Thursday, March 6, 2014

Winter Paralympics - Friday, March 7

Opening Ceremony (live)
11:00 AM Eastern
NBC Sports Network

"Not The Fun Kind"

Photo of a young woman in a manual wheelchair doing a wheelie and smiling
From the Demonically Disabled Tumblr blog.

I’m going to break my own rule and add something to this photo. It starts with a comment on the photo from the blogger / selfie-taker herself:
"I never ever ever ever ever ever want to walk again. That was hell. And not the fun kind.”
I am aware that for some people, the notion of disabled people NOT wishing to be less disabled … of wheelchair users NOT working their asses off to walk again someday … is quite controversial. I dare say for quite a few people it sounds utterly irrational, either “crazy” or some sort of contrarian stance. Well, for some of us it is somewhat philosophical. But for others, it is completely practical; doing things the “normal” way hurts, and is just less practical, than embracing tools and adaptations. I walk, it works for me and my everyday needs, and I am glad for all the surgery and physical therapy in my early years that made that possible. But, I used a mobility scooter when I was in college, and when I have to travel through an airport, gimme that wheelchair man.

Finding Our History

Have you ever run across a website that perfectly matches with one of your passions, and wondered, “How is it that I’m only finding this now?”

That’s exactly how I felt when I found my way to the “It’s Our Story” YouTube Channel … a collection of interviews with the people who have witnessed and participated in the key events of the disability rights movement. I’ll be back to visit often, I think, because there are far too many interesting-looking videos to watch in one sitting. I won’t post all of them here, because if you are interested you should bookmark the site and browse it yourself.

I will, however, post this video interview with Jennifer Keelan, who participated in what has become known as the “Capitol Crawl”, a key demonstration aimed at passing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This video, and the incident it depicts, fascinates me. It is an amazing example of how difficult it is to predict how photos and footage of disabled people are going to be viewed. Will people feel pity, or will they be empowered? Are the two mutually exclusive? Will a deliberate demonstration … some might say a stunt … focus attention on a cause, or distract from it. As it happens, the whole thing worked on just about every level, but I bet with a few slight differences it could have easily failed.

I think this was one of those rare incidents when peoples’ stereotypes and sympathies about disabled people were harnessed to accomplish something constructive … to produce change, not tears. And if there were tears, they were tears of strength and pride, not pity. Very few organizations seem able to pull this off … and ADAPT are masters at it. And, let’s not forget that Ms. Keelan was right.

Here is a clip of the "Capitol Crawl" by the PBS show "Independent Lens". The "little girl" climbing the steps is Jennifer Keelan.

Blogging Announcement

White 3-D stick figure with a bullhorn
I am proud to announce the publication of my first post as a contributing blogger at the special needs website Shared Abilities. The post is titled “We Are The Experts”, and you can read it now by clicking the title link.

The plan for my Shared Abilities blog is to focus on disability issues advocacy. My goal will be to encourage Shared Abilities readers to explore ways that policies, practices, and laws can be changed to make real life improvements for people with disabilities and their families. The first post touches on recent developments with the Minimum Wage. My second post will look at an intriguing and possibly game-changing bill in Congress, the ABLE Act.

Blogging at Shared Abilities won’t change my daily blogging at Disability Thinking. This is my baby, so to speak, and will remain the core of my blogging activities for the foreseeable future. It’s good to branch out, though. I do believe I have some unique things to say, and the whole point is for more people to read them. I am grateful to Shared Abilities for offering me this opportunity.

By the way, I am actually one of six new bloggers announced today at Shared Abilities. I hope you will read the other bloggers as well. They each offer their own unique perspectives on disability.

Here are the links one more time: