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 Honoring Wade Blank

Misc. Articles
The death of the Reverend Wade Blank on February 15, 1993, left a profound emptiness in the hearts of many people who loved and respected him. But any void in the disability rights movement is only momentary, for Blank left behind scores of human values, a keen analysis – and scores of skilled, committed leaders ready to carry the movement forward.

American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT) and its mother, the Atlantis Community in Denver, both embody the spiritual, organizational and strategic lessons Blank carried over from the 1960s black civil rights movement. He had been a Presbyterian minister, a War on Poverty field organizer and a disciple of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., before becoming an orderly, then an assistant administrator, in a Denver nursing home.

Early in his career as a iconoclastic minister and civil rights worker, Blank developed the concept of a "liberated community" – a society where human beings could live in equality and develop the power to effect change. When, at the Heritage House nursing home, he found himself in the midst of a "community" of people with severe disabilities, whose only community structure was one of oppression – the confines of the institution – he took on the challenge of making the "liberated community" a reality.

It all started when Blank came to Denver seeking a change. "The nursing home industry in Denver recruited its nursing home administrators from the ranks of ex-ministers," he recalled recently… A nursing home executive called Blank. "They said, ‘You’re young. You’re hip. Could you start a youth wing for us?’ So, I started a youth wing."

Hired by Heritage House in December 1971, Blank went to visit the residents the evening before he began his new job. "I remember for dinner that night we had baked potatoes, applesauce and scrambled eggs, and that was near Christmas. The place was like a morgue. The food was cold." Blank chatted with severely disabled individuals, some of whom would later become ADAPT organizers. "Little did I know," Blank recalled, "that I was to enter the most important moment of my life.

"I had 60 young people I recruited. Every morning at 7:30, they’d get dressed and get on a school bus, and go to a workshop and count fish hooks. Called it (a) work activities program."

At council meetings of the young people, the residents made simple requests, and an idealistic Blank tried to implement them. "I let them evaluate the nurses," he said. "They wanted co-ed living. They wanted to have pets. They wanted to have rock ‘n’ roll bands. So three years into this experiment, the nursing home is just like a college dorm on a crazy weekend all the time.

"I was trying to change it from inside, and I didn’t understand the monster I worked for," he recalled.

In 1975, Blank proposed "that we move a few of them out into apartments, and we let the aides and orderlies punch in at the nursing home, then go to the apartment and give them service." That idea got Blank fired. "The nursing home saw where I was going, and they couldn’t let me go in that direction."

Once Blank was fired, the nursing home erased all his reforms. "They came in and they took all the stereos and TVs out of everybody’s rooms, had the dog pound come by and get all the animals and in one day it went from everything I’d built for four years – to that."

But Blank wasn’t about to give up. Thinking to himself that he’d "recruited all these people to this hell," he decided simply to move them out "and do the care myself…

"Within the first six months, I’d moved 18 severely disabled people out. So now I was wed to the concept. You know, I couldn’t walk away from it."

That exodus laid the foundations for the Atlantis Community and its political-action offshoot, ADAPT. "We began t learn about power and what empowerment is, and how to use it," Blank said. While Atlantis was liberating people from nursing homes, ADAPT (which then stood for American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit) took on discrimination in Denver’s, and then the nation’s, bus systems. Using non-violent, direct-action tactics similar to King’s movement, ADAPTers made bold demands and achieved extraordinary results.

Posted by wheelcoolguy on Monday, February 15 @ 19:01:56 PST (2885 reads)
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 SSA Adding 38 New Compassionate Allowances (Effective March 1)

Misc. ArticlesAnonymous writes "Source:

Social Security Adds 38 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions

For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Mark Lassiter, Press Officer


News Release

Social Security Adds 38 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions

Expansion Will Speed Benefits to Thousands of Americans with Disabilities

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced that the
agency is adding 38 more conditions to its list of Compassionate Allowances.
This is the first expansion since the original list of 50 conditions - 25
rare diseases and 25 cancers - was announced in October 2008. The new
conditions range from adult brain disorders to rare diseases that primarily
affect children. The complete list of the new Compassionate Allowance
conditions is attached.

"The addition of these new conditions expands the scope of Compassionate
Allowances to a broader subgroup of conditions like early-onset Alzheimer's
disease," Commissioner Astrue said. "The expansion we are announcing today
means tens of thousands of Americans with devastating disabilities will now
get approved for benefits in a matter of days rather than months and years."

Note: Sharing this news from Social Security Administration. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the SSA.

