Michigan Americans with Disabilities Act Attorneys by jqr21037


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									And now, here are some of the latest headlines from around the disability community.

When the next generations of $5, $10, $20 and $50 bills roll off the presses, there should
be some way for blind people to tell them apart, a federal judge said Thursday. U.S.
District Judge James Robertson said he would not allow the Treasury Department to go at
its own pace as it complies with a May ruling that U.S. paper money discriminates
against the blind. Treasury officials have hired a contractor to investigate ways to help
the blind differentiate between bills, perhaps by printing different sizes or including
raised numbers. Government attorneys urged the judge to let that process play out and not
interfere with anti-counterfeiting redesigns that are already in process. Robertson was not
persuaded. "The Treasury Department is not going to just conduct this on its own
schedule and its own terms. Let that be clear," he said. Robertson ordered attorneys for
the government to meet with the American Council of the Blind, which brought the
lawsuit, and come up with a schedule that requires changes in the next generation of bills.
The next $100 design could be printed as early as this fall and Robertson said those bills
won't be affected. But subsequent designs should be ab le to solve the problem, the judge
said. Government lawyers said they plan to argue that Robertson does not have the
authority to interfere with the Treasury's printing responsibilities. The judge said he'd
consider the argument but also said that, if he didn't have authority to require changes,
how was he supposed to enforce the ruling? What would the court order say, he asked,
"Go out and have a good time? We'll see you when it's all over?"

The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to airports and to airlines such as Northwest,
a federal judge in Detroit has ruled. Last week, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh
denied a motion by Northwest Airlines to dismiss a lawsuit brought by five Detroit area
residents with physical disabilities. That means the lawsuit, filed in April by Michigan
attorney Richard Bernstein, can continue. The plaintiffs allege Northwest fails to provide
them adequate assistance in the airport and on the plane, causing problems such as
missed flights and damaged wheelchairs. Northwest, in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit,
argued the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to services at airports. But
Steeh ruled otherwise and said in a 13-page opinion that to conclude the ADA did not
apply to airports "would leave the door open for acts of discrimination that could not be
remedied." Bernstein said Steeh's ruling has major ramifications for domestic and
international air travel. "This is really a monumental case, and I don't say that often,"
Bernstein said Wednesday. Some courts had earlier ruled the ADA did not apply to
airports because aircraft are excluded from the definition of "specified public
transportation" under the act. Disabled travelers have had to rely on the Air Carrier
Access Act, Bernstein said. But under that act, they have not been permitted to bring
private claims and have had to rely on the federal government for enforcement, he said.
Steeh dismissed claims the Detroit area plaintiffs made under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Kristin Baur, a spokeswoman for Northwest Airlines, said Northwest "is currently
reviewing the ruling and evaluating its options regarding future actions." Northwest
"remains committed to providing accessible air travel for all of its customers."
As Beijing gears up to host the Paralympics, the government has been rolling out its
formidable propaganda machine to praise efforts to better the lot of China's estimated 83
million disabled. But while there is a recognition in some quarters that there have been
some dramatic improvements, stigma and poor facilities remain pressing problems in the
world's most populous country. Miao Qi, a 32-year-old Beijinger who had a leg
amputated at 14 following bone cancer, never went to university and is unemployed, two
things she attributes largely to her disability. She has not left the apartment she shares
with her parents since August last year, preferring to read Chinese history and play
computer games than venture out. "Other people look at you strangely -- this has a
psychological impact. Perhaps they don't do it maliciously but just think: 'What's wrong
with that young woman? So pretty, but why is she that way?'" she told Reuters. "Most
people are like that, and I don't like people looking at me. So it's better to stay at home.
And I don't have a job so I have no reason to go out." For all the cheery publicity
surrounding the Paralympics, which open on Friday and run for 11 days, officials admit
that it is still difficult for the disabled in China, even in Beijing where facilities are fairly
good. "Yes, there is discrimination," said Li Caimao, director of the Beijing city
government's disabled committee. "It's an attitude problem. Perhaps we have not worked
hard enough to tackle it." But Li adds some things have changed. When he tried to enter
university 18 years ago, it was nearly impossible as colleges simply did not want to admit
the disabled, and did not have to. "For the disabled now, there is no barrier to college.
They have the same conditions as everyone else," he said, attributing that to new anti-
discrimination laws.

Over 500 ADAPT disability rights activists who are committed to getting the Community
Choice Act passed during this Congress will be in Washington DC September 13-18 to
exert some pre-election pressure on policymakers. The Community Choice Act (S. 799,
H.R. 1621) would allow people with disabilities and older Americans to choose to live in
their own homes and communities instead of being forced into nursing homes and other
institutions by the current institutional bias in the nation's Medicaid program. "We are
coming up on an election," said Chris Hilderbrant, ADAPT organizer from Rochester,
New York, "and one of the two candidates for president, Sen. John McCain, has blatantly
refused to endorse the Community Choice Act even though he says he supports
community services. On the other hand, Sen. Obama and his running mate Sen. Biden
have both signed on to this legislation. Maybe Sen. McCain needs some more
convincing." ADAPT will be in D.C. to confront a variety of policymakers and systems
that continue to put up barriers to community living for disabled and older Americans.
Home and community-based services, housing, transportation, hospital discharge
planning, and managed care of long-term supports and services are all on ADAPT's list of
possible targets. ADAPT celebrated 25 years of activism in Washington, D.C. in April of
this year, closing down both the Republican National Committee offices and Sen.
McCain's office in the Russell Senate Building demanding that Sen. McCain, himself a
person with a disability, sign on to the Community Choice Act. "Not only does Sen.
McCain have a disability himself, but he has an aging mother," said Randy Alexander,
ADAPT organizer from Memphis, Tennessee. "You'd think he'd understand our issues,
but maybe having all that money and all those homes puts him totally out of touch with
the reality that older Americans and Americans with disabilities live everyday. Being
able to live free in the community shouldn't only be available to the ultra-rich. Civil
rights are not based on income!" Since its inception in 1983, ADAPT has fought for the
right of people with disabilities, old and young, to live in their own homes and

For the latest news and information from around the disability community, be sure to
visit DisabilityNation on the web. You can find our site at disabilitynation.net

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