Sunday, August 31, 2014

Disabled TV Character Face-Off - Survey

Photos of disabled TV characters: Robert Ironside, Addie Langdon, Artie Abrams, Jewel, Joey Lucas, Capt. Pike, Tyrion Lannister, Dr. Kerry Weaver, Corky Sherwood
Following up on yesterday’s post, here’s your chance to help start the Disabled Character Face-Off. The top 16 of these 32 characters will compete in a “bracket” style elimination tournament, to determine the best disabled TV character of all time!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Disability Thinking Weekly Wrap Up in white letters superimposed over sepia-tone photo of handicapped parking spaces

Characters, questions, and ice buckets.

Sunday, August 24, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Friday, August 29, 2014
Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Video Of The Day

So many amputees make it look easy, so it’s good to be reminded that there are still very real, practical impairments involved.

Disabled TV Character Face-Off

Photo of an old-style TV set with the wheelchair symbol on the screen
As I promised in yesterday's Disability.TV podcast, here is an initial list of competitors for the esteemed title of "Best Disabled TV Character Of All Time". It's just a draft list though. Before creating the definitive bracket and getting on with the individual face-offs, I'd like to get a few ideas from you. Who are your favorite TV characters with disabilities? Who is missing from this list? Are there any on the list that don't belong on it?

I don't have any firm rules for what kinds of characters should be in this competition. However, I would tentatively suggest that we not count one-time guest characters, TV movies characters, or truly background characters without dialog or involvement in a show's ongoing plot. Minor characters are fine, as are recurring characters who appear on a TV show more than one or two times. The character must have either a known disability, or one that is obvious to us the viewers, even if it is not acknowledged by the other characters on the show.

So here is the draft list, in alphabetical order:

Addie Langdon - American Horror Story
Artie Abrams - Glee
Becky Jackson - Glee
Bran Stark - Game Of Thrones
Chief Robert Ironside - Ironside
Claudius - I, Claudius
Corky Sherwood - Life Goes On
Daniel "Lifeguard" Borroughs - Wiseguy
Derek - Derek
Detective Robert Ironside - Ironside
Dr. Kerry Weaver - ER
Dr. Gregory House - House, M.D.
Hodor - Game Of Thrones
Jaime Lannister - Game Of Thrones
Jake Malinak - Becker
Jason Street - Friday Night Lights
Jewel - Deadwood
Jimmy - South Park
John Bates - Downton Abbey
Joey Lucas - The West Wing
Kevin Girardi - Joan Of Arcadia
Maester Aemon - Game Of Thrones
Max Braverman - Parenthood
Mel Fisher - Growing Up Fisher
President Josiah Bartlett - The West Wing
Sheldon Cooper - The Big Bang Theory
Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock
Timmy - South Park
Tyrion Lannister - Game Of Thrones
Walter "Flynn" White, Jr. - Breaking Bad

Send your changes and additions to my email address:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Disability.TV Podcast - Supplemental

In this brief podcast, I talk about some adjustments to my approach, ask listeners for feedback, and preview what's to come in upcoming episodes.

Podcast Schedule

September 5
Ironside (New)

September 12
Guest Co-Host Maddy Ruvolo

September 19
Game Of Thrones - Tyrion Lannister
Guest Co-Host Alice Wong

September 26

October 3
Game Of Thrones - Jaimie Lannister, Bran Stark, and Others
Guest Co-Host Alice Wong

October 10

October 17
Guest Co-Host Cheryl Green

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Question For Discussion

Stick figure carrying a question mark
I have a question inspired by a Twitter exchange I just saw involving @ollibean, @emily_ladau, @autselfadvocacy, and @AndyAUCD, about how a family can find help for a college student with disabilities who needs personal care assistance while at college.


Why is it so common for disabled people and their families to wish for programs and support services that already, basically, exist?

Are the programs too opaque and difficult to find? Are they under-funded? Are disabled people and their families not looking in the right places or asking the right questions? Do existing supports target the wrong problems and the wrong populations? Is it just poor PR and marketing skills? Are peoples’ expectations too high, so they don’t go for services that aren’t 100% perfect?

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in Comments.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Important, Not Less

Center for Medicare Advocacy

Medicare plans to stop approving purchase of speech devices … electronic machines that generate speech for people who can’t speak due to a disability … for people in health care facilities like nursing homes. Picture Stephen Hawking with his voice synthesizer.

The rationale, it seems, is that such facilities provide total care, so it’s less important for the patient to be able to communicate.

