Monthly Archives: September 2010
People with disabilities, especially women, have all the same pressures currently non-disabled people do to look “good enough”, with added bonus of being either non-sexualised or hyper-sexualised, as well as having people infantize them to an incredible degree.
Talking about disability and self-esteem and body image is very difficult for me. People look at me and see a woman without a disability (or a woman with a non-evident one), and I pass. I don’t get the odd looks that a woman of my age (or younger, or older) using a cane or crutches would. I don’t get the pats on the head that women who use wheelchairs report, and I don’t have people leaping out of the way when I’m using a motorized scooter.
But at the same time, women like me are often used as stand-ins for “horrible”. Whether that’s the simple of “she took off her glasses and suddenly she was beautiful!”, or the more complicated of “oh my gosh! the woman I had sex with is actually a crazy person! Quick, let us make many movies about crazy = bunny-boiler = grotesque!”, I’m well aware that women like me are bad, ugly inside, and unacceptable.
These things add a whole other layer to the conversations that many women, feminist and non, have about self esteem and body image. We are all inundated with the constant barrage of White, Long-Haired, Slender (But Not Too Slender), Tall (But Not Too Tall), Unblemished, Healthy-looking, Young women in most advertising and fashion spreads, television shows, movies, and even on our book covers.1
At the same time, though, poster children and the pity parade are a fairly common image of disabled children – whether with visible or non-evident disabilities – that present people with disabilities as weak, as undesirable, as needing of pity – and always, always, always, as children. Very rarely are images of self-possessed, happy, disabled adults shown, unless they are in one of the “he’s so brave” “look at what she’s overcome” news stories.
I don’t know how this affects other people, or how they deal with it. I know that when Don first got his cane, and then his wheelchair, his self-esteem and image of himself took a hit, and it took a while for me to convince him that yes, I still found him attractive (and I can’t tell you how much I love that wheelchair, since my sexy sexy husband now has energy!). I know for me it would be nice to see images of Actual Crazy Women who aren’t mockeries of women like me, but treated like actual people. It would be nice to see casual fashion spreads with people with evident disabilities in them, rather than only seeing “diversity matters!” posters that include maybe one (male) wheelchair user, usually white.
As I said, I find these things very hard to talk about, because in many ways I don’t even know where to start. While to some extent discussing pop culture and representations there is important, how do we, as individuals, deal with our own self-esteem issues? How do we, as a group, tackle the constant attacks on people with visible disabilities to hide parts of themselves? Make yourself more approachable by putting sparkles on your cane! Soup up your wheelchair and maybe someone will ask you a question! Hide your obvious aid-devices so that they don’t offend people! Cake on make-up so no one can see your scars!
I think there’s so much here to talk about. Please, tell me your thoughts.
- The last one is so ubiquitous that until just now I didn’t realise that of all the non-fiction books on my desk about disability, only one has an actual image of visibly disabled people on it. Most of them have very plain covers, or abstract-type art on them. ↩
The radio station I’ve been listening to for most of my life has a habit, when announcing community events, of indicating whether they are accessible. This generally refers specifically to wheelchair accessibility, although I have heard announcers address other things, like chemical sensitivity, depending on the announcer and the event. The point is, my whole life, whenever I hear community events announced, it has been announced with a note about accessibility. That kind of does something to a person, you know?
The announcers put accessibility in the same rank of importance as event information like where the event is, when it is, what is happening, how much it costs, and who to contact for more information, tickets, reservations, and so forth. As it should be. Because all of this information could determine whether someone can attend; if something is happening this Friday at 1:00, for example, I can’t go, because I’m meeting a friend for lunch. If it costs $40 USD, I can’t go, because that’s more than I want to spend. If it’s in Lakeport, I can’t go, because I don’t want to drive that far…and so forth. The whole point of an event announcement is to provide people with enough information to determine if they want to go to an event, and if they can attend.
