Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Questions About Inspiration Porn

Kelly May, Fox 45 - September 29, 2015

I am working on a definition of Inspiration Porn to beef up what's in Wikipedia, and maybe add to the Urban Dictionary. It's taking longer than I thought, so until I finish, here are a few questions:

1. How much of the problem with Inspiration Porn is its tone and message, and how much is about how the disabled subjects are included or excluded? Which is more of an issue, the content or the method?

I think we tend to assume that when disabled people are more fully involved in news stories and other media projects about disability, then the messages will be better because of their involvement. I'm not sure that's true. For instance, this article about a college student with Cerebral Palsy joining a sorority seems to have her full cooperation, yet it still feels like Inspiration Porn. If, as everyone in the story says, Lauren's inclusion isn't unusual or subject to any special circumstances, then why is it a news story?

2. Would this story be more newsworthy if the reporter had asked some more probing questions?

For instance, is Ms. Reder's admission to a sorority a first? Is it rare? Or, is it fairly routine at this university? If it's a first or very rare, why is that? If it's quite common, how does that compare with similar houses at other universities? How many disabled students participate in rush, compared with the non-disabled student population? Are certain kinds of houses more or less likely to include disabled students? How do these patterns and practices compare with other kinds of diversity?

Or, if they really wanted to make this a personal story, how about asking why Lauren wanted to join a sorority? Why this one and not another? Did she plan to rush, was she invited, or was it a spur-of-the-moment thing? Will she live in the house, and if so, is it accessible enough?

3. How did this actually become a news story? Did a reporter hear about it and decide it would make a great human interest story? Did the sorority's leadership initiate reach out to the TV station? Was Lauren an enthusiastic or reluctant participant? Does she have any concerns about how her story is being told and interpreted?

4. I am a bit confused about the role of news worthiness in identifying Inspiration Porn. We criticize stories and memes that suggest something a disabled person does is remarkable, because we rightly say that should be unremarkable. At what point do we stop noting a thing that is rarer than it should be, because calling attention to it somehow reinforces that rareness? Or, is this actually part of a different argument over whether to focus on individual moral qualities or on just and unjust policies and practices?

Basically, I'm trying to figure out whether Inspiration Porn ... which let's admit, we are all defining on the fly ... is a binary thing, or is it a blurry continuum? There seem to be a lot of borderline cases that may or may not be fairly termed Inspiration Porn, and since it's a pretty harsh criticism, I feel like maybe we should firm up our definition a little.

More to come ...


Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekly Reading List

Picture of a stack of multicolored books
Elizabeth Picciuto, The Daily Beast - September 23, 2015

Ari Ne’eman, Sometimes A Lion - September 20 & 26, 2015

Kathleen McLaughlin, SF Gate - September 26, 2015

Sophie Quinton, The Pew Charitable Trusts / Stateline - September 17, 2015

All 5 articles deal with employment of disabled people, in particular, the increasingly outdated practice of routing them into lesser, lower-paid, “sheltered” employment. This is a foundational issue for the disability rights movement. It’s also a sort of litmus test for service providers and others who want to be our allies. Are they willing to recognize that yesterday’s way of doing things … though maybe the best we could do at the time … may not be acceptable anymore? Can they turn their back on familiar ideas and assumptions, and embrace a new outlook? It’s not as easy as it sounds in a blog post, but it is essential.

Plus, as Ari Ne’eman points out, disabled people, too, need to take a leap now and then, and we don’t always step up and do it right away.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Accessibility Rating: Into The Weeds

AXS Map logo
September 26 - December 31, 2015

It is entirely possible do go out and do credible, informative accessibility ratings without having the complete ADA Accessibility Guidelines tattooed on your brain. You don’t need to know everything. You don’t have to take a hundred measurements at every place you visit, either. 

It is, however, important to understand the fundamentals of accessibility in the United States in 2015. You can’t really get a proper grip on advocating accessibility without understanding:

a. What the law actually says about accessibility, and

b. What “accessible” actually means.

