Monthly Archives: June 2010

Electronic Medical Records

Ezra Klein, a columnist in the Washington Post who focuses on United States health policy, recently wrote a post about electronic medical records, arguing that it is absurd that we have not yet adopted their use:

The fact that it’s 2010 and we’re having a conversation about how to move records from paper to computers is evidence of how screwed up the American health-care system is. In part, you’re dealing with the fractured incentives in the system: It’s good for patients and good for insurers if doctor’s offices spend money setting up computer systems, but it’s not necessarily going to make doctors any money, and the doctors themselves are frequently older and don’t want to learn a new system. That’s one reason why systems where the insurer and the provider are the same — think Veteran’s Affairs or Kaiser Permanente — tend to be ahead of the curve on electronic medical records.

But even if the economic analysis makes you sympathetic, the end result is still absurd. Imagine walking into a bank where clerks scrawled all your information in a giant ledger book. You’d run out and tweet all your friends about this hilarious bank from the 18th century. But we actually let people do this with our medical records, and then some of us die or have serious problems because our records get lost or our doctor’s handwriting is illegible.

I have a few different perspectives on medical records. First, I’ve generated a significant number of my own records and have been annoyed and frustrated many times by the lack of coordination in the care I’ve received and the seemingly endless need to provide the same information over and over again. It does seem anachronistic to me to rely almost entirely on handwritten documents to track care.

For another perspective, I often gather, review and interpret the records of others to support their applications for disability benefits. Benefits programs have definitions of “disability” that require complicated analysis and review of a person’s entire medical record to pick out enough information to decide if they meet whatever the disability standard is for that program. And for the low-income folks I work with, who have choppy and intermittent access to health care that is usually spread out among a staggering number of disconnected health care providers, the task of coercing and cajoling the various doctors and medical facilities to copy the handwritten notes in a medical file is often overwhelming and sometimes Sisyphean.

If people get past the initial barrier of gathering the records, there is often an issue of actually figuring out what the damn things say. I know it’s cliche to joke about doctor’s handwriting, but in my experience, those jokes are founded in page after page after page of incomprehensible scrawl with a seemingly infinite series of baffling abbreviations and large sections that we sometimes cannot decipher even after 6 of us (including a doctor and a nurse!) spend an hour trying to make it out. I create my own indexes and chronologies and piece together when each medication started and stopped and when a diagnosis was made.

Sometimes, our clients have gotten medical services through the Veteran’s Administration (VA). The VA mails me a CD-ROM that loads the entire medical file in chronological order in typed PDF format, entirely searchable. (With the proper HIPAA-compliant releases, of course, you can’t just get people’s records from the VA.) Periodically, around every 6 months, the system automatically generates a list of medications and diagnoses in the records. The CD has the medical imaging on it, so I can get one of my experts to look at it. It is such a big difference that we sometimes squabble over the cases with VA records because they’re so much easier to deal with.

On the other hand, there are obvious and significant privacy concerns. I do not want it to be easy for an employer, law enforcement, insurance companies, or really any person or entity to whom I haven’t given direct and explicit permission, to get hold of my medical records or to be able to send them in an email in the blink of an eye. And given the existing level of ableism and discrimination, that is certainly an issue with life and death consequences for some people with disabilities. I do not know whether it’s possible to safeguard medical information to the necessary level while still allowing the accessibility and coordination that make electronic medical records so appealing.

By 27 June, 2010.    policy   



Interpreters and Emergency Rooms

I recently came across a news article about a lawsuit by several d/Deaf or hard of hearing people who were denied interpreter services in emergency rooms. It sounds both infuriating and terrifying:

One deaf hospital patient in Jacksonville Beach said she was given a stuffed monkey instead of the sign-language interpreter she requested for hours. Feeling isolated, she finally asked nurses for something to hold.

Another said she thought she was being denied medical care because there was no interpreter to explain why they needed her to wait in a hallway at Baptist Medical Center South. She later learned hospital staff lost a list of sign-language interpreters her mother had given them.

A third woman couldn’t hear when emergency workers at Baptist Medical Center downtown called her name.