I mentioned the fact that the radio station does this on Twitter and got a number of intrigued responses, and the thing that struck me was how radical people thought it was, that the radio station would make a habit of including accessibility notes on event announcements. For me, it’s commonplace, and I expect to see accessibility discussed on posters and other event announcements because I’ve been socialised to expect it; a big part of the reason for this is that I live in Northern California, very close to the Bay Area, where there is a highly active disability community that has agitated long and hard for things like this. In my own town, Fort Bragg, I can’t say accessibility is great. There are a lot of issues I’ve identified and I’m sure there are many more I haven’t. And I’d note that some events here are very bad about providing accessibility information on posters, and are shocked, simply shocked, if I contact organisers to ask, so I’m not pretending that accessibility notes are universally provided, or universally useful, in my little hippie paradise. But they are there.
Accessibility notes, to my mind, serve two important functions.
The first is that they provide a service for people with disabilities. You can know, right off the bat, whether you can attend an event, especially if organisations make a point of using comprehensive accessibility notes. For example, the radio station just aired a spot on a film screening that sounds interesting. It is in an accessible venue, but is the film captioned or will there be an interpreter? Is there an audio description available? This was not mentioned. Having complete notes about accessibility saves people the trouble of making a phone call/sending an email, and also avoids the potential situation where the person on the other end says ‘oooooh yeah, our event is totally accessible’ and you get there and find out it’s not. I think accessibility information should be default with any event announcement; you wouldn’t announce an event without the date, right?
The second purpose, one I was discussing with Anna recently, is that accessibility notes remind people that we exist. Every time you hear an announcement saying something like ‘this venue is not wheelchair accessible,’ that sends a message. Hey, there are people who use wheelchairs! Hey, they can’t get into this event! That’s not cool! Encountering accessibility notes reminds people to think about the accessibility in their own lives and it acts as a quiet reminder; I mean, really, who wants to be the person running an event accompanied with radio announcements basically saying ‘wheelchair/scooter users, parents with strollers, and possibly people with mobility impairments not welcome’?
Another area where I have noticed accessibility notes coming up more and more these days is on recipes online. In part, that’s because I tend to hang out with other people with disabilities, so it’s not like accessibility notes are a Thing in the broader online cooking/recipe exchange community, although they should be. Seeing those notes reminds people that, hey, some people with disabilities like to cook, and, hey, it is really helpful to be able to skim the notes at the top of a recipe to see if you will be able to prepare it. After all, most recipes indicate if they are vegetarian/vegan these days, and many provide notes about common allergens like wheat, dairy, and soy. All this information is considered important because it will determine whether you can make the recipe, so why not add an accessibility note? Something like ‘you will need to lift a heavy stockpot full of water from the sink to the stove’ can be a dealbreaker. (Unless you have one of those rad flexible hose things that lets you fill pots right next to the stove, in which case, can I move in?)
Having accessibility notes does not create universal access. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction, of getting people to think beyond ‘special treatment‘ by positioning accessibility as something broadly relevant to most people, and something of equal importance as ‘who, what, where, when, why, and how.’ Which, for many of us, it is.
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
Today’s Recommended Reading is focusing on Service Animals!
Sharon @ After Gadget has been putting up videos of Service Animal Training. All the videos have transcripts at the source.
Here’s our handling test. Test requires handling all paws, ears, and tail, without the dog fussing. On day one, I did it with him standing (because he was hyper), but that’s not typically how I do handling. I feel like he did pass it — he let my dad pick him up (twice!) so he could hold him to weigh him. I thought that was pretty good for someone he’s only met about three or four times. (For the record, Barnum weighed 64 pounds.)
This is the first part of our L2 Crate test — the crate in my bedroom. The criterion for Level Two crate is that the dog enters the crate with no more than two cues, allows the door to be opened and shut, with no pawing or vocalizing. This is the crate we use the most. We had a false start, but I decided to consider it a fluke, because we use this behavior all the time.
