Thursday, April 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Illustration of the time machine from the film "Time Machine"
A year ago in Disability Thinking: Book Preview.

Criptiques is still essential reading.


Bloggy, Podcasty Stats

I decided to take a look at some statistics for the Disability Thinking Blog and the Disability.TV Podcast.

The word "BLOG" written in white chalk on a gray slate blackboardFirst the blog:

At some point today, the total page views will reach 106,500. Over the history of the blog, it has received an average of 132 page views per day, 3,974 page views per month. However, readership has grown fairly steadily, and the blog has been getting more like 200 to 250 page views per day for the last few months.

64% of visitors used desktop computers
26% of visitors used mobile phones
10% of visitors used tablets.

World map with countries listed below in color
Top 10 Countries
(Visitors from 132 countries in all)

United States
United Kingdom
New Zealand

US map with states listed below in color
Top 10 U.S. States
(Visitors from 50 states in all)

New York
New Jersey
North Carolina
District of Columbia

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts

Microphone icon
Now a look at the podcast:

22 episodes, 8,793 total plays.

Top 10 Episodes

Top 10 Countries
(Listeners from 55 countries in all)

United States
United Kingdom
New Zealand

It's nice to know people are reading and listening. However, I have to say that the routines of blogging and podcasting are satisfying all by themselves ... far more fulfilling that I imagined they would be when I started.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Notable Tweets

I found these in my notes from last week. I saved them because together they explain why "Inspiration Porn" is bad. It's not just because it implies most disabled people are pathetic. The real problem is that by highlighting personal virtue, Inspiration Porn distracts from the unjust and entirely changeable situations that make such virtue necessary. Recognizing this takes nothing away from the individuals being virtuous by the way. In the absence of justice, a bit of one-on-one kindness and sacrifice is better than nothing. But let's not mistake them for solutions.

Hospital Blogging! Conclusion

Hospital icon on the left, active wheelchair icon on the right
Before I finish this “Hospital Blogging!” thing, I think it’s important to acknowledge that many people with disabilities have a much more difficult time in the hospital than I did. Partly this is because independent, empowered disabled people experience their disabilities in fundamentally non-medical ways, while the medical profession, naturally, sees disabilities as medical problems within their purview. It’s a culture clash.

However, in my indirect experience assisting other disabled people, the disabled people who have the most difficulty in hospitals are those with what I like to call “Rodney Dangerfield Disabilities” … disabilities that "don’t get no respect." Emotional / mental impairments fall within this category. So do certain chronic pain / chronic illness conditions like Fibromyalgia, POTS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In fact, any conditions that are hard for doctors to precisely identify, localize, and treat tend to be treated with skepticism, which means the people who have these conditions are treated as suspect.

For a variety of reasons, the medical profession seems to be on guard against being duped or swindled by a supposed horde of lazy malingerers, “head cases”, and just plain drug seekers. I suppose all three exist, and hospital personnel probably do meet them more than most of us. But huge numbers of disabled people are tarred with this suspicion, which poisons what should be a collaborative and trusting patient / provider relationship. When you are in the hospital, by necessity, and that’s how they feel about you, your can’t even get away. You’re stuck needing treatment from people who won’t give it to you, but in a weird way won’t let you go either.

I am lucky that I have never experienced this for myself. It’s a huge problem that still needs a lot of work.

If you want to read my hospital blog posts again, from start to finish, here are the links:


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hospital Blogging! Part 5

Hospital icon on the left, active wheelchair icon on the right
I am home again after just shy of a week in the hospital being treated for pneumonia. Aside from having to go in the first place, things could not have gone better for me. Of course, being in my own place again is bliss.

I have been an inpatient at my local hospital I think 5 times now since I moved back to my hometown in 1991. Roughly speaking, each stay has been an improvement on the last in terms of how they dealt with my disabilities. Like all hospitals, there are bureaucratic absurdities and staff that just don’t get it. But for me at least, things have gotten steadily better. Maybe the best thing about this is that when I am very sick, I don’t hesitate to seek full-on treatment out of fear of just being in the hospital. Unfortunately, I have known many disabled people who can’t say this.

If I had to choose one factor that can either make or break how hospital staff deal with patients who have long-term disabilities, I would pick flexibility.

