jesse_the_k: The Wire's Kima in a baseball cap squints with a serious grin (Kima squints meaningfully)
Mr Coates calmly and coherently lays out where the President and First Lady have failed in addressing African-American institutions (it's commencement address season)

How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America
"Convenient race-talk" from a president who ought to know better
at The Atlantic

begin quote  But I also think that some day historians will pore over his many speeches to black audiences. They will see a president who sought to hold black people accountable for their communities, but was disdainful of those who looked at him and sought the same. And then they will match that rhetoric of individual responsibility with the aggression the administration showed to bail out the banks, and the timidity they showed in addressing a foreclosure crisis which devastated black America (again.) And they will match the rhetoric with an administration whose efforts against housing segregation have been run of the mill. And they will match the talk of the importance of black fathers with the paradox of a president who smoked marijuana in his youth but continued a drug-war which daily wrecks the lives of black men. I think those historians will see a discomfiting pattern of convenient race-talk. quote ends
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (volunteer)
There are many things we can do to improve everyone's lives. Voting is not the only thing, but it sure is hell is easy to do. Many have given their health, their peace of mind, and their lives for the right to exercise the franchise. If you're a, head on down to the polls in your municipality this coming Tuesday. And while you're there, you might be wondering, "Gee, just how do people with disabilities vote?" As it happens, I know a little about this. And this time, dear readers, I've put it behind a cut. )
jesse_the_k: White woman with glasses laughing under large straw hat (JK 52 happy hat)
I'd hoped to have a delicious thinky post about the difference 20 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act has made for the world, the nation, the state, and me. Meditating on those topics proved so depressing I didn't even leave the house yesterday. Ha! Depression is the gift that keeps on stepping on my toes.

So: the ADA and what it enabled today. In my zippity, comfortable power chair I zoomed to a "regular" bus stop and thence to my accessible health club where I swam for 40 minutes. I used half of the seated showers (what the staff insist on calling the "handicapped stalls.") Most of the people I encountered treated me respectfully and without patronizing me. I saw at least 10 other people whose impairments were readily evident to me. Another bus to the next stop. I had no worries about crossing a six-lane 45mph road because my chair goes fast enough (but not, alas 45mph). There were curb ramps which almost met ADA specs almost all the places there should have been -- the speedy chair simplifies crossing the street via driveways when necessary. I stopped in three stores during these errands. At one store the counterperson dramatically jumped back and performed the Vanna White maneuver to demonstrate that there was room to move in the shop. (Oh really?) The other stores gave me exactly the same attention as the evidently enabled* people who entered at the same time.

OK, that's all about assistive technology, and there's more AT-related items I could enumerate (built-in enlarging features in apps and OS simplify computer use; cordless phones; I'm stopping now).

The biggest change has not been in my body but in my perspective. In the late 80s, I'd been educating myself on social-model, disability-rights reading, but my impairments were not yet evident to others. That disabled people's rights had been enshrined in law was hugely important to me. That the ADA used "mental illness" as an example finally tipped me into considering therapy.

So, thanks for my life, ADA: many mundane things, and a few great big ones.

The law is not enough; as Cal Montgomery taught me:
Discrimination is always illegal; only activism makes it unwise.

So thanks to these RL advocates, who taught me advocacy:
  • Caryn Navy, who was infinitely patient with my AB privilege, remade a corner of the world at Raised Dot Computing, and demonstrated dignity through snark
  • Chris Kingslow, who taught me that mental illness isn’t the end of the world
  • Catherine Odette, who published Dykes Disabilities & Stuff, founded Able Lives Theater, and gave me permission to take as long as it takes
  • Cal Montgomery, who decoded the disability studies stuff I couldn’t follow, made me laugh, and taught me that there is dignity in “behavior management,” as well as potential for abuse
  • Mike O’Connor, who held my hand while I took my first steps into the public square
  • Fayth Kail, who cranked open many minds as she served as an Assembly page in the state legislature while also campaigning for abortion rights, reminding me that advocacy has a life cycle
jesse_the_k: kitty pawing the surface of Atlantic phonograph record on turntable  (scratch this!)
The song Bread & Roses was inspired by the IWW (Wobbly) organizing campaign in the Lawrence, Mass textile mills. The workers were almost all female (since the owners could pay them less) and mostly immigrants. My family history somehow intersects here: I heard fuzzy stories growing up about my Socialist Grandfather Knebel running away from the company police on the Lawrence train platform—I assumed he was in town making trouble.

