Monthly Archives: August 2010
So what’s the problem? People who want lap-band surgery can now obtain it, and get it covered by insurance. No big deal, seemingly. Until you dig a little deeper to see who is behind this push, like the LA Times did:
The people behind TopSurgeons are the Omidi brothers — Julian, whose medical license was revoked in 2009, and Michael, who was placed on three years’ probation for gross negligence in 2008,according to the Medical Board of California.
* The inspectors found unsanitary conditions in the surgical areas. Medications and supplies to treat complications from anesthesia were expired or missing, though 23 patients were waiting for surgery.
* Surgical instruments weren’t being properly disinfected. Medical supplies that were supposed to have been tossed after use on a single patient were being reused. Two employees had positive tests for tuberculosis, but there was no record that they got required follow-up chest X-rays.
* The crash cart, which carries equipment and supplies for cardiac emergencies, contained opened and expired drugs and supplies, including some more than 4 years old. Other drugs and supplies, including emergency drugs, were months or years past expiration. Filled and inadequately labeled syringes were found in the operating room. Most of the scrub sinks weren’t working.
* Patient records, which contain such confidential information as psychological exams, were left where unauthorized people could read them.
Um, wow! That sounds like a safe and well-organized and overseen place to undergo major surgery under general anesthesia! But at least the people who are undergoing surgery really need it and it will significantly benefit their health, right? Well, no, says the LA Times:
Medical guidelines endorsed by the National Institutes of Health say the prime candidates for the lap-band are morbidly obese patients, defined as those with a body mass index — a comparison of weight and height — of 40 and above. (A 5-foot-10 person would register a 40 BMI at 279 pounds, or about 100 pounds overweight.) Patients with a BMI of 35 (244 pounds for our 5-10 subject) would be candidates if they also had weight-related conditions such as diabetes.
The patient selection principles of TopSurgeons seem to be rather liberal. Its website says it “can help those with a BMI of 27 or greater.” (For our 5-10 patient, that’s a threshold of 188 pounds.)
There are two problems with those broad patient selection rules. First, patients who do not really qualify for the procedure and who are not expected to benefit from it are undergoing major and potentially life-threatening surgery for no good reason. Second, the insurance companies base payment off those NIH criteria, so are not likely to pay for surgery for those folks who opt for surgery but do not meet the NIH guidelines. Given the marketing push, the tie to fat shaming, and the extremely liberal acceptance guidelines of these doctors, a majority of their patients are likely to be considered “voluntary” and thus not eligible for insurance coverage of the surgery.
This surgery costs around $18,000. So if insurance isn’t paying for it, who does? Most of the people targeted by these billboards and ads are low-income and predominantly Spanish-speaking, so don’t just have $18,000 in their checking accounts to pay for this surgery. Instead, they’re offered credit lines to cover the cost of the surgery – and charged 13.9% interest on the costs.
That kind of predatory lending would be bad enough if it were limited to people who actually opted to undergo the surgery. But the entire operation seems to be an effort to get people to sign up for financing:
According to Nancy Wambaa, a 51-year-old Los Angeles woman, TopSurgeons “encouraged” her during an office visit last year to fill out an application for the card just to check her credit. A full-time student and Medi-Cal enrollee, she was surprised to be told within hours that she’d been approved, and even more surprised a month later to get a bill for $15,000 from GE, even though she had told TopSurgeons that on her doctor’s advice she had decided against the surgery.
TopSurgeons eventually refunded $12,000 but kept $3,000 as a “cancellation fee.” She sued the Omidi brothers in state court Aug. 20, 2009, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and violation of the state consumer protection law. The court file indicates that they never answered her lawsuit, and in December she won a default judgment for the money.
Nothing like being billed $15,000 at 13.9% interest for a medical procedure you did not sign up for and for which you had no actual medical need!
Something that I see coming up a lot in discussions about language is the argument that, by asking people to refrain from using words that refer to disability as pejoratives because they reinforce the idea that disability is categorically bad, people engaging in discussions about language are saying that disability is a bed of roses with a unicorn and a platter of cupcakes on the side. This is, as I said in a recent ‘Today in Journalism,’ so not true, and I wanted to pull that discussion out of that post, because it’s important, and it deserves its own post:
The thing about terms like ‘suffers from’ and ‘victim of’ is that if someone self identifies with them, that’s fine. But when they get used as generic terms to refer to people with disabilities in general, it sets a precedent. It tells people that disability is suffering, and that people with disabilities are victims. The reason that we ask people to use neutral language when talking about disability is not because we want to tell other people how to feel about their disabilities, but because we don’t want to tell nondisabled people to think negatively about disability.