The three women are among seven hearing-impaired emergency-room patients suing Baptist Health Systems for violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to provide qualified sign-language interpreters. The lawsuit was filed in federal court last week by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. Legal Aid attorney Sharon Caserta,  who works with hearing-impaired clients, said the pattern of complaints at Baptist facilities from 2006 to 2009 indicated a breakdown in services that denied deaf patients full access to care.

She said the act requires interpreters or effective auxiliary aids to be provided if needed for communication with medical professionals. The U.S. Justice Department has interpreted the law to mean a one- to two-hour response time is reasonable after an interpreter has been requested, Caserta said.

In Northeast Florida, she said, that shouldn’t be an issue because of a half-dozen organizations that provide interpretive services and the proximity of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine. But Caserta said her clients never got interpreters and, if they didn’t have friends or family with them, had to fend for themselves at Baptist facilities.

Many are now scared to return to Baptist or any emergency room, she said.

These problems are not limited to that hospital, or even to the United States. According to one survey in the UK, “70% of deaf respondents reported being unable to have access to an interpreter when they attended an accident and emergency department.”

These incidents would be bad enough if their impact was limited to the incident itself. Being denied the right to communicate in an emergency situation is beyond unacceptable. It denies people the right to understand what’s happening to them. It denies them the ability to consent to treatment or make any decisions or have any agency at all in their treatment.

Even worse, these incidents undermine the reliability and usefulness of the health system itself. As the article above mentions, many of the plaintiffs “are now scared to return to … any emergency room.” This is echoed by the UK survey, which found that “communicating with health care professionals was such a struggle that 28% of deaf people responding to one survey were left so confused and dissatisfied with their inadequate GP health care that they avoided seeking medical help.” These people have learned that the health care system is unwilling to communicate with them in their time of urgent need. Is unwilling to take the time or make the effort to treat them as autonomous people participating in their own care.

In a demonstration of intersectionality, the facilities and areas in the US that have the best policies and practices about providing sign interpreters to d/Deaf and hard of hearing people are those with good policies for accommodating people with limited English speaking proficiency. (I would expect the same holds true for non-US locations which accommodate folks who don’t speak the primary language.) These places have created an infrastructure where interpreters are available and staff are trained on how to access them, and they’ve prioritized communication access in their facilities.

Recommended Reading for Friday, 25 June 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

A person seated on a sidewalk holding up an orange sign reading 'no mas excusas.' A wheelchair user is seated behind the person, with only the wheelchair user's legs and feet in the frame.

Photo from a 2009 protest against California budget cuts, taken by Flickr user Steve Rhodes, Creative Commons License

Astrid at Astrid’s Journal: Empowering People with Disabilities?: About Us, Without Us

You can bet that I was somewhat sarcastic with my invitation, given the fact that people with disabilities, the very people this event aims to empower, are specifically omitted from the invitation. If you want to empower us, then let us have a voice first. Empowering people with disabilities doesn’t happen without us. I sent Jason a comment at the event page letting him know his language excludes people with disabilities. I forgot to tell him that we already have Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1, anyway.

Rob Mortiz at Arkansas News: Disability advocacy group seeks closure of Booneville center

[A] 22-year-old man with a documented history of choking on food died after center staff failed to provide the one-on-one supervision prescribed by doctors, Dana McClain, attorney for the Disability Rights Center, said during a news conference at the state Capitol.

“The continued violation of people with developmental disabilities civil and legal rights and Arkansas’ failure to develop true alternatives to institutionalization is what bring (us) here today,” McClain said.

LoHud Editorial: ‘People’ before disabilities

New York will finally update the name of the state office charged with ensuring fair treatment and quality-of-life to people with various developmental disabilities, not just by taking the “r” word out of the title, but by adding “people” to it.

The Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities will now become the State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, after votes taken last week in the state Assembly and Senate. The name change was originally introduced last year by Gov. David Paterson. Rhode Island remains the only state to have “retardation” in an agency title.

United News Media: Vietnam Enacted the First Disability Law

Recently the National Assembly of Viet Nam enacted the first comprehensive national law guaranteeing the rights of people with disabilities.  The new law mandates equal participation in society for people with disabilities through accommodation and access to health care, rehabilitation, education, employment, vocational training, cultural services, sports and entertainment, transportation, public places, and information technology.  This law is expected to have a direct impact on the growth of Viet Nam’s economy, as inclusive policies expand opportunities for Vietnamese with disabilities to be productive and achieve economic independence.