March 8th used to be one pivot point of my year.
Read and hear all the details )
jesse_the_k: Panda doll wearing black eye mask, hands up in the spotlight, dropping money bag on floor  (bandit panda)
Effing Dykes, which has a few tasty, er um, tasteful bare breasts so may not be S for your W, is really really good today.

In our moment of direst need, the customer service person from the other side of the world channels truth direct to the cell phone in our hand!

Go! Read! Laugh!
jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)
Just finished Joe Sacco's Palestine, graphic non-fiction about Intifada I. As with all his work, the narrative is honestly brutal and the drawings squirm with detail. I wholeheartedly recommend all his "comic books" (his preferred term). At Mother Jones, when he talks about his latest, Footnotes in Gaza, he explains why graphic non-fiction can sometimes tell a story better than words alone:
 begin quote  But one of the advantages of comics is that you're drawing frame after frame after frame, so almost in the background scenes you can create this atmosphere that's following the reader around, that doesn't necessarily relate to the foreground action but is somehow always present. For example, the way the buildings look—I can show that over and over again in the background, so in some ways I think you can really put the reader in that place, just with all these repeated images. If there's mud in the background, you can show that in every frame, so the mud is following the reader around. If you're a prose writer, really what you're doing is just mentioning it once, you're not going to keep mentioning it ever few lines—"and by the way, it was really muddy." So it's this constant reminder of what the place looks like. quote ends 
jesse_the_k: Ultra modern white fabric interlaced to create strong weave (interdependence)
Thanks to Lawrence Carter-Long, an enthusiastic support of films with disability issues, who brought this to my attention:

'Glee' wheelchair episode hits bump with disabled

LOS ANGELES — The glee club members twirl their wheelchairs to the tune of "Proud Mary" and in joyful solidarity with Artie, the fellow performer who must use his chair even when the music stops.

The scene in Wednesday's episode of the hit Fox series "Glee," which regularly celebrates diversity and the underdog, is yet another uplifting moment — except to those in the entertainment industry with disabilities and their advocates.

For them, the casting of a non-disabled actor to play the paraplegic high school student is another blown chance to hire a performer who truly fits the role.

The article goes on to quote two actors with disabilities and five behind-the-scenes advocates (probably because LA is a company town for TV.)

Let's hear it for union solidarity! Unions for actors on film, TV and stage are mounting a "civil rights campaign." I AM PWD, Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities includes a blog of union members' experiences.
jesse_the_k: Elderly smiling white woman captioned "When I was your age I had to walk ten miles in the snow to get stoned & have sex" (old fogey)
Herding my various tech into workable shape. Details when it's all in the paddock.

In the meantime:

ToyViewer is free (as in napkins), and nimble Mac OS X (Snow Leopard compatible!) photo editor more capable than Preview and less intimidating than GraphicConverter.

Language Log, a delightful ongoing lesson in how snarky thoughtful linguists do meta, does a two-fer. It's a meditation on how quickly jargon words (like power and duration) lose their technical specificity and acquire their everyday meanings. Interesting in its own right, and we've all seen the parallel development of technical medical terms—moron, imbecile, schizophrenic—into casual epithets. PLUS the seed is a funny XCKD cartoon!

Wheelchair Dancer is an eloquent writer who makes art at the intersections of dance, disability, and race. She meditates here on a typically annoying New York Times piece:
 begin quote  Disability figures here in archetypal societally negative ways. We can't live actual physical lives, we live lives of the spirit and of the heart; our bodies are useless and broken. Disability is both a burden (sigh) and a passage to being a better human. No longer the rebel youth, Mr. Addison is now a societally useful person: a healer. And regardless of whether it is true that he lay on a slab in a morgue, does the story have to be one of rebirth -- rebirth into a crippled life that ultimately is his healing?

These are cliches. Broken. Useless. Spiritually barren cliches. How bad it is it? Well, what do people think? The NYT comments on this story are what you would expect -- of the "oh, this is so beautiful, so inspiring type." People know how to read this stuff. Ms. Jones even becomes an "angel" (Commenter #46). This is the danger of writing this story in the way that Ms. Jones does. It's an exoticized "chicken soup for the soul" memoir (my phrase). As a writer, Ms. Jones has a responsibility to do better. quote ends 

I first read Wheelchair Dancer as a guest poster in the fabulous Rethinking Walking at Flipflopping Joy. Where the most recent item is a thoughtful and necessary shout-back to the Ken Burns 8-hours-of-nature-porn series that's just concluded on PBS.

 begin quote And knowing [passing details of Native objections, exploitation of Japanese and Chinese workers] made it easier for me to deal with. Easier for me to just glory in the story telling and admire the nature porn.

But then last night, FOUR NIGHTS into the series, I find out that these little epicenters of light and DEMOCRACY—these pantheons of joy and DEMOCRACY, these schools of enlightened thinking and DEMOCRACY—were actually racially segregated until at least the late 1930s.

Overall—I am really glad that he made the series. I’ll even watch it again. He makes a compelling argument against unfettered capitalism that I think many mainstream liberals really desperately need to hear. …

He’s used his privilege and his power to put the environment and a different way to understand masculinity, public service and nationalism on the table.
 quote ends 
jesse_the_k: White woman with glasses laughing under large straw hat (JK 52 happy hat)
Great creative thinking at work over at cripchick's blog re: all the programmatic elements of accessiblity

I'm kvelling re [personal profile] coffeeandink's Ablism: Comment policy clarification. I think the ground is being made ready to address some of the deeper issues: interdependence, disability hierarchies, the tyranny of "normal."

MyGuy and I celebrated our 29th anniversary on Sunday night. I'm proud that we've made it so long together, and that we had the good sense to choose each other. There was some accessibility fail at the first restaurant, but I grit my teeth and got some good eats in the end.

Tapas at The Icon: tasty and not that expensive. Marinated Spanish White Anchovies, Marcona Almond Parsley Pesto, with Chocolate Espresso Crema Catalana. And room for popcorn at home later!
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Flashy Bipolar means 2x fun)
...I've been obsessively contemplating and editing and researching, I must fling this out from Mandolin at Amptoons :
 begin quote It’s not okay to call a coward a pussy, or a bad thing gay, they argue, because there’s nothing bad about having a vagina or being homosexual. But there IS something bad about not being mobile! In fact, it’s no fun at all, just totally miserable. All other things held equal, isn’t it better to be not-lame than lame?

[... snip ...]

But even accepting that impairment to mobility is itself a sucky thing, MAYBE DISABLED PEOPLE DO NOT APPRECIATE BEING THE CULTURAL GO-TO FOR THINGS THAT SUCK. quote ends 

Yes yes yes yes yes! This post (as supplemented by commenter Lexie) succinctly explains why epithets-based-on-impairment* are not just rude, but actively disabling—they create the social conditions that make living with bodily difference difficult.

* E.G., "Iranian ruling classes are deaf to the chants of demonstrators."

ETA Hah! Mandolin's insight was nourished at WisCon!


May. 6th, 2009 04:08 pm
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna sez: "I'll smack you so hard your cousin will fall down!" (Anna smacks hard)
[-same as text above with other folks' comments-]
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna sez: "I'll smack you so hard your cousin will fall down!" (Anna smacks hard)
If I spent less time browsing Shakesville, I might have missed Paul Campos' excellent analysis of the offensive things men feel comfortable saying about women's bodies—even when those women are being seriously considered for the US Supreme Court.

