Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'Wiener Dog' with Disability Gets a 3D Printed Wheelchair

thanks Mary S. for sharing

article by Bonnie Burton | CNET | Jan 28, 2015
Tiny wheelchairs have helped disabled tortoises, baby goats and even goldfish to lead active, happy lives. So when the news hit that Bubbles the two-legged wiener dog was walking again thanks to a 3D-printed wheelchair, we weren’t surprised.

After all, another puppy nicknamed TurboRoo stole our hearts when we saw the little fella rolling around in his 3D-printed wheelchair last August.

In this case, Bubbles the dachshund was born without her two front legs. Her owners Trevor Byers and Elissa Smoak decided to build her a wheelchair.

They used a combination of “carbon fiber, 3D-printed parts and a model airplane, with the hope that others would be able to utilize the same design for their own dogs in need of a wheelchair,” according to

Byers uploaded Bubbles’ wheelchair design to MakerBot’s Thingiverse for other pet owners looking for help.

"Bubbles is the reason I bought my printer in the first place and she loves the freedom it has given her," Byers said on his Thingiverse page.

As you can see from these videos of Bubbles playing with her fellow canines, the wheelchair is a hit.

YouTube Published by Elissa Smoak on Jan 25, 2015

EFE wins emergency motion requiring immediate return of Student with Disability to his neighborhood school in Illinois

wonderfuls news from Equip for Equality

Equip for Equality's 'Special Education Clinic' for securing a court order that requires our client's return to his neighborhood school. 

January 28, 2015
After spending four months without an appropriate school to attend, Equip for Equality’s client excitedly returned to his middle school on Monday after a federal judge ordered his return. Our client is a twelve-year-old boy with various disabilities that affect his learning in school. Over time, his school district has increasingly segregated him into separate classroom settings, without providing needed supports and services. Most recently, the school district sought to move him out of his neighborhood school entirely into a segregated school for students with behavioral disabilities. 

Equip for Equality’s complaint alleges that the school district’s actions violate the legal mandate to educate students in their least restrictive environment, which requires the starting point to be the neighborhood school with appropriate supports and services. Equip for Equality also alleges that the school district has violated federal law by failing to provide him with an appropriate education to meet his unique needs by not conducting appropriate evaluations, not developing appropriate education plans, and not implementing the plans once they were created. As a result of this most recent victory, our client will be allowed to remain in his neighborhood school until the dispute is resolved.  Read the judge’s order.

For more information, please visit Equip for Equality
Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois

U.S. Congress divided over depleted Social Security Disability fund

as reported by The Hill, article By Rebecca Shabad - 01/25/15

A Social Security fund that provides benefits to nearly nine million disabled people is projected to run out by the end of 2016, and a new House rule could cause headaches for majority Republicans during the upcoming push to shore it up. 
The rule, which the House passed earlier this month, puts up a procedural roadblock against legislation that would redistribute the payroll tax to replenish the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund. 
To fund Social Security, employees and employers each pay 6.2 percent each month. The main retirement fund, Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), receives 5.3 percent and the disability fund gets 0.9 percent of the tax.
Republicans oppose reallocating the payroll tax to keep the disability program solvent because it would hurt the retirement fund, but Democrats assert it’s been done nearly a dozen times before. 