Posted by onecandream on Saturday, February 13 @ 13:15:32 PST (4650 reads)
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 Featured Site: WC3 Web Accessibility Initiative

Misc. ArticlesThis is a great site for those wanting to learn more about website accessibility. Designing a functional accessible website is not always easy as there are many things to consider. This site is a great resource for anyone trying to improve website accessibility.

WAI Resources on Introducing Web Accessibility

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.

Complete List of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools

Note: A link to this website can also be accessed from the web links section of our website. If you know of a quality website that might be of interest to our visitors and you would like for us to consider including it in our directory, please submit the link to that site to our web link directory. Submitting a link to the directory does not guarantee inclusion.

Posted by onecandream on Saturday, February 13 @ 12:43:19 PST (1500 reads)
(Read More... | 3 comments | Score: 0)

 Transportation: A Godsend, Except When It's Not

Misc. ArticlesBy ARIEL KAMINEN

Jean Ryan is the kind of New Yorker who makes everyone else feel lazy. She has two master’s degrees and a black belt in tae kwon do. She serves on her local community board. You know the type? Try this one: When she had eye surgery two weeks ago, she refused sedation.

She and her husband moved to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn , in 1972, counting on the R train to get to Manhattan galleries and museums and plays and restaurants.

Then Ms. Ryan developed neuropathy in her legs and feet. Now she uses a motorized wheelchair, which pretty much rules out the subway. There’s an express bus near her home, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed cutbacks include curtailing it on weekends. Car services are out, since her chair cannot be folded up and thrown into a trunk. So Ms. Ryan, 65, increasingly relies on Access-a-Ride, the vans that provide door-to-door transportation for disabled people, for $2.25 — the same as for a subway or a bus.

Posted by wheelcoolguy on Tuesday, February 09 @ 21:18:20 PST (3060 reads)
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 Judges Laugh at Arguements that Theaters Aren't Bound by the ADA

Misc. ArticlesBanner Day in Court for People with Hearing Loss

...The Arizona Attorney General's Office sued the Harkins theater chain, claiming that the business violated both ADA and Arizona state law by failing to show captioned and described movies. The AG was not suggesting that the theaters themselves had to provide the captions or descriptions, but only that they need to install the equipment necessary to show the captions and descriptions provided by the studios.

The theaters took the position that ADA does not regulate the contents of their products or services, and that they offer non-captioned movies. "We have the right to choose what services we provide, and that is our choice," said the attorney for the theaters. "We let everyone come into our theaters and see our (non-captioned) movies, and that is what ADA requires us to do."

The AG's office, on the other hand, said that captions are the kind of "auxiliary aid and service" that the ADA requires to enable people with hearing and vision losses to gain the "full enjoyment" of the businesses' offerings.

The judges basically said flat-out that they thought the theater argument is preposterous. Alex Kozinski, the chief judge, said, "What if we took the position that this building is a building with steps, and if someone in a wheelchair wants to come in, they can find somebody to carry them?"

Kozinksi went on, "Actually, that case happened, and some lawyer argued that being able to crawl up the steps was good enough. Today, people are laughing at that argument, and I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years, people are laughing at your argument."

The attorney didn't back down. And the judges started laughing.

"Captions just let them enjoy the same movie that everybody else sees," Kozinski said. "I don't know why you don't want to do this." Kozinski went on to say that at best, it's only a matter of time before movie theaters have to comply. "You are going to lose," he said. "You might not even lose this case, but you will lose someday. Why don't you get out ahead and do the right thing instead of being jerks?" Nor were the judges impressed with any argument about cost. I asked for CART for the hearing, which was provided. "That wasn't in our budget," Kozinski said, "but we pulled it together in a day. With what theaters are doing with 3D, the cost of this (providing equipment to show captions) is just a drop in the bucket."...

Posted by wheelcoolguy on Wednesday, January 27 @ 00:00:00 PST (3823 reads)
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 Crusader Justin Dart

Misc. ArticlesADA Pioneer Justin Dart Memorialized in a Giant Hero Puppet.

To commemorate the extraordinary life of Justin Dart, widely recognized as the “father of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the Detroit-based Matrix Theatre Company is creating a giant street puppet in his likeness for use in demonstrations and parades.

The ADA became the law of the land on July 26, 1990 through the tireless efforts of trailblazers like Dart, and the puppet will ready in time to mark the 20th anniversary of this landmark legislation. The Dart puppet will make its debut during the U.S. Social Forum, an event held in Detroit on June 22-26 which brings people together to solve global and ecological crises, and will be featured in Chicago ’s 7th Annual Disability Pride Parade on July 24.