Service Animal Discrimination: It’s more common than you think
ERC sent testers throughout the city in pairs: one blind person with a service dog and one person without. The people were “matched” according to race and age; the only difference was the dog. The person with the service dog was positioned so the cab would see them first, but a full 50 percent of the time, the driver ignored them in favor of picking up the person without the canine companion. Check out the video below — you can see several drivers pulling up the blind person, slowing down and then passing them by. In another 10 percent of the cases, the drivers added illegal surcharges for the dog.
Charles Crawford, an ERC member with a service dog, said being denied a cab is not only annoying, it’s “both hurtful and an insult to those of us who must rely upon the loving assistance of our dogs to travel independently.”
Speaker’s Corner: Shocker: DC Taxis Don’t Like To Pick Up Blind People With Guide Dogs
And one of the saddest parts of this entire thing is that the system in place for reporting problems with a taxi driver is to write down the taxi number and then call the taxi operator. Blind people can’t participate in such a system.
Brilliant Mind, Broken Body: Travel Fail
The driver said, “You didn’t mention the dog when you called dispatch. You have to mention the dog.” I told him that I didn’t have to, because legally they had to transport service dogs. He repeated himself. Then he said he wasn’t the cab who was sent for me; they would be along in a few minutes. He got into his cab and drove off.
I’m sure all of you out there in cyberland have seen through what he said. Of course he was the cab sent for me! I live on a little tiny residential street. Cabs are rare here, and I end up calling them more often than anyone else on the street, because I have the most need of outside transportation.
In the news:
Dogs need to go, too. So airports are adding doggie restrooms.
Airports say “pet relief areas” enhance customer service. But they’re also being nudged by a federal rule that orders airlines to work with airports to install facilities for travelers who have service dogs.
A Colorado Springs, Colo., lawyer who refused to allow a veterinarian and her service dog to enter his law office for a scheduled deposition in a civil action has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a federal discrimination suit.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado last November against Patric LeHouillier of LeHouillier & Associates. The suit alleged LeHouillier violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when he refused to allow the woman and her dog — and the woman’s lawyer — to enter the LeHouillier law office in December 2006.
This is an older news article that Ginny Tea brought to my attention, but I think it is still relevant: Creature Comforts [7 pages long]
Jamie Hais, a spokeswoman for the D.O.J., said she couldn’t comment on why the department suggested the species restriction. But its proposal expressed concerns about public-health risks and said that when the original A.D.A. was written, without specifying species, “few anticipated” the variety of animals people would attempt to use.
“That’s simply not true,” says Frieden, who was an architect of the original A.D.A. While drafting the regulations, he said, Congressional staff members had long discussions about defining “service animal” and whether a trained pony could qualify. “There was general consensus that the issue revolved around the question of function, not form,” he says. “So, in fact, if that pony provided assistance to a person with a disability and enabled that person to pursue equal opportunity and nondiscrimination, then that pony could be regarded as a service animal.” They discussed the possibility of birds and snakes for psychiatric disorders, he said, but one of their biggest concerns was that the A.D.A. shouldn’t exclude service monkeys, which were already working with quadriplegics. Since then, however, monkeys have become the most contested assistance-animal species of all.
And, a video, courtesy of Speaker’s Corner (transcript follows):
Video opens with an image of a Golden Lab (?) in a service animal vest & harness. Text reads: “No Dogs Allowed: Discriminaition by Taxicans Against People Who Use Service Dogs”
A Report By: The Equal Rights Center (ERC), The WAshington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affiars (WLC), Hogan Lovells US LLP.
Screen image changes to a person (who appears to be a white woman to me) with long blond hair standing on the sidewalk with a black dog.
Text: More than 25 million individuals in the United States report having vision loss; approxinmately 2.5 million of those are legally blind.
Federal Law requires taxicab drivers to allow service dogs in their vehicles, and prohibits them from charging a surchage, higher fare, or extra fee for transporting a service dog.
Despite these protections, people encounter discrimination on a daily basis.
Image changes to a dynamic one of a busy street. Cars whiz by a white-appearing person signalling for a taxi with a service animal. A taxi drives by and then stops for a person just 100 yards down the road.
