News, Views, and Information about Disability

Disability News, Views, Information, and Literature

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Maine Human Rights Commission Supports Diabetic Belfast Firefighter's Disability Discrimination Complaint

The Bangor Daily News reports that the Maine Human Rights Commission, in a unanimous decision, is supporting firefighter/paramedic David Cobb's claim of disability discrimination by the city of Belfast. Ability Maine previously reported that caused had filed a discrimination complaint and the grounds for that complaint.
Investigator Robert Beauchesne found that the accommodation Cobb had requested was reasonable, and that two doctors agreed that changing sleep patterns is a factor in elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics. He found that Cobb had reasonable grounds to believe he was discriminated against, and on Monday, Feb. 24, all four commissioners present at the hearing agreed.
Read the complete story in the Bangor Daily News.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Maine Human Rights Commission Reverses Earlier Disability Discrimination Finding Against Camden Inn

The Bangor Daily News reported in early February that a Wisconsin couple who stayed at a Camden Harbour luxury inn had filed a complaint of disability discrimination with the Maine Human Rights Commission. Earnest and Susan Patnode came to Maine to celebrate Earnest's 86th birthday. He died a few months after their trip. Susan filed the complaint, the gist of which was that the "accessible" suite they were given had four steps to climb and had an entrance that was blocked by construction, requiring extra walking to get in and out.

The inn claimed that they did not have a sufficient understanding of Earnest's disability and that the entrance to the suite was not blocked. They also said they went "above and beyond" to try to accommodate the Patnodes.

An investigator for the Commission found evidence that discrimination had taken place, according to Maine laws.

In a follow-up article, BDN reported the Human Rights Commission cleared the Camden Inn, overturning the previous decision. Links for both articles are below:

Human rights panel clears Camden Inn of discrimination

Wisconsin woman claims Camden Harbour Inn discriminated against her and disabled husband

Maine Human Rights Commission says Belfast Firefighter/Paramedic Discriminated against Due to Diabetes

Last month the Bangor Daily News reported that Robert Cobb of Randolph was discriminated against by the city of Belfast when they refuse to accommodate his request to limit the number of overnights he worked due to medical reasons:
The city of Belfast denied that Cobb had a disability, adding that a doctor determined his blood sugar spikes were largely due to his own poor food choices and didn’t warrant any work schedule modifications, according to the report from investigator Robert Beauchesne.
“Complainant was placed in the position of having to endanger his health, and ignore his doctor’s advice, if he wanted to continue working for [the city],” Beauchesne wrote in the Jan. 24 report. “Under the circumstances, it was reasonable for complainant to decide that he had no choice but to resign in order to safeguard his health. Disability discrimination is found in this case.”
Read the complete article.

Harper Named Acting Superintendent of Riverview psychiatric Center

An Associated Press story picked up by numerous news outlets throughout New England, including the Portland Press Herald and WABI, reported yesterday that Robert "Jay" Harper has been appointed acting superintendent of Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta. Harper has served as a patient advocate for the Disability Rights Center and as a professor in the Human Services department at the University of Maine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Recent Coverage of Veterans' Benefits Bills in House and Senate; Maine Veteran in Spotlight; Maine Senators Divided

Several similar bills pertaining to veterans benefits have been debated recently in the US House and Senate. These are of particular significance to Maine because Maine has a higher than average proportion of citizens who are veterans and because one component of the bill — sometimes a separate bill, sometimes a provision in a larger bill — is named for Maine veteran Ruth Moore who has put a face on the pervasive problem of sexual assault in the military.

A February 26 article in the Portland Press Herald gives a good overview of the bills, what's at stake, and who supports and opposes them:
The Senate on Tuesday began debating a broad veterans’ benefits bill that would expand health care and education services for former military personnel but that some Republicans warned could overburden programs already struggling to meet demand.
A provision in proposed legislation – named for Moore – would make it easier for veterans who were sexually assaulted while serving in the military to qualify for disability benefits.
The Democrat-sponsored bill would allow more uninsured veterans to receive health coverage through the Department of Veterans Affairs and would expand dental coverage. It would also allow veterans to qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges in whichever state they are living and cover the costs of fertility treatment for veterans made infertile because of service-related injuries.
The legislation also includes a provision – named for Maine veteran Ruth Moore – that would make it easier for veterans who were sexually assaulted while serving in the military to qualify for disability benefits.
Read the complete article, "Broad veterans' benefits debated in U.S. Senate."