More recently trained providers seem to have an easier time reconciling their need to follow procedures with our need to do things differently due to our disability and self-care routines. The very best mesh the two so smoothly that you don’t notice any conflict at all. These are also the ones who have a knack for introducing new ideas for our better health going forward, without making us feel threatened or criticized.

My experience this week was that by far most of the staff at this hospital are flexible in this critical way. A few of them seemed uncomfortable with the words, phrases, and tones that had been carefully drilled into them. A collaborative approach seemed uncomfortable to them. That’s okay, it doesn’t have to be perfect. In any case, I’d say 75% of the nurses, doctors, and technicians who treated me had no trouble being in charge in the best way medically, while never treating me like a subordinate or worse, a failure for being there.

Flexibility, the willingness to see and do things differently, allows hospitals to offer the best of both worlds to disabled patients. They provide safe, expert, authoritative treatment and advice for acute illness that is beyond us, in an environment that does not rob us of our hard-won independence and agency.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hospital Blogging! Part 4

Hospital icon on the left, moving wheelchair icon on the right
Or, “Tiggers are wonderful things!"

Just to double down on something I mentioned a couple of days ago ...

One way to tell you’re recovering from hospital-level illness is when you start caring again about things you stopped caring about for awhile. For instance, putting on pants and a t-shirt instead of just underwear and a hospital gown. Being a very small guy, I had to wear a gown with Tiggers all over it, and I have to admit, I kind of dug it because Tigger is one of my favorite of the Winnie the Pooh-via-Disney characters. I’m tentatively due to go home Monday though, so it’s time to begin gradually re-upgrading my general living standards. It feels good.

I think I’ll save the shave until I actually get home.


More hospital blogging:

Hospital Blogging!
Hospital Blogging! Part 2
Hospital Blogging! Part 3


Mainstream Article on Disability Etiquette

Multicolored word cloud around the word Ettiquette
Ana Swanson, Washington Post Wonkblog - April 24, 2015

You can’t swing a deceased feline in the Disability Blogosphere without hitting lists of advice from disabled people, offered to non-disabled people, on how we prefer to be treated. I think it’s a great exercise for ourselves, and I’ve seen some nice feedback from non-disabled readers, so I know some of them are reading and getting something out of it, too.

This Wonkblog compilation of a Reddit thread is unusually good reading of this kind, and best of all, it’s in a mainstream publication … two of them actually if you count the complete and original back and forth on Reddit. I am especially pleased because I agree with everything on the list. Most of the commenters are saying what disability activists and bloggers say all the time, but I love the irreverence and novelty of how some of these folks explain things. For one thing, they are almost completely free of disability jargon.

I do wonder … Reddit being Reddit … if Ana Swanson intentionally left out angry ableist responses. It's understandable if she did, since she set out to compile good advice, not online hate. However, if there were any ugly comments in the thread, it would be educational to see a sample of them. There is a reference to the common phenomenon of the hyper vigilant, self-appointed guardian of “handicapped parking,” but that is presented mostly as a misunderstanding. The kind of thing I see a lot is people drawing distinctions between “good” disabilities and “bad” ones, a widespread skepticism and intolerance for any kind of “emotional disabilities,” insistence that disabled people who speak out in any way are “just craving attention,” and of course the fiscal conservatives and Libertarians who resent any penny spent on assisting us that comes out of their paychecks.

People who have positive feelings about disabled people and disability issues sometimes can’t imagine that aggressively hateful ableism really exists. It’s so foreign to their thinking that there is a tendency outside the disability community to discount our tales of horrifying ableism as overreaction or misunderstanding. While one must occasionally correct for hyperbole language, the incidents disabled people describe when they let their hair down and really share are quite real. And there are some true haters out there who have special, very intense little resentments directly aimed at disabled people.

I would love to see a compilation like this that not only catalogs online ableism, but categorizes it as well into its most popular themes.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Thinking About Disability On TV

Disability.TV Podcast logo with URL disabilitythinking.blogspot.comI doubt there are many people who think there's too much disability on TV. People come up with all kinds of reasons why it’s so rare, and why disability stories are the way they are. However, there is a near consensus that life would be better for disabled people if everyone saw more disabled people in popular culture.

That sounds sensible, though I am skeptical about any definite cause-effect relationship, for the good or the bad. Plus, it doesn’t answer a critical question. Which kinds of depictions do the most harm, and which the most good? What exactly are we looking for in disability on TV?