Which buildings are required to be accessible?

First of all, it’s not so much “buildings” as businesses that own and operate buildings or portions of buildings. Which businesses are required to have physical facilities for the public that are accessible?

- If it was built before 1992, it’s required to fix any accessibility problems to the extent it is “readily achievable.” That’s a very loose standard, open to a lot of interpretation and pleading, but it does open the door for advocacy and some basic improvements. There is no “grandfather clause” in the ADA for anyone.

- If it was built after 1992, it must be fully accessible. Full stop.

- If it was renovated, all or in part, or added to, the worked on bits must be fully accessible.

There are standards for all kinds of buildings and spaces, including schools, hospitals, hotel rooms, apartments, and recreation facilities, though the exact laws that apply to some of these kinds of places are sometimes separate from the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another complication is that the generally, the only officials who are really charged with enforcement are local building code officials, and they technically don't enforce the ADA. They enforce local building codes, which usually, (but don't always), mirror the ADA Accessibility Guidelines.

Nevertheless, basic accessibility does tend to boil down to a few important standards that apply in all kinds of situations.

What does “accessible” mean?

The first thing to say is something I think most people already know, but at times we forget. There are two ways of assessing accessibility. Is it accessible to me, with my disabilities, and does it comply with legally applicable accessibility standards. Accessibility standards aren’t perfect. They aren’t the best a business can do. They are a minimum standard. If every building complied with them, there would be much better accessibility for everyone, though still not complete.

That said, here are some basic standards to keep in your head as you rate accessibility of businesses you visit:

Doorways should be at least 32” wide. That means 32” of clear space, with nothing in the way. Make sure that when you open a door, the door itself doesn’t impede a wheelchair user’s progress in or out.

Hallways and other paths, like sidewalks, should be at least 36” wide. Again, that means clear, unobstructed space. Watch out for aisle displays in stores and things like outdoor restaurant seating that can narrow otherwise adequate sidewalks.

Ramps should also be at least 36” wide, and not too steep. A ramp should take at least 1 foot of horizontal distance for every 1 inch it rises. Don’t measure the ramp path itself. Measure the total height it climbs and the amount of flat space it takes up. Like this:

Diagram of the proper scope for a wheelchair ramp

Ramps should also have railings on both sides. That’s both for safety, (not falling off the ramp), and so people can haul themselves up if they need to, in a wheelchair or on foot.

Entry areas near doors, areas at the top and bottom of ramps, and turning spaces inside restrooms and toilet stalls should be based on a minimum 5 foot square turning area. It’s also helpful in figuring out if other interior spaces are spacious enough or too cluttered. Like this:

Diagram of 5 foot square wheelchair turning space

Accessible restrooms and / or accessible toilet stalls should combine enough clear maneuvering space, toilet height within certain parameters, and secure horizontal grab bars behind and on at least one side of the toilet. Something like this:

Diagram for accessible toilet stalls

Designated disability parking should include spaces marked both on the pavement and on a vertically posted sign, and at least one adjacent access aisle. For example:

Diagram for accessible parking spaces

For the complete accessibility standards applicable in the United States, consult the United States Access Board ADA Standards.

One more note ...

Whenever possible, explain the practical, real-life problems that specific barriers pose. For example, don’t just say, “The doorway is only 29” wide.” Add that this means most wheelchairs can’t get through.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Join The Accessibility Mapping Campaign!

AXS Map logo

Let’s do this.

Dominick Evans and I have set up a “Mapathon” at AXS Map, part of the Celebrate Access Equality 2015 event. Our goal is that by the end of 2015, at least 200 businesses in the United States will be given accessibility ratings by at least 20 people participating in their own towns and travels, using the AXS Map website and mobile app.

