Did Disabilism Lead to Death?

Shawn Gallaher died in a fire. He was locked in his apartment and couldn’t escape. Why? Because he is disabled and the building’s attendant care workers would frequently fail to leave the door in a way that he could come and go.

His death was probably preventable. If his attendants had followed his instructions to leave the door open, he may well have survived.

It also seems like he may have been being punished for being a drug user. Drug users should still be able to have visitors and come and go from their apartments as they please. Landlords and attendant care worker should not decide whether someone gets to leave their apartment. If he weren’t disabled, they wouldn’t have been able to restrict his access the way his friends say happened.

The CBC says: “It is not clear why Gallaher was allowed to be locked in, though friends admit he had a drug problem and had been letting dealers into the building.” I think it is important to notice the two really disturbing things happening here. Firstly, removing someone’s access into and out of their apartment is not an appropriate way to deal with addiction issues – it is abusive. Secondly, it is a violation of housing legislation to simply lock someone into or out of their unit or to decide what guests tenants are or are not allowed to have.

Imagine a non-disabled person being locked in their apartment on purpose and then dying in a fire. There would probably be a lot of media coverage and everyone would know it was wrong.

What would justice for Shawn Gallaher look like?

For the CBC story, click here.

Wheel Trans: Paris Hilton Isn’t So Unlucky

The Toronto Star ran a story about Wheel Trans today that said: “Paris Hilton should be so lucky. Her private chauffeur probably doesn’t provide the kind, attentive service” that Wheel Trans does.

Tess Kalinowski’s ‘feel good about the incredibly problematic, segregated transit system’ article is actually about cutting the already limited program.

Wheel Trans is already considering cutting service to dialysis patients and looking at who else they can kick off the system to save money.

Wheel Trans is not a system full of frills like Paris Hilton’s private transportation. Hilton probably isn’t at risk of being sexually assaulted by her driver, as has happened on Wheel Trans. Hilton doesn’t risk being cut off of transit if she is late a couple of times like wheel trans riders are. If Hilton’s driver is late, there is probably something she can do about it, unlike Wheel Trans riders.

And, if Hilton wants to book a ride she probably doesn’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning like some Wheel Trans riders do in order to get through on the phone. Wheel Trnas superintendent Bill Frost says: “One of the reasons is our customers are lonely people… If we doubled the operators it wouldn’t make any difference.” That is a bold faced lie. It would make a real difference to the people I know who can’t possibly book a ride. And, for folks who don’t know, it is one thing to encourage people to book online but that is really hard when they won’t let you book online unless it is to go somewhere you have already been dropped off. Why? probably because it is disablist and paternalistic.

I have a friend whose grandmother waited for 2 hours in a snowstorm for Wheel Trans once. Eventually she just started walking. She fell and broke her hip.

Wheel Trans doesn’t need cuts. It needs accountability, transparency, and to respect its passengers. It also needs more funding. I fully support cutting the number of people that take Wheel Trans if it is because they make the TTC fully accessible, not because they are drawing arbitrary medical lines to save cash.

Even Paris Hilton deserves better than Wheel Trans.

Click here for the story in The Star.

Intellectually Disabled People Forced To Fight Each Other In State Institution

Six staff at the Texas state run Corpus Christi State School, an institution that confines intellectually disabled people, have been charged with allegedly failing to intervene stop fights and/or “injury to a disabled person.” The charges stem from video found of 20 fights between inmates at the institution.

At least one of the staff also allegedly kicked one of the inmates.

For the full story, click here.

This story comes after reports of widespread abuse in Texas State Schools. Incidents of abuse in these institutions are, on average, 12 for 100 people.

In-text links used in this post:

Corpus Christi State School

Full Story

widespread abuse