Investigations in 18 States Find Serious Abuse at For-profit Youth Facilities

From Disability Rights TN: For Complete Post, click here…

A national report, Desperation without Dignity, was released today revealing widespread abuse and neglect at for-profit youth residential facilities. This report by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) provides a broad review of investigations by several Protection & Advocacy agencies, including Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT). Brought to light are the failures of youth residential facilities to provide appropriate services and to protect the children in their care from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by staff.

In Tennessee, DRT has been monitoring and investigating youth residential facilities and other places where Tennesseans with disabilities live and receive services. Our work has shown that Tennessee’s most vulnerable children are being harmed in facilities that are meant to protect them. The use of widely banned interventions, such as prone restraint and chemical restraint, harm children and compound with existing traumas. When combined with a lack of appropriate mental health supports and special education services, the children’s suffering is further exacerbated.  

“We need to remember that the children in these facilities are coming from high-risk environments and often have disabilities,” states DRT’s Executive Director Lisa Primm. “These children need support and services, not to be retraumatized and abused.” 

Primm continues, “With our clients, we’ve seen time and time again, that when they receive the right behavioral, educational, and environmental supports, they grow into engaged members of our community. They can fulfil their potential, and everyone wins.”

This report shows that issues of abuse and neglect in youth residential facilities isn’t just a Tennessee problem. It is a national issue rooted in the system of youth residential facilities themselves. A system that is underregulated and designed to be for-profit instead of for the well-being of our children. A system that favors residential treatment, rather than enhancing our community-based services.

“We can’t let the system stand as it is any longer,” says Jack Derryberry, DRT’s Legal Director. “In the face of clear evidence that our children are being traumatized and even killed in for-profit youth residential facilities, we are morally obligated to change the way things work. Action needs to be taken to protect our children.

Nassar victims, students join protest outside UM president’s home

By Hani Barghouthi: For Complete Post, click here…

A sexual assault victim’s demand for a meeting with University of Michigan leaders lured an army of supporters Wednesday on his sixth day of camping out on the president’s front lawn.

The crowd of about 100 people spilled out from the sidewalk onto the street in the evening, alternating chants of “I am not John Doe, I am not Jane Doe” and “Hail to the Victims.”

They joined Jon Vaughn outside of UM president Mark Schlissel’s residence, the largest turnout since he began picketing Friday night. 

NDEAM at NCIL

From NCIL: For Complete Post, click here…

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which is an opportunity for the US to recognize the vital role disabled people play in the workforce, kicked off earlier this month with the signing of a proclamation by President Joe Biden.  This year’s theme, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” rings especially true as the Independent Living (IL) network continues to engage in conversations regarding inclusion gaps in our own spaces.  We at the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) appreciate that the White House has an awareness of the challenges multiply-marginalized disabled people experience as members of the workforce:

“Despite the progress our Nation has made in recent decades, people with disabilities are still too often marginalized and denied access to the American dream.  Americans with disabilities — particularly women and people of color — have faced long-standing gaps in employment, advancement, and income.  The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these inequities, as people with disabilities have faced heightened risks — particularly the disproportionate share of people with disabilities employed in the hardest-hit industries.  Our Nation will never fully recover and rebuild unless every single community — including disabled Americans — is fully included.”

This Gen Z Founder Is Building a Media Empire for Disabled Teens

By S.C. Stuart: For Complete Post, click here…

Accessibility technology is the next big market, but teenage journalist (and power wheelchair user) Emily Flores is looking for tech giants to do better in 2022, and she’s using her Cripple Media brand to make sure they listen.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a “doubling down” on investment in technology for people with disabilities through multiple AI for Accessibility Grants. “If there is one thing we have learned from 25 years of work on accessibility at Microsoft, it’s this: People with disabilities represent one of the world’s largest untapped talent pools, but we all need to act with bolder ambition to empower disabled talent to achieve more,” the company said at the time.

One power wheelchair user who is doing just that is 19-year-old Emily Flores. Four years ago, frustrated with the lack of disabled teen representation online (and inspired by Tavi Gevinson’s millennial brand ROOKIE), Flores founded Cripple Media, the first Gen Z digital platform for, and created by, teens with disabilities. 

Academia’s ableist culture laid bare

By Kendall Powell: For Complete Post, click here…

Four group leaders with disabilities share their thoughts on how to make laboratories and fieldwork more accessible and inclusive.

Between 15% and 25% of the world’s population lives with one or more forms of disability. Despite some progress on disability rights, for many disabled scientists academic-research spaces and career pathways remain out of reach, both literally and figuratively.

Many nations legally require institutions to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ to ensure accessibility, but disabled researchers think that a corresponding shift in the attitudes of many co-workers is needed.

They say that ableism — beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with disabilities (whether physical conditions, mental-health issues, chronic illnesses or cognitive differences) — has excluded them from classrooms, laboratories, fieldwork and conferences. Not only are disabled researchers under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, but both visible and invisible disabilities are often missing from discussions of diversity and inclusion, they say.

“If we designed physical spaces and classes in a way that suits the common denominator of humans — such as always having a ramp, always teaching in ways that are inclusive of neurodiversity — then we make the system work for everyone,” says Kelsey Byers, an evolutionary chemical ecologist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK.

At the same time, many disabled scientists point out that the COVID-19 pandemic has eased access, thanks to virtual conferences, remote working, and telehealth appointments — and they fervently hope these options will remain available after the pandemic.

Lethal, highly addictive methamphetamine again stalking rural Michigan

By Ted Roelofs: For Complete Post, click here…

ngd-I have been watching meth/stimulant surges since the late ’60s-some kind of cycle that destroys people. goes away and comes back…

n an Upper Peninsula courtroom, Circuit Court Judge Brian Rahilly leafed through the pages of his Sept. 22 criminal docket in Alger County. The defendants scheduled to appear before him fit a familiar pattern.