Watch this video to see how AXS Map works, and how to approach doing on-site accessibility ratings:

So, what’s the Marathon? It’s just a way to keep track of how many surveys get done during this online-organized effort. To participate, you need to do three things:

1. Register free at AXS Map. This sets you up to be able to enter the results of your accessibility ratings.

2. Go to our Celebrate Access Equality 2015 Mapathon page, and join it. All of the surveys you do until December 31 will be added to our campaign total.

3. Download the free AXS Map mobile app to your smartphone or tablet. This is optional. You can do everything on the website if you want. The app just makes it a little easier to add your ratings immediately while you are out doing them.

That’s it! Simple, right? Tomorrow, I’ll post some tips on how to judge whether or now something is accessible.

Celebrate Access Equality September 26, 2015
If you are disabled, or interested in disability rights, then you probably know the frustration of encountering businesses and public facilities that are still not accessible, 25 years after the ADA became law. It’s frustrating in principle, and it’s a practical barrier to full participation, especially when you don’t know which places are accessible, which are not, and which features are usable. AXS Map documents the issue, and creates a more and more reliable and complete resource on accessibility.

But it’s only as good as the ratings entered. Most cities and towns don’t have any surveys. That’s why we’re doing this. We want everyone who knows about accessibility problems and complains about them to do something constructive about them. Documenting the problem is a vital step, and identifying places that are accessible is incredibly useful. Let’s see how many places we can rate between now and the end of the year!

Also, if you do participate, please keep us and all your friends informed about what you are doing. Share the link to the Mapathon. Post on your Facebook Page and your Twitter Feed when you enter another rating. Encourage your friends, families, and coworkers to join the effort.

If you have any questions or just want to share your experiences, we’ve set up an email for the effort:

We look forward to hearing from you, and seeing those numbers go up!


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Disability Blogger Link-Up

The word Blog surrounded by word cloud
Once more into the Link-Up friends, once more! Share a disability-related blog post or article here, any time between Friday, September 25 and Midnight Sunday, September 27, 2015. And of course, read what others have posted.

Technical note: To make the links easier to browse, in the “Your name” blank, type the title of the article. In the "Your URL" blank, paste the address of the item you are posting. That’s:

Name = Title of your article.
Your URL = Link to your article.

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

Go ahead and post, read, and enjoy! This Link-Up will close at Midnight Eastern on Sunday. The next  Disability Blogger Link-Up will start Friday, October 9, 2015.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Illustration of the time machine from the film "Time Machine"
A year ago in Disability Thinking: Ken Jennings' Tweet.

Remember Ken Jennings' "hot person in a wheelchair" tweet? Looking back, it really does seem more odd than offensive.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

More About Access Surveys

3-d white stick figure in a wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of stairs
Last weekend, I posted about the Celebrate Access Equality social media and action event coming up this Saturday, September 26. In addition to Twitter chats and other events, organizer Dominick Evans and I will kick off a campaign, using AXS Map, to document accessibility at businesses and attractions across the United States.

We all run into places that should be more accessible every day, and we rightfully complain about it. We also all know places that have good accessibility, and though we probably reward them with our loyal business, we may or may not share this valuable information with others. Map-based accessibility rating systems like AXS Map may be the best way available to apply grassroots advocacy pressure to improve access, while creating a useful resource to disabled people and their families who also just need to know where they can go for a dinner out, a movie, or a hotel room for a business trip or vacation.

Our plan is to set up a Mapathon at AXS Map, and invite anyone who wants to participate to rate businesses and attractions they visit ... as many as possible from September 26 through the end of the year, December 31, 2015. Every site you rate and enter into the system makes it a more complete resource.

Here are some tips and observations to think about before you get started this Saturday:


Pick a goal for each week. Do one, two, or three places per week. Or, do one a day. If you are out and about a lot most days, maybe commit to reviewing every place you enter. You may prefer to tackle a specific street or a particular neighborhood. Whatever your goal, set it and stick to it.