Text: To view the report, visit www.equalrightscenter.org
Image changes to a still image of a person standing on the side of the road to signal a taxi – just beyond them is another person signaling a taxi with a dog at their feet – the dog appears to be wearing a service animal harness.
Text: The ERC conducted test in the District, each included two individuals, one with a service dog and one without, who stood on the same side of the block.
Image changes to a dynamic image of cars whizzing down a busy street with the two people in the above image standing just a few meters apart. A taxi slows down in front of the person with the service animal, then slowly drives up to the person without an animal, ignoring the person with the service animal entirely.
Image changes to a TAXI sign with a wheelchair symbol.
Text: In 60% of these cases, the tester with a service dog was subjected to at least one form of discriminatory treatment.
Image changes to a dynamic one of a busy street. Cars whiz by a person signalling for a taxi with a service animal. A taxi drives by and then stops for a person just 100 yards down the road. (This image is the same as the one described above.)
Image changes to a static image of a person who appears to me to be a white woman seated outside, holding a white cane.
Text: “These instances are both hurtful and an insult ot those of us who must rely upon the loving assistance of our dogs to travel independently” – ERC Member, Charles Crawford
Image changes to another service dog user signaling a taxi on the street. The taxi drives right by, but picks up another person without a service animal just a few car lengths away.
Image changes to a static image of someone holding a golden lab (?) dog.
Text: “Cabbies go whizzing by and I can’t see to know if they have somebody in their cab or if they don’t.” – ERC Member, Stan Berman
Image changes again to a taxi passing right by a person with a service animal signaling and poicking someone up just a few car lenghts away.
Image changes to a person with a service animal opening a taxi door.
Text: Help advance civil rights and learn more about what can be done to end discrimination against indivdiuals who use servive dogs.
Learn more and download the report at www.equalrightscenter.org
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 at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.
As always, these events are things that I come across in my travels through the internet, and are not endorsed by us, nor can we answer any questions about them.
We will have our own disabled people’s section of a legal organised march to protest against Tory Party attacks on disabled people. Please join us and ask others to come too.
When – Sunday, October 3rd, 2010.
Where- International Convention Centre, Birmingham
March- 1 p.m.
If the weather is good we will meet at the fountain in Chamberlain Square at 11.30 am and walk to the ICC together otherwise, or for anyone who finds it easier, we will meet inside the ICC in the room where the rally will take place.
If anyone has any specific needs which they need to have met in order to attend this protest march please contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
US Conferences and Events (via Disability, Law & Policy)
International Forum on Disability Management
Location: Los Angeles, California; Date(s): September 20-22, 2010.
IFDM 2010 will advance disability management knowledge and initiatives to:
- Realize the aspirations of people with disabilities to find and maintain meaningful employment.
- Support employers in achieving productive and stable workforces.
- Empower human resource, workers’ compensation, and disability specialists to accomplish desired outcomes.
- Achieve public policy initiatives that provide better social protection and economic empowerment for everyone.
2010 National Self-Advocacy Conference
Location: Kansas City, Missouri; Date(s): September 23-26, 2010.
This year’s conference is SABE’s 10th Annual Self Advocacy Conference. This year’s conference theme is “Jazz It Up: Celebrating 20 Years of Self Advocates Being Empowered,” which marks the anniversary of the ADA and acknowledges the last twenty years of the self advocacy movement in the United States! For the last decade, this conference has been the largest gathering of self advocates in the United States. The conference is estimated to bring 1,000+ self advocates together to learn, collaborate, problem solve, and celebrate the past two decades of the self advocacy movement.
Accessing Higher Ground – Accessible Media, Web, and Technology Conference
Location: Boulder, Colorado; Date(s): November 15-19, 2010.
Accessing Higher Ground is the official conference of the Access Technology Higher Edication Network (ATHEN). It focuses on the implementation and benefits of Assistive Technology and Universal Design in the university, work and public setting for people with sensory, physical and learning disabilities. Other topics include legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance, and making media and information resources – including Web pages and library resources – accessible.
