Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blind photographer Craig Royal creates visionary art

Craig Royal, a fine art photographer, was born with vision loss due to a congenital form of optic atrophy. He has been practicing photography for the last four years and his subject matter is wide and far; nature, architecture, objects and their potential for abstraction and a philosophical perspective that explores the human condition. Royal believes, "Photography is more than a form of artistic expression but also a visual aide that allows me to revel in the exquisite detail that surrounds us."

Courtesy of the artist Craig Royal, from the series "Refections and Abstractions."...

#Source Yahoo: http://news.yahoo.com/photos/blind-photographer-creates-captivating-art-1322614741-slideshow/


PR- 425-11
November 29, 2011


“It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my friend and advisor Matt Sapolin, who has led the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for over nine years.

{photo: Matthew Sapolin in 2007 with his guide dog at the time, Compass}

“New York City is the freest city in the freest country in the world because everyone has a voice here, including those who cannot physically speak. Matt was the perfect embodiment of so many essential New York traits – passionate about justice and tireless in his pursuit of equal access and opportunity for all New Yorkers. Matt is already deeply missed at City Hall, where he and his guide dog Downey were constant fixtures.

“Matt lost his sight at the age of five to bilateral retinoblastoma, a cancer that affects the optic nerve, and battled cancer ever since. After being educated in mainstream public schools, Matt earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Public Health Administration at New York University, where he served as Co-Captain of the Varsity Wrestling team, and later became an Adjunct Professor at the City University of New York. He was profiled in Sports Illustrated as a high school athlete and throughout his life loved athletics and helping other New Yorkers with disabilities play sports. He played baseball with audio sensors in the bases and the ball and helped create the first Beep Baseball tournament in 2010 with the Parks Department. Matt also played drums, guitar and bass and was a fantastic chess player, in part because of his computer-like memory.

“From building the nation’s largest Disability Mentoring Day to chairing the new Building Code Accessibility Committee that mandated strong Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, Matt built the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities into a formidable force to assure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in all City initiatives. He took the lead in making sure that the operators at 311 had the latest in accessibility technology for the disabled, worked with neighborhood business associations to create barrier-free shopping districts and helped lead the NYC2012 Paralympics process.

“Under Matt, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities spearheaded legislation to provide a rent freeze to qualified disabled tenants, increase the number of wheelchair- accessible taxis in use, create the first accessible taxi base and require that all passenger ferries and ferry terminals be accessible.

“Matt also spearheaded the creation of the Inclusive Design Guidelines – an internationally-distributed blueprint for universal design and extend the use of audible pedestrian signals. He played a central role in making sure the National September 11 Memorial is accessible to everyone.

“Along with those of countless other New Yorkers, my thoughts and prayers are with Candra and their children Trevor and Toscany tonight. To honor his years of service to New Yorkers, flags at all City buildings will be lowered in Commissioner Sapolin’s honor.”

# http://www.nyc.gov/cgi-bin/misc/pfprinter.cgi?action=print&sitename=OM&p=1322686293000

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 Medicare Open Enrollment: Oct. 15 - Dec. 7, 2011 : What You Need to Know About Medicare Plans in 2012 : AARP Bulletin

Save money by taking the time to comparison shop

by: Patricia Barry | from: AARP Bulletin |

If you have Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, the chances are very high that this year you've been paying a lot more for your medications than you needed to.

That's because so few enrollees bother to compare the Part D drug plans available to them. As a result, in 2011 fewer than 7 percent are in the Part D plan that offers them the lowest out-of-pocket costs, according to a recent analysis.

Comparing plans during open enrollment is the best way to ensure that you don't miss out on your best deal for 2012, which could produce savings of several hundred dollars next year, especially if you take a lot of medications.

But be warned: This year's seven-week open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and ends at midnight on Dec. 7 — a deadline three weeks earlier than in previous years.

If you enroll in a different plan during this period, coverage in your current plan will automatically end at midnight on Dec. 31 and your new coverage will begin Jan. 1.

If you choose to keep your current plan (and it is still offered in 2012), you don't need to take any action — your enrollment automatically continues next year.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in 2012

All Part D plans can change their costs and coverage each calendar year. So pay attention to the "Annual Notice of Change" you should have received from your current plan in September. This spells out any changes for 2012 — in premiums, deductibles, copayments or coverage — and may contain good news or nasty surprises.

Among "stand-alone" Part D drug plans — the kind you have if you're enrolled in traditional Medicare rather than a Medicare Advantage plan — a few that operated in 2011 will no longer be available in some states in 2012.

If you're in one of these plans, you may be automatically enrolled in another offered by the same insurance company, if available, or you can switch to a different plan. There are still plenty of choices in each state, ranging from 25 in Alaska and Hawaii to 36 in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Overall, monthly premiums for stand-alone plans in 2012 will range from $15.10 to $131.80. On average, premiums will fall slightly, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But some premiums will rise significantly.

For example, the country's most popular drug plan, AARP MedicareRx Preferred, run by UnitedHealthCare, will increase its monthly premiums by an average of 14 percent, ranging from 20 cents in Arizona to $8.10 in California. UnitedHealthCare spokesman Matthew Burns says that the plan "covers more branded drugs than most of our competitors and has no deductible," adding that on average "our premiums for 2012 are slightly lower than 2010 levels," given that they fell in most states in 2011.

Why compare plans?

Although most people tend to focus on premiums, these are usually less important in determining how much you pay out of pocket over the year than the copays for your specific drugs. In fact, the main reason for comparing Part D drug plans is because the copays vary so widely, even for the same drug. An AARP Bulletin analysis of 2012 plans in three states revealed examples of how big those variations will be for three common brand-name drugs:

Lipitor: In Florida, copays for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor 20 mg range from $0 to $90 for a 30-day supply. Of the 33 plans offered, nine plans charge copays of $8 or less for this drug, whereas most have copays in the $30-$45 range, and 12 plans do not cover it at all.

Plavix: In California, copays for Plavix 75 mg, used to prevent heart attacks, range from $35 to $90.42 for a 30-day supply. Of the 33 plans offered, most charged copays between $40 and $50, and eight plans charged $70 or more.

Zyprexa: In New York, copays for the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa 5 mg range from $34 to $163.98 for a 30-day supply. Of the 29 plans offered, 10 plans charge copays of under $90 for this drug, 19 plans charge $90 or more, and 7 plans charge more than $115.

These huge disparities in copays for the same drug are very common because each plan decides its own copay structure and makes its own trade-offs. So plans that charge high for some drugs charge low for others. Some plans charge fixed dollar amounts for copays, and these cannot vary throughout the year. Others charge a percentage of the drug's cost — 25, 33 or even as high as 53 percent in a few cases — which can vary if the full price fluctuates. Paying a percentage rather than a flat copay for expensive drugs explains some of the highest prices shown in the examples above.

Medicare Advantage Plans in 2012

Medicare Advantage plans provide an alternative way for people to receive Medicare benefits, typically through managed care delivered by private HMOs and PPOs. They currently have about 12 million enrollees.

Despite dire predictions that the new health care law — which begins cutting government subsidies to these plans next year — would destroy the Medicare Advantage program or increase premiums, neither has happened, at least not yet.

Almost all beneficiaries will have access to a Medicare Advantage plan in 2012, except in 28 counties in Colorado, two in Utah and one in Idaho — two more than last year — and in many places there are dozens of choices. Premiums are down an average 4 percent across the country, benefits remain "robust" and enrollment in the plans is projected to rise by 10 percent, Medicare officials say.

For example, in the highly competitive Medicare Advantage market in Miami, beneficiaries will have a choice of 47 plans that include prescription drug coverage (two more than this year), and 34 of them will charge no premiums, compared with 25 this year. Across the state, premiums fell by 26 percent on average, according to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). "This should be welcome news for the seniors who were scared into thinking they were going to lose benefits or see higher premiums," he said.

Figuring out your best deal

So how do you figure out what you'll pay for your own unique set of medications?

The most effective way is to use Medicare's online plan finder program. If you enter your ZIP code, the names of the drugs you take plus their dosages and how often you take them, this program automatically does the math to find the plan in your area that covers your drugs at the least overall out-of-pocket cost — including premiums, deductibles, copays and costs in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole. You can also call the Medicare help line at 1-800-633-4227 and ask a customer representative to do this search for you.

When comparing plans, keep in mind that costs aren't always the only consideration. On the plan finder you can also find out:

•What kind of service to expect from any plan by looking at the quality rating Medicare gives it
•Which pharmacies in any plan's network are convenient for you
•Which plans offer pharmacies nationwide if you travel a lot
•Which plans offer mail-order service
•Which plans place "restrictions" on any of your drugs, meaning they require you to ask permission (with your doctor's help) before they will cover it.

Also, if you don't take any drugs right now, selecting the plan with the lowest premium will give you the protection of coverage at the least cost.

Going for the Gold

People enrolled in Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans have until now been able to switch plans only during open enrollment, except in special circumstances. In 2012 they'll be able to switch at any time of the year if they change to a plan that has earned Medicare's maximum five-star quality rating. These plans are highlighted by a gold star on Medicare's plan finder website.