The Matrix Theatre Company “uses the transformative power of theatre to change lives, build community and foster social justice,” and has a tradition of calling for a united community effort to see their puppet projects to fruition. Once the $7,500 is raised and the tribute is completed, the Dart puppet will join the Matrix ranks of puppet activists like Martin Luther King, Ceaser Chavez and Mother Jones.

"If the giant Justin Dart puppet is used to communicate his cry for everyone to 'Lead the Revolution of Individual Empowerment' particularly to youth with disabilities, it would be awesome, and extremely meaningful and valuable," said Yoshiko Dart, his wife.

Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr. was born on August 29, 1930 in Chicago . He contracted polio at the age of 18 and, as a result, spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Also called “the godfather of the disabilities rights movement,” Dart lead the movement for more than three decades and was a staunch advocate for human rights. In fact, his first foray into social activism was during college when he organized a pro-integration student group at the whites-only University of Houston.

He made name for himself on the national stage, receiving five presidential appointments and numerous honors including the Hubert Humphrey Award of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest award that can be bestowed on a civilian. A brilliant entrepreneur, he began and ran several highly successful companies and devoted much of his wealth to further causes of social justice, calling himself “a little PAC for empowerment.”

While his personal crusade came to an end on June 21, 2002 at the age of 71 from congestive heart failure related to complications of post-polio syndrome, his legacy lives on. He left us with this challenge, “I call for solidarity among all who love justice, all who love life, to create a revolution that will empower every single human being to govern his or her life, to govern the society and to be fully productive of life quality for self and for all people.

Posted by wheelcoolguy on Friday, January 22 @ 18:50:11 PST (2736 reads)
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 Disabled mom fighting to keep her son

Misc. ArticlesKaney O'Neill knows she has limiits as a mother. The 31-year-old Des Plaines woman cannot walk, move her fingers independently or feel anything from the chest down. A decade ago, O'Neill was a Navy airman apprentice when she was knocked from a balcony during Hurricane Floyd, leaving her a quadriplegic.

When she discovered she was pregnant last December, she felt fear and joy, a journey the Tribune chronicled in August. She quickly embraced the opportunity to raise a child, feeling she had the money and family support to make up for her paralysis.

David Trais, her ex-boyfriend and the 49-year-old father of their now 5-month-old son, disagreed that she was up to the challenge.

In September, Trais sued O'Neill for full custody, charging that his former girlfriend is "not a fit and proper person" to care for their son, Aidan James O'Neill.

In court documents, Trais said O'Neill's disability "greatly limits her ability to care for the minor, or even wake up if the minor is distressed."

O'Neill counters that she always has another able-bodied adult on hand for Aidan -- be it her full-time caretaker, live-in brother or her mother. Even before she gave birth to Aidan, O'Neill said, she never went more than a few hours by herself.

The custody case, expected back before Cook County Judge Patricia Logue next month, raises profound questions about what rights disabled parents have to care for their own children.

Ella Callow, the director of legal programs for the National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families, said disabled parents are incorrectly "perceived as unable to perform to standard."

"No judge wants to be the judge who sends a child home when the child gets hurt," said Callow, of the Berkeley, Calif.-based advocacy group.

Callow said the bias against disabled parents is such that judges tend to grant custody to an able-bodied partner "even if they have a history that might usually be a heavy mark against them -- not having been in the child's life, a history of violence, etc."

Trais declined to comment to the Tribune when reached by phone. His attorney did not return repeated calls for comment.

But Howard LeVine, a Tinley Park attorney not affiliated with the case, said Trais' concerns are legitimate and may hold legal weight.

"Certainly, I sympathize with the mom, but assuming both parties are equal (in other respects), isn't the child obviously better off with the father?"

LeVine, who has specialized in divorce and custody cases for the last 40 years, pointed out that O'Neill would likely not be able to teach her son to write, paint or play ball. "What's the effect on the child -- feeling sorry for the mother and becoming the parent?"

On a recent morning, O'Neill's caretaker, Sasha Davidiuk, propped Aidan on a pillow in O'Neill's lap and O'Neill held her son. She has full use of her biceps muscles.

When his bottle fell from his mouth, or tipped the wrong way, Davidiuk stepped in to reposition it.

The two worked in tandem, with Davidiuk heading up duties that require manual dexterity -- like changing diapers -- and O'Neill focused more on emotional engagement. When Aidan burst into tears, for example, O'Neill was the one to sooth him with a soft rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

In addition to Davidiuk, O'Neill's brother, an ex-Marine, lives in an apartment attached to her home. O'Neill's mother helps on weekends and the family keeps Pele, a yellow lab service dog, who can open doors, turn on lights and pick up stuffed animals.

Her immaculate, one-story home is filled with photos of Aidan. Her son's room, painted sherbet green and decorated with cheerful zoo animals, has a specially modified changing table and crib that allows for O'Neill's wheelchair.