Figure out what works best for you. Install the AXS Map app and enter review data right there on the spot with your smartphone or tablet. Take notes and enter the data later, when you can stop and concentrate without being noticed or getting in anyone’s way. Or, wait until you get home and use the full website to enter all the data you’ve collected during the day. Whatever method you choose, try not to rely too much on what you remember about a place. Take notes, and enter them while they are still fresh. The sooner you report on a visit, the better.

Decide whether or not you will talk to business owners about what you are doing. AXS Map is designed a lot like Yelp and other customer rating sites. It’s entirely possible to enter accessibility reviews without dealing with the staff. On the other hand, it can be helpful to ask staff about their accessibility features, which may not be obvious to you at first glance. Letting business owners know about the project also makes accessibility a higher priority for them.

Maintain a positive attitude when you do deal with business owners and staff. Be honest, but not accusatory. If you catch some sort of flack about what you are doing, remind staff that it's just like any other kind of online review, except that it's focused on accessibility. It will also be helpful if you can give owners the contact information for a local place where they can get free or low-cost help to make their businesses more accessible. A good place for them to start is your nearest Center for Independent Living.

Use the AXS Map Notes field to add details that the star ratings alone don’t cover. For instance, this is where you might note that the accessible entrance is around the corner, or that the business has a portable ramp you can ask for.


The purpose of a customer review site like AXS Map is not necessarily to document full ADA compliance, but to provide practical information for people with disabilities. The important question is whether a business or a feature of that business is easily and independently usable, not whether it meets every legal requirement.

Independent access is very important. If a customer with a disability would need help to access goods and services, that's better than no access at all, but considerably less than fully accessible.

AXS Map is designed for somewhat subjective reviews. You don’t have to get out a tape measure and provide exact door widths and space analyses of every restroom. You can use your best judgment about whether each feature is accessible, and you can give partial credit for barriers that exist, but may be less severe than others.

On the other hand, it’s important to have some idea of what “accessible” does and does not mean, including some of the key measurements we look for. For instance:

- Doorways that are at least 32” wide.

- Hallways and clear pathways that are at least 36” wide.

- Ramp inclines should be no more than 12 degrees. The easiest way to determine that is to measure the vertical rise the ramp traverses, and the horizontal run of the whole ramp. Ramps should be at least one foot long vertically for every one inch it climbs horizontally. A one foot high step requires a ramp that traverses at least 12 feet in horizontal space. A ramp shorter than that is too steep for ease of use and safety.

- Toilets in stalls should have two grab bars, one on the back wall, the other on the closest adjacent wall.

- Look for clear, level turning and maneuvering spaces that are at least 5’ square. Anything less makes it hard or impossible for a wheelchair to maneuver. This is especially important in restrooms and at the top and bottom of a ramp.

- It’s important to know that a single step can be as much of a barrier as three or four steps. Disabled people don’t always have friends or “caregivers” with them, and accessibility should never rely on staff who are “willing” to lift a wheelchair user or provide some other sort of physical assistance. Some wheelchair users can bump themselves up or down a single, very small step, but anything more than that is a real barrier.

- If your are a wheelchair user or are blind, you may want to have a partner to do surveys with you. That way, you can fully investigate every place you visit, including those with major barriers to entry.

Stay tuned for more information on joining our Mapathon!


Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekly Reading List

Picture of a stack of multicolored books
I read some things last week ...

Dylan Matthews, - September 17, 2015

Dylan Matthews continues to do great and necessary work on autism at He is autistic, and has written at least one other major piece for Vox explaining the neurodiversity view of autism. I also found a short article he wrote 3 years ago for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. The best thing about this is that Vox isn't a publication about disability, and Matthews usually writes about other things. So although the subject is important to him, he has both an insider and outsider voice, interested, but objective. Of course, it helps that there is the new book Neurotribes for him to write about, and presidential candidates to say stupid things about autism as well.

