Handicap This! Nov.-Dec. 2013

From the November-December 2013 issue of News & Letters:

Handicap This!

by Suzanne Rose

A disabled man won a landmark legal ruling against a bus company in Leeds, England. Doug Paulley took First Bus Group to court after he was told he could not get on a bus because a stroller user refused to give up the space. The person with the stroller said that their baby was sleeping and they did not want to wake it by moving. Mr. Paulley was awarded $8,844 and the bus company given six months to change its policy. The bus driver should have made the person with the stroller move, said Mr. Paulley. The court agreed with him.

* * *

Not satisfied that her son’s educational needs were being met in the classroom, Deanna Lesneski tied herself to a lawn chair chained to the flagpole in front of her son’s elementary school in Washington County, Penn., where she sat for three weeks. Finally, after a four-hour meeting with 20 state and school officials and the aide who will start to work with her son right away, she untied her chair. Her seven-year-old son, Max, has Down syndrome and asthma. He uses sign language to communicate. The previous agreement she had with the school system wasn’t being implemented. Disability rights activists from the local area and surrounding states worked in shifts to keep Lesneski company.

* * *

A court in Moscow, Russia, sent out a broad and uncompromising message several weeks ago: Russian authorities will not tolerate protest from anyone. A Moscow court ordered a 38-year-old disabled man confined to indefinite psychiatric treatment. Mikhail Kosenko was found guilty of rioting and assaulting police at a May 6, 2012, demonstration on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as president. Kosenko was taken out of his apartment by eight police officers on June 6, 2013, and has been in jail ever since, denied bail. Kosenko had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is on medication. None of the witnesses to the incident saw Kosenko assaulting anyone or disobeying police, as he is accused.

* * *

People who use wheelchairs are demanding the city of Montreal, Quebec, respect their right to vote on election day. About 40 people stormed into a city council meeting to demand the city make sure they are able to vote. Linda Gauthier was one. She says that many polling places are not accessible. “They just want us to stay home and vote—but we want to be able to go to a polling place too, like everyone else. We went to the moon. I think they could build ramps,” said Gauthier.

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