Posted by wheelcoolguy on Saturday, January 16 @ 13:23:08 PST (2918 reads)
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 Lafayette, IN: Amtrack Station Now Wheelchair Accessible

Misc. ArticlesAnonymous writes "Journal and Courier www.jconline.com (Lafayette and West Lafayette , IN )

November 29, 2009

Amtrak station now wheelchair accessible

By CURT SLYDER • cslyder@jconline.com

People in wheelchairs wanting to travel by Amtrak trains in Lafayette have for years had to travel to Indianapolis or Chicago to board them.

That's because Indianapolis and Chicago were equipped to handle putting people in wheelchairs on a train. Lafayette wasn't.

Those days are over.

Note: Article By Curt Slyder, Journal and Courier www.jconline.com (Lafayette and West Lafayette , IN )

Posted by onecandream on Wednesday, December 09 @ 14:34:33 PST (2498 reads)
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 Extrordinary Measures a Movie with Harrison Ford

Misc. Articleswheelcoolguy writes "During Thanksgiving break, I saw a movie preview on t.v. called "Extroardinary Measures," starring Harrison Ford. It looked like an ordinary law firm flick until I saw a couple kids with disabilities in it. I don't know the plot yet, but I hope it's not a "cure" movie, where lawyers are called upon by parents to sue their doctor for bringing disabled kids into the world.

This movie will be out on Jan. 22nd. So stay tuned for more details. And join us in the Community Forums for discussion.

Go to www.extraordinarymeasuresthemovie.com

For more details and to see the trailor for yourself."

Posted by onecandream on Friday, December 04 @ 10:13:00 PST (6411 reads)
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 DOJ has published 3 Amicus Brief's in Olmstead cases on their web site

Misc. ArticlesThe U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has added three amicus, or "friend of the court" briefs for Olmstead cases in Connecticut, Virginia, and New York to their website and they are now available.

The filing of these briefs is also covered on the Justice Blog which can be accessed from the Justice Department's home page at www.justice.gov or by this direct link: http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/451

Posted by onecandream on Thursday, December 03 @ 09:58:46 PST (2189 reads)
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 Doorpost Film Project accepting submissions

Misc. Articleswheelcoolguy writes "The Doorpost Film Project is excited to announce the 2010 contest is now open for submissions!

The deadline this year is February 1, 2010.

Please visit TheDoorpost.com to register your film or learn more about the contest.

2010 Short Film Contest

The 2010 Short Film Contest welcomes shorts seven minutes or less on one of the following seven topics:


From first round submissions, 20 Finalists will be selected to write a script on one of the seven topics that they did not select in the first round. From those 20 scripts, 5 filmmakers will be selected and given a budget of $40,000 to create their film. These entries, funded by the Doorpost Film Project, will be used to determine top competition prize winners."

Posted by onecandream on Thursday, December 03 @ 08:23:18 PST (775 reads)
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 Rights of people with Psychiatric Disabilities who use Service Dogs

Misc. ArticlesOn Monday, November 23rd, the Association for Airline Passenger Rights (AAPR) joined a growing chorus of organizations supporting the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities who use service dogs. AAPR submitted comment in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) request for public comments on the recent changes to the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) regarding people with disabilities using psychiatric service animals.

Posted by onecandream on Tuesday, November 24 @ 07:09:13 PST (548 reads)
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 Google announces automatic captioning of YouTube Videos

Misc. ArticlesAnonymous writes "A project has been undertaken to caption youtube videos automatically.

Those interested in learning more should click on this link Automatic captions in YouTube.

If any community members have any experience with youtube captioning either good or bad, we would love to hear their thoughts about their experiences."

Posted by onecandream on Saturday, November 21 @ 21:54:50 PST (255 reads)
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 Speech-To-Speech Relay Service a Lifelink to Independence

Misc. ArticlesAnonymous writes "By Larry Biondi

For too long, persons with speech disabilities faced yet another communication barrier - making phone calls independently. They were limited to making phone calls to those who were accustomed with their speech disabilities, such as closed friends or family members.

But thanks now to a new service created by the Federal Communication Commissionn (FCC), people with speech disabilities can break yet oe more more commmuication barrier.

Speech-to-Speech (STS) is one form of Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS). TRS is a service that allows people with hearing and speech disabilities to access the telephone system to place and receiving Telephone calls. STS enables persons with a disability to telephone calls using their own voice (or an augmentative communication device). Like all forms of TRS, STS use specialy trained operators called Communication Assistants (CAs - to relay the conversation back and forth between the person with a speech disability and the other party to the call. STS Cas are specially trained in understanding a vriety of speech disabilities, which enables them to repeat what the caller says in a manner that makes the caller’s words clear And understandable to the called party.