The same rationale use to be used … may still for all I know … to refuse purchase of electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters for people in nursing homes and other institutions. Someone in such a facility doesn’t need to be mobile in an institutional setting, because the institution does everything for them.

In both cases, this is a twisted rationale only a penny-pinching bureaucrat could come up with. I’m not knocking penny-pinching bureaucrats. It’s not horrible for someone to ASK whether these devices are still necessary for people in medical facilities. The problem is that other people with some knowledge of health care and disability (including disability rights) should answer that yes, they are necessary. In fact, they may be more necessary since even the “best” institutions tend to curtail patient mobility and healthy activity, and communication is the patient’s best protection from neglect, abuse, or medical error.

Let me say it again … it’s fine to question what some might see as “sacred cows”. But the accountants need to sit down and shut up when the items they want to skimp on are found to be, in fact, vital.

Click the link above to write to your Members of Congress.

When "Despite" Is Really "Because"

Harold Braswell, Washington Post - August 25, 2014

This is a good article on a timely and important topic. I would only add one thing.

I can't prove it, but I suspect that many police and a great many ordinary citizens think that mental illness is actually a justification for deadly force, not a reason to avoid it. It might not always be a conscious belief, but I think a lot of people still associate mental illness (a.k.a. "crazy") with unpredictability and violence. We say, "He shot the man, even though he was mentally ill", while on some level, it's really, "He shot the man because he was mentally ill, and therefore scary and threatening."

Unless this powerful prejudice is directly confronted and refuted with ironclad information and alternative strategies, this kind of thing is going to continue to happen to mentally ill people. I have somewhat higher hopes for change in how police deal with intellectually disabled people, like Ethan Saylor.

There's plenty of stigma to go round, but I think mentally ill people get the worst of it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Photo Of The Day

black and white photo of the inside of a museum with several children in wheelchairs
Students with disabilities visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, 1922.

When Headlines Get It Wrong

Susan Hogan, Channel 12 WPRI - August 25, 2014

Let's be clear, shall we? Six Flags and their rules kept the man from riding the roller coaster, not the man's disability. The disability had something to do with it, but it was the company's decision. Whether or not the decision was unjustified is another question. I suspect they are a bit too cautious, particularly when partial leg amputation imposes relatively little in terms of practical impairment. But either way, it was an institutional decision, not a natural consequence of disability. That is a huge conceptual difference that people often get wrong get wrong all the time.

The Ice Bucket Challenge ... What's Next?

Building front entrance showing accessibility features
The other day I pretty much telegraphed that I wasn't going to argue about the Ice Bucket Challenge, and I'm sticking with that, more ore less. I have an idea though.

It's sort of a followup to the Ice Bucket Challenge that answers some of what bothers me about it, without contradicting or refuting it. Maybe if we find the right social media strategy it will catch on. Here's the idea.

We ask everyone who has participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research to take an additional step ... a pledge that they will never again knowingly patronize a business that isn't fully wheelchair accessible.

Many people with ALS are wheelchair users. Encountering barriers to full, free mobility is one of the daily hardships of having ALS. So, in addition to helping fund better treatments for ALS, those who would also take the Accessibility Pledge would be helping people with ALS live better lives through equal access to their communities. One thing I like about it is that It sounds easy to promise, but it would force people to realize how difficult it actually is to stick with, because so many places are NOT wheelchair accessible.

It's also perfect for celebrities, because of the power they and their friends have to make an economic impact on businesses.

We could try to come up with a similar stunt to go along with it, but I don't think that would be necessary. We would be targeting people who have already done the Ice Bucket Challenge. We want to piggyback, not copycat. We want to say, “You have shown you care about people with ALS. Here’s another way you can help."

The first step is probably a Twitter hashtag, and maybe some parallel Facebook action, making sure to target celebrity Ice Bucket participants by name.

So, how about it? Can we get influential people to take the #AccessibilityPledge?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

Picture of a stick figure person sitting on floor working on a laptop computer
This is my response to a Blog Hop that came to me via Emily Ladau of Words I Wheel By

What am I working on?

Aside from actual blogging, I am working on my new podcast, Disability.TV, which is about how disability is portrayed on television. It’s going pretty well, I think, though I am much better and more comfortable writing than speaking. So far I have reviewed the original Ironside (the one with Raymond Burr), and this week I’ll be discussing the new Ironside, starring Blair Underwood). I have some guest hosts scheduled as well, which I think will make the podcast much more lively.

Meanwhile, I am starting a part-time job as a writing tutor at a local community college. I really hope I end up being good at it, because on paper it’s the perfect job for me … not too many hours, involves writing, and it helps people I greatly admire, people working really hard, often against formidable obstacles, to further their educations.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

When I started the Disability Thinking blog over a year ago, I promised myself that I would write something on it more or less every day, barring illness, life interruptions, and the occasional day off to enjoy sunshine. One of my blogging role models is Duncan Black, who has been running his political commentary blog Esctaton since 2002. He posts at least 3 or 4 things every day. Sometimes it’s just a single thought, expressed in a few sentences. In fact, he almost never writes essay-length posts. A lot of his posts are responses to stuff he’s read. I do that, too. I want to make Disability Thinking a place where you can visit every day and be pretty sure to find something new to read about disability. It won’t always be brilliant or even very original, but there should always be something to think about or read further about, and I cover a lot of topical ground, from politics to popular culture.

Why do I write what I do?

Why disability? Because a. I have had disabilities all of my life, b. I spent over 20 years working in the disability rights / independent living field, and c. there are a LOT of things I haven’t figured out yet about disability. Also, it seems like the field of disability blogging is comparatively small. It isn’t nearly as small as I thought it was when I started out, but it still feels like all of the “serious” (i.e. consistent) disability bloggers in the world could meet in a medium-sized meeting room.

How does my writing process work?

It all usually starts by jotting down ideas for longer essay posts and shorter observations at various times during the day, using the Apple “Notes” application for the Mac and iPhone. I usually have 4 or 5 topics going that eventually might become posts. Every morning, I also check out news items and other bloggers’ posts related to disability, sometimes queueing them up to read later. These might inspire the posts where I link to articles and other blog posts, and add some comments or ideas of my own. I have a list of bloggers I read all the time, I check Twitter, Tumblr, and somewhat less often Facebook. I also have my Google News page set to highlight stories related to disability. This is a pretty effective tool, expect for the articles mentioning professional baseball players who are on “the disabled list”.

Once an idea reaches a certain state of completeness in my mind or my notes, I usually write it in about an hour or maybe two. Then I spend about half an hour or so editing, add graphics when possible, and post. I try to post at least one piece of writing by early afternoon, and one other item … an interesting picture, video, or brief thought … by dinnertime. I also cross-post most things to my Tumblr site, and I post links to everything I do to Twitter.

This process works for me, in that I have mostly managed my goal of daily activity on the blog. One thing I’d like to improve is my editing process … ideally giving most longer pieces a full day to edit before posting. That takes willpower, though, and so far I’ve had a hard time resisting that “Post” button.

This is a Blog Hop, and I am tagging the following disability bloggers: Ellen Seidman of Love That Max, Christina Stephens the AmputeeOT, and Sarah Levis of Girl With The Cane. I look forward to seeing their responses!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Buy It: "The Other Sister"

This film is underrated, despised, actually, by most of the pop culture enthusiasts and movie critics I respect. The reason, I think, is that it is an unusually pure example of a bad movie with very good disability depictions at its heart. Yes, once again we have non-disabled actors portraying disabled people. To be sure, Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi go overboard and seem to have their eyes fixed on intensely craved Oscars. At times, the characters’ adorableness drifts into condescension. Yet, through it all, we get a strong statement in support of freedom, integration, and the dignity of risk for people with intellectual disabilities. Plus, if you care to dig a little deeper, the film can prompt interesting discussions about disability and social class. At the very least, this should be required viewing for anyone applying for direct care and support jobs in the developmental disability field.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Disability Thinking Weekly Wrap Up in white letters superimposed over sepia-tone photo of handicapped parking spaces
Followups, weirdness, and some of the finest disability stuff on the Interwebs.

Sunday, August 17, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Arguments Not Worth Having

Watching the “Ice Bucket Challenge” phenomenon become the hit social media trend of this summer, I have decided to start a new series on this blog: Arguments Not Worth Having.

Here are three right off the bat:

1. Goofy disability awareness or fundraising campaigns.

2. The unbeatable popularity of fundraising for cures.

3. Language that likens disability to war or a fistfight.

I haven’t fully worked out the criteria for determining which arguments I believe are not worth having, but they involve some combination of the following factors:

- The thing is something disability-related that non-disabled people really like.

- A non-trivial number of disabled people seem to like it, too.

- The thing is something I don’t like, or I think it’s silly, or I feel uncomfortable with it, but it doesn’t really offend me.

- I could make a logical, consistent argument against the thing, but I would really have to work at it, and the argument would have at least two or three distinct layers to get through.

- The likelihood that anyone will be convinced or even understand my thinking on the thing is below 20%.

- There is a 90% possibility that at the end of the argument, I will sound like an over-educated, unemotional robot with no human feelings or sense of humor.