This is an important thing, when talking about language. There’s a big difference between identifying with a term and using it, and using a term in general to refer to everyone like you, or, in the case of nondisabled people, using a term you’ve heard someone use as self identification to refer to everyone like that person. If the media presented disability in neutral terms, ‘The locals known Ray Magallan, a man with cerebral palsy who…,’ it allows readers to approach the article with neutrality. But here, from the very start, the subject of the article is a victim.
Asking people to think about the language they use generally is not about telling people that all disabilities are awesome! And terrific! And superfun! Nor is it about telling people how they should feel about their disabilities. What it’s about is working towards the neutral place: The place where disability in general is value neutral, rather than universally good or bad.
Speaking for myself and myself only, there are some things about my disabilities that I like, and that I am glad to have as part of my identity. There are other things about my disabilities that I dislike, and strongly wish would Go Away. And there are a lot of things that just are, that I don’t feel strongly about one way or the other. I don’t like society assigning values to my identities, or deciding that because I feel a particular way about a specific disability, all people who share that disability must feel like I do; I want society to view them neutrally, and that’s one of the reasons that I want to get people thinking about the language they use and how they use it.
The language isn’t the problem. It’s the underlying attitudes that are the problem. Disability is used as a shorthand for ‘bad’ because it is understood to be bad. The goal here is not to try and effect a switch, to disability as ‘good,’ but to get people to view it neutrally, and to allow individual people with disabled identities to shape their own approach to disability. To give people autonomy, and to make nondisabled people understand that when one person says ‘I hate my disabilities’ that person is speaking for ouself, just as the person who says ‘I love my disabilities’ is also speaking for ouself.
It’s also, of course, about getting people to confront the role of ableism in their lives, and to look at how it manifests, but that’s only one facet of conversations about language. People who are stuck on ‘oh, I need to just not use these words’ are missing the much larger discussion, that these words are code for attitudes and beliefs, and that when we talk about these words, we confront those beliefs. By working towards disability as neutral, we are allowing many people with disabilities self determination and autonomy, although not all people with disabilities will necessarily agree that working towards the neutral place is a shared goal, or even something that should happen at all.
Telling a person with disabilities who identifies ou personal experience as difficult, or painful, or unpleasant, or frustrating, or simply bad: ‘how can you say disability is bad!’ is every bit as policing as calling disability in general a tragedy, because it’s denying someone’s lived experience, and it’s denying something that someone is articulating right in front of you. Someone who hates ou disabilities or who hates aspects of them isn’t ‘betraying the movement’ or ‘wrong,’ and the goal of language discussions isn’t to hound people who feel that way into changing their minds about how they feel about their bodies and brains.
It’s about creating a space for everyone, a space where people can self identify how they like, and feel the way they like, without being judged or shamed not just by society, but also by fellow people with disabilities. There is room for all identities and lines of thought in a world where disability is a neutral identity, and people are allowed to shape it and feel about it the way they want to, rather than being pressured to perform, think, and believe in a particular way for the benefit of others.
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.
The pill ella from HRA Pharma reduces the chance of pregnancy up to five days after sex. Plan B, the most widely used emergency contraceptive pill, begins losing its ability to prevent pregnancy within three days of sex.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Friday as a prescription-only birth control option. The ruling clears the way for U.S. sales of the drug, which is already approved in Europe.
Eighteen dogs have been placed with owners since the Rockwall-based nonprofit, headed by veteran canine coach Lori Stevens, was chartered four years ago. Selected inmates at Gatesville prison units joined the effort as trainers in early 2008. Last year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals crowned one of the program’s graduates, Archie, a Labrador retriever, “Dog of the Year.”
Melodye Nelson, Crain Unit’s assistant warden, praised the program for giving incarcerated women a sense of self-worth.
Thus Spake Zuska: Comtemplating Ability and Disability (Thanks to Penny with Disability Studies, Temple U, for the link!)
I think people just expect disability to look a certain way. When I’m talking with people, and they find out I’ve had a stroke, and they say “you don’t LOOK like you’ve had a stroke” I hear that. I hear, “I have an image in my mind of the drooling limping stroke victim, and you don’t fit that”. I hear that people with disabilities need to look really disabled in the way that the currently-not-disabled are comfortable with understanding people with disabilities, in part so that we (and I include myself in this) who are currently mostly abled can go on dreaming that we will never LOOK LIKE those freak show disabled folk.