A short March 7 article in the Portland press Herald by the same reporter as the previously mentioned article provides an update on the bills named after Ruth Moore, focused on Maine's two senators' different takes on the best way to curb sexual assault in the military.
Maine's senators split on military sex assault measure
Susan Collins was a co-sponsor of the bill, while Angus King supported a competing but less-sweeping measure.
Maine's senators split their votes Thursday on a bill to transfer the decision over whether to prosecute rape and other serious crimes from military commanders to military trial lawyers.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins supported Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill while Sen. Angus King opposed it.
Both supported moving forward with consideration of a competing but less-sweeping bill written by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Read the complete article, "Maine's senators split on military sex assault measure."

A March 8 article in the Washington newspaper, The Hill, discussing the frustration of Democrats in the House in getting bills passed through the Senate put some of the veterans bills in this category" Maine's Representative Pingree on the subject:

Three of the stalled Democratic bills deal with veterans and the military.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) has two House-passed bills awaiting action in the Senate. The Ruth Moore Act aims to improve the disability claims process for veterans with mental health problems due to sexual trauma experienced in the military.

Pingree spokesman Willy Ritch said he doesn't know when, or if, the bill will come up on the other side of the Capitol.

“Absolutely, it is frustrating to [Pingree] that this bill passed House and hasn’t passed the Senate,” Ritch said.
If it doesn’t move in the Senate, Ritch said Pingree might seek an administrative remedy.

“She's been pushing this issue for a few years now. The end result may be legislation, but it may also be putting pressure on [the Department of Veterans Affairs] to act on their own,” Ritch said.
Read the complete article in The Hill.

Petition: Health Insurance for 69,500 Uninsured Mainers? Yes, please!

Jennifer Lunden, whom Ability Maine interviewed last year, is up to her healthcare activist ways again. She has written a petition on to try to secure health insurance for the almost 70,000 uninsured Mainers. Her letter about this is below:
Here we are at a critical time, with a second chance to bring federal funds to Maine so that low-income Mainers can benefit from the Affordable Care Act just like every other Mainer. I've started a new petition to help bring our message to Governor LePage and our legislators. Will you take a moment to sign it now? Health Insurance for 69,500 Uninsured Mainers? Yes, please!
You can also make a big difference by contacting your legislators, particularly if they are Republican. You can easily look them up here: Voter Information Lookup. Let them know why you want to bring those federal funds to Maine.
Thank you for everything you're doing to bring healthcare to all Mainers.
P.S. Please help this petition grow by emailing it to friends and posting it on Facebook.

Ability Maine encourages you to support this petition! You can start by signing it here

Job Opening for Recent College Grad at Portland's Environmental Health Strategy Center

The Environmental Health Strategy Center in Portland, Maine, has a job opening for recent college graduate. Their job posting is below.

Do you know someone who will be graduating from college this year? We are looking for our next Executive Program Assistant. This position is offered as a one-year paid fellowship designed for recent college graduates interested in pursuing a career in science, policy, technology or nonprofit organizational leadership related to environmental public health, sustainable business development or social change. If you or someone you know would be a good candidate, encourage them to apply!

Job Announcement

Help improve human health, eliminate toxic chemical use, and build a sustainable economy! We are looking for an Executive Program Assistant to join our team. This talented person will assist and support the organization’s Executive Director in carrying out high-level program development, policy research and analysis, advocacy, organizing, negotiations, communications, coalition building, organizational leadership, management and fund raising. In the course of this work, the Executive Program Assistant will receive mentoring in methods for improving environmental public health, promoting an environmentally sustainable economy and sustaining a dynamic nonprofit organization, while providing administrative support to the chief executive.

Required qualifications: College degree required. The successful candidate will have demonstrated outstanding academic performance, excellent writing skills and a commitment to positive social change. Must be highly self-motivated, self-directed and quick to respond to rapidly changing demands. Must be highly organized with excellent attention to detail and follow-through while managing multiple tasks. Must be tech savvy with at least intermediate computer skills and be comfortable working on Mac computers. We need a strong team player with good people skills. We prefer, but don’t require, some relevant experience with nonprofit organizations or public issue campaigns. Highly capable administrative or business skills are also a plus. Physical requirements include ability to spend hours listening and talking; working via computer, telephone and other electronic devices; driving frequently to meetings and events; light lifting of equipment and materials; with occasional night or weekend work, long days and overnight travel.

Details: This full-time position offers a competitive salary, excellent benefits and will be based in our Portland, Maine office. We expect the position to run from approximately June 2014 – May 2015.

The Environmental Health Strategy Center ( is a nonprofit organization celebrating our twelfth year of successfully promoting human health and safer chemicals in a sustainable economy. We have two program areas that operate within the State of Maine and nationally. Our Environmental Health Program prevents cancer, learning disabilities and other harm by advocating for chemical policy reforms to replace dangerous chemicals in everyday products. Our Sustainable Economy Program spurs job creation and a healthy economy by promoting demand for and production of safer alternatives, such as bio-based plastic made from Maine potato waste and wood chips.