- The thing is stupid, but not harmful. The consequences of leaving the thing alone are low.

Podcast Notes & Previews

Four episodes in, and I am fairly pleased with how the new podcast is shaping up. At the same time, I am much more aware of where I need to improve. For instance:

• When I'm recording just my own voice, I'm better reading an exact script. I'm not good speaking extemporaneously. I can't seem to find the "flow". I would be a terrible rapper. The problem is that this makes the actual content sound less interesting. It’s also a lot of work writing out everything I’m going to say, and that leaves less time and attention on thinking about what I actually think about the shows I am reviewing.

• On the other hand, I am really looking forward to doing reviews with guest hosts, the first of which is with Maddy Ruvolo, of the Disabled Girls Talk Podcast, to discuss "Friday Night Lights”. I hope that a conversation will sound more natural than a monologue, and lead to smarter insights and personal reactions.

• I think that in my first full review, I tried to answer too many questions, and make too many observations. I need to come up with a format where each TV show or character review deals at most 3 or 4 main points, or themes, or measures of quality. Expect experimentation with format in the next few episodes.

• Over the next few months of shows, I hope to explore some basic questions about disability on television … like why “representation” of disability matters, whether “offensive” depictions can do good, and whether it is possible for a show to address real life disability issues directly without being preachy.

If you haven’t listened to any of the podcast episodes yet, give them a try. You can listen in several different ways:

1. Listen here at the Disability Thinking blog, using the embedded players, like these:

2. Visit the Disability.TV page

This is a separate page just for the podcast. There’s a tab link for it at the top of the Disability Thinking blog. The Disability.TV page looks like a blog, but you won't find anything on it except for each episode, dated and organized, with an embedded player. It’s a convenient place to see all of the podcast episodes listed in order.

3. Subscribe, with iTunes or Stitcher
Subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher
These two services operate a bit differently, but they both automate things so you always have new episodes ready to listen as soon as I produce them. And, you can save them, delete them, or reorganize them on your computer or mobile device however you like.

Upcoming Episodes of Disability.TV:

August 29
Ironside (New Series)

September 5
Friday Night Lights
Guest Co-Host Maddy Ruvolo

September 19
Game Of Thrones, Part I
Guest Co-Host Alice Wong

October 3
Game Of Thrones, Part II
Guest Co-Host Alice Wong

October 17
Guest Co-Host Cheryl Green

Full reviews are every two weeks. In between, I'll continue to do Mini-Casts, shorter episodes with a variety of bits like listener feedback, surveys and quiz questions, and special topics related to disability and popular culture.

Please do leave comments and suggestions for making this podcast better!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Video Of The Day ... ASAN Speech

One of my favorite things about the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network is the way they speak about the rights, dignity, and experiences of autistic people within the context of a broader disability experience. In this speech, Ari speaks of the experiences and concerns of people with Blindness, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities as comparable with Autism, without ever actually making that specific point.

This is one of the best, most emotionally resonant, hard-hitting disability rights speeches I have ever heard.

Via the Autistic Self Advocacy Network Tumblr blog.

Disability.TV Podcast - Ep. 2.5, Mini-Cast

This week's Disability.TV podcast is up. It’s a “Mini-Cast” in which I take a look at “disability tropes, narrative markers we can use to map out how disability is portrayed on TV, using the excellent resource,

Next episode: Friday, August 29: Ironside (New Series).

Don’t forget, you can subscribe to Disability.TV at iTunes, or with Stitcher.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Disabled people aren't weird. We're normal ... just like everyone else. Nothing to see here! What are you looking at?

Of course, we ARE weird. The point is, it's okay to be weird. In fact, under the right circumstances, being weird can be kind of fun. That includes even disability-weird.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More Disability Podcasts

Icon illustration of a radio microphone and ear bud earphones
Here are three more disability-related podcasts I’m exploring:

A terrific podcast on reforming Special Education, with a strong pro-inclusion orientation. Many of the episodes are interviews with education experts and inclusion advocates. The podcast is hosted by Tim Villegas, who runs the Think Inclusive website. I recommend starting with Podcast #010 How Long Can We Wait For Inclusive education?, featuring Tim's interview with Dr. Cheryl Jorgensen. Their conversation ends up being a strong and complete introduction to the central question facing advocates of inclusion ... why are kids with disabilities still so often educated in segregated settings?

This is a British podcast similar to the BBC's "Ouch!" show, but with somewhat more emphasis on disability policy in the British government. My tentative though on listening for awhile is that UK disability policy is simpler and less layered than in the US, but not easier, or even much better for disabled people. The podcast also covers aspects of disability culture and practical adaptation.