Nine of 20 cases that day involved charges tied to methamphetamine ─ from possession to delivery or manufacture of the drug, including one case that also charged an assault.

“Just off the cuff,” the judge said, “I would say most days half of my criminal docket is meth and it’s probably higher than that.”

Rahilly has been on the bench since January, following his election last year to the circuit court, which spans four rural counties. 

“For every 10 cases involving meth, I might get one involving another substance; it’s not even close,” he said. 

Check out Chromebook’s new accessibility features

By Cynthia Shelly: For Complete Post, click here…

Chromebooks now have enhanced, natural-sounding voice options for Select-to-speak, which lets you hear selected text on your screen spoken out loud.

With accessibility features on Chromebooks, we want everyone to have a good experience on their computer – so people can get things done, families can play together, students and teachers can learn together, and employees can work productively and efficiently, wherever they are. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, so we wanted to share a few recent and new Chromebook features that help people access information in a way that works for them.

New enhanced voices for Select-to-speak

People spend a lot of time reading on their laptop, doing things like reading news articles or reviewing school textbooks. Reading on a screen can be less than ideal for many, including people with dyslexia (an estimated 10-20% of the population), low vision, those learning a new language or people who have a hard time focusing on busy text.

With a few clicks, Select-to-speak on Chromebooks allows you to hear selected text on your screen spoken out loud. Earlier this year we added new features like controls to speed up, slow down or pause the reading voice, and to easily jump to different parts of text. Plus, you can choose to highlight the words being spoken while shading background text to help focus your attention.

Making Chromebooks more accessible

Over the past year, we’ve also made it easier to use, discover and customize Chromebook’s built-in accessibility features. This includes updates to the screen magnifier, like keyboard panning and shortcuts. We have also developed new in-product tutorials for ChromeVox, and we’ve introduced point scanning to make the selection process for switch users more efficient.

Protecting the Elderly from Financial Exploitation

by Katherine Grace Carman and Sierra Smucker: For Complete Post, click here…

We’ve all had the experience: you get a phone call, email, or text message from someone pretending to be your bank, the Social Security Administration, or someone who is trying to get you to send them money or personal information. We all hope we will manage to avoid falling prey to such schemes. But some groups, like older adults, are more vulnerable to these scams than others and there are no good ways of protecting them.

Why are older adults more vulnerable to financial exploitation? A couple reasons: They may be lonelier (PDF), more trusting, less aware of the kinds of fraud that can take place, or suffering from cognitive impairment. Older adults are also more likely to have money and assets than their younger counterparts of the same race/ethnicity—making them more valuable targets for scam artists. All of these factors can come into play regardless of age, but older people are more likely to experience these risks.

Exploitation can take several forms and the strategies to limit it depends on who is doing the exploiting—strangers or people who are known. Avoiding fraudsters who are strangers requires knowledge of how scammers operate using cell phones, social media, and email, which can challenge older adults’ sometimes limited digital literacy. Predators know that older adults often lack knowledge of technology-driven scams and seek to exploit this common vulnerability.

There are programs in place to help prevent fraud, security at banks and the like, but these technological solutions can actually make things harder for older adults and require them to rely more on people to help them. This potentially exposes these adults to exploitation by people they know.

Help Us Investigate Domestic Violence Shootings

by Jennifer Gollan and Byard Duncan: For Complete Post, click here…

Nationwide, the number of people shot to death by their intimate partners increased more than 20% from 2010 through 2019. Many of the shooters had prior convictions that made it illegal for them to possess a firearm. Yet no one took away their guns or stopped them from obtaining another one.  

The federal government doesn’t track the number of people who are shot and killed by intimate partners prohibited from having firearms. Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found more than 110 victims over a four-year period who were gunned down by abusers barred from having weapons under federal law. That number is almost certainly a vast undercount. 

Reveal would like to get a more accurate picture of how many people have been shot by offenders illegally possessing firearms. We want to determine what procedures could be put in place to prevent more killings. Do you know of someone who was shot by a domestic violence offender who was prohibited from having a gun? If so, please share your story.

Are you a policymaker, federal or state official, prosecutor, judge, or someone else with information we should know? Please email Reveal reporter Jennifer Gollan at jgollan@revealnews.org.

If you or someone you know are in danger or need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence at http://www.ncdsv.org/

Help us investigate domestic violence shootings

Disability and Civil Rights Advocates Sound Alarm Over Voting Rights Restrictions

By Tim Gilmer: For Complete Post, click here…

It has always been hard to vote in Texas for many wheelchair users, but Toby Cole fears it’s about to get even harder. On Sept. 7 Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1, a law that will go into effect Dec. 2 and contains numerous new voting restrictions. Disability and civil rights groups say the new law will unfairly impact minority voters, including wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.

opens in a new windowCole is a board member of the Houston chapter of United Spinal Association and a past president of the Houston Trial Lawyers Association. Harris County, where Cole lives, is Texas’ largest. Many of its 750 polling places have accessibility problems, including non-compliant ramps, walkways impassible for wheelchair users and locked gates along access routes. Cole, a C5 quad, had problems when voting at a church. “I had to wait a long time in line outside. Someone finally saw me, came out and said, ‘Sorry you won’t be able get to where you need to vote from here.’” They took him to a back kitchen entrance. There was a high, 3-inch threshold and no ramp. “Somehow I managed,” he says. “But I wondered what would happen if I had had to wait in line even longer. In Texas we have heat issues, and as a quad I can only sit for a limited time.”

The new law, he says, creates new problems by unnecessarily including complicated processes that discourage voting.