Harvard Law School: Disability rights victory in Europe won by alum with help from HPOD

In its judgment the European Court of Human Rights stated that the European Convention of Human Rights does not allow for an absolute bar on voting rights applied to anyone placed under partial guardianship irrespective of a person’s actual abilities. Even if the protocol permits restrictions to ensure that only citizens capable of assessing the consequences of their decisions and making conscious and judicious decisions should participate in public affairs, the Court found, a blanket restriction is not in compliance with the convention.

The Inner Critic

[Warning for possibly triggering content regarding mental health, specifically depression.]

I’ve been reading a fair number of how-to creativity books (yeah, I know, creativity is not something you can “learn” from a book) recently in preparation for a long-term project, and one thing I have noticed about some of these books–and a lot of the “advice” floating around out there about creativity–is the notion of the “inner critic.” The inner critic, according to some Professional Creative Types, is the voice that tells you that you are not creative, that you can’t write, or draw, or paint, or accomplish whatever creative project you want to. The inner critic is supposed to stand in for everyone who’s told you that you are a crappy artist, that your creative pursuits aren’t good enough, and all of that fun stuff that apparently wasn’t there when you were a kid. And, in the course of becoming truly creative, you are supposed to silence your inner critic.

This got me thinking, however: What if that critic was there when you were a kid? What if the inner critic is, well, part of you, and you cannot “just silence” that part?

One thing that I really don’t talk about publicly (on the internet or off) is my history of major depression. There are many reasons as to why, and I think that those might best be saved for another post. However, there is something that really bugs me about the “inner critic” model of creativity: it does not take depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions into account. What if that voice in your head has been there for a while, and is an active part of your mental health issue? It’s not so easy to turn off that voice that tells you that you suck, or that your art or writing is a bunch of crap, or that you will never amount to anything when that voice is there because of a mental health condition.

There’s another assumption in writings about the importance of “turning off” the inner critic, which is that all children have a magical reserve of resilience and that is why they are so creative. These children simply don’t care what anyone else thinks, and the Creative Adult must recapture that sense of adventure by silencing the inner critic! It sounds so easy! But what of the depressed child, or the child with mental health issues? As someone who had depression issues as a kid — and still does — I question the supposedly “universal” applicability of this whole inner critic business, the assumption that it can be turned off like a damn light switch, after which we will all Recover Our Childlike Capacity For Creativity, or something.

I remember having my own Inner Critic as a kid, and it was not fun. Certainly, I did have years where I had that sense of Childlike Creativity and Wonder, but those were also interlaced by a voice in the back of my mind that would tell me awful things. And it never left, after a while. It would hiss: You do not belong. You are weak. Your bum leg is punishment for something, and you sure as hell aren’t going to “make up for it” with your stupid cartoons, give me a break! You think you’re going to be popular because of your cartoons? Because of your writing? Please. You are worthless, and also none of the other kids like you. Your art is just a hobby, nothing more.

Then, once the depression came on the scene, those little hissings became, well, much bigger. They’d been there when I was a kid, no doubt, but with major depression, they stuck in my brain like a particularly awful tape loop that just couldn’t be turned off. Things with my depression are much better now — as they have been for a few years — but I am always, always on the alert in case it comes back full-force. My depression not totally gone (nor do I expect it to be), but I manage it with care. And the “inner critic” that artsy self-help types slam? She’s still there, and I think she will be there permanently. The trick, for me, is learning to live with her instead of assuming that silencing her is an easy step.

Quick Hit: The Horrors of Solitary Confinement

When I first saw this post on the ACLU’s blog about solitary confinement for juvenile girls in criminal detention, I was so horrified that I opened it in a tab and then couldn’t look at it again for several days. When I read through the entire post, I cried. I believe that when the United States takes control of a person, whether in criminal or immigration detention, they take on an obligation to care for that person, or at least not put them in mortal danger. And that is simply not happening. On the contrary, the solitary confinement policies seem to target girls with existing trauma and/or mental health histories for further isolation and victimization.

[Trigger warnings for sexual assault and abuse based on disability.]

In June 2008, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit challenging inhumane practices at the Brownwood State School, a youth prison in central Texas. Girls at Brownwood are regularly placed in punitive solitary confinement in oppressively cold, concrete cells, that are empty except for a metal slab intended to be used as a bed. Solitary confinement is imposed for minor misbehavior, for self-harm or for expressing a desire to commit self-harm, and can be brief or can last for days, weeks and even months. It’s hard to imagine a more destructive reaction to a child in crisis, but it’s the norm. Unfortunately, these practices are not limited to Brownwood, or Texas, for that matter.

There are currently more than 14,000 girls incarcerated in the United States, a number that has been rapidly increasing in recent decades. Most of these girls are arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses and probation violations. Locked up under the guise of rehabilitation, girls nationwide — the vast majority of whom have been sexually/physically abused — are subjected to punitive solitary confinement, routine strip searches, and other forms of abuse. Meanwhile, they are denied the essential mental health care, education, and social services they need. Far from helping girls cope with the trauma they have suffered, youth prisons’ use of solitary confinement only retraumatizes them and further impedes their rehabilitation.

This is abundantly clear in a recent collection of testimonies from girls imprisoned in Texas juvenile institutions printed by Harper’s magazine this week. On newsstands today, the May 2010 issue features excerpts from ACLU interviews with incarcerated teenage girls. A few noteworthy excerpts include a girl who states that her crying is treated as “problem behavior,” another who was locked in a solitary confinement cell surrounded by her own vomit for over 24 hours, and perhaps even more disturbing, the following testimony from a girl in solitary confinement:

“A staff [member] gave me a pill, and he told me he was going to take me to get my meds. We ended up in this dirty room. It had pipes, buckets—it was dusty, it was nasty. I was like, I want to go to sleep, and he was like, You’re not leaving until we have sex. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know to scream, I didn’t know to do none of that stuff. I told him I wasn’t going to lie on that dirty floor, and he was like, Well, just bend over, and so—I didn’t know what he was going to do to me. I don’t know if he could’ve killed me and it would’ve been on the news: We just found a dead teenager at TYC and nobody knows what happened.

— 17-year-old, Marlin Orientation and Assessment Unit

By 25 June, 2010.    age, autonomy, justice, mental health, resistance   



Bad Behaviour: Disabled Students and Discipline Disparities

I wrote recently here about the abuse of autistic students in Pennsylvania, and highlighted the fact that abusive ‘discipline’ is distressingly common for disabled students. In the interests of writing a post that for once does not need a content warning, I’m going to refrain from providing details of the kinds of actions that are considered ‘discipline’ in the schools, but I’m sure many of you have encountered stories in the media and some of you have probably experienced abuse in the classroom yourselves.

This is a reflection of a lot of problems with the way society views and treats people with disabilities, and of serious inadequacies in the education system. Teachers who abuse students clearly should not be in the classroom, yet they are, and they are sometimes allowed to remain even after abuse is reported. Teachers who have received no training in working with disabled students shouldn’t be assigned to classrooms with disabled students, yet they are.

But what about the flip side, when students are taken out of the classroom?

A study recently released in Delaware found that disabled students are more likely to be suspended for ‘behaviour problems.’ More specifically, while 20% of the students suspended1 were disabled, disabled students only make up 14% of the student body. The study questions this disparity, asking why it is that disabled students are at more risk of suspension although there is an established body of law that is designed to specifically provide protections for disabled students, and to limit the circumstances in which they can be suspended.

The article asks, not ‘why are students with disabilities more likely to be suspended,’ but ‘what makes disabled students behave badly?’ I personally think that’s the wrong question. What is ‘bad behaviour’? How is this being defined, and who is defining it? It’s good to see some mandatory accountability in the form of tracking discipline numbers and reporting them, but accountability is only one part of the equation. If districts are not taking action to address the disparities, reporting them doesn’t make that much of a difference.

And are schools adequately identifying disabled students? While there has been more of a push in recent years to identify and intervene when disabilities are observed in the classroom, there tend to be racial and class inequalities when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. Likewise, there are disparities in identification; a teacher may attribute differences in learning and communication styles to disability in a white child, and ‘bad attitude’ in a nonwhite child, for example.

The approach to this particular educational disparity seems to be focused on what ‘makes’ students ‘behave badly’ instead of asking whether teachers are being adequately trained to work with disabled students and asking what ‘bad behaviour’ is and who is defining it. It assumes that everyone should (and can) engage in specific patterns of behaviour and it suggests that ‘abnormal’ behaviour patterns should be punished.

Are students suspended for not using modes of communication familiar to teachers? For needing to stand or pace while learning? For needing a quiet environment for learning, and for becoming upset when one is not provided? For needing orderly and precise schedules? For not completing assignments they don’t understand or find impossible to finish? For attempting to create and maintain personal space? For expressing any number of needs and needing a space where they are accommodated? For tics in the classroom?

When nondisabled people are the ones defining ‘normal’ behaviour and deciding what is bad and worthy of suspension, inevitably you are going to end up with disparities in student discipline. When teachers are not provided with adequate training, when they are dealing with classrooms that have too many students in them, when they are being burdened with a lot of additional work outside the classroom, a tinderbox of circumstances is created and disabled students tend to lose.

Suspension is a serious punishment. Students missing a month or more of school is a serious problem. Until we reframe the way that we talk about classroom behaviour, we’re going to continue missing the heart of the problem.

  1. School suspension, for those not familiar with the concept, is a form of discipline where students are ordered to stay out of school for a set period of time. Students may or may not be allowed to do schoolwork at home.

By 24 June, 2010.    events  ,  



Recommended Reading, June 24 2010

Static Nonsense at I am Not – Exceptionally Creative [discussing the new study concluding that creativity and schizophrenia are related]

Awareness, be it of mental illness or physical disability, includes all of the effects, not just positive or negative. To ignore one in favor of the other strips the depth from the experience, and strains us not just individually, but as a whole. The experiences of an individual being erased doesn’t just harm them, but all of us because then the support and awareness that we all need to thrive are strained. And sometimes, they’re not offered at all.

Paja – Tangible Communication

We’re planning to create some ways of tactile communication, especially for people with impairments (physical or visual). For example, a squeeze on a stress ball generates a ‘Hello’ on a display to a person along with a tactile feedback on a glove, by way of inflation. The same principle can also be used the other way, where a typed mssage like ‘Hello’ inflates the respective Braille bubbles on a surface of the receiver.

Change Blog – Families [in the US] with Disabled Members Aren’t Raking It In

A new study published by the National Association of Social Workers shows that households that include an adult with a disability earn less per year and have a lower net worth than families without a disabled member. In studying more than 16,000 households, including more than 4,000 with a disabled adult, researchers from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Social Work and the University of Haifa in Israel found that regardless of family structure (single parent, married, etc.), households with disabled members faced obstacles, including attaining suitable housing and accommodating employment, that kept them from earning at the same level as households that didn’t include a disabled member.

Square 8 – Executive Functioning Blues

I put the items into a list. I categorize the list: Work Stuff (my job), Other Work Stuff (things I have promised to do that are also work, but I don’t necessarily get paid for them), Home Stuff (chores and bills), and Phone. Phone goes at the top of the list, then the bottom. Get it over with? Put it off until I forget or find it doesn’t matter anymore? Or just move it around? Phone goes to second on the list. There are a number of items under Phone and this is a problem. If I get to the first item under Phone today, I’ll consider it a victory. I realize that one of the Phone calls will be of an automated nature. I make that one right away, but it doesn’t count. I highlight it anyway, but I know better. I toy with the idea of sorting the rest of Phone into the three other categories, according to what the call is about. No, Phone deserves its own place in the Purgatory of the list, third place out of four.

Partners in Health – Wheeling Around Haiti

With knobby mountain bike tires and a sturdy, specially designed steel frame, Whirlwind’s RoughRider wheelchairs enable its occupants to go where conventional wheelchairs cannot, wheeling over broken pavement, rocks, roots, mud, and ramp-less curbs that are common  throughout Haiti and other developing countries. In fact, the non-profit organization designed the vehicles in collaboration with wheelchair riders in over 20 developing nations. The resulting design is a winner, at least for Lelan. “When we first rolled the new RoughRider into her yard, she began clapping and said, ‘Thank you, thank you, now I can go to church,’” recounts Whirlwind’s Rachel Kishton. “She took to her chair quickly and was downright fearless while rolling around her patio. She quickly started figuring out how to move into and around her house.”

