Handicap This!: February 2024

February 14, 2024

by Elise

Most U.S. lawmakers are ignoring the epidemic of children, many disabled and of color, being restrained and secluded in schools where they suffer physical and mental injuries—some even die. Restrained and secluded children can become anxious, despairing, fearful, angry without guidance on how to constructively deal with these often heightened emotions. Erin McGrail’s autistic son was physically injured multiple times from being restrained at least 14 times in a small, windowless room in Morrisville Elementary School in North Carolina. His parents and Wake County Public School System reached a settlement. Despite federal law requiring schools to report every instance of a child being restrained or secluded, underreporting is rampant. Senator Chris Murphy’s bill to restrict restraining and secluding students has gained virtually no traction. Thankfully, Murphy has not given up on his Keeping All Students Safe Act, and The Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint continues its work.


Photo: ADAPT

The people, businesses and disability rights advocates in Gympie, Queensland, Australia, came together to throw the inaugural Gympie All Abilities Ball during Disability Action Week and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Nov. 25-Dec. 3, 2023). The “dress your best” themed Ball happened at Gunabul Homestead. It attempted to be completely inclusive and accessible, including quiet spaces for those who might feel overwhelmed, accessible transportation to and from the Ball, subsidized and free tickets and free outfits. People with Disability Australia, Bravo Disability Support Network, and Weeroona Association were among the organizations that planned the Ball, which was the culmination of a week of events that they also helped make happen “in consultation with the disability community.”


Disabled people and their supporters told the city of Toronto, Canada, to start enforcing its ban on e-scooters, even as pressure mounts to legalize them. At a January meeting sponsored by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, blind man David Lepofsky explained that he is unable to tell whether an e-scooter is coming upon him. Even if the e-scooter rider rings a bell or in some way tries to indicate out loud where the scooter is, David cannot just jump out of the way. He could also trip over a scooter simply left lying on a sidewalk or in the streets. Accessibility becomes even more of a challenge or outright impossible for people using wheelchairs. E-scooters are operated, stored, left and parked on Toronto’s public roadways, including sidewalks, cycle tracks and trails. All of this is technically illegal, but the law is not being enforced.

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