Meanwhile, the GOP has been short on alternative solutions. 
“We think it’s not wise to continue to take from the Social Security trust fund to prop up the disability fund,” House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said this week.
Price, who spent part of his career as an orthopedic surgeon, said weeding out abuse and fraud within the disability program could be one solution to keep it solvent.
“There are a number of studies that demonstrate that a lot of people who are on the program are no longer eligible,” he said. “People get well, people do other things and other opportunities become available from a medical standpoint to treating whatever disability they have to make it so that they can contribute to a greater degree.”
Kathy Ruffing, senior fellow of federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), said Republicans like Price are wrong.
“Republicans in Congress have systematically underfunded those efforts by the Social Security Administration and I think that the critics of the program who like to claim that it is somehow rife with fraud and abuse have a responsibility to document those claims,” she said. “They are frankly wrong.”
About 8.9 million people receive disability benefits from the fund and its eligibility guidelines are stringent. Beneficiaries must have worked at least one-quarter of their adult life and five of the last 10 years. They must be unable to work because of a severe medical issue that has lasted five months and is expected to last at least another year.
Roughly a quarter of recipients have a mental impairment, some have muscular or skeletal problems and others have diseases like diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, congestive heart failure and cancer. A majority of them are 55 or older and many die within a few years of first receiving the insurance, according to CBPP. 
The 2014 Social Security Trustees report determined that after the fourth quarter of 2016, the disability fund wouldn’t go bankrupt, but it would only be able to cover 81 percent of benefits, amounting to 19 percent in cuts. On average now, people receive about $1,165 per month. 
Democrats have warned the new House rule could almost certainly lead to those cuts.
Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking member on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he suspects Republicans are trying to privatize the program as they've attempted before.
"That rule should not be used as a rule to essentially try to privatize Social Security. I think that’s the basic purpose of that rule.”
That’s not the case at all, said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). He said the rule is intended to force lawmakers to confront long-term entitlement spending problems.
“This is one where I think the president has shown a lack of leadership,” he said.
Cole said he and Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) have reintroduced legislation that would create a bipartisan 13-member commission that would work on a legislative solution to fix both Social Security funds and bring it to the House floor.
“The commission would probably gradually raise retirement age, it would probably look at chained CPI, would probably look at means-testing and probably look at some sort of revenue, or reduce benefits for upper-income people,” Cole said. “Then you have to vote.”
Cole said he and Delaney plan to present it to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Ways and Means panel, which is going on a retreat next week.
None of the lawmakers to whom The Hill spoke offered possible alternative solutions for replenishing the disability fund, but most agreed it’s an urgent matter. 
“I think that legislation is warranted ASAP, which is a difficult thing to say in Washington,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). “We need legislation within this year, within the next six months. There are enough folks I’ve talked to on both sides of the aisle who I think will get us to that point.”
Congress last passed a major reform of Social Security in 1983 after which both the retirement and disability funds were expected to remain solvent through 2060. In the mid-1980s, however, the share of workers receiving disability benefits was at a record low.
Since then, the pool of disability insurance applicants has grown significantly because of population growth, the aging of baby boomers and more women participating in the labor force.
Democrats advocate redistributing the payroll tax to help prevent the disability fund from running out, a step Congress last took in 1994.

Charles Blahous III, one of the Social Security public trustees, emphasized in a column recently that a lot has changed since that last redistribution.  
“The most responsible and ambitious choice would be comprehensive reform shoring up Social Security as a whole,” he wrote. “Transferring funds from OASI to DI would weaken Social Security’s retirement component, which is in even worse long-term condition.”
The trustees’ report said in order to keep the retirement and disability funds solvent for the next 75 years, the overall payroll tax would have to be raised by about 3 percentage points, something most Republicans would likely oppose. 
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) questions the GOP’s tactics so far, but holds out hope the House can still reallocate money to keep the disability program solvent.
“It’s really a stain on the reputation of this body. Thank God it doesn’t involve a crime, but it does involve the most gross misuse of political power,” he said of Republican efforts, adding, “Public pressure can change any damn thing.”

Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs 'Internship' program - apply till Feb 4, 2015

as shared by the U.S. International Council on Disabilities

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO February 4, 2015!
 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program

The summer 2015 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program remains open for applications until February 4, 2015 at 5 pm EST.  

This program is for recent graduates, graduate students, and undergraduates from across the U.S. who wish to pursue a career in international development or foreign affairs. The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) has coordinated this internship program since 2013.

Interns pose with Program Manager for a group picture during the summer Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program
Participants in the 2014 internship program pose with the program manager (center back).

The summer 2015 internship program will bring a group of talented graduate students, recent graduates, and rising college juniors and seniors to Washington, DC, for nine weeks.  This will include a one-week training and orientation program followed by an eight-week internship at an international organization in the Washington, DC, area.  Each intern is usually placed at a different organization.  USICD will cover the cost of fully-accessible housing during the program, reimburse travel expenses to and from DC, and provide a limited stipend.  It is anticipated that the program will run from May 24 to July 25, 2015These dates may be subject to change.  

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, must identify as a person with a disability, and must be either a student or a recent graduate. "Recent graduates" graduated between spring 2014 and spring 2015 with either a graduate degree or a bachelor's degree.  All applicants must have completed at minimum their sophomore year in college.  Most applicants should be age 30 or younger.  In limited circumstances, some candidates (particularly U.S. veterans) may be eligible up to age 35.

To learn more about the Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program, its eligibility criteria, and the application process, please visit  You can also download a printable handout on the internship program.

Please disseminate this announcement widely.  If you represent an international organization in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area interested in hosting an intern from June 1 to July 24, 2015, please communicate with

USICD thanks the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation for their support for this initiative.
Application deadline for USICD's summer 2015 internship program isFebruary 4, 2015 at 5 pm EST (2 pm PST).
Please visit the U.S. International Council on Disabilities website!