Sweet Perdition – The Right Kind

Somtimes I’m the right kind of person; other times, I’m not. There is “good” or “bad” behavior involved, no secret way to stay on the right side of personhood. There are only the whims of others; whether you line up with them or not, ultimately, has nothing to do with you. You can be privileged to be the right kind of person, sometimes, but it is no skill you possess, nothing you have done. The only thing you or I or anyone else can do is stop chopping people up into pieces, into kinds. And when we are the right kind of person, we can recognize our luck-our privilege-for what it is.

By 24 June, 2010.    recommended reading   



Crowdsourcing: Graphic novels! edition

Here’s the scoop: Despite the fact that I am sort of a cartoonist and “into” graphic art, I am, sadly, not totally on the up-and-up when it comes to comics and graphic novels! So, I need recommendations from you fine FWD commenters for a project that I will be starting on rather soon. I am mostly looking for autobiographical comic/graphic novels, comics/graphic novels having to do with illness or disability, race, and/or gender and sexuality (I prefer non-fiction for these categories),  and comics/graphic novels that cover awkward situations in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood (fictional or not).  Also, how-to books (such as Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art, which I already own and have dog-earred to infinity) are also welcome as suggestions, as I will definitely need inspiration.

Here’s a list of stuff I already have that is in one or more of the above categories: One! Hundred! Demons! (Barry, 2002); Fun Home (Bechdel, 2006); Funny Misshapen Body (Brown, 2002); The Spiral Cage (Davison, 1992); Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person (Engelberg, 2008); Jokes and the Unconscious (Gottleib and DiMassa, 2006) Stitches (Small, 2009), American Born Chinese (Yang, 2006) [thank you to my fellow blogger Anna for reminding me of this one].

PLEASE, SUGGEST AWAY!

[Cross-posted to ham blog in a slightly different form]

Damn Y’all White Wolf

My [biggest] fandom is White Wolf’s Exalted. I’ve complained about it before and I’ll complain about it again.

I build characters because it’s fun and I often spend a lot of time working at it trying to make a person rather than a collection of attributes. Right now I’m working on a character who I actually have an expectation of playing and as ever I’m borrowing much from my life and some from various other places. This person is a rabbit (specifically this rabbit) shapeshifter with a very big hammer. Ou has told me ou doesn’t speak and I try to listen to my characters when they tell me things.

Also disabled folk can damn well be heroes. They don’t have to ‘overcome’ their conditions neither. I will try to not fuck this up too badly. Transient dysphasia and aphasia are conditions I have personal experience with but not full-time.

Thing is: Because I’m making a new character I’m taking an enormous hit on experience and power — the character I’ve been playing has more than twice as many experience points as the GM is giving me for my rabbit person. Ouch. (But I’m getting to tell a new story.) So I may do something I’m not entirely comfortable with: Use the Flaw system built into the game.

See, you can get points to buy Cool Shit by taking Flaws. Some of them are okay, like being wanted by authorities or being widely known as a demon or whatever. Some of them are more problematic, like missing body parts, mental illnesses, communication and sensory impairments.

Here’s the one for not speaking:

Mute
Cost: 1 pt. or 4 pts.
Your character is unable to speak normally. For one bonus point, the character is simply unable to speak above a whisper, while complete dumbness1 grants four bonus points. A character with the one-point version automatically fails all Performance or Presence checks that require public speaking but faces no penalty on social attacks as long as his target can hear him, which requires the target’s player to succeed on a (Perception + Awareness) roll at difficulty 2.

A character with the four-point version of the Flaw automatically fails all Performance or Presence checks based on verbal communication and suffers a -5 penalty on all social attack rolls made for her unless the attack expressly has no verbal component. While there is no universal sign language in the Age of Sorrows, the character and her allies can communicate through an informal sign language if each of them commits one Linguistics slot to it.

