From the May-June 2023 issue of News & Letters
by Elise Barclay
Minnesota Personal Care Assistants (PCAs) agitating for better wages and overtime pay won (see “Handicap This!” Jan.-Feb. 2023 N&L, p. 11), and on May 19 the state’s legislature approved the budget that included the funding. Wages will increase from $15.25/hour to $20 by 2025. There will be a wage scale for the first time. Veteran PCAs can make up to $22.50/hour by 2025, and PCAs working for six months or more will get a one-time $1,000 retention bonus. It is hoped the wage increases will attract more people to the field, as there is always a shortage of PCAs.
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Hereford, UK, lacks education for neurodivergent youth. Hereford’s Mercia Learning applied to convert day nursery Merry-Go-Round into a Growth, Empowerment and Motivation (GEM) school, to educate 30 neurodivergent students, aged eight to 18. GEM is expected to open September 2023, with the goal of youth living with ADHD, trauma, autism and other neurodivergent conditions receiving an appropriate education.
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In April, France was found in violation of the European treaty on social and economic rights because it had failed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. On April 26 people with disabilities protested train travel into Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron promised 1.5 billion euros, without details, to make businesses, administrative locations, trains, train stations and taxis accessible before the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. He pledged 1,000 accessible taxis and other transport, including a special shuttle service in Paris and full reimbursement by 2024 for purchases of wheelchairs. Most of the 12 million people with disabilities in France struggle because of taxis and train ramps that cannot accommodate wheelchairs, or no ramps at all to enter businesses. APF France Handicap and Collectif Handicaps participated in the protests. Activists will not be surprised if Macron’s pledges fall short. Improvements for the disabled at the Melun station have already been pushed back. The Metro authority says that only 32 of their 300+ stations will be accessible by the Olympics.