Monday, January 26, 2015

U.S Department of Labor Appeals Ruling On Home Caregiver Wage Final Rule

as posted by U.S. Department of Labor

DOL Appeals Decision in Lawsuit Brought by Home Care Industry

Update: The Department of Labor has filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the lawsuit brought by associations of home care companies challenging the Home Care Final Rule.
On December 22, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon issued an opinion and order inHome Care Association of America v. Weil, Civil Action No. 14-967 (D.D.C.), vacating the third party regulation amended by the Home Care Final Rule.
On January 14, 2015, Judge Leon issued an opinion and order vacating the Final Rule’s revised definition of companionship services.
The Department strongly disagrees with both orders.
The Department issued the Home Care Final Rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to almost 2 million home care workers. The Department stands by the Final Rule. We believe the Rule is legally sound and is the right policy—both for those employees, whose demanding work merits these fundamental wage guarantees, and for recipients of services, who deserve a stable and professional workforce allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.

Information on the Final Rule: Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service: CLICK HERE

U.S Dept. of Labor Home Care webpage: CLICK HERE

"Let It Go" (Disney's Frozen) performed in American Sign Language ASL, a viral hit

YouTube Published by dpanvideos on Jan 25, 2015

This is a music video created in American Sign Language out of love towards Frozen's hit song, “Let It Go." This music video was created with a team consisting of a 100% deaf cast and crew. We believe in supporting deaf people everywhere and allowing the sign language community access to one of the best songs in music history.

Directed and Edited by Jules Dameron

Produced by Nick Zerlentes

Amber Zion & Jason Listman

Frozen’s “Let It Go” Performed by Idina Menzel

American Sign Language Translations by Jules Dameron, Amber Zion and; Jason Listman

* For full production credits go to:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Colleen’s Story: her life with polio: childhood to retirement

Colleen’s Story: Part I – My Childhood Years in 1941 contracted polio | March 21, 2012 
(posted Jan. 2015)

By Guest Blogger Colleen M. Feldman | shared by

This is the first in a three part series by Colleen M. Feldman, who contracted polio in 1941, just prior to her 13th birthday. In this post, she describes her childhood & teen years living with polio and her rehabilitation. The next two posts in the series will address her experiences later in life as a wife and mother with a disability raising three children, and eventually entering the workforce. Mrs. Feldman brings a unique perspective to Disability.Blog, having lived with a disability more than 50 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. She is also the mother of’s Content Manager, Robert Goldstraw.

I am 83 years old, and last year marked my seventh decade of living with a disability. During the “dog days” of the summer in 1941, I became infected with polio, just a few days before my 13th birthday. To this day, I remember it all very well – the high fevers, headaches, neck pain, sore throat and not being able to raise my head up. I remember my father at my bedside, looking like a very old, worried man, when he was probably still only in his 40s, and the doctors coming to my home to tell my parents what was “wrong with me”– labeling it everything from sun stroke to “growing pains,” and one simply saying, “I don’t know.”

After three weeks at home flat out in bed with no real medical care, on August 25, 1941, I was taken to Children’s Hospital in Baltimore. They put a card at the head of my bed that read “acute poliomyelitis.” I was actually happy to be able to tell my parents what was “wrong” with me. By then, I’m sure they already knew, but they seemed shocked to hear me say it. I don’t remember signing my name on any dotted line or some official document, but everyone kept saying – “she ‘contracted’ polio.” During that time, my dad was making plans for a motor trip to Kentucky. His relatives warned him not to come, because of this dreaded disease called poliomyelitis spreading throughout the south, not realizing at the time that his baby daughter had been infected with this very disease.

I was paralyzed from the neck down and put in a Bradford frame – right arm in a splint, a collar around my neck and my legs in shell-like casts with a bar between them to keep them separated and my feet held in place. I remember seeing a long list of figures written in red on the doctors’ clipboard. I later learned that red wasn’t good – it meant a level of weakness below what the goals were. One day, I took the neck collar off. It had an itchy wool cover on it, and I hated it. I showed everyone that I could lift my head off the bed. It was removed, and I never wore it again.

In the 1940s, the physical therapy I received consisted of a sun lamp and massages with cocoa butter cream. I still love the smell of that, but hate the smell of ether. A woman would come to our home three times a week and massage my legs and right arm. She was a kind, gentle woman who would tell me about her other patients. She connected us through correspondence, and at one point, I was writing letters to more than 70 people affected by polio.

That summer, several weeks before I came down with polio, my father bought me green bike from Sears. He took me along and let me pick it out. It was beautiful. Needless to say, it was like new when I went to the hospital, and not long after that, a neighbor approached my dad to ask him if she could buy it for her daughter. After all, she figured the girl with polio had no use for it! My dad was not known for his diplomacy, but they told me that was shown at that moment. I never did ride that bike again. No more bike riding, ice or roller skating or running through the woods with my big dog, Teddy.