Just kind of as an aside they tell us there are no widely-known gestural or tactile languages. None. There aren’t regional languages even. Anyone wanting to use one has to make up their own and teach it to whomever they want to communicate with. Deaf people wanting to build a community are going to have a tricky time of it in canon Exalted.

Sometimes I hate my game. I could use those four bonus points but that’s some horrible shit. But not using this mechanic isn’t going to make it disappear from the game either (there’s another player whose character made use of it — as a hot blind assassin chick). The casual disablism is not exactly unusual for gaming (and this isn’t even the worst example of disablism ((or casual bigotry)) I could pull from Exalted) where currently non-disabled developers assume a currently non-disabled audience and write accordingly. Because heroes are CND or super-crip amirite?

So yeah. I’ll probably do it. I’ll just feel icky about it. :(

Cross-posted: Aperiodically Legible.

  1. Hi there, dumb means does not speak! I have not missed you.

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

A wheelchair in a rocky, grassy landscape on a mountain. He is leaning forward to unzip a tent and camping equipment is stacked next to the tent's entry.

‘4WheelBob Coomber climbs Mt. White in a wheelchair’ by Flickr user Rick McCharles, Creative Commons License.

Stitch Kingdom: Disneyland Resort Begins Broad Sign Language Interpretation Program Across Parks

Disneyland Resort this week began offering regularly-scheduled sign language interpretation at numerous shows and attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks. As part of the Resort’s ongoing commitment to guests with disabilities, individuals have access to a schedule of offerings where interpretation is provided without having to make prior arrangements.

“The Disneyland Resort is dedicated to making the Disney tradition of rich storytelling available to all of our guests,” said Betty Appleton, who oversees the Resort’s guests with disabilities program. “Our new sign language service enables guests with hearing disabilities [ed note-indeed] to engage with our shows and attractions in a whole new way.”

Jeff Baenen at the San Francisco Chronicle: Theatre mixes disabled, nondisabled actors (warning, the framing of this article is along some familiar ‘overcoming disability’ and ‘they are just like normal people!’ lines)

Dozens of theater companies use disabled actors, including troupes in Cincinnati, Washington and New York. But there still are too few roles for them, said Ike Schambelan, founder and artistic director of New York’s off-Broadway Theater Breaking Through Barriers.

Casting directors are “perfectly willing to put an able-bodied person in a disabled role when I cannot believe they could not find a person for the role who uses a wheelchair,” he said.

isabelthespy at very filled with dreams: don’t you think mental health issues should be taught as part of high school health class?

and while i do think you can’t understand it if you haven’t been there, i feel like it might not be a total waste of time to introduce people, early, to that fact. to be like: “depression is a thing. a real thing, even. if you don’t have it and never have, you don’t know what the fuck it’s like. so if you ever feel like giving a depressed person some helpful advice based on that time you were sad, or if you feel like maybe it would be helpful for everyone involved if you gave the depressed person a good talking-to about how they should just try harder to get their shit together already, please remember that time you were sixteen and your health teacher told you, preemptively, to SHUT THE FUCK UP.” and thus we spare thousands of future depressed people the agony of not so much having their friends not understand them as having their friends THINK they understand them when, actually, they don’t and can’t.

Afua Hirsch and Alice Lagnado at The Guardian: Study shows more disabled students are dropping out of university

Although when she began her anthropology degree course at Durham University Watson was assessed and given the help of a note-taker and a laptop, she says tutors and lecturers humiliated her and failed to take her needs into account. When she raised the issue, she was offered counselling to help her adjust to university life.

“[One tutor] tapped on the loop [of her hearing aid system] and shouted down it “Rosie can you hear me, Rosie” and I was made to feel humiliated, especially when other students laughed at this,” Watson says. “I asked the tutor if she realised just how upsetting that had been for me; her reaction was to say that she always shouted ‘because her grandmother is old’.

BBC News: Disability support evidence to help inquiry

The EHRC is using its legal powers to hold the inquiry into the ways local authorities, the police, social services, schools, public transport operators and other bodies tackle – or don’t tackle – disability harassment.

Research carried out by the EHRC last year revealed that disabled people are four times more likely than non-disabled people to be victims of crime.

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