For several years, Medicare has rated all its drug and health plans with stars — ranging from one for "poor" to five for "excellent" — according to a range of quality measures such as customer service, consumer satisfaction and complaints. Plans that achieve fewer than three stars over a period of three years are identified with a warning icon on the plan finder site.

In 2012 four plans will carry the gold star: the MedicareBlue Rx Standard and Premier plans in six states (Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) and the Rx1 and Rx2 plans in New York.

Beneficiaries can use the new option once a year. If enough take advantage of it, the system could act as an incentive for poorer performing plans. "Plans that do a better job serving the needs of their Medicare members should be rewarded, and all plans should be encouraged to improve their performance," says Jonathan Blum, Medicare's deputy administrator.

Other ways to save money on drugs in 2012:

Savings in the Part D doughnut hole: The manufacturers' discount on brand-name drugs in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole continues to be 50 percent in 2012, but the government discount for generic drugs goes up from 7 to 14 percent. (Under the new health care law, these discounts are due to increase until 2020 when nobody will pay more than 25 percent for any drugs in the gap.) Some plans also offer additional coverage in the gap.

More generics will become available: Cheaper generic copies of some expensive, blockbuster drugs such as Lipitor, Plavix and Zyprexa will come on the market in 2012. Part D plans typically charge far lower copays for generic drugs. The original brand-name drugs, however, typically retain their high prices when they lose patent protection and face generic competition.

Low-cost drug coverage: About 2 million people who are eligible for subsidized coverage under Part D's Extra Help program are not taking advantage of its savings, according to Medicare estimates. "The eligibility requirements are more flexible than they were a couple of years ago," says Medicare administrator Don Berwick. "If you were turned down in the past due to income or resource levels, you should reapply." To apply, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or apply online.

# For AARP visit: http://www.aarp.org/

# http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-10-2011/medicare-open-enrollment-2012.1.html

#### The video below has good general information for all.

Medicine Dish: Medicare Part D and Program Updates

YouTube Uploaded by CMSHHSgov on Oct 27, 2011

Experts from IHS and CMS discuss Medicare Part D and recent Medicare program changes. Topics include: new dates for Open Enrollment; creditable coverage letters; plan changes for 2012; LIS, redeeming and reassignment; Medicare Plan Enrollment; Medicare program updates and a demonstration of the updated Medicare Plan Finder on www.medicare.gov. Presenters: Indian Health Service -- Pamela Schweitzer; CMS -- Kay Pokrzywa, Roslyn Thomas, Stacey Platte, David Nolley, Kitty Marx

For Social Security visit: http://www.ssa.gov/

2012 National Federation of the Blind of Illinois INTERNSHIP APPLICATION : information

We of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, (NFBI), have broadened our commitment to blind students by offering grants for summer internships.
NFBI will sponsor up to two students to perform meaningful work over the summer of 2012 for four to six weeks. Students can find their own placements or can apply to the program and ask for ideas from NFBI.
This program is designed to help blind students get past the "you have little or no experience" barrier to future employment. As an intern the student can build up his/her resume in a field of choice. This should assist blind students to gain the experience to make them competitive in today's marketplace.
All internships should be geared toward ultimate employment goals. NFBI will fund up to 40 hours per week for 6 weeks. Of course, students may work longer if they choose to volunteer or obtain additional funding elsewhere.

Criteria: All internships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence and service to the community. To be eligible for any NFBI internship an applicant must be a legally blind resident of or student in Illinois. Applicants must be enrolled full-time as a junior or senior in high school, or in a regular accredited two-year, four-year, or graduate college or university program.

To apply Complete an application. Electronic applications can be obtained by contacting the chair of the scholarship committee. Please submit all documents listed on the application via e-mail in an easily accessible format to: Deborah Kent Stein, Chairman, NFBI Scholarship Committee: dkent5817@att.net.

If e-mail is not possible, send to:
5817 N. Nina Ave., Chicago, IL 60631
Direct questions to: (773) 631-1093

Deadline: All application materials must be received by March 31, 2012.

General Information: An NFBI Committee reviews all applications and selects the internship winners, who will be notified of their selection by May 15. This form may be photocopied.

Name: _________________________ Date of Birth: ________________
(please include any maiden or other names by which you have been known)

School Address: ____________________________________________________________
School Phone: ____________________________________________________________
Home Address: ____________________________________________________________

Home Phone:_________________________ cell:_________________________

Email address ___________________________________________________

Institution attended and class standing, i.e. Freshman, Sophomore etc.
Spring 2012 Standing

_______________________________________________________ _______
Fall 2012 Standing

______________________________________________________ ________
(Please provide this information by separate letter if you are admitted to your school of choice after submitting your completed application).

On a separate sheet please provide the following information:
1. All post-secondary institutions you have attended with highest class standing attained and cumulative grade point average,
2. High school attended and cumulative grade point average, and
3. Community Service.

Please attach the following documents to your completed application:
1) Personal Essay. Along with your application, introduce yourself to the committee in a brief essay or self-portrait. Consider the essay an opportunity to tell the committee who you are. Describe your strengths, achievements, and aspirations. What is important to you? Who do you hope to become? Has a particular person or experience changed your life? How has your blindness affected you? How do you handle it at school, on the job, and in interpersonal relationships? Include information about your goals for this internship.
2) Two current letters of recommendation.
3) Transcripts. Provide a current transcript from the institution you are attending as well as transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended. If you have not attended an institution of higher learning or have not completed one year of study at such an institution, provide a high school transcript.

# For the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, please visit:

2012 National Federation of the Blind of Illinois (NFBI) SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION : information

Each year the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois (NFBI) awards scholarships to qualified blind students. The scholarships are awarded at the annual convention of the NFBI. The following scholarships are currently available:

PETER GRUNWALD SCHOLARSHIP: A scholarship in the amount of $2,000 was established by the NFBI as a memorial to Peter Grunwald, whose work with members of the Illinois General Assembly resulted in implementation of several statutes that have changed what it means to be blind in Illinois.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIPS: Two scholarships in the amount of $1,500 will be awarded.

KENNETH JERNIGAN SCHOLARSHIPS: Two scholarships in the amount of $1,250 were established in tribute to Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, former President of the Federation, whose extraordinary leadership has improved the quality of life for blind people both here and abroad.

Criteria All scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence and service to the community. To be eligible for any NFBI scholarship, an applicant must be a legally blind resident of, or student in Illinois, who is enrolled full-time in an accredited two-year, four-year or graduate college or university program.

To apply: Complete an application. Electronic application forms can be obtained from the scholarship chairman. Send your application and supporting documents via e-mail in an easily accessible format to:

Deborah Kent Stein, Chairman, NFBI Scholarship Committee

If e-mail is not possible to:
Deborah Kent Stein
5817 N. Nina, Chicago, IL 60631
Direct questions to: (773) 631-1093

Deadline: All application materials must be received by March 31, 2012.

General Information: Persons who have previously applied for NFBI scholarships are encouraged to apply again. The Scholarship Committee reviews all applications and selects the scholarship winners, who will be notified of their selection by June 15, and will be brought to the NFBI convention in the fall.

On a separate sheet please provide the following information:
1. All post-secondary institutions you have attended with highest class standing attained and cumulative grade point average,
2. High school attended and cumulative grade point average, and
3. Community Service.

Please include the following documents with your completed application:
1) Personal Essay: Along with your application, introduce yourself to the scholarship committee in a brief essay or self-portrait. Consider the essay an opportunity to tell the committee who you are. Describe your strengths, achievements, and aspirations. What is important to you? Who do you hope to become? Has a particular person or experience changed your life? How has your blindness affected you? How do you handle it at school, on the job, and in interpersonal relationships?
2) Two current letters of recommendation.
3) Transcripts: Provide a current transcript from the institution you are attending as well as transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended. If you have not attended an institution of higher learning or have not completed one year of study at such an institution, provide a high school transcript. This form may be photocopied.

# For the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, please visit:

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2011 : Chicago World AIDS Day Programming and Activities

2011 World AIDS Day Calendar of Events

World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st of each year. The day is dedicated to the remembrance and increasing awareness of the AIDS pandemic. World AIDS Day events are held across the globe honoring people who live and those who have died with the virus. The President of the United States has made an annual World AIDS Day proclamation since 1995. Governments from across the world have also commemorated the day as well.

It is estimated that there are currently 33.4 million people worldwide living with HIV and more than 25 million people have died from AIDS complications since 1981 (UNAIDS – November 2009). These statistics remind us that HIV has produced one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded medical history. Despite significant scientific advances and improvements in medical care and treatment, the pandemic continues to claim many lives worldwide. In 2008 alone, it is estimated that there were 2.7 million new infections and 2.0 million deaths (UNAIDS – November 2009).

James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, conceived World AIDS Day in August 1987. Bunn and Netter received approval for the first observance of World AIDS Day from Dr. Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS). At the World Summit of Ministers of Health in 1988, all the participating nations supported programs for AIDS prevention and the concept of a World AIDS Day. The United Nations General Assembly formally recognized this concept in October 1988. The first World AIDS Day was declared by the World Health Organization to be on December 1, 1988.