BBC News: How do blind people play football so well? (Thanks to Miriam Heddy for the link!)
Mesmeric footwork, accurate passing and the ever-present rattling of the ball gives the game a hypnotic quality that makes it easy to forget that the players can’t see what they’re kicking.
There are occasional reminders – perhaps a misplaced pass allows the ball to roll away, or the action stops – and the spectator’s gaze lifts from the players’ feet to the unfamiliar sight of footballers wearing eye patches.
Life-changing injuries are what precipitated the poster in the first place. According to a study from last year, NFL players develop dementia and Alzheimer’s at a rate more than five times that of average Americans. The same study showed that “players ages 30 through 49 reported dementia-related diagnoses at a rate of 1.9 percent—19 times the national average of 0.1 percent….”
In others words, many professional football players–almost 70 percent of whom are black–are literally killing their brains, and that’s just the numbers on players in their 30s and 40s. For players over 50, it’s more than 1 in 20.
If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com
The School of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Health at York University (Toronto, Canada) invites applications for a full-time tenure track position in Critical Disability Studies at the Assistant Professor level, effective January 1, 2011. For details, please refer to the job posting.
The closing date for this position is September 30, 2010.
Enquiries regarding this position are to be directed to:
Ms. Regina Pinto,
School of Health Policy and Management
Faculty of Health
There is an immediate opening for a full-time position of Asia-Pacific Regional Officer for the Disability Rights Promotion International (D.R.P.I.) project.
D.R.P.I. is a collaborative project working to establish a holistic and
sustainable global system to monitor the human rights of people with
disabilities. D.R.P.I.’s International Coordination Centre is based at York
University in Toronto, Canada. With the support of Disabled Peoples
International – Asia-Pacific Region (D.P.I.A.P.), D.R.P.I. is establishing a
Regional Centre for Asia-Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand. The Asia-Pacific
Regional Officer will work from the Bangkok office.
The D.R.P.I. project is guided by the principle that people with all types
of disabilities and their representative organizations should be actively
involved in all aspects of disability rights monitoring. D.R.P.I. adopts a
holistic approach to monitoring disability rights, focusing on three
inter-related areas: individual experiences (gathering information about the personal experiences of people with disabilities), systems (assessing laws, policies and programs impacting the rights of people with disabilities) and societal attitudes (examining the coverage and depiction of disability in the media). Further information may be found on the project website .
Dr. Bengt Lindqvist (UN Special Rapporteur on Disability 1994-2002) and Dr.Marcia Rioux, Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, M.A. and Ph.D. (Critical Disability Studies), York University co-direct the project.
The position will involve working under the direction of D.R.P.I.’s
Co-Directors and in collaboration with the D.R.P.I. Project Coordinator and other researchers to:
* Coordinate a regional disability rights monitoring training including
the logistics of organizing the venue; participant travel, board and
lodging; printing of materials, etc.;
* Plan and supervise disability rights monitoring projects;
* Liaise with D.R.P.I. project personnel and partners;
* Seek funding opportunities for disability rights monitoring activities;
* Assist national and local organizations of people with disabilities to
apply for and secure funding;
* Offer support to disability rights monitoring activities taking place
* Develop and foster partnerships between and among disability rights and human rights organizations in Asia-Pacific;
* Assist with the preparation of reports to funding bodies and
international and regional human rights monitoring mechanisms;
* Raise awareness of disability rights monitoring activities taking place in Asia-Pacific (by, for example, coordinating media campaigns, writing content for the D.R.P.I. website and list serv, attending and presenting at relevant meetings, etc.)
* Other tasks, as required by the Co-Directors or their designate.
1. Experience in project administration and management, organizing events and writing funding proposals;
2. Experience contributing to effective communication strategies including newsletters, reports, websites, etc;
3. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English.
4. Understanding of human rights and of disability as a human rights issue;
5. Willing to travel.
1. Citizen or resident of a country in the Asia-Pacific region.
2. A university degree in the area of law, social sciences or other related discipline.
3. Personal experience of disability.
4. Fluency in other languages spoken in the Asia-Pacific region is a strong asset.
5. Pan-Asia-Pacific experience.
Compensation will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience of the successful candidate.
Please note that it will not be possible to cover the cost of the successful candidate’s moving and/or relocation expenses.