Ari Ne’eman, Sometimes a Lion - September 17, 2015

Ari Ne’eman, Sometimes a Lion - September 20, 2015

Speaking of autistic voices being crystal clear on difficult topics, Ari Ne'eman has started a blog. He is the Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and has just finished a term on the National Council on Disability. His first two posts are complex and wonkish, but also quite readable. Everyone interested in disability issues in public policy is probably going to love Sometimes a Lion.

FlutistPride’s Blog - September 15, 2015

FlutistPride is a frequent commenter here at Disability Thinking. She mentioned working on a series of posts on the "Five Temperaments" but I wasn't sure what she meant by "Five Temperaments," and it took me awhile to get around to reading the posts. I am so glad I finally did. The descriptions of each "temperament" are so accurate and relateable they're spooky. I mean that in a good way, though there may be moments of discomfort here, for disabled people, family, or service providers. I guess you could say this is a trigger warning. You may feel like one or two of your deepest secrets has been found out, or that some habits of yours you thought were utterly baffling and unique turn out to be pretty simple and predictable. But do read. It's all worth thinking about.

Helen Rutherford, The Mighty - September 15, 2015

I'm glad this article appears in The Mighty, which seems to skew heavily towards readers who are parents of disabled children. I'm glad, because Rutherford's message is as important to parents as it is to adults with disabilities. Disabled youth need disabled role modes. Also, just because a disabled child or teen seems happy and well-adjusted, doesn't mean they actually are. This is one reason why so many of us balk at images of disability that emphasize how brave, cute, or cheerful disabled people are. We get the mistaken message that in order to be accepted, we have to be happy and low-maintenance. It's an understandable confusion, with really unfortunate and unnecessary effects that parents can do a lot to prevent.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

Closeup of a monthly calendar page
Last week’s posts on Disability Thinking:

Tuesday, September 15
Thursday, September 17
Friday, September 18
Saturday, September 19


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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Celebrate Access Equality, September 26, 2015

Join us on September 26, 2015 Below, a row of accessibility icons for wheelchair, sign language, learning disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment, walking with cane
I have been seeing Facebook posts and Tweets from disability blogger, activist, and filmmaker Dominick Evans, about a multifaceted event he’s been planning for September 26, called Celebrate Access Equality. For some reason, I kept mentally noting it and then promptly forgetting about it. I can’t keep track of every disability rights event, and even if I could, I don’t have the time and energy to dive deep into all of them. So this one slipped to the back burner.

Celebrate Access Equality September 26, 2015
Today I got an email from Dominick, which he sent out to a whole bunch of online disability activists and bloggers. I read it, and basically, I’m in! This event is going to be well worth the time and effort, no matter what kind of disability rights activity you are into. Here is Dominick’s email.

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are well! I’m writing to tell you about a project I’ve been working on the last several months. I am working with others with disabilities around the world to promote a day to educate and inform about access barriers. I believe that the vast majority of discrimination people with disabilities face is due to lack of access.

In my mind, access isn’t just about physically being able to move around this world. Access barriers can be mental and emotional. Access barriers can include stigma and oppression. As such, something needs to change. We need to make the  world aware of access barriers, so that real change can be made. That is the idea behind the day of Access Equality.

Participation can occur anywhere in the world. There are a variety of ways to participate. These include:

-sharing our FB page located here:
-tweeting about access barriers using  #AccessEquality
-contacting state and federal government representatives
-protest in your own community
-sign petitions relating to access barriers
-rate a business for accessibility on apps like AXS Map and AbleRoad
-support organizations holding protests, actions, and events on September 26 by sharing their updates

We’re also planning events throughout the day, including a twitter chat, and live streaming.

We are offering two gift cards on Amazon to encourage participation. One person will randomly be selected from those who choose to blog, and one person will be selected from those who take pictures in their community and post them to our FB page and/or using our #AccessEquality. Participants do not have to be disabled themselves, although we heartily encourage individuals to share their own personal experiences with access barriers!

The idea is to create so much content and noise on September 26 that it is too hard not to notice us.

