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Tag: Disability

Wheelchair Sports Camp On SXSW, Music Festival Accessibility, & Occupy

Posted in Austin, Journalism, Occupy Wall Street, and SXSW

Wheelchair Sports Camp is one of the better-known bands in the “krip hop” movement, led by Kalyn, a self-described “MC/beat-maker/activist/educator/shit-talker.” Their music combines electronic sounds and hip-hop beats with live jazz instrumentation, and, of course, Kalyn’s rapid-fire words. Sometimes funny, sometimes experimental, I’ve enjoyed every performance I’ve seen since I first caught them in 2012 at Occupy Austin’s ambitious “Occupy SXSW” mini-festival.

After seeing Kalyn perform again at this year’s SXSW, I asked her to answer a few questions by email.

I’m looking forward to their upcoming album, “No Big Deal,” which Kalyn mentions below.

New Law Could Empower Disabled To Live Independent Lives

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and Truthout

“A good 75 percent of us were arrested on the first day,” says disability rights activist Danny Saenz, laughing as he recalls a direct action he was part of in the early 1990s, soon after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Saenz and other activists with disabilities had traveled to Orlando, Florida, for the annual convention of the American Health Care Association, the most powerful nursing home lobbying group in the country.

“We went to their hotel and we took it over, and the whole bunch of us were rounded up and we spent three days in jail,” he told Truthout.

Saenz has been a member of the disability rights group ADAPT for over 25 years, and that day in Florida was just one of many times he’s been arrested while protesting for civil rights, often after having chained his wheelchair to other activists.

In our interview, Saenz — from Austin, Texas — is genial and soft-spoken, but he says that at protests, he and his allies are anything but quiet. “Our chant as we were fixing to get arrested was ‘We’d rather go to jail than die in a nursing home,'” he said.

More than two decades after that protest, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities are still in nursing homes, where their movement may be highly restricted, even when they could be living more independent lives with the right support from their communities.

Disabled Texans Depend On Personal Care Attendants Paid Poverty Wages

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

On May 19, about two dozen disabled Texans and their personal care aides gathered at the entrance to the governor’s office chanting: “Greg Abbott, come on out! We’ve got something to talk about!” Others were inside, refusing to leave. They’d come from around the state to demand better wages for personal care attendants, the helpers on whom their independence depends.

The disabled activists at the governor’s office represented ADAPT of Texas, and the aides were from an ADAPT subgroup, Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas (PACT). At issue in Texas are the wages for a type of aide known as community attendants, who are not hired by home care services that are paid by private insurance. Instead, community attendants’ wages are paid through federal Medicaid dollars and the Texas General Revenue fund.

At the time of the protest, the base wage for community attendants was $7.86 per hour, just slightly higher than the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. By comparison, the city of Austin enforces a living hourly wage of $11 for city employees and at construction projects supported by tax incentives.

Occupy Austin Mic Checks For Medicaid

Posted in Austin, and Occupy Wall Street

Today Occupy Austin OccuKripz mic-checked the Texas State Capitol in solidarity with ADAPT who completed five days of intensive direct action in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania today. Activists there faced police brutality as they tried to force meetings with government officials to protest cuts to Medicaid.