Recommended Reading for October 19, 2009
In the Blogs:
A lot of people have caught on that they need to provide access for the disabled when they build something, but apparently access is only needed for Them.
You know, Them. There’s Them, and then there’s Us. They might be disabled, but We aren’t, and never will be.
Accessible restroom? Oh, no, because the restroom is only for employees, and none of our employees is disabled (or ever will be).
Elevator to the second floor? Oh, no, because the public doesn’t need to go to the second floor, and nobody who works there is disabled (or ever will be).
Access to the stage? Oh, no. There’s access for the audience (Them), but the actors and singers and stagehands (Us) aren’t disabled (and never will be).
[This really resonates with me, especially after Campaign School this weekend. Although they did address issues of making accessible campaign literature and ensuring your office was accessible, everything was spoken of as though no one with a disability would be part of a campaign, either as a volunteer, employee, or candidate. Them, and Us.]
But, you know, it’s not just people of color who are constantly expected to show extraordinary compassion when faced with bias. It is women, gays, lesbians and the transgendered. It is the disabled, the obese, immigrants and the poor. Ask any marginalized person and it is a safe bet that they have been told “have a sense a humor,” “don’t be so PC,” “that’s just how so-and-so was raised,” “here’s a great teaching moment, “you have to understand some people won’t be comfortable with x, y, z,” “he didn’t really mean it.”
Students interviewed for this story reported that mental health seems like a low priority on campus. Alexa at New York’s Westchester Community College notes, “Mental health seems to be something that people really keep to themselves.” She describes her community college’s scarce resources as consisting of one social worker and a two-by-three inch bulletin board in the upstairs of the student center. “I only realized it was there while waiting for three hours in the hallway to register for classes.”
Access to services — such as individual and group therapy, consultation and referrals, support groups, medication monitoring and crisis hotlines — varies from school to school. However, most college campuses would benefit from improvement and expansion of their mental health facilities and services. Students are generally granted a few free counseling sessions, but due to increasing financial restrictions, the number of sessions can be scant — as few as five visits per student.
At two of my previous universities, you were limited to less than 10 sessions over a year. I believe my current one has unlimited sessions, but you must call the office between 9:00 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. for a same-day appointment. There is no booking in advance.
In Our Own Words: Fighting for our DLA [UK] [Older post] [DLA = Disability Living Allowance]
DLA was established, after years of research, because the costs of living as a disabled person in a barrier-filled world organized by and for non-disabled people were considered to be so high. The estimated costs of disability that came out of this research were far, far higher than what is actually now given to DLA claimants. It was also emphasised that DLA should not be means-tested, because the costs of disability are high whether a person is extremely poor or generally has enough to live on.
My new favourite website: Wave: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. How does your website measure up?