To apply: Complete our simple application by March 24th, 2014 and tell us why you’re our Executive Program Assistant!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Now on Ability Maine: This Month in Disability History, Vibrant Local Economies, Youth Activism Gathering

Which disability rights activists were born in February? Which disability themed movies were nominated for Oscars? Find out the fun details in Mike Reynolds' newest article on Ability Maine, "The Month in Disability History."

From the "Creating and Sustaining Vibrant Local Economies" article on Ability Maine:
Do you think a strong locally-based sector is crucial to a more vibrant, thriving economy for Maine? Are you a supporter of the local economies movement and willing to actively promote it? If so, we hope you will come to and register (via for this day-long gathering and encourage others to do so as well:
"Creating and Sustaining Vibrant Local Economies in Maine"
on March 22,  9 AM-4 PM, Randall Student Center, Augusta.
Youth Activism Gathering is April 19-21 in South China, Maine. Find out more at Ability Maine or at the Maine Youth Activism Gathering blog.

TOMORROW: Climate Solutions Expo & Summit at Augusta Civic Center!

From Resources for Organizing and Social Change (ROSC)

An event to attend and support if possible:


Climate Solutions Expo & Summit
March 12, 2014
Augusta Civic Center
9am to 5pm

Climate Solutions Expo ... Free and open to the public: Over 80 exhibits and 15 panel presentations on energy efficiency, adaptation planning, community energy, transportation, renewable energy, and more!

Climate Solutions Summit ... $25 registration: Day long work session on Maine’s 2020 Vision.

College and University Presidents’ Summit ... Free and open to the public.  Panel discussion with presidents of six Maine colleges and universities on climate mitigation and adaptation as they relate to higher education.

To arrange a carpool, visit GoMaine’s page for Climate Solutions:

For more information: or register here:

"Toxic Hot Seat" Film Premieres in Maine in March

The Environmental Health Strategy Center is hosting the Maine premiere of the film, Toxic Hot Seat in Portland and Rockland at the end of the month. The Toxic Hot Seat website gives this description of the film:
TOXIC HOT SEAT follows a courageous group of firefighters and mothers, journalists and scientists, politicians and activists as they fight to expose the shadowy campaign of deception that left a toxic legacy in our homes and bodies — a campaign so cunning, it's taken nearly 40 years to unravel.
One of the lawmakers included in the film is Maine's former Speaker of the House, Hannah Pingree. That Environmental Health Strategy Center has this to say about the upcoming screenings in Maine:
Each screening will be followed by Q&A with filmmaker Kirby Walker, former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Hannah Pingree, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center Mike Belliveau, flame retardant free furniture designer and owner of Endicott Home Furnishings Ross Endicott and other experts.
Admission is free, but seating is limited. See below to RSVP today for Portland or Rockland:

Saturday, March 29th at 7:30 PM
Space Gallery
538 Congress Street, Portland
Click here to RSVP

Sunday, March 30th at 2:00 PM
The Strand Theater
345 Main Street, Rockland
Click here to RSVP

Watch the [autoplay] trailer here on HBO website.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Clinical Trial Search Tool for Multiple Conditions

If you are interested in finding a clinical trial related to your health condition, you can search by disease and state using a tool from Healthline.

Although this link takes you to a search for multiple sclerosis trials, I also tried searching for clinical trials in Maine for several conditions, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, ALS, anxiety, and breast cancer, and got hits for all of these. In some cases, trials were located in Maine, in other cases nearby states, such as New Hampshire.

Clinical trials seem to be offered either by government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, or by pharmaceutical companies. Some trials are already underway and others have not yet begun. We hope this clinical research trial resource proves useful.

"We Connect Now": international networking site for college students with disabilities

In 2008, then-college student Gabriela McCall Delgado started "We Connect Now," a website to serve college students with disabilities. Five years later, the site — with content in English and Spanish — has blog posts by a number of contributors, a Facebook page, news, events, videos, and information on laws pertinent to people with disabilities.

Delgado describes We Connect Now's mission thusly:
We Connect Now is dedicated to uniting people interested in rights and issues affecting people with disabilities, with particular emphasis on college students and access to higher education and employment issues.
Blog posts cover topics as diverse as a critique of Glee's portrayal of the college experience of a student with intellectual disabilities, the thoughts of a student who meets a blind person for the first time, life coaching for students with autism, and an organization providing film school classes to students with developmental disabilities.

Learn more at the Week Connect Now website in English or Nos Conectamos Ahora en EspaƱol.