Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Video Of The Day: Inclusion


It is amazing that the presenter, Dan Habib, makes so many of the most fundamental points of disability rights in one, smooth, engaging, and personal presentation. He makes such a great argument for inclusion … and the crystal clear case for downtown accessibility was such an unexpected surprise.

The only thing missing, I think, is tackling some of the actual arguments that keep segregated Special Ed alive. For example:
  • My child isn’t as intelligent or naturally charming as Samuel, he’d never keep up or make friends in a regular classroom.
  • My daughter is included, and she’s teased every day and the teachers couldn’t care less. She was happier in a self-contained classroom.
  • One size doesn’t fit all. Inclusion may be statistically better, but it isn’t better for every single disabled student.
I think there are good answers to these kinds of arguments, but I don’t see them being engaged as much as they should be.

Still, this TED Talk is a great start.

Via Olliebean.

Two Disability Cultures - Followup

Ideas topic icon
Another reason why there are different disability cultures is a fundamental difference in how we see our disabilities.

Some of us see our disability as a disease. Others of us see it as something like an identity.

Put another way:

Some of us fight our disabilities like others fight cancer, or leukemia.

Others of us incorporate or add our disabilities to our personalities, like an ethnicity, or a subculture, like being a Hipster or a Geek.

This is almost the same thing as the Medical Model vs. the Social Model, but not quite. The Medical and Social Models of disability are attempts to define and locate the problems with disability. What Im talking about his how disabled people live day to day with disabilities, and how they relate to them  as an enemy, or as part of our personalities.

Even though I usually approach disability as an integrated part of myself, I often have to deal with it as I would deal with a serious normal people illness”. No matter how well I have integrated my disability into my life, and adapted to it, and no matter how well my community accepts and accommodates it, sometimes, it just plain hurts. Sometimes, it absolutely interferes with my plans, and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s times like these I do wish I could fix it … or at least shave off some of my disability’s sharper corners.

At the same time, it really does break my heart to see other disabled people treat their impairments like diseases. I don’t have a problem with organized efforts to improve treatment and, with some ethical reservations, prevention. But I hate to see what it does to disabled individuals, especially children and youth. Most disabilities are simply not aptly compared to diseases. They aren’t invaders. Most of them don’t kill you. And in most cases, you don’t “beat” disabilities, you adapt, which calls for a very different attitude and approach.

Maybe this isn’t such a big deal. Maybe the language of fighting disease is just more familiar to people, so it’s a handy metaphor misapplied to disability for want of an alternative. When people with disabilities, and their supporters, talk about “overcoming” or “beating” their disabilities, maybe they really mean adapting, succeeding, or finding happiness. But I think language shapes our thinking, as well as the other way around.

That’s why I think it makes a difference how we talk about our disabilities. It’s why how we talk about our disabilities does tend to sort us into distinctly different disability cultures.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Light Blogging Day / Video

Lots of real life activities today, so don't expect much blogging from me. Here is a somewhat appropriate video to fill the void.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Buy It: "Parenthood" Season 5

Parenthood Season 5 was a doozy, particularly in how it explored more deeply into Aspergers Syndrome, with Max now much more of a teenager than a kid, and his photographer friend Hank discovering, mainly through knowing Max, that he, too, may have Aspergers. Plus, theres a harrowing, somewhat disturbing scene that Im sure different audiences will see entirely differently, which reflects so well how various kinds of Autism are viewed in real life. I unloaded about it here back in May.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back To School Advice for Disabled Students

Chalk board with words Back To School!
It’s almost back to school time, so I think now would be a great time for me to offer some unsolicited words of wisdom and advice to students with disabilities. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I may be 47 years old and I haven’t been a student for over 20 years, but I am disabled, and have been all my life. Besides, I really only feel about 17, so the “youths” will definitely want to listen to me, right?

Okay, here we go.

- One in awhile, think seriously about what you are doing in school. I’m not talking about taking your assignments, tests, or homework seriously. I’m talking about taking time out to consider what you are going to do with your life when school is finished. What do you want to do? What can you picture yourself doing? Is school sending you in that direction? Do you have a serious say in how your education is planned out? Or, is it just your parents, counselors, and teachers who decide what’s happening?

- Find and make friends with other students with disabilities. Make other friends, too, but other disabled friends can play a different, important role in your life. Students with other things in common hang out together in school, and some even advocate for each other in an organized way. Why not disabled students?

- Don’t lock yourself in your room until Spring, but at the same time, don’t feel pressured to socialize the way others think you should. You should feel totally fee and welcomed to go to school events and parties, or not, if you don’t want to. There is no “correct” or “normal” way to “do” social life.