I love TV, I am disabled, and I like digging into why popular culture is the way it is, and what that means for people in real life. That’s why I started a podcast, Disability.TV, and why I have been participating in some great discussions about this on social media, including Saturday evening #FilmDis Twitter discussions. I’ve got so many questions and ideas floating around, at this point. I think this would be a good time for a brain dump. I’d like to see what others think about the questions I have been hashing out.


Would it be enough just to see more disabled characters on TV shows? What is the relationship between quantity and quality?

Injured man in a fully enclosing futuristic wheelchair
Do we want to see only uplifting disabled characters? Is there any value in disabled characters who aren’t admirable, or do they run too much risk of sending the wrong messages about disabled people?

Do most disabled characters on TV present an authentic disabled person’s point of view, a non-disabled person’s point of view, or a TV writer’s need for something to drive the plot?

What about TV portrayals of some of the terrible ways disabled people have been treated, now and in the past? When does accurate, brave depiction of evil become just more exploitation?

Do we automatically count it against a show if characters on it say things about disability we disagree with? What does it mean when a show clearly wants us to believe one thing about disability, but we see something else entirely on the very same show?

Marlee Matilin as Joey Lucas on The West Wing, signingIs it possible to have good disability portrayals in comedy, without it devolving into mockery?

Are disabled character behaviors that fit into disability cliches and stereotypes inherently offensive?

Is it always offensive for non-disabled actors to play disabled characters? In addition to questions of equal opportunity for disabled actors, is it akin to blackface? Does “cripping up” negate any other value in a depiction?

Is there a correlation between broad popularity and good disability portrayals?

What kinds of disabled characters and disability situations on TV give us joy?

Tyrion Test

Before starting the Disability.TV Podcast, I tried to come up with a simple, clear criteria for judging disability on TV or in the movies. I started with the Bechdel Test, which evaluates how a show or movie portrays women, based on whether it:

1) Features at least two women, who

2) Talk to each other,

3) About something other than a man.

After a few tries, I came up with what I called the Tyrion Test, after my favorite disabled character, Tyrion Lannister on Game Of Thrones:

1) At least one character with disabilities is involved in significant plot developments not centered on their disabilities,

2) Disabilities are depicted realistically, neither less nor more severe than they would be in real life, and

3) Disabled characters are givers as well as receivers … supportive of other characters, not just supported by them.

This is an interesting measure, I think, but it leaves too many angles unexamined.

5-Star Rating System for Disability Onscreen

After several months of podcasting, and conversations about this over Twitter, I decided to come up with a more traditional 5-star rating system, similar to what Netflix and some critics use to rate movies and TV shows. Each TV show can earn up to 5 stars, but each star represents a particular measure.

Authenticity … Are the details of disability portrayed accurately?

Characters … Are disabled characters fully developed, low on cliché, and more than just plot devices?

Messages … Does the work have something to say about disability?

Representation … Are disabled characters played by disabled actors?

Watchability … Is the work overall entertaining and high-quality?

Chief Robert Ironside in wheelchair, with 3 team members
I allow half stars.

The best thing about this system is that it allows full credit for parts of the depiction that work, and takes proportional credit off the score for aspects that fail. Each category is of about equal value. So, since disabled characters are very rarely played by disabled actors, even some very good shows will loose half or a full star for lack of Representation. Similarly, if a show dutifully checks all the speciality disability boxes, but is dull and poorly presented, it’s not going to earn full credit for Watchability, which can significantly impact the show’s overall star rating.

On the other hand, I feel a little like the dour Headmaster in Dead Poet's Society who takes over Mr. Keating's class and tries to teach the kids how to appreciate poetry by use of charts and graphs.

How do you respond to disability on TV? What do you hate to see, and what would you most like to see?


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hospital Blogging! Part 3

Large "H" hospital icon on the left, active wheelchair icon on the right

I am out of insights today on the hospital scene. Everything is fine, but there’s not much else to report. My only observation is that I have started noticing the quickly re-learned dependency creeping in. Since I think I’m on the way to being better, it’s time to start doing more for myself. That’s not an original thought, and everyone who spends time in the hospital deals with this. But it’s at least a slightly bigger deal for those of us with disabilities.

It's Throwback Thursday. A year ago in Disability Thinking: Blech!

Well, that’s an interesting coincidence.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hospital Blogging! Part 2

Large "H" hospital icon on the left, active wheelchair icon on the right
What do I “give” on when I’m in the hospital?