The date of December 1st was chosen under the advisement of Bunn, who was a broadcast journalist by training. In 1988, it was suggested that in order to maximize western media coverage during the post-election year in the U.S., media outlets would be weary of their post-election coverage and eager to find a fresh story to cover. Both Bunn and Netter determined that December 1st was long enough after the election and soon enough before the winter holidays to fill the void spot on the media’s calendar.

Since the late 1980s, World AIDS Day has been observed in Chicago. While the specific activities have varied from year to year, there have been a number of long-lasting efforts including: candlelight vigils, World AIDS Day banners displayed on many streets throughout Chicago, faith-based events, youth contests and activities, awards ceremonies, and numerous awareness and fundraising events. To this day, World AIDS Day remains a time when everyone throughout Chicago, including elected and appointed officials, religious leaders, HIV advocates and everyday citizens, come together in solidarity with the world to promote a campaign to bring an end to the AIDS pandemic.

Contact Michael L. Hunter at michael.hunter@cityofchicago.org for additional information.

Resource: City of Chicago website: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/hiv/division_of_sti_hivaidscommunicationpolicyunit.html

'Ball' community event on World AIDS Day From a news release

In honor of World AIDS Day and the ongoing fight to promote HIV prevention and treatment among high risk groups, the University of Chicago Medical Center will host a mini-ball with the legends and stars of the underground Chicago ball community.

Gay, transgender and bisexual contestants will compete against one another in the lobby of the School of Social Services Administration Friday, Dec. 2. Participants display their dance skills, costume, and attitude, similar to a runway show. In some events they are judged on the "realness" of their drag, in others on the beauty of their clothing and overall style. Each of the seven walk competition categories has a cash prize for the winner.

"Every category requires the creative integration of the AIDS ribbon, the color red, or latex," said Matt Richards, outreach program manager for pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Everyone at the ball will see their peer groups promoting safe sex and healthy behavior.

The group with the best table decoration on the theme "Most Creative Safe Sex Message" will also win $300. "The more over the top, the more likely you are to win," said Keith Green, co-director for the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus and a co-sponsor for the event.

While hosting a ball may seem like an unusual move for a hospital, the University of Chicago Medical Center has a long history of creative approaches to addressing health disparities. Green and John Schneider, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, came up with idea of hosting the mini-ball as a way to build bridges between the hospital and the GLBTQ community.

Schneider has advocated for new approaches to AIDS prevention. "We're not doing the typical academic thing for World AIDS Day this year"—a panel of researchers talking about global AIDS and free AIDS testing. Unfortunately, there's no evidence that such events have any effect on HIV infection rates, and it is challenging to engage with community in this manner.. "This year, we want to collaborate and fully engage with the community," he said. "And we want to have some fun."

Schneider, an infectious diseases and global health researcher at the University of Chicago, pioneered the use of cell phone data to find the most vulnerable spots for HIV transmission in India. He is now researching how to track and reach at-risk men on the South Side of Chicago through Facebook.

The groups competing in this ball are at the invitation of the Legendary Father Mario Balenciaga, one of the leaders in the Chicago ball culture. DJ GucciRoxx will provide music, and Memphis 007 will emcee.

Richards is part of the Medical Center's Living Positively program, in which HIV+ young people act as advocates to others in their peer group who are at risk. "They help keep young people on their medication, go to the doctor with them, help them disclose their HIV status to their family, and advocate testing and prevention in the community," Richards said. "This is cutting edge behavioral intervention."

The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the walk competition is from 9 p.m. to midnight.


World AIDS Day at the White House 2010

YouTube Uploaded by whitehouse on Dec 1, 2010

Administration officials and leaders in the AIDS community gather at the White House on World AIDS Day to discuss lessons learned and strategies to fight HIV and AIDS in the United States and around the world.

# THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary
November 28, 2011, Statement by the Press Secretary on President Obama Commemorating World AIDS Day

On Thursday, December 1, World AIDS Day, President Obama will speak at an event hosted by the ONE Campaign and (RED), joining former President George W. Bush and others who have been so critical in the worldwide fight against AIDS. The event, called "The Beginning of the End of AIDS," will take place at George Washington University on Thursday morning. More details, including media credentialing information, will be released as they become available.

# For more information visit Windy City Media Group "CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS" at:

# For more information on World AIDS Day please visit:
World AIDS Day. Org at: http://www.worldaidsday.org/

Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Gerald T. Roy, discusses OIG's fraud-fighting efforts to capture health care fugitives: Video : Nov 2011

YouTube Uploaded by OIGatHHS on Nov 28, 2011

Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Gerald T. Roy, discusses OIG's fraud-fighting efforts to capture health care fugitives.

For OIG website click 'OIG Most Wanted" poster on left side of blog or visit: http://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/fugitives/index.asp

Heartland may provide land for Miracle League baseball field for children with physical and mental disabilities, Normal IL. Nov 28, 2011

NORMAL -- A two-year-old baseball league for children with physical and mental disabilities would have its own home if plans by the Miracle League of Central Illinois and Heartland Community College come to fruition.

Heartland has given a letter of intent to league CEO and founder Bill Wright of Normal, saying the college plans to work with the league for a field on campus, Heartland President Allen Goben said.

The location on campus at 1500 W. Raab Road would be northwest of the Corn Crib, home of the Normal CornBelters, the professional baseball team, Goben and Wright said Monday.

Heartland will not pay for the field and cannot financially support the league, Goben said. But the college can provide the land, currently an open field used for Corn Crib overflow parking. Heartland did not have plans for the land, which would provide a nice environment for the children to play ball, he said.

"This is a win-win for everyone," Goben said.

"This is so important that I framed it (the letter of intent) and have it on the wall," Wright said.

Wright has an architect and general contractor who will develop plans for the field with assistance from a representative of Miracle League, which supports 240 leagues in the United States and beyond.

Miracle League of Central Illinois has been using the McLean County PONY Baseball park at Ireland Grove and Towanda Barnes roads. But Wright wants a specially designated field made of recycled rubber to make play easier for children who use wheelchairs and walkers. He also wants bleachers for family members, restroom facilities, a concession stand, a grassy area for picnics and lights.

The development could cost about $1.2 million and Miracle League is pursuing grants and is planning fundraisers next summer, Wright said. League teams played six games in May and June and another six games in August and September and Wright hopes that the new field is ready by August.

Fifty-six young people with disabilities played in the league this year and Wright hopes that 100 people will participate next year. Each player is paired with a "buddy" who helps out.

As reported by Pantagraph.com, By Paul Swiech

Read more: http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/education/heartland-may-provide-land-for-miracle-league-field/article_4dbd46e6-1a16-11e1-a1eb-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1f6L1VxxP

Monday, November 28, 2011

State of Illinois deal reached to keep Tinley Mental Health Center, & other facilities open : Nov 28, 2011

As reported by Chicago Tribune By Monique Garcia and Ray Long

SPRINGFIELD Tinley Park Mental Health Center and six other state facilities would stay open in the short term and nearly 1,900 layoffs would be avoided under a deal struck Monday night, according to leading Democrats and Republicans.
The outline of an agreement was worked out in the Capitol office of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who huddled with lawmakers from both parties for more than two hours.

Emerging from Quinn’s office, Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said details are still being crafted, but a measure “will be very clear that the facilities are to stay open pending any kind of orderly transition of those that may need to close in the future.”

“We’ll avoid that chaos that we were afraid would happen with what the governor had proposed,” said Radogno of Lemont.

During the summer, Quinn targeted for quick closure mental health centers in Tinley Park, Rockford and downstate Chester, centers for the developmentally disabled in Jacksonville and Dixon, a prison in Lincoln and a youth center in Murphysboro. He blamed the legislature for failing to provide enough money in the budget.

Quinn’s office confirmed late Monday that a plan is now in place. It’s likely to be voted on Tuesday, which is supposed to be the General Assembly’s last session day of the year.

“We have reached a bipartisan budget agreement that achieves the goal of keeping the seven state facilities slated for closure open throughout this fiscal year using existing state resources,” the administration said in a statement.

The money to keep all of the facilities open through at least June 30 is expected to come from lawmakers shifting money around following Quinn’s budget vetoes this summer. The mental health centers and homes for the developmentally disabled still eventually would close as residents are moved into community-based settings the next few years, aides have said.

# http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-state-deal-reached-to-keep-tinley-mental-health-center-other-facilities-open-20111128,0,3435888.story?track=rss

Illinois Disability parking crackdown results in more than 30 citations statewide on "Black Friday" : Nov 28, 2011

As reported by The Rock River Times:

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that the Secretary of State Police issued 31 citations over the Thanksgiving weekend during a statewide crackdown on people who illegally park in accessible parking spaces at local malls. The enforcement kicked off on Black Friday, Nov. 25, and will continue through the end of December.

Nine people were issued tickets for improper use of a disability parking space or parking in a disability space without a placard or license plate over the holiday weekend. Twenty-two people were cited with misuse of a disability parking placard, or using someone else’s placard. Eighteen placards were confiscated and a total of 367 placards were checked.

Secretary of State Police were out enforcing the provisions of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg as well as at malls in Rockford, Springfield and Marion Nov. 25, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season and the busiest shopping day of the year. Enforcements also took place in Bolingbrook, Lombard, Orland Park, Skokie, Carbondale, Peoria and Champaign.

“I’m pleased with the results of the disability parking enforcement efforts,” said White. “As I’ve said before, our mission is not to give tickets, but to ensure the disability parking spaces are available to those who need them. This weekend shows that people are getting the message — if you don’t belong there — don’t park there.”

When the holiday enforcements began in 2005, more than 200 people were cited for violating the program.

The fine for illegally using a placard or disability license plates without the authorized holder of the placard or disability license plates present is a maximum of $500. In addition, violators can be subject to a 30-day administrative driver’s license suspension from the Secretary of State for the first offense.

The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a parking placard or disability license plates can be as much $350.

Secretary White urged people to report abuse of accessible parking spaces by calling (217) 785-0309. Callers should be prepared to report placard and license plate numbers as well as locations of vehicles. People can also report abuse via the Secretary of State’s website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com and complete the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities Abuse Complaint Form.

More than 577,030 placards and approximately 82,050 disability license plates are issued in Illinois.

Easter Seals Project ACTION : November 2011 Extra: Accessible Transporta​tion News and Training

November 2011
Welcome to Extra, Easter Seals Project ACTION’s monthly newsletter.

ESPA News Fall Update & Information Brief on Wayfinding Technology Released

The new edition of ESPA’s Update newsletter focuses on technology and how it enhances customer service, ride coordination and wayfinding. Check for articles on the 2010 Dallas County ATCI team’s effort to coordinate existing transportation services; upcoming new products from ESPA, such as the Including People with Disabilities: Communication & Meeting Etiquette pocket guide, and new technologies that help reduce costs and increase mobility. Also included is a Q&A special with Barbara McCann, executive director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, and Michael Ronkin, a national bicycle and pedestrian expert. Update is now available online and will arrive soon in print in your postal mailbox along with a four-page insert on Improving Transit Facility Accessibility by Employing Wayfinding Technology. This information brief focuses on identifying new technologies that improve accessibility within transit systems, especially for customers who are blind or have visual impairments and use wayfinding to navigate their environment.

ESPA Currently Accepting Applications for the 2012 Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative

If your community is ready to create accessible transportation solutions and engage local leaders in the process, Project ACTION is ready to support your community! Ten communities across the United States will be selected to participate in the Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative (ATCI) to identify transportation accessibility goals and develop an action plan to meet them. Selected communities will receive on-site facilitation at a two-day event held in their local communities and one year of individualized follow-up technical assistance. Additional information, requirements and application materials are available on the ESPA website. Check out ESPA’s new Mobility Planning Services Retrospective to see how past ATCI/MPS teams have improved accessible transportation in their communities. For questions about ATCI, contact Donna Smith at 800-659-6428 or ATCI@easterseals.com. Application deadline: December 22.

Take the 2011 ESPA Training and Resources Survey

We want to hear from you! ESPA appreciates your use of our resources and your participation in our training activities. Please complete this short survey and help us create resources and training events to meet the needs of the transportation field and the disability community.

Upcoming Training

Rail Accessibility: Ensuring Equal Access to a Growing Transportation Mode—Webinar

On December 1 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, ESPA will conduct a webinar, Rail Accessibility: Ensuring Equal Access to a Growing Transportation Mode. Rail is becoming an increasingly popular transportation mode with record ridership among existing systems, new light-rail development in multiple cities, and plans for implementing high-speed rail across the country. This webinar will focus on how accessibility features are currently being included in the design of new rail projects, how they were built into those projects, and how other designers and communities can include accessibility in the planning process for future projects. Presenters will include Richard Devylder, senior advisor for Accessible Transportation at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Lauren Skiver, deputy chief operations officer at the Maryland Transit Administration. Registration deadline: November 25.

Industry News

New Guidelines for Airports Regarding the Construction of Animal Relief Areas Beyond Security Checkpoints

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently issued new guidelines for airports regarding the construction of animal relief areas beyond security checkpoints. TSA's revised version of Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design and Construction (*.PDF) allows airports and airlines to establish service animal relief areas in sterile areas of the airport and provide escorted access to non-designated outdoor areas for the purpose of service animal relief. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has also recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would, among other things, extend the obligation to establish service animal relief areas at U.S. airports to the U.S. airport operators. Comments on this rulemaking may be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov/ on or before November 28.

PBIC Announces Second Round of Walk Friendly Communities

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has announced the second round of Walk Friendly Communities in 10 locations across the country. Through awarding the Walk Friendly title, PBIC recognizes communities for their commitment to improving walkability and pedestrian safety. "We were very pleased to have a great mix of designated communities this round," said Carl Sundstrom, WFC program manager. "Through the application process, communities share their best practices and, in turn, we're able to share this information to all of the communities who apply through the technical assistance we provide." Officially launched in October 2010, the WFC program is funded by FedEx and the Federal Highway Administration. Interested communities are encouraged to visit http://www.walkfriendly.org/ to learn more about the program and review the community assessment tool.


Communication with Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 150: Communication with Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit describes how to create a communication process to reach people who may need greater assistance regarding transportation options in emergencies. The toolkit provides a guiding framework and tools for constructing a scalable, adaptable communication process for a network of agencies from public, private and nonprofit sectors. Together, these partners can form interconnected communication channels to carry out emergency communication not necessarily possible by working alone.

For Easter Seals Project ACTION visit: http://projectaction.easterseals.com

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Medicare's drug coverage gap shrinks for 2012

AP Newsbreak: Medicare's drug coverage gap shrinks
Nov 27, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare's prescription coverage gap is getting noticeably smaller and easier to manage this year for millions of older and disabled people with high drug costs.

The "doughnut hole," an anxiety-inducing catch in an otherwise popular benefit, will shrink about 40 percent for those unlucky enough to land in it, according to new Medicare figures provided in response to a request from The Associated Press.

{FILE - In this June 8, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama listens as Health}

The average beneficiary who falls into the coverage gap would have spent $1,504 this year on prescriptions. But thanks to discounts and other provisions in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, that cost fell to $901, according to Medicare's Office of the Actuary, which handles economic estimates.

A 50 percent discount that the law secured from pharmaceutical companies on brand name drugs yielded an average savings of $581. Medicare also picked up more of the cost of generic drugs, saving an additional $22.

The estimates are averages, so some Medicare recipients may do worse and others better. Also, it's still unclear if the discounts will start to overcome seniors' deep unease about the law.

Concern over cutting Medicare to expand coverage for the uninsured helped push older voters toward Republicans in the 2010 congressional elections. Obama and the Democrats have been trying to woo them back ever since.

"For people with high drug expenditures, the 50 percent discount offers real savings," said Tricia Neuman, director of Medicare policy for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "It's certainly more helpful than no coverage at all, which is what they had previously."

More than 2 million beneficiaries already have gotten some help, discounts that have gone largely to middle-class seniors, because the poor are covered in the gap at taxpayer expense.

For retired elementary school teacher Carolyn Friedman, it meant she didn't need a loan to pay for drugs that keep her epilepsy under control.

"What a change for the better," said Friedman, 71, of Sunrise, Fla. "This year it was easier to pay my bills, whereas last year I had to borrow money to pay for my medications when I was in the doughnut hole."

One of her brand-name anti-seizure drugs cost about $370 in the gap last year, and the other about $270. This year Friedman paid about $150 and $130, respectively, for a month's supply.

Medicare covers about 47 million older and disabled people, and about 9 in 10 have some kind of prescription plan. Most rely on the drug benefit, also known as Part D, which is delivered through private insurance plans.

Beneficiaries have until Dec. 7 to change their drug plans for 2012. Consumer advocates recommend that seniors check their coverage during open enrollment to see if their current choice remains the best for next year. Many families start the process around the Thanksgiving holiday.

The coverage gap, a money-saving idea from a previous Congress, never has been popular.

It starts after an individual beneficiary and his or her drug plan have spent a total of $2,840 on medications for the year. Seniors are then on their own for the next $3,600.

Once total spending reaches about $6,440, Medicare's catastrophic coverage kicks in and beneficiaries pay only a token amount. Most people do not spend enough in the doughnut hole to qualify for catastrophic coverage.

Although few private insurance plans still cap the amount they spend on medications, Medicare's hole-in-the-middle approach is highly unusual.

The Republican-led Congress that passed the drug benefit under President George W. Bush was trying to balance coverage and costs, as many conservatives fretted about creating a new unfunded entitlement.

Supporters wanted all beneficiaries to get some initial benefit from the program, and they wanted to protect those with overwhelmingly high costs. The resulting compromise led to the doughnut hole.

Under Obama's health care law, the gap will be gradually phased down by 2020.

This year, the law provides a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs and 7 percent break on generics. Next year the discount on generics rises to 14 percent. When the changes are fully phased in, beneficiaries will still be responsible for their annual deductible and 25 percent of the cost of their medications until they reach catastrophic coverage.

If Republicans succeed in repealing what they dismiss as "Obamacare," the discounts would be wiped out as well.