The University of Dundee, School of Education, Social Work & Community Education will be hosting a seminar by Dr Fiona Kumari Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Disability Studies,Griffith University, Australia : “Out of the Shadows”: Resilience and Living with Ableism
James Overboe (2007) and Fiona Kumari Campbell (2008, 2009) noted that disabled people experience reality through the prism of a ‘normative shadow’ which assumes the preferability of abledness and holds that disability is inherently negative and harmful. Whilst disabled people may experience periodic acute attacks on the integrity of their person in the form of hate crimes & the denial of access to goods and services, Campbell (2009) has argued that day-to-day, business as usual experiences of ableism not only wear disabled people and their families down, but can lead to internalised ableism. This seminar extends Campbell’s work through a discussion about the strategy to promote resiliency skills in the lives of disabled people to firstly reduce the effects of ableist harms/oppression and secondly as a tactic of resistance.
13th September 2010, at 6.30 pm in the Dalhousie Building
Further information about room details etc, contact Dr Murray Simpson, email: email@example.com
As always, please let me know about events! anna AT disabledfeminists DOT com
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is conducting a public inquiry into disability-related harassment. The Inquiry includes bullying and hate crime and the harassment of disabled people, their families, friends or associates.
We want to hear from anyone who has been bullied or harassed for disability related reasons, and from organisations that work for/with disabled people, including voluntary and community sector organisations, public authorities (such as local councils, police, housing, social services and education) and public transport operators.
The deadline for contributions to the EHRC Inquiry is 10 September 2010.
Oh, and a lot of neurotypicals learn about ADHD symptoms, and they think “I lose my keys sometimes? I lose my train of thought! I miss deadlines!” And you know, it’s true. Everyone does these things occasionally. But the difference is that you do not do them every. single. day. This isn’t what your life is like, this is when you have a bad moment – you’re tired, overwhelmed, in a hurry, and bam, a thing happens. This is what life is like every day for ADHDers, and when we’re tired, overwhelmed, in a hurry, then it’s that much worse for us. So, I can understand if you relate to these symptoms? I’m sure most people do. But don’t generalize how you experience them (as not-symptoms, assuming you do not have some other condition that causes similar symptoms – or you’re not an undiagnosed ADHDer yourself) to how I experience them (as symptoms). For me, they are a daily impairment.
K__ at Feminists With FSD: Book review — The Camera My Mother Gave Me [trigger warning for sexual assault]
The negative reviews usually contain some variation of gross-out due to TMI or frustration with Kaysen’s lack of progress in treating her pain medically. It’s TMI and gross because vaginas and vulvas are generally considered vulgar and gross – at least outside of feminist circles – sometimes even within feminist circles, because don’t talk about vaginas too much or else you reduce yourself to a big walking vagina – and thus it’s a shock to read such frank language and descriptions about the vagina.
Other provisions of the bill require out-of-network coverage for mental health services, parity of coverage of medical and mental health medications, and if someone is denied coverage of a mental health service that is deemed medically unnecessary by the insurer, patients have the right to find out why.
Longmore is arguably most well known for his 1988 protest outside the Social Security Administration’s Los Angeles office. He burned his book about George Washington, written word by word with a pen in his mouth and a keyboard, to protest policies that penalized disabled writers for counting royalties from their work as earned income.
Some 80 per cent of people around the world who suffer from chronic pain can’t get the treatment they need and governments must step up their efforts to tackle the issue, says Michael Cousins, an Australian anesthetist and the driving force behind the first International Pain Summit [. . .] Earlier this year, he had a hand in drafting a national pain management strategy for Australia – the first in the world – and the summit, which takes place in Montreal on Friday, will draw up guidelines to help other countries follow suit.