I let people do things for me … and ask them to do things for me … that I normally do myself. Initially, I even let people do things for me that I probably could do even though I’m sick.

I give an accurate rundown of my regular medication and treatment routines but for the first couple of days, I don’t obsessively follow up about it. If the doctors want to alter my usual meds to help fight whatever I’ve got, that’s fine with me. After a day or two, I start gradually taking the reins back, asking which changes are permanent, which temporary, etc.

I try to remember that some people just naturally speak in condescending, nursery-school tones, to everyone. Also, it seems like there are schools of thought in nurse training in particular that promote being super-sweet, while others seem to opt for more businesslike, or more jovial tones. None of these variations necessarily mean anything about how nurses view me and my disabilities.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"The Daily Dot" Article

Daily Dot stylized D logo, white letter on black background
Andrew Pulrang, The Daily Dot - April 21, 2015


Hospital Blogging!

Large "H" hospital icon on the left, active wheelchair icon on the right
I’ve got pneumonia, so I am in the hospital, I hope only for a few days. There’s good Wi-Fi here, and I’ve got my laptop, so I’m thinking of doing a little detour into that awkward corner of the disability experience, getting acute care for “normal people sickness”, within the medical system. So many of us, as disabled adults, try to keep the medical world at bay, because usually we have had some fairly traumatic experiences with it due to our disabilities. I’m talking about experiences here, not outcomes. I have had great good fortune since my birth in the medical treatment of my disabilities. Yet, it’s not a world I want to be part of, even in a benign way.

So far, everything is going fine here. It’s my hometown hospital, and by and large they know me and my peculiar needs. The night shift staff were great as they got used to my ventilator and helped me get to bed with all the IVs and wires and such. I slept well.

The truth is, when I am really sick, there is some real relief in relinquishing some of my independence and loner-ism and just giving myself over to what they have planned for me. I also take advantage of the little luxuries, if I can. As a Facebook friend commented last night, “Never underestimate the healing powers of popsicles and jello.” Note to self: request popsicles.

The flip side is that when I start getting pissy about things that go wrong, and I start noticing again the absurdities of the entirely bureaucratic hospital ecosystem, then I know I’m just about well enough to go home! I hope that will be soon. In the meantime, I might have more to blog about.


Monday, April 20, 2015

ADA 25th Anniversary

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act 25 1990-2015
Emily Ladau, Words I Wheel By - April 20, 2015

Cara Liebowitz, That Crazy Crippled Chick - April 20, 2015

I’m sick, I guess, and I have a doctor’s appointment today, but I’m at least going to start working on my own thoughts on positive effects of the ADA. Emily and Cara want bloggers to send them articles on this topic, that they will put into a link-up, to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Meanwhile, if you want, use this post’s Comments to offer your thoughts on the ADA. Of course, you may also want to write own post for the link-up. If you do, email it to:


Sunday, April 19, 2015

I've had kind of a weird week, including not much time spent on Twitter, and missing last night's #FilmDis discussion, due to illness and sleeping.

That's why I've decided to embed the Storify set up by Alice Wong, the guest host for last night's #Film Dis. She runs the Disability Visibility Project, is a member of Nerds Of Color, and has guested with me on my Disability.TV Podcast, talking about disability on Game Of Thrones.

I'm sorry I missed out last night. Looks like it was a great discussion.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Illustration of a calendar with a red pin in it
Monday, April 13, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Friday, April 17, 2015
Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Why (Wheelchair Users) Can't Have Nice Things

Black line drawing image of a bus
Kristen V. Brown, San Francisco Chronicle - April 18, 2015

There are probably people who understand the value of accessibility, but don't realize just how galling this particular story is for wheelchair users. It’s annoying enough when a new business “forgets" to factor in accessibility, then begs forgiveness because they’re new, just starting out, struggling, whatever. But this is an intentionally high-end company that actually bought some wheelchair accessible buses, then intentionally removed the accessibility features. I don’t think they did so because they didn’t want wheelchair users to ride their buses. I suspect it really was all about space. Where else were they supposed to put those juice bars?

I think there’s also some unconscious ableism at work here. Underneath whatever legal calculations the company might have made, gambling on their interpretation of the ADA, I’ll bet there were at least a few thoughts along the lines of: “How many wheelchair users are going to want to take an expensive, luxury bus to work anyway?” Because disabled people don't get cool, high-salary jobs, and we don’t really care about nice things, even if they do reek a bit of embarrassing hipsterism.