Joan Gibbs thought her pharmacy had made a mistake. Her total cost for a brand-name painkiller in the doughnut hole came out lower than her co-payment earlier in the year, at a time her plan was picking up most of the tab.

"I reluctantly called the insurance company," said Gibbs, 54, who lives near Cleveland. "If they had made a mistake, I knew they would catch it sooner or later. I was very surprised that it turned out to be such a good discount."

Gibbs is on Medicare because of an auto-immune disorder and other medical problems that left her unable to work.

Other beneficiaries say it's still a struggle, even with the discounts.

John Robinson of Bel Air, Md., has diabetes and heart problems. A retired director of patient accounts for a hospital, Robinson said he runs up his credit card balance to pay for insulin, other medications and diabetic supplies in the doughnut hole.

"Thank God for credit cards," said Robinson, 71. "I thought it was better this year, but it still cost me more money than I had."


Online: Medicare plan finder: http://tinyurl.com/2c6o5fh

Through Your Child's Eyes: teaching ASL to your deaf or hard of hearing child : video : American Sign Language [Subtitled]

YouTube Uploaded by ThroughChildsEyes on Feb 4, 2011

For more information about teaching ASL to your deaf or hard of hearing child, please go to the following websites:

Deaf Education and Families Project

Parent Links

American Society for Deaf Children

Hands and Voices

National Association of the Deaf

Mental health services: It's the "state's" choice : opinion : Nov 2011

# Source: newsobserver.com; opinion - editorial; BY VICKI SMITH

RALEIGH, NC-- North Carolina's historic underfunding of community-based mental health care and related supports has received a lot of media coverage. Time and again, policymakers have made decisions that make it harder for people with disabilities to live in community-based settings, relying instead on costly institutional placements

The result is inadequate services and supports that force people into overcrowded emergency rooms and unnecessary institutional settings - in effect warehousing our neighbors and loved ones with disabilities. Far too often people with mental illness end up in jails, state prison or homeless shelters because they are not getting appropriate treatment. This deplorable situation is expensive and wrong-headed.

And it's against the law.

We know what to do. Task forces and study commissions have laid out the remedy for our state's leaders in report after report over the past decade. By implementing "best practices," we can support people with mental disabilities safely in the community. Using recovery-based approaches, people can reach their potentials and live meaningful lives. This is what the Americans with Disabilities Act and the landmark 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. LC promise.

In the Olmstead case, the Supreme Court held that failing to provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when such services are appropriate can "severely diminish the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement and cultural enrichment." This is the tragic situation in North Carolina.

Now our state's patchwork of inadequate services has the attention of both the U.S. Department of Justice and federal Medicare and Medicaid officials, who are questioning how North Carolina provides services to people with mental illness. The state is facing potential litigation over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the community integration mandate in the Olmstead decision.

The Justice Department says North Carolina is violating the law because it administers its service system in a way that needlessly segregates individuals with mental illness. If North Carolina won't make changes to bring the state into compliance with the law, the department will ask a federal judge to order the state to do so. Other states in similar situations have entered into settlement agreements rather than face costly and protracted litigation; such states include Georgia, New York, Illinois, California and Delaware.

We are at a crossroads, and Gov. Beverly Perdue has a choice: She can negotiate an agreement that will make the promise of Olmstead a reality in North Carolina, finally providing people with mental health and other disabilities the opportunity to live and participate in our communities with adequate and appropriate supports, or she can delay the lifesaving relief to which our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters are entitled and wait for the Justice Department to take the state to court.

Allowing the federal government to sue will needlessly divert resources from service provision to litigation. It will open up the state to court-directed remedies and the appointment of a "special master" to keep watch over our state.

What would choosing the second option say about our state?

Is it really better to "wait and see" what a federal judge will do rather than address this problem head-on and ensure that every person is given the opportunity to live a full and meaningful life with choice and dignity? Shouldn't North Carolina choose to participate in negotiations that will provide help sooner rather than later and at a much greater savings to our state?

What people with mental health disabilities need and deserve is also what the law requires - options enabling recovery for meaningful futures.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley understands what is required, saying recently: "We've got to start dealing with the problem. We have to prioritize it because what's happening now is these victims of mental illness are ending up in jail or in the hospital, and what they really need is treatment. These are people who can function on a day-to-day basis if they just get the services they need. And by not giving them the treatment they need, it's only costing taxpayers more money later."

This is the right approach for North Carolina to take, too. It is right, not only for North Carolinians with mental illness, but also for all the taxpayers.

Change is finally coming. The only question is whether Perdue will choose to have a voice in determining what it will look like - how it will be implemented and when - or wait for a federal judge to order the change and direct the specifics. Let's hope the governor seizes the initiative to address a deplorable situation that has gone on way too long.

Vicki Smith is the executive director of Disability Rights NC.

Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/11/27/1670521/mental-health-services-its-the.html#ixzz1euSjp3FP

Saturday, November 26, 2011

CTA 2011 Holiday Train Schudule & accessibility info...

The Chicago Transit Authority is getting into the holiday spirit with our popular Holiday Train! Santa and his elves will ride the train passing out candy canes and season's greetings.

The spectacular train is an amazing sight - during the daytime and at night. The outside of the six-car train is adorned with holiday seasonal images. Thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.

Interiors of the cars are decked out with thousands of multi-colored lights, red bows, garland, and red and green overhead lighting. The hand poles are wrapped to look like candy canes.

As the train pulls into each station, Santa waves to the boarding passengers from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees.

The Holiday Train will travel all CTA rail lines in November and December as part of regular rail service. Normal CTA fares apply.

The train generally operates from about 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on select weekdays (schedules for each rail line will vary), and will make stops at all stations along the respective routes.

Holiday Train 2011 Schedules
Detailed schedules will be posted as they become available.

Green Line & Orange Line November 25 - Friday
Green Line November 26 - Saturday
Green Line & Orange Line November 30 - Wednesday
Orange Line & Brown Line December 1 - Thursday
Orange Line & Brown Line December 2 - Friday
Orange Line & Brown Line December 3 - Saturday
Pink Line December 7 - Wednesday
Blue Line December 8 - Thursday
Blue Line December 9 - Friday
Blue Line December 10 - Saturday
Red Line December 14 - Wednesday
Purple Line December 15 - Thursday
Red Line December 16 - Friday
Red Line & Purple Line December 17 - Saturday
Red Line December 20 - Tuesday
Purple Line December 21 - Wednesday
Yellow Line December 22 - Thursday

CTA Holiday Train - Dec. 2010 - Connections - Chicago Transit Authority

YouTube Uploaded by CTAConnections on Dec 7, 2010

Accessibility on CTA

'L' (Train) Service
CTA's train system has dozens of stations that are accessible to customers with disabilities and all CTA trains come with accomodations for people with disabilities on some or all cars.

To find out which stations are accessible, see our List of Accessible Stations:

For more info on CTA accessibility visit:

For CTA Holiday Train Schedule 2012 (posted FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2012):

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chicago's Maggie Daley Dies at 68 : Nov 24, 2011

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

Margaret "Maggie" (Corbett) Daley, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and the former first lady of Chicago, has died after a nine-year battle with breast cancer.

She was 68 years old.

Her death comes just days after she witnessed her youngest daughter, Elizabeth "Lally" Daley, get married in a hastily-planned ceremony. News of Mrs. Daley's death was announced by the family's longtime spokeswoman, Jackie Heard. She said the former first lady was with her husband and surrounded by family and Fr. Jack Wall when she passed at 6:30 p.m.

Mrs. Daley's oncologist Dr. Steve Rosen said Maggie was "comfortable today." Rosen describes her "as angelic" and that "she was a remarkable, very special person." Rosen was at the Daley home Thursday morning and was called back to the home Thursday night.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "Chicago has lost a warm and gracious First Lady who contributed immeasurably to our city."

"While Mayor Daley served as the head of this city, Maggie was its heart," Emanuel in a statement. "Of all her accomplishments, Maggie’s most treasured role was as a wife, mother, and grandmother."

"Tonight, the State of Illinois lost a great treasure," Gov. Pat Quinn said. "Maggie Daley was a woman for all seasons who treated Chicago residents like family and served up hope and inspiration wherever she went."

Born Margaret Corbett in Pittsburgh, Penn., she was the youngest of seven children. She was a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in history. In 1970 while working in Chicago, she met a young Richard M. Daley at a Christmas party. Their first date was on New Years Eve.

At the time she was working for the Xerox Learning Systems, part of Xerox Education Group as an account executive. They were married in 1972, the same year Daley was elected to the Illinois Senate. Together the Daleys had four children: Nora, Patrick , Kevin -- who died of spina bifida at the age of three -- and Lally. Over the years, Mrs. Daley became publicly involved in disability issues. She began volunteering at Pathways Foundation, an organization which raises awareness about the benefits of early detections and therapy for children with physical disabilities. In 1988 she became the creator and president of the foundation "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors Program" within Pathways, which promotes inclusive and accessible houses for worship for all faiths. She was best known, however, as the chair of the "After School Matters" (ASM) program, which provides teenagers with engaging activities in the after-school hours. ASM later merged with Chicago’s Gallery 37, which uses art to employ people of all ages with creative and vocational skills. As Chicago’s first lady, Ms. Daley steered away from the political world her husband embraced, as a gentler spotlight fell on her. Maggie Daley was first diagnosed with cancer in 2002 while she and her husband were in Ireland. She began a series of chemotherapy treatments at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. At the time, the survival rate for metastasized breast cancer was one to two years. Remarkably, over and over, Maggie Daley beat the odds. In 2006 a tumor was found in her right breast, and a one-hour hour surgery to remove it was a success.