Currently, health care in California’s prison system is under court supervision, in the aftermath of a lawsuit pointing out that conditions were so poor in California’s prisons that an average of one inmate per week was dying due to inadequate health care. Huge numbers of people in California’s prisons are disabled; just for example, people with developmental disabilities make up around four percent of California’s inmate population. This adds considerably to the complexity of providing health care services in California prisons, as does the very high rate of infectious disease observed in most prisons.
The state recently attempted to end the receivership of its prisons on the grounds that conditions had improved. More studies were conducted to assess the current situation, and Judge Charles Breyer issued a tentative ruling that the court supervision must continue because conditions in many California prisons still do not meet basic standards of health and safety. The human and civil rights of California prisoners are being violated, in no small part because the state is struggling with a massive prison population paired with epic budget cuts, which is pretty much a recipe for disaster.
Here’s the judge, discussing why he decided not to end the receivership:
Breyer, brother of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, went further in his proposed findings.
The inmates “are regularly verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted, exploited, and discriminated against in California prisons,” he wrote. “Developmentally disabled prisoners are punished for violating prison rules that they do not understand, and are punished at hearings which they cannot comprehend.”
They regularly have their food and property stolen, or give it up to buy protection or help from other inmates. They often lack the help they need with basic hygiene, or with getting routine medical treatment, the judge found.
At one point, Breyer suggested that the state sought to end his oversight “simply because ongoing Court supervision is annoying them.”
Billions of dollars are being spent, and it’s still not enough. Of the 17 prisons expected, only two ‘met the minimum standards for health care.’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the biggest areas of failing was in preventative care. The prison environment is stressful and crowded, which tends to increase susceptibility to infectious disease while also making inmates more prone to the development of mental health problems. For intellectually and developmentally disabled inmates, prison conditions are even worse, as many prisons don’t know how to handle these inmates, don’t provide basic services they need, and essentially leave them at the mercy of the general population.
It’s not surprising that HIV, tuberculosis, and hep C infection rates are all on the rise in prisons as a result of poor preventative care and infection control. We should be asking ourselves when it was decided that a prison sentence should also came with an almost certain sentence for developing an infectious and potentially fatal disease, just as we should be asking ourselves why prison rape continues to be tolerated.
Prisoners are not receiving the health care services they need, when they need them. That’s a problem. It’s a problem when the state is imprisoning people in my name, using my tax dollars to fund it, and it can’t even promise me that those people will have access to basic health care services. It can’t promise that the people being imprisoned ‘for public safety’ will be safe themselves in prison, and this is categorically unacceptable. We owe a duty of care to prison inmates, no matter who they are, no matter what crimes they have committed, and prisoner rights is one of the most ignored areas in the human rights community in the United States. The conditions in California’s prisons can be seen elsewhere across the United States, where prisoners die because they can’t access medical care in addition to being raped, exploited, and abused.
The findings of the report on California’s prisons recommend that the most effective way to improve access to health care for California inmates is to reduce the prison population by releasing inmates. Early release has already been promoted to deal with overcrowding as well as budget problems. However, we also need to approach this from the other side; it’s important not just to reduce the prison population, but to put fewer people in prison in the first place. This requires a major overhaul of California’s mandatory sentencing laws and approach to law enforcement, both of which are long overdue.
There are also colossal intersections with race here. Nonwhite people and people of colour are far more likely to be incarcerated in the United States. This is not because members of these communities are more likely to commit crimes, despite the beliefs of some conservatives. It is because they are more likely to be profiled as criminals, more likely to be arrested and prosecuted when a white person would get a warning, more likely to get longer prison sentences, more likely to be convicted. We need to address the racialised dynamics of the ‘justice system’ in the United States to get at the bottom of why so many people are in prison.
I’m glad that the decision to continue court supervision of health services in California prisons was made. It’s clear that the prison system can’t regulate itself or provide the services it is legally and ethically obligated to provide, and I hope the court can compel it to do so. At the same time we work to secure safer and healthier conditions for prisoners now, I want to see a radical shift of the way we handle law enforcement and justice for people in the future.