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that at least one person at the company thought, maybe for a few seconds: “Wheelchairs take up too much space anyway …” Seriously, don’t you think that thought went through somebody’s mind, even if they never put it into words?

I usually don’t wish failure on startup businesses. However, I hope for the sake of precedent that what the company did is found to be an ADA violation, and that this sets off a chain reaction leading the whole enterprise to go bust. I’m sure the resulting damage to the Bay Area economy will be quite … limited.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Disability Blogger Link-Up

The word Blog surrounded by word cloud
Use the blanks below to post a blog post or article on something related to disability … something you want to share.

To make the articles easier to browse, in the “Your name” blank, type the title of the article. In the "Your URL" blank, paste the whole website address of the item you are posting.

Then click the "Enter" button. That's it!

Note: If your post doesn't appear immediately, try "refreshing" the page a few times. Sometimes it takes a little while to show up. Also, feel free to post more than one item. Finally, you might want to add a comment at the bottom of this post, to identify yourself or add an explanation or comment about the items you are posting.

Have fun posting and reading! This Link-Up will close at Midnight Eastern on Sunday. Look for the next Link-Up Friday, May 1, 2015.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Illustration of the time machine from the film "Time Machine"
A year ago in Disability Thinking … The Mayor Of Swindon.

Discussed the connection between offensive disability language and regressive ideas about disability.


Podcast Transcripts

hands typing on a computer keyboard
I have just posted a written transcript of the last Disability.TV Podcast, Ep. 22 - Mini-Cast: Ratings Recap. Click here for the transcript.

All future podcasts will be posted with transcripts, and over time, I will add transcripts for past episodes, to eventually make all of them accessible to people with hearing impairments. It’s one of those jobs that are extremely time consuming, or can be quite easy and convenient if you’re willing to spend the money. At this point, I am tentatively going with the paid professional approach.

I’m long overdue getting to this, but it may finally prompt  me to get serious about raising money for the Disability Thinking Blog and the Disability.TV Podcast. You can donate right now using the Paypal widget over on the right side of this blog, but look for something a bit more developed in the near future … such as a GoFundMe or Patreon pitch.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tax Day Tips

"TAX" in capital, red 3-d letters, with dollar bills floating around
Andy Winnegar, Santa Fe New Mexican - April 5, 2015

It’s a bit late to post about this, since US Tax Returns are due at midnight tonight. However, there’s always next year. I get the feeling that some of these tax provisions for disabled people, and especially the ones that help businesses improve accessibility, are underused.

The biggest factors with my taxes are my copious out-of-pocket medical expenses, which are directly related to my disabilities, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Your mileage will vary, of course.

I recommend checking out both of these IRS forms, one shorter and more simple, the other more detailed.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Netflix Makes A Good Decision

Icon for Audio Description for the blind
Tracy Wright, Netflix US & Canada Blog - April 14, 2015

One good thing about terrible, self-sabotaging decisions by high-profile corporations as that they can usually be reversed very quickly, with the right kind of targeted advocacy. This appears to be a great start, and I am especially glad Netflix won’t stop with just Daredevil.

Congratulations to all the bloggers and petition signers who helped make this happen. And biggest thanks to the folks at the Accessible Netflix Project, who have been working on this literally for years.


Another Case Of Neglect ... What's The Story?

Word cloud around the word NEWS in big blue capital letters
Alison Burdo and David Chang, 4 NBC Washington - April 12, 2015

Elena Rose Levy, Angelic Eve: Where Snakes Are Not Scary, Neither Am I - April 12, 2015

What to do with another disability neglect story?

Let’s start by noting that the way this story is covered, “this young man” has no name, and no thoughts or information about what has happened to him. I understand that his CP is on the “severe” end of the scale. He’s apparently unable to speak, though with CP, people could easily be mistaken about his ability to communicate. As for his name, it’s possible his aunts have asked for the moment that it not be released, as a way to protect his anonymity. But in this case, it seems like a weird choice, since his mother’s name is now public knowledge.

Let’s also note how “suffers” is used in the story, not to describe what happened to “him”, but as a simple, habitual modifier to Cerebral Palsy … as in “suffers from Cerebral Palsy”. It seems very likely that “he” has suffered a lot, but more from his mother’s neglect and bad choices, not necessarily from his CP.

