Recommended Reading for January 8th

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post.

Diary of a Goldfish: It’s my pavement and I’ll cry if I want to

It may be that there are incompetent scooter-users driving into market stalls and store aisles. Or it could be that having no consideration for people with mobility-impairments, market traders and store workers have piled displays and produce up in walkways, leaving only narrow gaps for people to walk through and insufficient room for a wheelchair, scooter, anyone with crutches or an otherwise wide gait. My wheelchair is not nearly so bulky as a scooter, but even in a supermarket I bump into things because there isn’t enough room.

I rarely bump into people, but it is hard work not to. Some pedestrians can be extremely absent-minded, expecting to be able to move about at terrific speeds and suddenly stop or change direction without collision. Quite apart from the fact that such people put themselves at risk, they are a genuine menace to those ambulant disabled people who walk slowly and are vulnerable to being knocked down.[…]

However, articles like these (compared to the same story in the Telegraph, which isn’t perfect but a great improvement) are a bit of a filler about nothing that give people with non-disabled privilege a license to moan about disabled people taking up space. They read that grannies are running amok with mobility scooters – even though there’s no evidence of a widespread problem – and this is highly satisfying. So they’ll be allowed to tut at and patronise scooter-users, blaming them for any accidents and bothering a little less about accessibility because half these people shouldn’t be allowed out.

BBC Ouch! Disability Bitch hates pedestrians

Scooter users get a bad press. Yes, there are some rubbish drivers and yes, they should be reprimanded; I’ve had a couple of near misses with reckless scooterers myself and they weren’t fun. But the thing is, as a wobbly walking stick user, I have near misses almost every time I step out into a public space. I’m here to tell you that these are very rarely due to the carelessness of other mobility aid users.

Mostly, readers, the cause of my bumps and bruises are fully able bipedal pedestrians. You know, the ones who hurry past you and jab you in the ribs with their elbows, who skittle by on escalators and stairs knocking you asunder, the ones who poke you in the face with their umbrellas, who jabber into their mobile phones and don’t keep a watch out for any less stable bystanders.

princess at where they go hardcore… : So how does an awesome girl like me come to have an Eating Disorder? [has trigger warning][via geekfeminism]

If you’ve ever wondered how a girl like me gets an eating disorder, I think it may be time for us to sit down and talk. Because I think there are some misapprehensions out there, and it’s really time I get them cleared up.

Ben Mattlin at NPR: To One Of The Lucky Ones, The New Year Means More

So, why do so many people feel sorry for me?

They don’t know me, of course. They don’t know that I grew up in a great family, graduated from Harvard, get my writing published, got married and fathered two terrific little girls. There are a lot of reasons why I consider myself lucky.

Still, people have said to me, “If I were like you, I’d kill myself.”

This is supposed to be a compliment, I think. They mean to commend my perseverance. So how come I want to say back, “If I were like you, I’d want to kill myself, too!”

Cowra Guardian: Disability advocate and Olympian set for ambassadorial duties

Athlete Gabrielle Clark is Cowra’s Australia Day ambassador.[…]

Clark has achieved a great deal as an athlete and a person with a disability. A self-advocate for people with Down Syndrome, she has represented Australia and the state of New South Wales at both international and national forums and sporting events for a period of twenty years. […] Gabrielle’s goal in life is to improve the social image of people with an intellectual disability.

ABS-CBN News: Cebu Pacific hit for refusing ‘special child’ passenger

Budget airline Cebu Pacific may face civil and criminal cases after reportedly refusing the entry on board of a special child. According to Marites Alcantara, the Gokongwei-led carrier’s purser and cabin crew pressured her and her son, John Arvin, to get off the plane bound for Manila from Hong Kong. Alcantara said the crew members flatly told her that John Arvin is a special child and is banned from boarding Cebu Pacific planes, citing company rules.

“They have a manual daw. Bawal daw sumakay ang mga mentally ill…pilit nila kaming pinapababa na para kaming kriminal na kulang na lang ay hatakin palabas ng eroplano ‘yong anak ko,” she told ABS-CBN News.

(“They said they have a company manual, which states that mentally ill people are not allowed inside the plane…they pressured us to get out of the plane as if we were criminals.”)

Followups: Rights body urges carriers to review policies
Cebu Pacific: We don’t discriminate against special children
Couple to file suit vs airline despite apology

By 8 January, 2010.    recommended reading   



3 Comments

  1. I’ll have to ponder the Disability Bitch article, because it doesn’t sit comfortably with me. I don’t know about the UK, but here anyone using a walking stick or a wheelchair is considered a pedestrian, at least in the statutes, so a statement like “I hate pedestrians!” comes off as both self-hating and hating of people who I perceive as allies in resisting the pressure to be an auto driver.

    At least in my local area, arguments in favor of making neighborhoods more pedestrian-friendly are tied to arguments to making public spaces more accessible to those using wheelchairs or scooters: installing and maintaining curb aprons, keeping sidewalks shoveled and de-iced, and keeping sidewalks level and free of obstacles. Well, and installation of sidewalks in the first place.

    I mean, I get that she hates oblivious, clumsy pedestrians because of the run-ins she has with them, but it seems just as dismissive as people who say they hate wheelchairs getting in the way. I agree with her point that everyone should be reminded to be attentive and thoughtful of their surroundings when navigating the world.

    I just believe that activists for pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and disability activists can and should be allies on sidewalk and ‘walking’ path access issues.

  2. tg: For me, the thing that made the piece by Disability Bitch so fun was that it used a classic tongue-mostly-in-cheek inversion technique for rhetorical effect.

    The goal is to make typically-mobile bipeds feel uncomfortable – it’s a feature, not a bug. This is achieved by flipping the roles, and seeing how they experience being Othered and their behaviour examined and demonised in exactly the same way we aid users are.

    I’d love to see you go in and accuse her of being “self-hating” to her face, though.

  3. Ah, gotcha. I read the first piece in the recommended reading, but I still wasn’t familiar enough with the original context to fully pick up that Disability Bitch’s piece was written with an inversion technique. Sometimes that’s really hard to tell on the web, which is part of why I posted the comment looking for more insight.

    I’d love to see you go in and accuse her of being “self-hating” to her face, though.

    Now that I understand it’s written in the satire genre, I won’t. 🙂 Rereading it in that light, it does seem more fun. I get it now.