In a few years, I went from a child to a young lady, started to wear lipstick and put ribbons in my hair. With my left hand, I would brush my black hair straight up against the white sheet. I had blue eyes and black hair, and people said I was pretty. I always felt that such compliments were given because people felt sorry for me, but I went from the “ugly duckling” of the three girls to a pretty teenager. My mom used to say, “Your sisters will have many, many dates and boyfriends, but the one who likes you, will like you for who you are.” As it turned out, that proved to be true.

Despite the compliments, there were certainly some ugly things said and discrimination, too. The mothers of some of my classmates burned my letters. They told me not to write anymore – they feared “catching” polio from my letters. It got back to my mother that a woman she knew had said polio was caused by “uncleanliness,” which hurt her very much. (The same woman who said these things also said that a wealthy, “upper-class” woman in our home town had a child come down with polio the following year.) Only two boys and one mother of a classmate visited me, and I never reconnected with my classmates after seven years of being together.

From August through December of that year, I was in the hospital. Much of my time was spent listening to the radio, singing along with popular singers of the day like Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Eartha Kitt. To this day, I remember FDR’s announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on the radio. (Roosevelt, too, had polio, and one of his biographers called his attempts at hiding his disability his “splendid deception.”) I will never forget that I had visitors in the room that day, and dad asked us all to be quiet, as that somber voice came over the radio announcing the attack. I remember later saying Pearl Harbor and I got “attacked” the same year. Just before Christmas, I said I would “tie sheets together to get out the window to go home,” and a few days later, I was discharged.

Back at home, it was a very difficult time for my mother. Our dining room was turned into a bedroom for me so I could be on the first floor. Over time, with physical therapy, I was measured for braces, orthopedic shoes and crutches so I could learn to walk again. The heavy, steel-leg braces back then were nothing like the lighter, “high-tech” ones of today. Years later, I would walk without them with a limp and serious drop-foot in both feet. I never regained the muscles in my feet, and had a surgery called posterior bone-block to help with that.

My schooling was interrupted for close to two years, and when I returned to school, I had to repeat the last half of the seventh and eighth grades and then, was off to high school. My dad again stepped forward and took me for an interview to a very small, all girls private school. I wore slacks to hide my braces. I was told by the principal, “You will not wear slacks to this school young lady.” That “cured” me of being ashamed of my braces.

My father stands out in my mind as a very strong influence in my life. He always described me as strong, brave and beautiful – after awhile I began to believe it! I never wanted to show feelings of weakness for fear of disappointing him, having always felt protected by him and his strength.

In those days there were no accessible movie theaters, social halls, churches or other places for me to go to socialize, and certainly no curb cuts for those who used wheelchairs – nothing was accessible! So my dad looked for other things for me to do. He would drive me to Ft. Meade, Md. with a USO group to sing for the WWII soldiers, and even tried to get me on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show. (I’m sure most of you are way too young to remember that show!) I even sang “Together” live on a local radio program for teens.

# As posted at

Colleen’s Story: Part II – Marriage, Raising a Family & Going to Work - her experiences in life as a wife and mother with a disability raising three children, and eventually entering the workforce.

By Guest Blogger Colleen M. Feldman

This is the second post in a three part series by Colleen M. Feldman, who contracted polio in 1941, just prior to her 13th birthday. In this post, she addresses her experiences in life as a wife and mother with a disability raising three children, and eventually entering the workforce. Mrs. Feldman brings a unique perspective to Disability.Blog, having lived with a disability more than 50 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. She is also the mother of’s Content Manager, Robert Goldstraw.

At the age of 20, I married and subsequently, had three children. My generation of women didn’t seem to be motivated to enter the world of work, so I was reasonably content to be a housewife/homemaker. But when it came time for high school and college for my children, I began to think seriously about looking for a job.

At the age of 34, I went job hunting, and had my first of many experiences with employment discrimination. I would go to job interviews where it was openly talked about that the reason I wasn’t a “good fit” was because of my disability. I was bluntly rejected by two large companies. One personnel manager asked me, “Do you honestly think you could handle a job?” I clearly remember saying, “Do you honestly think I would waste my time being interviewed if I thought I couldn’t?” I was hurt and angry. I came home and furiously shampooed a rug on my hands and knees – that rug had never been so clean!

I was advised to go to the state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency for an interview and testing. Through VR, I was eventually hired by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. I worked in state government for 23 years and retired with a pension and good benefits. Yet even there, in a state government job, I experienced what I’d call harassment and discrimination by a supervisor. Things hadn’t changed much by 1980 it seems. One day, my supervisor asked me to pick up some heavy charts and medical records and bring them to her. After I did, and she said, in the presence of others, “I just wanted to see if you could do it.” I was so humiliated and embarrassed. Back then I don’t think many knew what, if any, actions could be taken when subjected to that kind of harassment and discrimination at work.