All that is technically a meta-conversation about journalism, and not precisely what the big story is here. But as I have said before, these journalistic habits subtly reinforce the kind of thinking about disabilities that contribute to these kinds of terrible incidents. When you assume people who have certain kinds and combinations of disabilities as little more than inert teddy bears or giant Tamagochis, it’s actually not that long a walk from, “How dare you neglect him?” to, “What’s the point anyway?” Put another way, whether motivated by kindness and pity, or by selfishness and ignorance, removing a disabled person’s agency and personhood is harmful, sometimes deadly.

To me, this story is also another in a long, depressing line of stories about the all-or-nothing mindset many families have about “caring for” disabled “children”. They think they only have two socially accepted choices. They can either devote the rest of their lives to caring for the “child”, or they can “put” the child in an institution. They see no middle ground, and certainly don’t seem to ever imagine their son or daughter having some agency for themselves, and living at least somewhat independently with their own support services, and not dependent on family.

Finding both institutionalization and life tied to an adult child unacceptable, some of these parents get weird and self-deluded, and abandon them, or kill them, telling themselves that it’s a mercy for the disabled person, or leaving a blanket and a Bible, equally useless and pathetic gestures. Of course, it’s also possible that in some cases, perhaps this one, the parent involved is just massively selfish or stunningly ignorant. We are angry at them for shirking their responsibility, but then we think maybe it wouldn’t have been any better for them to keep providing what was probably terrible care in the first place.

What pricked my emotions more than the news story itself was Elena Rose Levy’s blog post, where she notes that being physically abandoned is a common nightmare of so many young disabled kids and teens. I don’t remember having that specific fear. I do remember often feeling physically vulnerable and dependent in a way most of my peers did not. There was a long stretch of time when I think I saw my world as narrower, my life choices limited, because of a vague feeling that I would always need “care”, which meant that I had to be careful to be a certain way in order to secure that care.

Which brings me back to the issue of this nameless 21 year old “child’s" point of view. I kind of appreciated the blunt comments from the neighbor lady in the news story, but I want to know what the the disabled guy actually thinks. I guarantee, he thinks something worth hearing about.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Accessible Netflix Petition

Photo of Daredevil character, in black suit with mask over most of face, in front of nighttime NYC skyline
Petitioning Netflix: Make Daredevil Available to The Blind Community ...

I rarely post two items in a row on the same topic, but this “Daredevil” accessibility issue with Netflix is the Platonic Ideal of a disability advocacy issue:

- Netflix still won’t provide Audio Description for the blind for its new “Daredevil” series … or any of its other shows for that matter.

- “Daredevil” is a TV adaptation of a Marvel Comics superhero who is blind.

- A CNBC story says that it costs between $1,000 and $5,000 to provide Audio Description, the amount depending on length of a show. That seems like a lot of money for you and me, but for Netflix? Come on.

- Netflix’s non-response response, after almost 3 years of advocacy, suggests that there’s no real opposing view here. It’s just apathy and neglect. That is sadly typical of disability issues, where the most common enemy isn’t opposition, but indifference.

- The issue is important to blind people in a very direct way. It is important to all disabled people as a matter of principal and precedent. Yet, it is not so important or complex that it scares off people who don't like getting involved in advocacy with intense emotions, a steep learning curve, and a lot at stake.

Please sign the petition, Tweet it, and Facebook it.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Daredevil: Live Tweet, First Impressions, and an Epic Accessibility Fail

Poster for Daredevil TV show, with portrait of Matt Murdock, young man in suit wearing round sunglasses and adjusting his tie, smiling
Last nights Daredevil live tweet, under the #DaredevilDVP hashtag, was a blast. Alice Wong has assembled a Storify to archive the event.

Marvels Daredevil itself, the new Netflix series posted just yesterday, is pretty great, too. It’s dark without being gloomy, funny but not frivolous, and the action is exciting and violent without (yet) feeling dehumanizing … though parental discretion is most definitely advised. I have only seen the first episode, but the show is very promising.

Screen shot of Daredevil in action, at night, with police car nearby, man beaten on the ground at his feetAs disability depictions go, Matt Murdock / a.k.a. Daredevil, the blind superhero isnt bad, but not yet a revelation. The show indulges in a few blindness cliches, like face-touching and wishing to see again. But the show does interesting things with these themes and they feel more earned and specific than usual. My only concern is that if Murdock continues dropping clever one-liners about being blind, well into the series, the whole Get it? Im blind! schtick could become stale. My guess is that the blindness stuff will fade into the background while we dig into the story.