Afterward, Mrs. Daley maintained working on the projects close to her heart, including After School Matters and Gallery 37, with little notice given to her illness. In April of 2009, she was singled out at a Washington gala as an advocate for the awareness she raised for the youth of the inner city.

"It will be a challenge, but it is a challenge we should meet. And I am going to put every ounce of energy into this," she said in an interview discussing ASM and the struggles during tough economic times.

One could compare this statement to her fight against the challenge of a deadly disease. In December 2009, the cruel reality of her disease took a turn for the worse when doctors found a new tumor in her right leg. She was told to use a wheelchair while undergoing radiation. Dedicated and passionate to her charitable efforts, she kept up her public appearances.

"She has been a remarkable person who continues to do wonderfully well as we continue to reassess what next steps would be best. Fortunately, the therapy has continued to evolve with new options," her physician, Dr. Steven Rosen, said at the time. Mrs. Daley underwent a second leg operation in March 2010, when a titanium rod was put into her leg to reduce the risk of a fracture and later began rehab. Her absence at numerous events afterward were blamed on continual pain. In April of that year, and shortly after learning that her leg had been fractured, Mrs. Daley was on-hand for the dedication of a Northwestern University Hospital cancer center named in her honor. The Maggie Daley Center for Women’s Cancer Care is a two-floor center for women dealing with breast cancer.

"My wish is that this will be a place of nourishment for all women," she said at the ceremony. Through it all, Maggie Daley battled cancer with a quiet but firm grace, publicly undeterred against great odds.

She was a living testament to what Winston Churchill once said: "It is the courage to continue that counts."

#Source: NBC Chicago
By Carol Marin, Don Moseley, Mary Ann Ahern and Stephanie Ridenour

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

U.S. health system delivers Costly uneven care : Nov 23, 2011

Reuters By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters)-- The U.S. healthcare system is more effective at delivering high costs than quality care, according to a new study that found first-rate treatment for cancer but insufficient primary care for other ailments.

The study, released on Wednesday by the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, said Americans pay more than $7,900 per person for healthcare each year -- far more than any other OECD country -- but still die earlier than their peers in the industrialized world.

The cost of healthcare in the United States is 62 percent higher than that in Switzerland, which has a similar per capita income and also relies substantially on private health insurance.

Meanwhile, Americans receive comparatively little actual care, despite sky-high prices driven by expensive tests and procedures. They also spend more tax money on healthcare than most other countries, the study showed.

An "underdeveloped" U.S. primary care system is plagued by shortages of family doctors and high rates of avoidable hospital admissions for people with asthma, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension and other common illnesses.

U.S. survival rates are the world's highest among breast cancer patients and the second highest, after Japan, for people with colorectal cancer - due in part to effective early screening, the study showed. The study also said Americans experience generally good acute hospital care.

"It's a very, very mixed pattern," said Mark Pearson, head of the OECD health division. "You get a very high quality of care for your money in some areas. Very poor quality, compared to other countries, in other areas."

The quality and cost of the $2.6 trillion U.S. healthcare system are at the forefront of a rancorous national political debate over how to regulate and pay for treatment, particularly for the poor and elderly.

The 2010 U.S. healthcare reform law, which seeks to control costs over time by altering incentives for doctors and other providers, faces a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court, and Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail have called for its repeal.


Federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid, the government programs for the elderly and the poor, is also a leading target of efforts to narrow the yawning U.S. fiscal deficit.

The OECD said U.S. public spending on healthcare reached 8 percent of the economy versus a 7 percent OECD average in 2009, the latest year for which comparison figures are available.

A forum of developed nations set up to foster global development, the OECD said U.S. life expectancy of 78.2 years ranked 28th - just behind Chile's and well below the average of 79.5 years among member nations.

The growth in U.S. life expectancy over the past half century is also below average, gaining only 8.3 years since 1960 compared with an 11.2-year OECD average.

The United States was ranked fourth from the bottom for premature mortality, which focuses on deaths among younger people. The measure, which reflects dangers posed by violence, accidents and environmental hazards, puts America behind all others save Hungary, Mexico and Russia.

Pearson said researchers believe national mortality rates increasingly reflect the quality of healthcare, though more than half of the equation is still believed to lie with other indicators including lifestyle and diet.

Americans have fewer doctors and hospital beds, make fewer doctor visits, go to the hospital less often and stay for shorter lengths of time than about three-quarters of the other OECD countries.

But the United States is at the front of the pack when it comes to costly medical procedures including knee replacements, MRI and CT scans and tonsillectomies.

And it is consistently at the top of the cost chart for a number of procedures including caesarean sections, which are almost twice as expensive in the United States as in Germany.

Pharmaceuticals also cost about 60 percent more than in a range of European countries.

Pearson said one reason prices are higher in the United States is that the healthcare system lacks what other countries have: an effective government mechanism that acts to keep prices down.

"That's simply not there in the U.S. system. So it's a structural defect," he said

(Editing by Gary Hill)

Potential New Treatments for People with Spondyloarthropathies

Spondylitis Association of America and Global Disease Experts Discuss Promising Data for Potential New Treatments for People with Spondyloarthropathies

Data Presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting Are Welcome and Exciting News for Patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Psoriatic Arthritis

By Spondylitis Association of America
Published: Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - 5:42 am

VAN NUYS, Calif., Nov. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) and leading disease experts from around the world met during the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago, IL to discuss the latest data and treatment breakthroughs around spondyloarthropathies. ACR is one of the premier congresses highlighting innovative research in the treatment of people with these debilitating diseases, with more than numerous sessions and abstracts on ankylosing spondylitis presented during the meeting.

"I am encouraged to see the latest data in progress being made to treat spondyloarthropathies including ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis," said Laurie M. Savage, Executive Director, Spondylitis Association of America. "The development of potential new therapies, including novel, oral small molecules, gives hope for more treatment options for people with these diseases."

There is currently no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. Current medical treatments for spondyloarthropathy are all aimed at reducing overall inflammation, and include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) including both traditional medications and newer biologics.

Psoriatic arthritis is also a spondyloarthropathy and is associated with the skin condition psoriasis, which is caused by immune system problems that result in increased cell growth. In the United States, approximately three percent of the population, or more than five million adults, have psoriasis. For people with psoriatic arthritis, quality of life is impacted by both the physical symptoms of the disease and the emotional burden of disfiguring skin symptoms.

Continued research has pointed the way to new methods of fine-tuning the immune response and controlling inflammation that may someday offer better relief with fewer side effects. One study seen at ACR was of an investigational treatment that may be the first small molecule to show an effect in both psoriatic arthritis as well as the axial and peripheral components of ankylosing spondylitis.

"Exciting advancements in research are going on in spondyloarthropathies. Apremilast – is a novel oral therapy that could potentially offer a new disease-modifying treatment option for people who are affected by this debilitating condition," said Dr. Peter Taylor, Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences, Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist and Head of Clinical Trials, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford, UK. "I am delighted to be working with the Spondylitis Association of America in order to educate people about this disease and show them the hope that potential new treatments may provide."

Spondyloarthropathies (sometimes called spondyloarthritis) are a group of interrelated chronic diseases that cause inflammation in the spine (spondylo) and other joints, as well as at the points where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a crippling form of arthritis falling under this category that generally strikes young people in their teens and twenties, sometimes even earlier. Left untreated, it causes pain, disability and can eventually cause the spinal vertebrae to fuse together forming one brittle bone, often in a stooped over position. The most common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are pain and stiffness.

Video footage from an educational workshop conducted by the Spondylitis Association of America is available on request.

About Ankylosing Spondylitis

Spondylitis is the term used to refer to a group of chronic, inflammatory diseases that generally strike young people between the ages of 15 and 35. Typically, spondylitis causes pain and stiffness and, in the most severe cases, can result in a total fusion of the spine and/or neck, leading to disability. Although spondylitis primarily affects the spine, it is not uncommon for the disease to impact the joints of the shoulders, hips, knees and feet, as well as cause inflammation of the eye. More rarely, because AS is a systemic (whole body) condition, other organs such as the heart and lungs can also become involved.

About the Spondylitis Association of America

The Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) is the only nonprofit organization in the US dedicating all of its resources to improving the lives of people with ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. Established in 1983, SAA is committed to increasing awareness of spondylitis, providing information and support to patients and their families, and ultimately, working to uncover a cure for the disease.

SAA produces the most comprehensive library of spondylitis resources available in the US -- including books, DVDs, CDs, brochures and other publications; a 1,700-page interactive website, www.spondylitis.org; a quarterly, advertising-free news magazine, and a network of nationwide Educational Support Groups to educate and support people living with this chronic illness.

At the forefront of every major milestone achieved in spondylitis education, research and advocacy in the last 25 years, you will find the Spondylitis Association of America.