After the 1940s, I never once saw a doctor for polio again until the 1980s. I attended a meeting of people who had been living with polio for many years. It was held in the same hospital I had been in as a young girl. All sorts of medical professionals were there – doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and physical and occupational therapists. I walked out of that meeting and sat in the hallway as they discussed Post Polio Syndrome. Aggravated, I said, “There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with us, we’re just worn out from trying to act how you think is ’normal.’” Everyone within ear shot agreed with me. We pushed ourselves. I knew many people with polio from my three lengthy hospital stays, a social club and three years at a camp (Camp Greentop in Thurmont, MD) for children with disabilities. We were all considered “type A” and over achievers.

Throughout my 40s, I continued to work, but did not drive. One morning, I woke up to an announcement on the radio saying, “We excel at teaching older and disabled people how to drive.” I made an appointment with the company and the rest is history. I learned to drive with hand controls and continue to drive to this day at the age of 83. It’s a privilege and I am grateful that I am still able to drive, and for the technology that makes it possible.

*As posted at - Disability.Blog, the official blog of :

By Guest Blogger Colleen M. Feldman

This is the final post in a three part series by Colleen M. Feldman, who contracted polio in 1941, just prior to her 13th birthday. In this post, she reflects on her life with polio and retirement. Mrs. Feldman brings a unique perspective to Disability.Blog, having lived with a disability more than 50 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. She is also the mother of’s Web Content Manger, Bob Goldstraw.
After I retired in 1993, I began going to Florida for the winters. Swimming was part of my therapy, so by the time I hit 65 and was living part of the year in Florida, I was in and out of the pool in colorful bathing suits and matching visors, not ashamed of my legs at all. During the 90s, I fell and broke my hip, and after much rehabilitation, recovered. I later fell and broke my knee. From that point on, I was advised to use a wheelchair. The doctors called me a “fall risk.” I do not feel that I miss out on much by using a wheelchair or scooter. I have a mobile home in Florida with a ramp that lets me come and go independently. And my accessible van still gets me to where I need to go to – I run errands, attend church and volunteer.

When I think back over several decades, I realize that while much has changed for the better for people with disabilities, a lot has remain unchanged. I often find comments and questions by older people a great source of irritation to me. I am asked questions such as, “Who dresses you?” ”Can you stand?” “Who takes care of you?,” “How did you ever have babies?,”“How do you possibly manage since your husband died?” (In 2000, I met a wonderful man, fell in love and married him. He passed away in 2008.) Little do these people know that I had lived alone for 20 years before my second marriage, and I have always found creative, new ways to do what I need to do and live independently!

A woman once approached me while I was reaching for something on a shelf while supporting my weaker arm with the other. She said, “Ain’t it awful to get old?” I said firmly, “Well if that’s the case, I’ve been ‘old’ since I was 13.” I guess she’s still trying to figure that one out. When I need help, I’m not ashamed to ask for it. People say I am “too independent,” and I try to gently tell them I have been through rehab enough times to learn how to do many things – differently than others do them, maybe, but they work for me.

Another behavior I used to experience often when going out to a restaurant with my husband was the hostess would ask him, “Does she want to sit by a window?” And many times when I paid the cashier for my purchases, they would hand the change and receipt to my husband. He got well trained and would put his hands down and ask, “Who paid you?” Though I’ve had many wonderful medical doctors over the years, even these days there are some who, when I am accompanied by my son or daughter, will ask them, “How is she feeling?,” as if I’m not even in the room.

After the 1940s, I never once saw a doctor for polio until the 1980s. I attended a meeting of people who had been living with polio for many years, held in the same hospital I had been in as a young girl. All sorts of medical professionals were there – doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and physical and occupational therapists. I walked out of that meeting and sat in the hallway as they discussed Post Polio Syndrome. Aggravated, I said, “There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with us, we’re just worn out from trying to act how you think is ’normal.’” Everyone within ear shot agreed with me. We pushed ourselves. I knew many people with polio from my 3 lengthy hospital stays, a social club and 3 years at a camp for children with disabilities. We were all considered “type A” and over achievers.

When I think back over my years as a young woman and adult living with a disability, there’s a lot I am grateful for – the support and advocacy I got from my parents, that I have three loving children and my faith in God that sees me through. I don’t dwell on what I cannot do, I still find new ways to do what I want to do and I am grateful for what I can do. My life is full and I am a thankful person.

Years ago I was quite close to needing an “iron lung,” but I have been told my singing is stronger than ever. (A link to Colleen singing: My hobbies are singing, writing poetry and gardening. I can no longer get down on the ground (or at least not get myself back up!), but I have a raised garden in Florida that is quite accessible. I continue to volunteer in hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes – singing and leading sing-a-longs. I have taken courses at our local community college and learned floral arranging of fresh, silk and dried flowers, and even had a little business going at home in the 1980’s.

