Monday, August 10, 2015

Weekly Reading List

Illustration of a stack of books
Disability-related articles I collected during the week to catch up on later. This week most of them turn out to be several weeks old, with a run of three on that old favorite disability topic: language.

Caley Farinas, Everyday Feminism - July 30, 2015

This article isn’t about which words to use. The writer here is specifically talking about non-disabled people who think they have more valid insights into disability language than disabled people do. So it’s not about the terminology itself, but about the kind of know-it-all spiral that anyone can get into, but which is doubly annoying when it’s non-disabled people lecturing disabled people about disability. The thing is, these same exchanges happen among disabled people, too. I, myself, have gotten into heated and pretty stupid arguments with other disabled people who don’t like the word “disabled.” In my mind, I just know that they simply lack exposure to progressive disability culture, and that it’s up to me to make them see the light. It’s a hard habit to break when you really are energized by a particular way of viewing the world.

Rick Hodges, - July 10, 2015

For a long time, I hung in there with the term “mentally retarded,” precisely because I subscribed to the “euphemism treadmill” idea Hodges cites here. It seemed like people in that community though they could solve the stigma problem by coming up with a different term, and I thought that was a mistake. I still do, basically, and many of the alternatives to the r-word are odious in different ways … especially “special needs.” On the other hand, I think Hodges himself is a bit mixed up about disability terminology, and engages in exactly the kind of presumptuous word-policing described in Farinas’ Everyday Feminism article above. It just goes to show that it is very possible, and quite common for people to be partially right, and partially wrong at the same time about the same thing, maybe especially in the realm of disability.

“Struggling" Tumblr Blog - July 22, 2015

This Tumblr blogger gets right to the point. When I discovered that person-first language was starting to fall out of favor, I was overjoyed. 25 years ago, was taught by other disabled people that person-first was the right way to go, but I never liked it because it always sounded awkward and it was a pain to write. I don’t completely buy the philosophical argument for switching back to “disabled person,” but I like it because it just sounds better.

Stephen Ohelmacher, ABC News - August 9, 2015

This is the best brief explanation of Social Security Disability coming funding shortfall that I have seen so far. I risk being obsessed with this, but I think it is critically important that we separate the funding issue from the reform issues. I am very uncomfortable discussing better work incentives with people who basically disagree with the whole premise of Social Security, who want to narrow its scope to people they consider to be really disabled, or who only care about how much it costs. The reforms most disabled people want to see are important whether or not there’s a funding shortfall, and the two issues should not be linked.

Thom Dunn, Upworthy - July 21, 2015

There are a few apps out there that are designed to explain specific disabilities to strangers in emergencies. I would like to see an app that’s designed for anyone with any kind of disability, that we can fully customize to say whatever we think is important to say. I would definitely put one on my iPhone.