I have only listened to one episode ... Jane Hash's interview with the creator and star of "My Gimpy Life", Teal Sherer ... but I'm hooked already. Jane is a great interviewer and picks great guests to talk with. Her style is pretty straightforward, but with a bit of an "alternative" bite. Even if you don't immediately get some of the "in" jokes and references to disability community notables, it's easy to get into the spirit of things with Jane and her guests. So in a way, the podcast is another good introduction to at least part of the disability culture community.

All three podcasts are available to subscribe in iTunes.

I'm still looking for even more active disability podcasts. If you know of another one, or are thinking of starting one, let me know in Comments or by email.

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 free 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

New Jersey
New York

51 countries

Top 10 countries, other than the United States

United Kingdom
New Zealand

Video Of The Day

This seems like an important thing for people to look at today.

Via the Just Rolling On Tumblr blog.

Two Disability Cultures

Ideas topic icon
I sometimes think that many of the conflicts within the disability community are less about specific disagreements than about peoples’ different responses to sentimentality on the one hand, and irony on the other. It’s almost like there are two disability cultures.

One is sustained by positivity, inspiration, and aspiration, and is either indifferent to or uncomfortable with discussions of policy and advocacy. The other “side” is fueled by injustice, collective action and identity, and a sort of world-weary cynicism about where disabled people really stand in the world. And they are either indifferent to or revolted by heartwarming stories of personal optimism and spirituality.

The only time the two cultures seem to cross is when we occasionally unite to share heartwarming, inspirational stories about prominent disability rights advocates, like Justin Dart and Judy Heumann. Otherwise, our two tribes seem to be carrying on entirely different conversations.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bad Name, Promising Show

I just ran across this British TV series called The Specials, a reality TV show about five young men and women with intellectual disabilities, who share a house. The show will be coming to the OWN Network here in the U.S. in September. There is also a Web Series on YouTube.

It’s a terrible name … “The Specials” ... which I very much hope is meant to be ironic. What little I have seen of the show suggests that it probably is, because although these peoples’ disabilities are quite apparent, they are not shown to be either helpless or one-dimensional. The other thing that occurs to me is that there is something about British language and culture that seems to help keep sentimentality under control. It’s not cynical or anything, and there are some scenes between these supportive friends that do look heartwarming, but not in the revolting, gooey way a similar show would likely turn out here in the U.S. I can’t prove it, it’s just a feeling.

Something Close To Home

Disability Visibility Project - August 10, 2014

I wish I had known about this protest to make Montréal, Quebec’s Metro system more accessible. 

I live only an hour south of Montréal, and it is my favorite city, but it’s not lost on me that some of its charm comes at the expense of accessibility. It especially bums me out that the Metro is so lacking in access, because in every other way, I love Montréal's Metro!

From this article, I also found a cool Tumblr site by the local group that organized the protest, Access4mtl (Access for Montréal) . They also have a Wordpress site, Accessible Montréal. There are some really great photos there, and this map showing just the portion of the metro that is wheelchair accessible is an amazing piece of persuasive art. I’ll set it next to the actual, official Metro map used n Montréal, to show how effective it is.


By the way, if you haven’t visited the Disability Visibility Project lately, or you haven’t been there yet, what are you waiting for? Whether or not you are able to participate by going to a recording site, reading the fantastic guest blog posts and profiles of media partners gives a great overview of what the disability activist community looks like today. There’s something new there pretty much every day, so you need to “Bookmark” or “Favorite” it so you can add the site to your daily website rounds.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Buy It: "I Claudius"

Claudius, a “halfwit” with a stumble and a stutter, is the least respected, most ignored member of Caesar Augustus’ family. This is both a curse and a blessing. This is Claudius’ own story, which he is writing at the end of his life, as the aging Emperor of Rome. This acclaimed BBC series is based on the books by Robert Gaves, "I, Claudius" and "Claudius The God”, both of which are fictionalized accounts based on the actual life of Emperor Claudius, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy. It features outstanding performances from everyone, including Derek Jacobi as Claudius and John Hurt as Caligula.

I plan on covering "I, Claudius" next Spring in my new podcast, Disability.TV.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Disability Thinking Weekly Wrap Up in white letters superimposed over sepia-tone photo of handicapped parking spaces
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Monday, August 4, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blogging Break

Color photo of blue sky, a few white clouds, and bright sun
The local weather is calling this a “5-star weekend”, so I’m going to take a break from blogging today. I may do a little tidying and dusting around the site, but that’s about all until tomorrow.