Having lived and worked long before there were any laws that prevented discrimination, or required that so many public places be accessible to people like me, or without all the new technologies that let people stay independent, I know what it means to face barriers at every turn. And even now, as when I was a 13 year old girl in the 1940s, one of the biggest barriers out there remains peoples’ attitudes about what I can, and cannot do, and should and should not try to do. There are many inaccurate assumptions about the abilities of people with disabilities. Attitudes, I guess, are not something we can legislate away. My advice is that whatever your disability may be, that you aim high, don’t give in to other’s low expectations and never let anything get in the way of achieving your personal goals and following your dreams.

# As posted at Disability.Gov:

Please explore

The History of Special Olympics

From a backyard summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities to a global movement, Special Olympics has been changing lives and attitudes for more than 43 years.

[photo:First Steps. Eunice Kennedy Shriver guided children with intellectual disabilities into sports at her Camp Shriver events, which were the predecessor to Special Olympics]

June 1963
Eunice Kennedy Shriver starts a summer day camp for young people with intellectual disabilities at her home in Maryland to explore their capabilities in a variety of sports and physical activities. See a slideshow about the camp

19-20 July 1968
The 1st International Special Olympics Summer Games are held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA. 1,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities from 26 U.S. states and Canada compete in track and field and swimming. See a slideshow about the first Games

December 1971
The U.S. Olympic Committee gives Special Olympics official approval as one of only two organizations authorized to use the name “Olympics” in the United States.

5-11 February 1977
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, hosts the 1st International Special Olympics Winter Games with more than 500 athletes competing in skiing and skating events. CBS, ABC and NBC television networks cover the Games. See a slideshow about Special Olympics World Games

June 1981
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is launched in Wichita, Kansas (USA), where Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to increase awareness of Special Olympics. The Torch Run is now the movement's largest grassroots fundraiser, raising $30 million annually.

September 1986
The United Nations in New York City launches the International Year of Special Olympics under the banner “Special Olympics—Uniting the World.”

October 1987
A Very Special Christmas,” a benefit album featuring holiday music by top rock & roll performers, is released worldwide. Produced by Jimmy and Vicki Iovine of A&M Records and Bobby Shriver, all proceeds benefit Special Olympics. More than 2 million records, compact discs and cassette tapes are sold.

(YouTube published by TDunne1510)

Eric Clapton - A Very Special Christmas (1998)

A Very Special Christmas - Live From Washington D.C. (1998) 1. Merry Christmas Baby with Sheryl Crow 2. Cryin' Christmas Tears 3. Gimme One Reason with Tracy Chapman 4. Christmas Without You with John Popper 5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (All Star Tribute Band)
February 1988
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) signs a historic agreement with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in which the IOC officially endorses and recognizes Special Olympics.

July 1988
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is launched at the annual Special Olympics Conference in Reno, Nevada, and Lake Tahoe, California. Bowling, volleyball and softball are the first sports to be included.

20-27 March 1993
The 5th Special Olympics World Winter Games are hosted in the beautiful Austrian cities of Salzburg and Schladming. These are the first World Winter Games held outside North America. See a slideshow about Special Olympics World Games

1-9 July 1995
A number of new initiatives make their debut at the 9th Special Olympics World Summer Games, including the Host Town Program, Healthy Athletes® and Research and Policy Symposia, and, for the first time, people with intellectual disabilities serve as certified officials.

January 1997
Healthy Athletes becomes an official Special Olympics initiative, providing health-care services to Special Olympics athletes worldwide. The program includes free vision, hearing and dental screening, injury prevention clinics and nutrition education. Learn about Healthy Athletes

20 July 1998
Special Olympics celebrates its 30th anniversary with the introduction of 12 30th Anniversary Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers who travel the world as spokespeople for the movement for the next two years.

17 December 1998
U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton host “A Very Special Christmas from Washington D.C.”—marking the first time that the White House hosts a Special Olympics gala and the first time that artists from “A Very Special Christmas” album series gather together to perform. In 2000, President and Mrs. Clinton host “A very Special Christmas” for the second time. About the Christmas records

The “Campaign for Special Olympics” sets unprecedented goals to increase athlete participation by 1 million and to raise more than $120 million over the course of the next five years, changing the face of the movement.

18-22 May 2000
As part of the “Campaign for Special Olympics,” Arnold Schwarzenegger joins Special Olympics athletes to light the “Flame of Hope” at the Great Wall of China and launch the Special Olympics China Millennium March, kicking off the most ambitious growth campaign in the movement’s history. China pledges to increase its current number of athletes from 50,000 to 500,000 by 2005.

