inaugural ball, it was announced that Kareem Dale would become a Special Advisor to President Obama on disability issues. We heard later that noted expert in Disability Studies Paul Steven Miller would be playing a role in helping the Obama Administration to ensure that people with disabilities will be well represented in positions within the Administration. Tony Coelho, former United States congressman from California, primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, current chair of the Epilepsy Foundation's national board of directors and a lead organizer of the Ball is also playing an active role in advancing disability interests and hires within the Administration. Finally, note that the new Chief of Staff to the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison Michael Strautmanis is known to be very sensitive to disability issues, as referenced in a Washington Post Op Ed he authored last year.