SOURCE Spondylitis Association of America

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/11/21/4070310/spondylitis-association-of-america.html#ixzz1eRQpec8l

U.S. Census Bureau : 1 In 20 Kids Have A Disability : Nov 22, 2011

As reported by; Disability Scoop By Michelle Diament

Census: 1 In 20 Kids Have A Disability

About 5 percent of school-age children in the United States have a disability, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The statistic comes from a brief released this month offering an in-depth look at kids ages 5 through 17 with disabilities who live in community settings.

While the Census has long collected data on this group through its annual American Community Survey, this year marks the first time that government officials analyzed the results, said Matthew Brault, a Census statistician and the author of the report.

Brault found about 2.8 million children living with cognitive, vision, hearing, ambulatory, self-care or independent difficulties in 2010, the most recent year data is available. That represents about 5 percent of the nation’s 53.9 million school-age children.

Those with special needs were most likely to have cognitive difficulties, which were reported by more than half of kids with disabilities in every geographical area of the country.

What’s more, the Census report found that children with disabilities were more likely than their typically developing peers to attend public schools rather than private. However, the number of students with special needs enrolled in public schools varied dramatically from 76.5 percent in some areas of the country to almost 100 percent in others.

# For more Disability Scoop visit: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/

# For U.S. Census Bureau visit: http://www.census.gov/

U.S. Access Board guidelines and standards, and accessible design - Monthly Webinar's by National Network of ADA Centers : Nov 2011

Webinar and Audio Conference Series
Provided by the Access Board and the National Network of ADA Centers

Learn more about the work of the Access Board, its guidelines and standards, and accessible design through this series of free monthly webinars and audio conferences. Sessions also provide an opportunity to earn continuing education credits (CEUs).

To register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Direct inquiries to adaconferences@adagreatlakes.org or (877) 232-1990 (v/TTY).

Upcoming Webinars

Accessible Schools December 1, 2011 2:30 - 4:00 (ET)

The 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standard apply to many types of schools in the public and private sectors, including primary, secondary, trade schools and colleges and universities . This session will provide an overview of requirements in the ADA and ABA standards for newly constructed and altered school facilities and their related elements and spaces such as student laboratories, assembly seating, assistive listening systems, and much more.

Earlene Sesker

Accessible Golf Courses January 5, 2012 2:30 - 4:00 (ET)

The 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards and the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards address the design and construction of golf courses. Technical provisions address teeing grounds, putting greens, teeing stations at driving ranges, course weather shelters, golf car rental areas, bag drop areas, and course toilet rooms. Special criteria permit the use of a “golf car passage” in lieu of the traditional accessible route to connect these spaces within the boundary of the course. This session will review these specifications and highlight the impact on newly constructed, altered, and existing golf courses.

Peggy Greenwell
Bill Botten

Accessible Courthouses and Courtrooms Feb 2, 2012 2:30 - 4:00 (ET)

The design of courthouses poses challenges to access due to unique features, such as courtroom areas that are elevated within confined spaces. Technical provisions addressing these issues are included in the 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards. This session will review requirements in the standards that address access to courthouses and courtrooms, including secured entrances, judges’ benches, jury boxes, witness stands, clerks’ stations, bailiffs’ stations, spectators galleries, holding cells, and other spaces.

Dave Yanchulis

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
March 1, 2012 2:30 - 4:00 (ET)

Are you ready? On or after March 15, 2012, the 2010 ADA Standards must be used for all new construction or alterations to facilities covered by the ADA. This session will be an opportunity to better familiarize you with the new standards and the changes from the 1991 standards. Accessibility specialists will focus on more frequently asked questions about the 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards and other areas where guidance is often requested.

Dave Yanchulis
Rex Pace
Peggy Greenwell

Archived Webinars

Accessible Marinas and Boating Facilities

Accessible Retail Stores and Spaces

Section 508 – “The Basics”

Proposed Guidelines on Accessible Public Rights-of-Way

Accessible Health Clubs and Fitness Facilities

Accessible Hospitals and Other Health Care Facilities

Accessible Doors and Maneuvering Clearances

Open Question and Answer Session with Access Board Accessibility Specialists

Enforcing the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)

Accessible Swimming Pools and Spas

Accessible Transient Lodging

Accessible Signage

Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings

And many more, please visit: http://www.access-board.gov/webinars.htm

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White launches top-to-bottom review of disabled placard abuse : Nov 22, 2011

An ongoing series of reports by:
Chicago Sun-Times By Chris Fusco

A top-to-bottom review of the state’s parking program for people with disabilities will begin in January, in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that found that more able-bodied people than ever are illegally using disabled-parking placards to park for free in metered spots in Chicago.

Secretary of State Jesse White on Tuesday announced the initiative, which follows Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and state Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) each proposing different ideas to stop the problem, which has been on the rise because of escalating parking-meter fees citywide. Emanuel has proposed increased fines for placard scofflaws within Chicago, while May is proposing that the Legislature end free parking in metered spots statewide for all but a select handful of disabled people.

White said the state’s newly created Safe Driver Advisory Council will begin tackling the issue in January. The secretary himself heads the 10-member panel, which also includes state legislators and representatives from traffic-safety groups.

White plans to ask disabled-rights groups, Emanuel’s office, May, judges and prosecutors to testify before the council about ways to improve the program. He personally wants the panel to consider stiffer penalties for people caught using a deceased person’s placard, proposing a $2,500 fine and longer driver’s license suspension.

A host of other issues will be on the table, too, White said, citing an example from the Sun-Times’ “Meter Cheaters” investigation.

“We also find placards that have been manufactured, purchased or bought . . . that are illegal,” White said. “You saw that case in the paper where the lady had Illinois license plates on the car, but she had a New York disability placard. Things like that, we just cannot tolerate.”

Statewide, there are more than 577,000 permanent-disability placards in circulation and tens of thousands more temporary-disability placards, which expire after no more than six months. Another 82,000-plus vehicles statewide have disability license plates.

The Sun-Times found that in Cook County, there is a placard in circulation for one in every 13 passenger vehicles. Because placards are issued to individuals, they easily can be transferred from car to car — a system that is rife for potential abuse given that Illinois law for decades has allowed disabled people to park for free all day at metered spots.

Besides announcing the Safe Driver Advisory Council’s plans, White also announced that the Secretary of State Police will launch their annual crackdown on people who abuse disabled-only parking spots at malls starting on “Black Friday,” traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

Deaf man (Gary Albert) found innocent of killing deaf 15-year-old girlfriend (Dawn Niles) in 1981

Source: Chicago Sun Times; BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK

Gary Albert, pudgier than his 1981 yearbook showed him and wearing glasses, walked out of the Bridgeview courthouse Monday night a free man, acquitted of the cold case murder of his pregnant, 15-year-old deaf girlfriend.

{photo: Hinsdale South High School yearbook photos show Dawn Niles and Gary Albert sitting next to one another in group shots for the school's deaf drama club and its chapter of the Junior Illinois Assocation for the Deaf)

Jurors who heard five days of evidence against Albert, who 30 years ago was an 18-year-old deaf student at Hinsdale South High School, decided in less than an hour that he did not kill Dawn Niles as prosecutors had charged.

“Mr. Albert, you are free to go,” Judge Joan M. O’Brien told the 49-year-old, and once the American Sign Language interpreter relayed her words, Albert looked up at the ceiling. His mother uttered “Oh dear God” and burst into tears.

“I knew they couldn’t convict my son,” Diane Dzierzynski said. “I knew it 30 years ago.”

Niles’ family — her brother, mother and the sister who urged the reopening of the case of the murdered blonde teenager — sat stunned a minute then left the courtroom to hug and cry. They had nothing to say afterwards.

Niles, of La Grange Park, disappeared after school on March 17, 1981. Her body, three months pregnant and fully clothed, was found by a teenager riding a horse around Horsetail Lake in the Cook County Forest Preserves near Palos Park five days later.

Photographs taken of her body showed her comb still in her back pocket; her shoes remained on her feet, Assistant State’s Attorney William Delaney told jurors in closing arguments.

“These photos show she was comfortable with who she was with,” Delaney said. “Because it was Gary Albert, her boyfriend of 10 months.”

Prosecutors pegged Albert’s motive to the pregnancy. He told his girlfriend to tell her mother she’d been raped, or that she’d been going with some other boy, a high school friend testified at the trial.

While Niles was missing, her mother called Albert’s Darien home looking for her daughter. Albert told her that the couple had broken up a month before.

The DNA swabbed from inside her body in 1981 could be further tested after a Cook County Sheriff’s detective reopened the case in 2006. The semen belonged to Albert, now living in Sugar Grove, and its quality indicated he had sex with Niles in more recent days than he initially admitted.

He spoke with police in 2008 through an amateur interpreter, but prosecutors did not play the recording of the six hour interview.

“They want you to believe that semen proves he’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt — bull!” Albert’s attorney, Tom Breen, shouted during closing arguments. “Just bull. It doesn’t prove anything other than they had consensual sex.”