By all means, watch Daredevil. But while you watch, ponder the fact that while blindness is an integral part of the Daredevil story, Netflix so far has not provided an Audio Description track that would enable blind viewers to enjoy the show fully. Its bad corporate citizenship for Netflix to neglect Audio Description as it does for all shows, but its laughably terrible PR for them to leave it out of this show in particular, and to fail to respond meaningfully to people who have been asking about it since last summer.

Bold white logo AD, for Audio Description
Tom DiChristopher, CNBC - April 10, 2015

Get it together, Netflix. You've got another good show there. Don't ruin it by stonewalling on Audio Description. Just make it happen.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Illustration of the time machine from the film "Time Machine".
A year ago in Disability thinking  Justice Department Agreement On Sheltered Workshops.

The arguments for and against Sheltered Workshops don’t change. Even the hopeful stories sound the same, from year to year, while the overall debate doesn’t seem to move forward.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Disability.TV Ep. 22 - Mini-Cast: Ratings Recap

Disability.TV logo on the left, microphone icon on the right

Disability.TV Star Ratings Google Doc ... See star ratings for every show reviewed on the Disability.TV Podcast.

#DaredevilDVP Live Tweet ... Hashtag discussion about the new Netflix show, DaredevilFriday, April 10, 8:00 PM Eastern

Hear More And Subscribe:

If you are so inclined, please leave an iTunes or Stitcher review. Positive reviews help more people discover the Disability.TV Podcast.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blogging Break For Spring Cleaning

3 black silhouette figures doing housework, to illustrate "Housekeeping"
I am going on a blogging break this week, while I look into the possibility of moving the whole kit and caboodle over to a new Squarespace site. Does anyone have any feedback on Squarespace? How is it with accessibility?

Aside from hopefully finishing and posting the next Disability.TV Podcast episode later today, there probably wont be any blogging again until Sunday or Monday at the latest.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Video Of The Day

TED Talks are meant to showcase ground-breaking, innovative, unorthodox people and ideas. This is pretty basic, entry-level disability stuff.

I dont meant that as an insult to Torrie Dunlap. She does a very good job of explaining accessibility, adaptation, inclusion, and the different models of thinking about disability. I especially want special needs parents to see this. It's a very kind but forceful pushback against the "special" everything impulse.

Still, it is frustrating that these simple, quite standard and established ideas about disability are apparently still new enough to mainstream ears to be the subject of a TED Talk. I guess its good, then, that even though the whole TED Talk phenomenon can get a little irritating, it has given a valuable outlet to disability leaders and role models like Maysoon Zayid, the late Stella Young, and others.

I just wonder how many more decades it will be before ideas like this provoke nods and yawns instead of applause.


Saturday, April 4, 2015


Disability Visibility Project - April 4, 2015

Netflix’s live-action Daredevil” TV show may turn out be the biggest disability on TV story of the year. Based on the Marvel Comics series about a blind superhero, the whole first season of “Daredevil will be posted at once on Friday, April 10. Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project will host a live Tweeting event starting 8 PM Eastern, under the #DaredevilDVP hashtag. We will be posting Tweets while we watch the first episode. Anyone interested is invited to follow and participate.

I am not a comic book fan. I never have been. Nor have I clicked into any of the superhero movies and TV shows of the last 30 or so years. Going in, my interest is mainly curiosity about how Daredevils blindness is portrayed.

There is a familiar stereotype baked into the premise  that being blind intensifies the other senses. Its a popular idea that is only partially, if at all true in real life. I'll be interested to see whether making these heightened senses "superpowers" will make them more of a blindness stereotype or less. Also, as far as I know, the actor, Charlie Cox, isnt blind. That is disappointing, and puts me on alert for possible inaccuracies and shortcuts in the portrayal of a blind man. On the plus side, it looks like Daredevil might be trained and advised by another blind man. That kind of peer mentoring is one of my favorite things to see in disability on TV.

I will try to keep an open mind. If its a good show overall, then I’m prepared to be pleased if blindness is just another factor, the way paralysis is a factor, but not always a crucial one for “Ironside, a less fantastical disabled TV crime fighter.