Before you follow that link, take a gander at this picture of the current court members. Eight "white" guys, one African-American, and one tiny white woman. They all look well-nourished; Scalia and Thomas are broader than your average football player, and probably that's not due to 5 hours a day of physical training. It does seem that the current court plays havoc with one's hair--only the youngest, Chief Justice Roberts, has a full head.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (gopher hunter)
The more I read about airline travel these days, the gladder I am I haven't had to fly recently. Here's a local news video plus a transcript.

Power wheelchair user abandoned on plane at O'Hare

Do read the comments on the story, as (naturally) the TV show didn't have time for the full details.

It surprised me when I learned that the airlines don't direct the actions of the ground personnel, so each trip requires at least two successful hand-offs: between the airline and the departing terminal folks and the airline and the arriving terminal folks. Which is how Pete Boulay was boarded on the plane with a straight back aisle chair, but abandoned on the plane when it arrived at O'Hare.

As I mentioned in a comment there, airline services have gone way downhill recently, but most flyers don't have to worry about being trapped in the plane! Whenever I have flown there's been one flight crew member who sits down and asks me what will work best if there's an emergency evacuation. After that discussion, I make a point of asking that attendant, "Will you stay with me until I'm off the plane?" and they've always said "yes." (Maybe because they're already in a "time to talk one-to-one" headspace at the moment.)

Then when there's been a delay in my chair showing up, I have an ally who knows how to get in touch with the folks in the terminal. It's saved my sanity twice.

The "straight back" is my least favorite bit of assistive technology. It's a very narrow, not-really-padded hand truck that airline personnel use to move a passenger from xir own chair at the plane's doorway to xir seat.
16 inch wide steel frame chair with two wheels
Photo description: steel frame, 16 inches wide, with two thin pads on seat and back. Two chest seat belts cross in front, with one leg seat belt at mid calf. Pair of wheels in back and tall handle permit handler to tip rider back and move them like a refrigerator.

Here's a useful "when wheelchair users fly guide" from Spinal Injury Net
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna sez: "I'll smack you so hard your cousin will fall down!" (Anna smacks hard)
I've now heard and tried the talking Kindle 2. It's basic, but it's there. Folding assistive tech into mainstream products is Universal Design, one of my holy grails. That the Author's Guild is claiming this will cut into sales of audiobooks is evidence that they've not sat down and just listened to the Kindle. The TTS is nice, but it's nowhere near as good as the current top-of-the-line technology, much less a human narrator. People without print impairments read audio books while exercising and on the road; neither of those activities lend themselves to audio Kindle reading.

So I'm delighted to report that the Reading Rights Coalition plans an April 4th demonstration against the Author's Guild (as well as the on 24-25 April at the LA Festival of Books). Participants include both organizations of & for the blind (NFB and ACB); AHEAD representing folks providing disability services in secondary education; AAPD, a cross-disability lobbying group; DAISY the standards organization which has guided the creation of structured, random-access audio with parallel text; and many more.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
Wonderful decision from the 9th Circuit Court, saying a worker with diabetes is indeed "disabled" under the ADA and a lower court erred in dismissing his case.

The lower court's logic was consistent with earlier Supreme Court anti-ADA rulings, which the ADA Amendments Act will hopefully supercede. Still nice to find one circuit court with the right idea.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
...and it makes me glad glad glad.

[ profile] badgerbag's outstanding analysis, Deconstructing Dick Cheney's Inaugural Wheelchair, which challenges the "Evil Nuclear Villain in Wheelchair" trope, even when it's so so, apropos for Mr Former Vice President.

[ profile] sasha_feather ponders Disability in Battlestar Galactica, and there's lots of it. What does it mean? Join the discussion.

[ profile] chasingtides combines internal and external experience to address Wheelchairs and Shotguns: Handicapped Other in Supernatural Fandom, and there's more good discussions as well.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (insane smarty)
UK disability rights activists are inventive in sending the message! This just in from my indspensible Inclusion Daily Express

Commuter Tram Turns Into Padded Cell
(Time To Change)
January 27, 2008
Rail car interior totally covered in white padding
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND--[Excerpt] Mental health campaign Time to Change invites commuters to ride to work in a ‘padded cell'.