Breen pointed to gaps in evidence — no specific date of death, no murder weapon, no indication of where Niles was punched in the face then stabbed 34 times before her body was dragged to the spot where it was found. He painted Niles, to her family’s hushed indignation, as a scared runaway who could have fallen prey to a dangerous stranger.

“It would be nice if they could get the person who killed her,” Breen said, dropping his voice.

“It would be real nice.”

# http://www.suntimes.com/8984700-417/man-found-innocent-of-killing-deaf-15-year-old-girlfriend-in-1981.html

* below is a collection of news storys on...

Chicago: The trials of accomodating a deaf murder defendant - Gary Albert: 2011

By Lauren FitzPatrick Sun-Times Media May 04,2011

Behind the glass doors of one of Bridgeview’s felony courtrooms, a tall white projection screen nearly blocked the action inside.

A giant TV sat near the judge, facing the jury box, and smaller TV monitors perched on the defense table. Throughout the room, hands were flying.

Accused murderer Gary Albert sat at the defense table, focusing on the face and fingers of one of several interpreters who will translate every word uttered aloud into American Sign Language during his upcoming trial.

Jury selection is scheduled to start in about a month, and at a hearing last week, Judge Joan O’Brien wanted to test some of the extra features Albert and other hearing-impaired participants in the case will rely on.

Born deaf, Albert is accused in the 1981 stabbing murder of Dawn Niles, his classmate at the Hinsdale South High School, which had a program for deaf students. He was 18 then, he’s now 48.

Niles, of LaGrange Park, was 15 and pregnant with his child when she was found in the Horsetail Slough Forest Preserve near 123rd Street and 104th Avenue in Palos Township. She had been missing for six days. She had been stabbed more than 30 times.

Her case was reopened in 2006, and Albert, her boyfriend at the time of her death, was charged in March 2008, after modern DNA tools linked him to the crime.

Albert, of Sugar Grove, reads lips poorly, a former attorney said, and needs a sign language interpreter to communicate with people. American Sign Language, rather than English, is his first language, attorneys said.

His current legal team has argued he wasn’t properly warned about his rights during a six-hour recorded interview with a Cook County Sheriff’s detective. The Chicago police officer who signed back and forth was not licensed; he was self-taught.

The judge will let prosecutors use the interview, but chided investigators last year for not giving Albert a written version of his rights or a licensed interpreter during the questioning.

So at trial, he’ll have at least three.

One will sit at the defense table, chatting with him and his attorneys, Thomas Breen and Todd Pugh.

One will perch in the open space in front of the judge, relaying every audible word to Albert.

When deaf witnesses take the stand, as is expected, one will sign questions and voice answers aloud, in the space between the witness stand and the jury box.

The third interpreter will have to fit near the witness stand, because, as the male interpreter explained aloud to the judge during the rehearsal, he can’t voice the witness’ testimony and sign it at the same time. It’s impossible to speak in one language and sign in another, and ASL isn’t English.

Fingers point out who’s talking. Hands race. Lips silently repeat the speaker’s words while eyebrows crinkle and soar to convey the tone and demeanor of the spoken voice.

So everyone in the room will have to remember to keep the sightline clear between Albert and the seated witness.

Plus the court reporter’s transcript will be projected live onto several of the screens, including the large white one facing the right half of the audience.

By the rehearsal’s end, the male interpreter is sweating, and the judge is satisfied that the proceedings afford Albert the same access to justice as anyone else.

As O’Brien leaves the bench, the defense team tests how they’ll confer privately, huddling behind the white screen that also will block their conversation from the eyes of anyone else who can read their words.

The attorneys practice a couple of key words that’ll come up a ton.

“OK,” they say, putting thumbs and index fingers together.

Then Breen hooks his index finger, deciphering another one:



Witnesses recall teen love affair as man stands trial for 30-year-old murder

Chicago Tribune By Steve Schmadeke Nov 15 2011

More than 30 years after the body of a pregnant, deaf Hinsdale South High School freshman was found in a forest preserve near Palos Park, her boyfriend went on trial for the murder Tuesday, with prosecutors arguing he was so intent on ending the pregnancy that he suggested she tell her mom she'd been raped.

Dawn Niles, 15, of LaGrange Park, was about three months pregnant when she disappeared on March 17, 1981. Her body, with 34 stab wounds, was later found by a fisherman on the bridle paths near Horsetail Lake, prosecutors said.

After her slaying, investigators quickly focused on Gary Albert, now 49 but then an 18-year-old senior who was also deaf and had a new girlfriend. Two witnesses testified Tuesday that they either saw Dawn leaving school that day in Albert's beat-up brown Chevrolet or walking toward his car.

Both witnesses admitted under cross-examination that police had shown them photos of only Albert's car and no others when they were interviewed after Cook County sheriff's police re-examined the case in 2006 at the urging of Dawn's sister.

Albert was charged with the murder in 2008 after DNA testing determined he'd had sex with Dawn shortly before her death. Assistant State's Attorney Kathaleen Lanahan said soil samples from Albert's car matched samples taken from near where Dawn's body was found.

"Make him accept responsibility for the murder of Dawn Niles," Lanahan told jurors.

Todd Pugh, one of Albert's attorneys, said police were so focused on charging his client that they ignored other suspects; failed to ask questions about why Dawn's family didn't report her missing for two days; and conducted an "intellectually dishonest, lazy" investigation that included the use of a "woefully unqualified" sign-language interpreter while questioning Albert.

"Over the 30 years in this case, Gary Albert has been prejudged; false assumptions have been made of him by the investigating officers," Pugh said.

Mary Augustyn, now 46 and living in Florida, smiled widely as prosecutors displayed a photo of her old friend Dawn.

Augustyn testified through a sign-language interpreter that she and Dawn were running laps during gym class on March 17 when Dawn said she was feeling sick, and they both huddled in a spot out of the view of the gym teacher for a conversation.

Dawn told her she was pregnant, but hadn't told her mother or seen a doctor, only confiding in Albert, who wanted her to have an abortion, Augustyn testified. The couple, who were in Drama Club together, had been "inseparable," Augustyn testified, but after breaking up a month earlier had been constantly fighting.

"Gary did not want to have anything to do with it," Augustyn testified. "He didn't want to support the baby."

She said Dawn told her Albert said, "Why don't you tell your mother that you were raped or that you were dating another guy?"

"Dawn was very upset with that," Augustyn testified.

"This was her first love and they'd broken up," she said, saying Dawn had seemed to have had an "emotional breakdown."

A close friend of Albert's, Robert Krueger, now 49 and living in Phoenix, testified he had seen Albert and Dawn having a physical confrontation at school sometime before she disappeared.

"I saw Gary and Dawn arguing and somehow Dawn was grabbing his arm and Gary was screaming and grabbed and slapped her and then Dawn slapped him and he slapped her back," he said.


When man had sex with teen at center of murder trial in girl’s 1981 death

BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK : Chicago Sun-Times : Nov 18, 2011

Dawn Niles’ mother watched her daughter leave for school on March 17, 1981, wearing a striped turtleneck sweater she borrowed from her mom.

And when the 15-year-old didn’t come home that afternoon from the program for deaf students she attended at Hinsdale South High school, Sandra Boston assumed she was where she typically was: With her boyfriend, Gary Albert.

“I thought she was with Gary,” Boston testified Friday, more than 30 years after her middle child’s body was found in a Cook County Forest Preserve.

Albert, who in 1981 was 18 and attending the same program for the deaf, is standing trial on two counts of murder, accused of stabbing Niles 34 times because, prosecutors say, she was pregnant and he didn’t want to be a father.

Her body was found March 22, 1981, near Horsetail Lake in Palos Township, but the case went cold.

It was reopened in 2006 after DNA showed Albert had sex with Niles soon before she died, contradicting Albert’s claims at the time of her death that he hadn’t seen her in some time.

Albert, now 49 and living in Sugar Grove, denies killing Niles. His attorneys say police rushed to conclusions and ignored other leads and suspects.

Boston, now 67, said she became worried when her daughter didn’t come home to LaGrange Park the next day, either. Nor had she gone to school.

Her frantic phone calls to friends included a special call to Albert on March 19 at his Darien home through her daughter’s TTY typing machine for the deaf.

“I asked him where she was,” Boston said, trying not to cry. “He said he didn’t know. They had broke up on Feb. 18” — a month earlier.

State police crime lab analysts confirmed Friday that the sperm found in Niles matched Albert, though they couldn’t pinpoint exactly when the couple last had sex.

The sperm found was intact, forensic biologist Lisa Kell said, suggesting it had been within five days.

Defense attorney Tom Breen pushed her, in a testy exchange with Assistant State’s Attorney William Delaney, to consider a longer time frame, considering the condition of Niles’ body when it was found.

Boston said she knew her daughter was having sex with Albert. She didn’t know, she said while crying again, that the girl was pregnant.

Albert had told a friend after Niles’ funeral that he did know.

“He said that he was the real father of that baby, of Dawn’s baby,” Thomas Cole, now 50, testified through a sign language interpreter.

Albert also told Cole on March 20, 1981, that he’d last seen Niles on March 17, the last day she went to school.

“He said that he drove her off, and after that she ran away and went missing and that’s all he knew,” Cole testified.