We encourage applications from persons with disabilities, women, ethnic
minorities and other marginalized groups.
Applications will be accepted until 8 September, 2010
Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and their résumé to Dr. Marcia Rioux at email@example.com
Please indicate “APPLICATION -ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL OFFICER” in the subject line of the email.
For further information about this posting, please contact:
Dr. Marcia Rioux
Disability Rights Promotion International (D.R.P.I.)
York University, 4700 Keele St., Suite 5021,TEL Building, Toronto, ON M3J
telephone: +1 416 736 2100 extension 20718
Accessible World ClassRoom of the Air presents A Non-Visual Perspective on Self-Defense, August 17, 2010
In this seminar, Larry Lewis, President of Flying Blind LLC will be discussing non-visual strategies for self-defense techniques that can be used by persons who are blind/visually impaired. Lewis has studied a few different martial arts but has found his passion in training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a grappling-based Martial Art with a highly affective self-defense component that requires no vision to learn and utilize.
Lewis will be discussing the components of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as the pluses of training in this amazing martial art as well as offering strategies for avoiding conflict situations should they arise.
Users will gain an understanding of how such a Martial Art can improve the overall quality of one’s life while keeping them safe in the unfortunate event that much larger assailants attack them.
Presenter: Larry Lewis
Group Discussion Leaders
Ruth Ann Acosta, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sherry Wells E-mail: email@example.com
Date: Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Time: 6:00 PM PDT, 7:00 PM MDT, 8:00 PM CDT, 9:00 PM EDT and elsewhere in the world Wednesday 01:00 GMT.
Approximately 15 minutes prior to the event start time; go to the Accessible World Classroom.
Select The Accessible World Classroom Room at: www.accessibleworld.org
Enter your first and last names on the sign-in screen.
If you are a first-time user of the Talking Communities online conferencing software, there is a small, safe software program that you need to download and then run. A link to the software is available on every entry screen to the Accessible World rooms.
All online interactive programs are free of charge, and open to anyone worldwide having an Internet connection, a computer, speakers, and a sound card. Those with microphones can interact audibly with the presenters and others in the virtual audience. To speak to us, hold down the control key and let up to listen. If no microphone is available, you may text chat with the attendees.
A somewhat old column from Carloyn Hax brings up a common source of family conflict:
My conservative, mid-80s grandma literally had a heart attack the day she learned I am gay and marrying my partner. This sounds like sitcom fare, but it isn’t. I know there’s some reason I shouldn’t feel as guilty as everyone is causing me to feel . . . but I figure you’ll be able to articulate it better than I could.
Carloyn’s response is right on the money:
Well, no one is “causing” you to feel guilty, any more than your big fat gay wedding “caused” your grandma to have a heart attack. Your guilt comes from you, and her shock comes from her.
You both have your closely held beliefs. Hers is that couples of the same sex should vanish, not marry. Yours is that good descendants don’t do things they know will displease their elders.
If only because of their negative effects on your and her health, both of these beliefs need to go. In fact, they’re strikingly similar views, at their foundations: You both seem to believe, to different degrees, that group needs trump individual needs. Your grandma believes heterosexuality is the only acceptable sexual orientation (at least in public) — and thinks it’s your duty to set your needs aside to reflect that.
And she rubbed off on you a bit, as will happen in families. You feel that responsibility, and feel bad that your choices didn’t reflect it.
But your choice reflects a reasonable calculation, one I believe society makes now with increasing frequency: The benefit to her peace of mind in your staying closeted is minuscule compared with the harm to your peace of mind in staying closeted.
On a typical day, unless she’s in a homosexual relationship herself, she doesn’t have to think about what gay couples are doing with their lives. On a typical day, if you weren’t allowed to share an honest life with the person you love, you’d think almost of nothing else.
So there’s only one tenable solution: You marry, and she deals with it. I’m sorry the latter possibly involves a cardiac event, but her heart and mind are far more responsible for that than yours are.
We’ve singled out Carolyn Hax for praise before, and this response increases my liking for her. She recognises that many people want to respect and honour their elders, but points out that concealing your identity is disrespectful to yourself, and hiding your relationship is far more damaging than offending your family members with your very existence. That ‘calculation’ so many people make to decide that their needs are less important and less valuable is a common one, and a false one. Like Hax says, being closeted is far more difficult than having to deal with the fact that some of your family members may have a sexual orientation that differs from your own.