Often people with speech disabilities can’t communicate by telephone because the parties they are calling can’t understand their speech. For example, some people with Cerebral Palsy, multiple sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkingson Disease, and those with brain injuries may have speech disabilities.

A special phone is not needed for this relay service. You simply call the relay center by dailing 711, and indicate that you want to make a STS call. You’ll be then connected to a STS CA who’ll repeat your spoken words, making them clear to the other party. People with speech disabilities can also receive STS calls. The person calls 711 and ask the CA to call the person with a speech disability.

Indiana STS toll-free number is 877-743-8231.

Posted by onecandream on Monday, May 04 @ 14:12:19 PDT (588 reads)
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 Disabled Advocates call for the Closure of Howe Institution

Misc. ArticlesBy Larry Biondi

On Tuesday, February 10th, many disability-rights organizations from across Illinois met in Springfield and held a press conference at the Capitol, urging new Governor Patrick Quinn to close Howe Developmental Center, located in Tinley Park.

Howe is a state-operated facility that houses 300 people witbh developmental disabilities in Chicago’s south suburb. The starting statistic is this facility has the highest death rate of any state-run developmental disabilities institution. Since july of 2005, 35% deaths of all at state-run institutions have occurred at Howe. P: In the fall of 2008, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich announced that the facility will be closed this June after reports that 29 residents have died dating back in 2005. Most of the residents died from abuse and neglect.

During the press conference, a father of a 21 year-old with developmental disabilities spoke poignantly about how his died in one of the state-operated facilities from abuse. The son’s body was riddled with bruise he sustained in the place. Two years later, nobody has been charged in the man’s death.

After the press conference the group went to the Governor’s office to hand delivered 15,000 signatures in suport of closing Howe. They also delivered detailed reports of abuse deaths, compiled by Equipped for Equality, the state’s Protection and Advocacy agency that’s investigating the deaths. P: The findings of abuse and neglect:

Staff left individuals in in urine soaked clothing,

Staff failed to provide enough food and drink, resulting in vidence malnutrition and dehydration,

Staff physicians falsified documentation, Howe staff failed to document cause of injury of a resident, resulting in paraplegia,

Resident suffered a severe neck injury when Howe staff put him in restraints against doctor’s orders,

A Howe nurse stuck a resident with a pin who was found not breathing and without a pulse, rather than perform CPR. P: “This is the pinacle of Illinois politics gone awry with deadly consequences,” said Zena Naiditch, CEO of Equip for Equality. “Illinois has lost $ million already, $7 million more has been diverted from other institutions and he community, with an additional $2.2 million more wasted every month, to keep open an institution that continuously victimizes some of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens.”

The federal Government decertified Howe two years ago in lieu of its failure to maintain the minimum standard of care This cost the state more than $40 million in matching federal funds. As a result, it continues to lose $2.2 million each month, and diverted $7 Million from other state-run facilities and community agencies to fund to recertify Howe. The united States Department of Justice also opened an investigation into civil rights violation at the facility in December 2007 The investigation is still pending.

“Even the state agency responsible for oversight wants to close Howe,” said Advocate Lester Pritchard. “But political manueverin continues to keep the most wasteful, most expensive, the most toxic institution in Illinois in bussiness despite all logic. Now we hope that our new Governor can overcome this deadly inertia and closed Howe immediately.”

Local officials and labor union leaders are concerned about the lost of jobs in the community if Howe closes. They have blocked efforts to close the institution.

To make matters worse, there are two bills in the state legislature that guarantees Howe will continue to stay open if apporpriate funding is available. Advocates are currently organizing to twart the efforts.

Editor’s note: One more resident at Howe died last week from choking on food. That brings the deaths at Howe to 31.

Posted by wheelcoolguy on Saturday, March 07 @ 20:47:17 PST (562 reads)
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Tuesday, February 10
· Living through history - From Institutions to Independence and a Voice (2)
Thursday, January 29
· Major Power Outages - Staying on the Safe Side (4)
Monday, January 26
· What did you say - you want your teddy bear?' (2)
Friday, January 23
· Choosing the Right Wheelchair For you (2)
Tuesday, January 20
· President Obama's agenda for people with disabilities (3)
Monday, January 19
· COAT Calls For Delay In Digital TV Transition (2)
Tuesday, November 04
· Feel the Power of the Disability Vote! (3)
Thursday, May 29
· Shut Up, Shut Down (3)
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· Senator McCain Denies ADAPT's request to sponsor the Community Choice Act (3)
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