Commuters in Sheffield will be in for a surprise today as they ride to work and discover that one of their trams has been turned into a padded cell. The stunt, the first of its kind to be conducted on a commuter service, is led by Time to Change -- a campaign to tackle the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.

The padded-cell will run on the yellow route of the Sheffield Supertram network throughout the day. It will be emblazoned with provocative slogans. One panel reads “1 in 4 will have a mental health problem in their life; that’s 50 on this tram -- but they don’t need to spend their days in a padded cell”.

The stunt makes the point that mental health problems are very common, yet people who have experienced these problems, are typically getting on with life and travelling to work, just like everybody else.

Stunt rails against mental health myths
Time To Change
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (insane smarty)
Today the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act goes into force. Sadly, the implementing regs have not yet been written, and as with most US Federal laws, the regulations are the details where the devil resides.

However, the purpose of legislative intent on the Amendments Act is clear: reverse the US Supreme Court's radical restriction of who was considered disabled under the law, and therefore who was protected under the ADA.

The Job Accommodation Network has the clearest description (I've seen) of how the Amendments Act language accomplishes this goal. Don your logical thinking beanie and read all about it on JAN's website.

Here's one example of how the changes in the Amendment Act mean better coverage for people with mental illness, cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy, where it's not so much the conditions themselves, as the implications of living with them, which require accommodation. Before the Amendments Act, the Supremes basically said, "If you can medicate the condition, then it's not a problem."

JAN's summary of the changes:
One thing to keep in mind regarding a request for reasonable accommodation is that the accommodation does not have to be tied to the substantially limited major life activity that established that the employee has a disability. For example, a person with cancer may establish that she has a disability because she is substantially limited in normal cell growth, which is listed as a major life activity under the “bodily functions” category in the Amendments Act. However, her accommodation request is related to fatigue and nausea resulting from her medical treatment. Once the employee establishes that she has a disability, then the employer must consider providing accommodations for any limitations she has as a result of her impairment, not just the limitation that established her disability.

Editorial aside: one of the reasons I love JAN's explanation is its "twelve days of Xmas" format. Very tasty for the slow learners among us.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (insane smarty)
Disability-rights advocates hate institutions. Their high walls and one-way doors nurture a culture of sexual, physical and mental abuse. The most important Supreme Court ruling so far on the Americans with Disabilities Act has been Olmstead v L.C., which held that sentencing people with disabilities to institutions when they could live in the community constituted discrimination.

Almost ten years later, states are still fighting to keep large institutions open (and advocates are still suing to switch spending from supporting institutions to supporting people living in the community). As always, civil rights laws never automatically mean discrimination is over: it only gives us the legal standing to sue.

Today my invaluable Inclusion Daily Express brought news of excellent political theater necessitated by the State of Texas' refusal to implement the Olmstead decision.

As the Inclusion Daily Express Archives show: Texas Houses Largest Number Of Americans Behind Institution Walls

Shouting 'Fifty-three murders on your watch!' and 'People are dying, shame on you!' the group of about 20 protesters interrupted the meeting. They waved signs and emptied a bag of 53 toy watches, painted red, on the floor near the panel. )

jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (focused eyeball)
...are more effective at getting mainstream press coverage than their U.S. counterparts.

One example is this article from the British paper, The Independent. Ignored: the mentally ill killed by drugs that are meant to help them
"The basic fact is stigma kills; it is not just about calling people names. Stigma and discrimination stop people from getting an early diagnosis, the right treatment at the right time and from being monitored in the same way as other people are. And then after death, there is no standardised reporting mechanism to flag up issues for people with mental health problems who die young."

The "atypical" antipsychotic drugs, so recently touted as "second generation wonders," come with life-threatening side effects
People with mental health problems and learning disabilities die on average 10 years younger than the rest of the population, according to the Disability Rights Commission. Obesity, diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease are far more common among people taking psychiatric drugs. And those doing so are less likely to receive evidence-based health checks and treatments.

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