12-14 July 2001
Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sun City South Africa, host Special Olympics African Hope. Former President Nelson Mandela, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Special Olympics athletes gather to light the “Flame of Hope” and kick off the largest Law Enforcement Torch Run through the streets of Cape Town. The event generates awareness of the movement throughout the continent and marks the launch of a major growth initiative to reach 100,000 new athletes in Africa by 2005.

October 2001
Special Olympics develops and distributes SO Get Into It™ kits for students with and without disabilities to schools and teachers worldwide at no cost. The kit teaches young people about intellectual disabilities while empowering them to “be the difference” by learning values of inclusion, acceptance and respect.

19-20 July 2002
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund partners with Special Olympics to host an annual birthday celebration for its founder and chairperson, former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and helps Special Olympics launch its Unified Sports® program.

21-29 June 2003
Ireland hosts the first Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held outside the United States. 5,500 athletes participate in this landmark event. It is the largest sporting event in 2003, capturing the hearts and imaginations of the Irish people. See a slideshow about Special Olympics World Games

20 June 2003
The Multinational Study of Attitudes toward Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities” reports on how people across the world view the roles and capabilities of persons with intellectual disabilities in the workplace, classroom and daily social life. The study is the most comprehensive ever conducted on this subject.

30 October 2004
U.S. President George W. Bush signs the “Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act, “ which appropriates $15 million per year over five years to fund the growth of Special Olympics and support initiatives that foster greater respect and understanding for people with intellectual disabilities. The signing marks the first time that Special Olympics secures support through legislation.

23 December 2005
"The Ringer," a Farrelly Brothers film starring Johnny Knoxville, opens in theaters throughout Canada and the United States. The film includes appearances from more than 150 athletes. Its producers collaborate with Special Olympics to challenge destructive stereotypes and negative thinking about people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics surpasses its goal of doubling the number of athletes that participate worldwide to 2.5 million participants. With sports at the core, the movement stands as a leader in advancing rights and opportunities and policy change for its athletes in 165 countries worldwide.

10 June 2006
President and Mrs. George W. Bush host a tribute dinner at the White House to honor Special Olympics for its unprecedented growth over the past five years on the birthday of founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

October 2007
The city of Shanghai, China, hosts the 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games, which are broadcast internationally on an unprecedented scale. These Games, with more than 7,500 athletes from 164 countries participating, are a historic moment in the movement’s history. See a slideshow about Special Olympics World Games

July 2008
Special Olympics celebrates its 40th anniversary as a true global movement, with almost 3 million athletes in more than 180 countries around the world.

February 2009
The Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, USA, draws nearly 2,000 athletes from close to 100 countries . U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited and declared special needs advocacy "a civil rights movement." See stories from the 2009 Games

May 2009
The U.S. National Portrait Gallery unveils a historic portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics. This historic painting is the first portrait the Gallery has ever commissioned of an individual who has not served as a U.S. President or First Lady.

11 August 2009
The founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, dies at her family home in Massachusetts. Letters and messages celebrating her contribution to humanity poured in from world leaders and ordinary people around the world. See

November 2009
"A Very Special Christmas 7" is released, infusing the Christmas record series with the energy and talent of a new generation of music stars.

June 2010
The first Special Olympics Global Congress is held in Marrakech, Morocco, bringing together hundreds of movement leaders from countries around the world to chart the next five years of work. See a slideshow about the Congress

September 2010
The first Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day is more than 100 countries to celebrate the vision of the founder of Special Olympics and to accelerate the momentum of the Special Olympics movement. See photos from the day.

October 2010
Officials announce that the next Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in PyeongChang, Korea, on 26 Jan.-6 Feb., 2013.

January 2011
The Special Olympics Movement mourns the death of Sargent Shriver, husband of late founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver and longtime Special Olympics President and Chairman of the Board Emeritus.

June 2011
The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games are held in Athens, Greece. Nearly 7,000 athletes from 170 countries take part.

# For more info for Special Olympics, visit:
* originally posted Aug. 2011

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fact Checker of Rand Paul’s claim that ‘over half of people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts’

great article by The Washington Post; By Glenn Kessler | Jan. 23. 2015

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder )
What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting a disability check. Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts — join the club. Who doesn’t get a little anxious for work and their back hurts?  Everybody over 40 has a back pain. And I am not saying that there are not legitimately people who are disabled.  But the people who are the malingerers are the ones taking the money away from the people who are paraplegic, quadriplegic. You know, we all know people who are horrifically disabled and can’t work, but if you have able bodied people taking the money, then there is not enough money for the people who are truly disabled.”
–Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), remarks in New Hampshire, Jan. 14, 2015
We’re a little late to the controversy over Sen. Rand Paul’s remarks on the Social Security disability insurance (DI) program — that “over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurt” — but it’s an important issue that will have a central role in the political debates this year as the program faces a serious funding crunch. If Congress does not act soon to fix the program’s financing, then the disability insurance trust fund will be depleted by 2016 and benefits would be cut 19 percent.
As can be seen from Paul’s comments, he was being a bit jocular but he also framed his answer as a legitimate statistic that indicated there were many “malingerers” who are “taking money” from more deserving individuals. So what do the data show?