- Don’t try to reduce the stigma of your disability by calling it something different and making fine distinctions between “your” type of disability and “those other peoples” disabilities. "I’m differently abled not disabled." "I’m only physically disabled, there’s nothing wrong with my brain!" "My disabilities are actually very mild, so I don’t need any help." This kind of thinking is problematic, a waste of energy, and it doesn’t work.

- It’s understandable sometimes to hate your disability. Just remember that when you hate your disability … your body, or your mind … in a way you are just hating yourself. Don’t do that.

- Learn to tell the difference between the pain of your disability, and pain caused by how other people treat you because of your disability. They are different things. They have different sources, and different remedies.

- If you are going to work on reducing your disability … like walking more smoothly or speaking more clearly ... do it because you feel it will make your life easier, not so you will “fit in” better with everyone else.

- If the other students don’t know much about your disability, consider explaining it to them. People can be meaner and less sensitive to disabilities when they seem like secrets. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but removing some of the mystery about your disability can help people get to know you better.

Finally ...

- Make the most of your years in school. Not because education is so important, though it can be. Make the most of school because it is the last time when your well-being and handling your disabilities will be other peoples’ responsibility. This is the best time to explore, try things out, experience both failure and success. Don’t just count the days and try to get school over with … use the time to the fullest.

So now I ask others with disabilities … What advice would you give to disabled students heading back to school?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Disability.TV - Ep. 2, Ironside (Original)

Left side - Disability.TV podcast logo - Right side - Photo of TV character Robert Ironside sitting in wheelchair holding a gun by the barrel
Episode 2 of Disability.TV is up. In the first full review, we look at the classic show Ironside, one of the most influential depictions of disability ever shown on television.

Next episode: Friday, August 22: Mini-Cast.


A reminder, you can click here to subscribe to Disability.TV at iTunes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Video Of The Day


Okay, this is just cute.

George Takei Followup: Good Enough For Me

Gril With The Cane - August 14, 2014

I am Sarah Levis, the blogger at Girl With The Cane is a Facebook friend, so I first saw George Takei’s apology on her Facebook page. Today, she posted more about it on her blog, linked above.

I agree with Sarah. This was a genuine apology, given for all the right reasons. I hope my earlier post didn’t give the impression that I had “written off” Sulu entirely. I was disappointed. But part of my point was that it’s something very particular about ableism right now (as opposed to most other -isms) that it is not widely recognized and is often still abused by otherwise “good” people. I didn’t blame Mr. Takei for posting the meme. I only felt he’d fallen short of recognizing the meaning behind it. And now he has done that. That’s good enough for me.

Like Sarah, I, too will probably have more to say soon about the people who STILL gripe and whine about “political correctness” of all sorts. I wonder if the tenor of some of their comments in defense of him is part of what clued Takei in that he might be on the wrong side on this one?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Disability.TV Update

This Friday I will post the first full episode of the Disability.TV podcast, with a review of the original Ironside television series, starring Raymond Burr.

I am also exited to announce that I have some great guest hosts for several of the upcoming podcast episodes:

August 15 - Ironside - the original series with Raymond Burr

August 29 - Ironside - the new series with Blair Underwood

September 5 - Friday Night Lights
With guest host Maddy Ruvolo of the Disabled Girls Talk Podcast.

September 19 - Game Of Thrones: Tyrion Lannister
With guest host Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project.

October 3 - Game Of Thrones: Jaimie Lannister, Bran Stark, and others.
With guest host Alice Wong.

October 17 - Glee
With guest host Cheryl Green of Who Am I To Stop It?

October 31 - My Gimpy Life

November 14 - The Big Bang Theory
With guest host Sarah Levis of Girl With The Cane.

On Fridays in between, look for Mini-Casts with podcast news, quiz answers, feedback, and related short topics.

Each episode will be posted here on the blog, and also on the podcast’s own website. You can also subscribe in iTunes, so you will automatically get each new episode downloaded to your computer or mobile device. Click here to get to the Disability.TV listing in iTunes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where In The World?

map of the world with land masses in dark blue and very faint lines for national borders
The Visitors Map widget on the lower right of the blog tells me that while most Disability Thinking readers are in the United States, there are a respectable number of readers from all over the globe. Plus, the American readers aren’t all clustered in the Northeast where I live. Here’s a little snapshot:

48 states + District of Columbia

Top 10 states

California
New Jersey
Ohio
New York
Texas
Illinois
Washington
Virginia
Massachusetts
Minnesota

51 countries

Top 10 countries, other than the United States

United Kingdom
Canada
Australia
Germany
Argentina
France
Ireland
Philippines
India
New Zealand