You can find more ideas and information here:

I could really use your help. Please share this information with your networks and encourage participation. Please also consider participating. We need your voices!!

I appreciate your consideration and possible participation.


I plan on joining in the Twitter discussion on September 26, posting a blog post here at Disability Thinking on that day, and helping promote all of the above activities.

Most of all, I plan to help Dominick kick off a really significant push for disabled people and disability activists to enter hundreds, maybe thousands of businesses into online accessibility mapping tools like AbleRoad and AXS Map. Nothing is definite yet, but it looks like our best bet will be to use AXS Map, which has a feature that keeps track of group mapping efforts.

To review ...

These mapping tools use existing Internet-based maps and consumer review sites like Yelp to form the basis of easily consulted reports on accessibility at businesses and other public facilities. Both programs can be added to and consulted on a PC’s web browser, and both also have accompanying mobile apps, so you can enter reviews immediately, without having to take notes and enter them later. Anyone can go to one or both of these sites, download the apps, and get started. If you’re still foggy on how this works, check out this video:

Our tentative plan is to set up a Mapathon at AXS Map, and invite people to register (for free) and commit to enter a certain number of site accessibility reviews. We are thinking we will use September 26 for the kickoff, with an end date of December 31. As soon as the Mapathon is set up, we’ll announce how to get started.

Meanwhile, here is some additional information about the September 26 Access Equality Day:

Dominick Evans - September 14, 2015


Friday, September 18, 2015

Accessibility Apps Need Us!

Illustration of an iPhone with icons of apps streaming out of its face
I spent the morning exploring the new Apple mobile device operating system, iOS 9. Among other improvements, the Maps app offers more information on businesses and attractions. Just click the label for, say, the Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street, and you’ll see the address, phone number, price information, and both quotes and a direct link to Yelp reviews. I live in a small City and I don’t travel much, so I don’t expect to use the Maps app much myself, but it’s pretty cool.

It also got me wondering, for the eleventyith time, why we still don’t have a really comprehensive Internet-based database where disabled people can find out about the accessibility conditions at all kinds of businesses.

There are a few sites and apps designed specifically for accessibility ratings, like AXS Map and AbleRoad. Both build upon existing mapping and review services, Google Maps and Yelp respectively. This seems like the obvious way to document accessibility everywhere. The information can then serve as a guide to individual disabled people, and as an advocacy tool to encourage business to address their accessibility problems sooner rather than later.

The problem is that the system will only work if enough people add accessibility reviews, and that is up to us, the disability community. I don’t know how many disabled people regularly add accessibility reviews with mobile apps or websites, but I almost never hear anyone mention it, either in person or on disability blogs like this one. I could be all wrong, but it still feels like most of the disability community complains about accessibility, but relatively few of us help document the problem using tools that are more effective and easy to use than anything we’ve had before.

Isn’t this something we could all get behind? Can't we do this?


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Disability Politics

"Vote" button in red, white, and blue, with a wheelchair symbol figure casting a vote
I am working on some kind of blog post or article on evaluating election candidates from a disability policy perspective. I’m not ready yet to come out with a definitive list of questions we can pose to candidates, but I have a few preliminary thoughts:

- One of the biggest barriers for the disability community in mainstream politics may be that most of us find it hard to connect our lived experience of disability with either concrete policies or political philosophy. It's second nature for disability activists, but most of us aren't activists. Most disabled people just live their lives and deal with barriers and frustrations in very immediate, personal terms. We need to get into the habit of asking ourselves what kinds of public policies would improve our lives as disabled people. We need to practice asking ourselves, and each other, so we become better equipped to ask the people who want our votes.

- Disability issues should rank higher on the priority lists of candidates, political commentators, and the voting public. However, I don’t think disability will ever rank among the most important and widely discussed issues in American politics. I’m not even sure it makes sense for us to argue that disability should be a top concern.