The Facts

The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs the disability program, which is financed through a portion of the 12.4-percent Social Security payroll tax deducted from the paychecks of nearly every worker. As noted in The Fact Checker’s Guide to Social Security, disability insurance is an integral part of Social Security; about 18.5 percent of Social Security beneficiaries are disabled workers and dependents.
Between 1980 and 2010, the number of disabled worker beneficiaries rose 187 percent. The reasons for the sudden rise in costs are complex, but the Social Security Chief Actuary Stephen C. Goss says a key factor is that the baby boom generation is aging and suddenly passing through the period of life (45-64) when disability spikes. In other words, the main part of Social Security will face financial stress when the baby boomers retire — and the disability crisis is a harbinger.
Another factor is that women began working in greater numbers and thus began to qualify more often for disability insurance, though that trend was mitigated by the fact that the undocumented population also grew substantially in this period — and illegal immigrants don’t qualify for coverage. The Great Recession, like all economic downturns, also boosted the number of beneficiaries.
In testimony before Congress, Goss noted that the spike in disability costs as a result of baby boomers hitting this milestone has largely passed. “Restoring sustainable solvency for the DI program will not require continually greater benefit cuts or revenue increases,” he said, just a one-time fix. Here’s a chart from his testimony:
So a large part of the increase in beneficiaries stems from demographic factors, not more people scamming the system. The Government Accountability Office, in a 2013 report on the $128 billion program, documented $1.29 billion in potential overpayments to 36,000 people in 2011 – but these were people who were working and had earnings in excess of $1,000 a month. So it’s hard to call them “malingerers.” The number of people who received overpayments represented just 0.4 percent of beneficiaries, GAO said.
Indeed, it is not easy to qualify for disability. According to SSA, between 2003 and 2012, only 24 percent of disability applicants were initially granted benefits; an average of two and 11 percent were awarded benefits after either reconsideration or a hearing, respectively. Thus an average of 59 percent of applicants were denied benefits, even after appeals. This chart shows the trend over the ten-year period:
Now let’s turn to Paul’s specific statement — that “over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts.” Where does that come from?
Paul spokesman Brian Darling pointed to two data points — 27.7 percent of disabled beneficiaries are diagnosed as having ailments related to “Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue” and that 14 percent have “mood disorders.” That adds up to 42 percent, he noted. (There’s also nearly 4 percent who cite injuries, which presumably could cover back injuries.)
But William Jarrett, an SSA spokesman, says that anxiety disorders is covered in the “other” category, not under “mood disorders.” The “other” category is just 3.8 percent of beneficiaries; Jarrett said there was no further breakdown. Under the SSA’s definition, anxiety-related disorders is more than just being “anxious for work,” as Paul put it, but includes “recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience” and “recurrent severe panic attacks.”
Darling countered that “Senator Paul was referring to mood problems when he used a phrase relating to being anxious.” He argued that any reasonable person would infer that being anxious would qualify under the category of “affective disorders: characterized by a disturbance of mood.”
Jarrett noted that the “mood disorders” category includes conditions like bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder).
But there’s another problem—the SSA definition for musculoskeletal category covers far more than back pain, such amputations, all sorts of fractures, burns and spine disorders.  So it’s a bit silly to assume that “back pain” is all of those cases. (A 2013 study by Mathematica Policy Research suggests 18.8 percent of DI-only recipients reported back disorders as a primary impairment; “anxiety disorders” represented 3.2 percent of claims.)
“It should be factored into any analysis that this was a spontaneous response to a question from a New Hampshire resident at an event — not prepared remarks,” Darling said. “Senator Paul never said that people who had back problems and mood disorders are not deserving of help.  He never indicated that 50 percent of claims were fraudulent.”

The Pinocchio Test

We understand that Paul was speaking off-the-cuff, but the clear implication was there were significant numbers of “able bodied people taking the money” through common ailments like back pain and being anxious about work.
But not only is the rate of fraud relatively low, but it mostly involves people who are working who should not be getting payments, rather than people who are getting paid and not working. Moreover, even a generous interpretation of the data does not generate a figure close to more than half of beneficiaries getting paid for simply back pain and anxiety.

Three Pinocchios