We are trained to perform for the group, to smooth things over for the comfort of others. Breaking out of that mindset is hard, but important. We do ourselves no services in pretending to be people we’re not simply because other people are uncomfortable with us, and one of the best ways to shift social attitudes is to refuse to hide, for those who are able to expose themselves that way. Allowing your needs to be subsumed by the needs of the group can have far reaching consequences, including in social justice movements, where people are often told to wait their turn or to set their needs aside ‘for the greater good’ by people who refuse to recognise the urgency of their needs.
Don’t Laugh is under no obligation to make his grandmother more comfortable with who he is. If she can’t deal with it, well, so be it. And he’s also, as Hax points out, not responsible for how she reacts to his identity (although for her own health, I hope she doesn’t have future heart incidents). Bigoted family members aren’t owed anything, and he’s not required to treat her with ‘respect’ if she can’t treat him, his partner, and his relationship with respect.
With time, either she will get over it, or she won’t. The letter writer isn’t responsible for either outcome.
I’m watching “Dating in the Dark,” an ABC show in which contestants, yes, date in a completely dark room. They go on some number of group and individual dates – all in the dark room, all displayed to us with night vision goggles or somesuch – and then decide whether or not they will date each other. It will totally show us whether or not true love is blind! And force people to focus on personality rather than appearance!
Well, not so much. First, all the relationships are of course hetero and all of the contestants are conventionally attractive. Conventionally very attractive, actually. And then they spend the entire time speculating about what the other people look like and outlining, definitively and without a sliver of compromise or doubt, their exacting requirements for the physical appearance of their potential mate. One man talks only about weight, saying that a previous girlfriend “blew up like a tick” and so he had to dump her. (This is what he’s saying to a potential girlfriend. On a “date.”) One of the women is thrown completely when her beau is revealed to be a chiseled lifeguard male model looking guy and wearing a small earring that she finds wildly objectionable.
All I could think, over and over again, was that at least they hadn’t cast anyone with a visible disability to serve that topic up for clearly well informed and considered discussion by these contestants. This is one show on which I’m more than happy to accept the underrepresentation of people with disabilities.
You know, if you’re into the Gregorian calendar (also, Friday 13th! Spooky!). Why hello there, gentle reader! This is my first Recommended Reading. This is very exciting for us all. While this should be a time of celebration, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites (and it’s all MSM articles in this edition of RR!) tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Photo by Louise Dawson. From the photo’s Flickr page: ‘Participants in this Outward Bound group, with a variety of physical disabilities, had just tackled a ropes challenge course as part of a 9 day program.’ The photo was taken in November 1996.
IRIN Africa (from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs): SENEGAL: Children with disability – when stigma means abandonment. Warning for some highly unpleasant treatment of disabled children.
The shame attached to mental and neurological disorders is a strong force, said Dakar hairdresser Ibrahim Gueye, the father of a child with a severe learning disability.
“In Senegalese society it is quite difficult to have a child with a mental disorder. The prevailing belief is that it is a curse; it is difficult to get family and friends to accept such a child.”
In the District of Columbia in the USA, from the Washington Post: Independent administrator to oversee D.C. compliance in disability lawsuit:
The fight over appointing an administrator is the latest chapter in the Evans lawsuit, which was filed in 1976 over the District’s abysmal care of people with developmental disabilities.
That’s right, the case has been going for thirty-four years.
From the Ghana News Agency, 50% of Brazilian buses for persons with disabilities:
Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Wednesday announced that 50 per cent of buses expected from Brazil would be friendly to persons with disabilities.
He said the constitution of the National Council on persons with disabilities was the beginning of the educational programmes that would help to redress their challenges as public institutions noting that the transport system still lacked facilities for them.
In the UK, from the Guardian, Why the next Paralympics will be the greatest ever by Ade Adepitan, Paralympian and TV presenter.
The news that Channel 4 is going to spend millions on the London 2012 Paralympics and give it 150 hours of coverage is a landmark moment. The BBC did a fantastic job of increasing the Paralympics’ profile, but it usually ended up on BBC2 – second fiddle to the Olympics. I only found out about the Paralympics when I was 14 – before then I didn’t know it was possible for someone in a wheelchair to compete in a global sports event.
In the Canadian town of Cobourg, at Northumberland News, Electronic voting a win for disability groups:
The system ensures security by sending each registered voter a pin number by mail; that number can then be used to access the electronic ballot either online or on the telephone.
If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com.