- I do think it's realistic and completely appropriate for the disability community to someday be a more widely recognized constituency than we are now. Candidates should care about connecting with us and developing distinctive policies that address our needs and concerns … not because they matter much to the country as a whole, but because we are a bona-fide “special interest group” worth courting. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being identified this way. Our concerns are more important than people realize, but they are mainly our concerns, mostly affecting disabled people and their families. Disability issues don't have much relevance for everyone else. That doesn’t mean they are unimportant.

- Most campaigns for national office eventually get around to issuing disability-related policies and positions. Most include “People with Disabilities” on their websites, usually on a drop-down menu of issues or voter groups. Some campaigns take longer to do this than others. Some do it better than others. The real problem is that what they say tends to be generic and non-specific, more about using the right code words and endorsing the usual disability activist themes than about suggesting actual policies. I may feel differently by November 2016, but right now I would much rather hear appalling stuff about lazy cheaters on Disability from someone like Rand Paul, than entirely predictable, or maybe patronizing fluff from a candidate I would otherwise probably vote for. There are legitimate differences of opinion on disability issues. It is better for all of us to discuss them openly and "have it out" than to stick only with candidates who use the right words and an encouraging tone, but have nothing to say.

- Our top priority should be to force candidates to explain how their political philosophies would translate into different approaches to disability policy. If Donald Trump’a positions on disability issues turn out to be not much different than Hillary Clinton’s, or Marco Rubuo’s than Bernie Sanders' then something is wrong. If, on the other hand, we can easily identify which of two unlabeled disability statements is Trump’s and which is Clinton’s, then we will have made some progress, no matter what the policies actually say.

- Despite what I said about disability being a “special interest,” we should connect the dots for voters and candidates between disability issues and the more widely discussed topics that dominate election campaigns. Disability issues connect naturally and in illuminating ways with entitlements, poverty and inequality, employment, healthcare, transportation, education … not to mention infrastructure, law enforcement, and civil rights. Of course, it’s been said a thousand times, but it’s worth repeating that many key disability issues are also aging issues, which demographics suggest should be a much bigger deal in politics as it is.

There will be more about all this from me, I am sure.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Weekly Reading List

Multicolored stack of books
Sometimes it’s good to take a break from the policy monkery and identity navel-gazing, and revisit the fundamentals of life with disabilities.

Alex Ghenis, New Mobility - September 11, 2015

When I first saw this article, I expected either a lesson in politeness or a scolding of disabled people who are too proud to ask for help. Instead, Ghenis effectively balances the practicality of asking for help in a pinch, with recognition that pride and independent accessibility are still important. I especially appreciated the idea that “Respectful Thanks” means both respect for the person who helped you, and also for yourself.

Hannah Zack, Huffington Post - September 4, 2015

This young woman has a better grasp on how she feels about her disability than I did until much later in my life. Even so, it’s hard to identify how her experiences match up with her suggestion. Her encounters with ableism seem to involve very specific misconceptions, while she attributes all of it to a very broad devaluation of disabled people that she says must change. I agree with her, but I get the feeling people will continue to do and say annoying things, even if they think better of us. It’s all a work in progress.

Rob Crossman, The Telegraph - September 15, 2015

I enjoyed getting a taste of English football culture … which seems to be fundamentally different from other sports fandoms. But the real reason I posted this article here is item 5. People still question whether “ableism” is real, just as others unfortunately also doubt the current relevance of “racism.” If anyone tries to tell you that disabled people aren’t systematically treated like a different species, ask them to explain why sports mascots and other giant costume characters glom onto disabled people at every opportunity. And don’t say it’s harmless. It’s certainly a lot better than a beating, or losing a job opportunity, but let’s not underestimate the power of public humiliation, okay?


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

Closeup illustration of a monthly calendar page
Last week’s posts on Disability Thinking:

Monday, September 7
Weekly Reading List
Tuesday, September 8
Wednesday, September 9
Thursday, September 10
Friday, September 11
Disability Blogger Link-Up


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