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The Largest Minority Round Table Discussion: Glee and Disability in Pop Culture

Last week s.e. smith and several other members of the disability community, including Alice Sheppard (a dancer with AXIS wheelchair dance company), TK Small (a lawyer and disability rights activist), Christine Bruno (who works with the advocacy group Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts), and Maysoon Zayidd (an actor and comedienne with Cerebral Palsy).

came together on the WBAI show The Largest Minority to discuss Glee and depictions of disability in popular culture. This particular episode of the radio show was inspired by s.e.’s post, A Very Glee Christmas.

You can download directly from their site: This is a direct download link to save-as. Alternately, you can play it on the WBAI site by going to their archives and scrolling down to Shared Timeslot Wednesday 10pm to 11pm on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 10:00 pm. Alternately, you can read the transcript.

The actual show itself doesn’t start until 3:52 in to the program slot.

It’s taken me a while to get the transcript of this done, for which I apologize. I did mean to get this up far faster than I did. I also should note that I had some difficulties always identifying who was speaking, and there are points in the program where the show’s audio cuts out terribly and I’m unsure what they’re saying.

Read more: The Largest Minority Round Table Discussion: Glee and Disability in Pop Culture

For Your Tool-Box: How to get YouTube Captions to make a Transcript

My friend Capriuni passed along to me this awesome YouTube video of “Your Brains” (original song by Jonathon Coulton). In and of itself, that’s not really note worthy – Capriuni is my source for many cool things in YouTube’s Deaf communities. The video itself is subtitled for the ASL-impaired.

That’s where things got interesting, because my friend particle_person passed along to me how to get the captions off a YouTube video so one can make a transcript without duplicating work!

This is awesome to me because, of course, transcripts are necessary even for subtitled or captioned work, for a variety of reasons.

I wanted to pass along particle_person’s instructions, and the video itself because it made me laugh.

Read more: For Your Tool-Box: How to get YouTube Captions to make a Transcript

By 31 December, 2010.    Uncategorized   

Signal Boost: Disabled Peoples’ International 8th World Assembly South Africa 10-13 October 2011

Via Email:

Attend DPI World Assembly and visit South Africa. Share the experiences of People with Disabilities from around the World and living in Africa. An opportunity not to be missed.

For more information, check out their website.

By 28 December, 2010.    signal boost   

Disability Rights Activist Max Starkloff has died

I have just heard on twitter from CripChick that Disability Rights Activist Max Starkloff has died. Please read his obituary at the River Front Times

Among other achievements, the Starkloffs and Paraquad introduced curb cuts and handicapped parking spaces to St. Louis, made St. Louis the first city in the country to have wheelchair lifts on public buses and fought to make more buildings accessible to disabled people. Starkloff co-founded the National Council on Independent Living and lobbied for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

To understand just how significant all these changes were, take a look at Annie Zaleski’s feature, “You think the Americans with Disabilities Act has leveled the playing field? Try walking in my shoes.” Both Max and Colleen play a prominent role in Zaleski’s story, discussing what it’s like to be disabled in St. Louis, both pre-ADA and today.

By 28 December, 2010.    deaths   

Trailer for Gen Silent (Video with Transcript)

Transcription with description follows.

GEN Silent Trailer 2.0 from Stu Maddux on Vimeo.

Read more: Trailer for Gen Silent (Video with Transcript)

Signal Boost: International Network of Women with Disabilities

The International Network of Women with Disabilities (INWWD) is a group of of international, regional, national or local organizations, groups or networks of women with disabilities, as well as individual women with disabilities and our allies. The mission of the INWWD is to enable women with disabilities to share our knowledge and experience, enhance our capacity to speak up for our rights, empower ourselves to bring about positive change and inclusion in our communities and to promote our involvement in relevant politics at all levels, towards creating a more just and fair world that acknowledges disability and gender, justice, and human rights. We are a group for women only. We invite ALL women with disabilities to join us and we will achieve these goals TOGETHER.

INWWD Yahoo! Group

I’m a member of this group. They spent a lot of time this year developing some excellent documents for the UN regarding women with disabilities as victims of violence.

By 27 December, 2010.    signal boost   

Signal Boost: SUPERFEST International Disability Film Festival Calls for Entries

Via Email

Your Opportunity to Contribute to Disability Culture

SUPERFEST, the world’s longest-running juried international disability film festival, is seeking your entry for submission to our 2011 film competition. SUPERFEST is the primary international showcase for innovative films that portray disability culture and experience in all its diverse, complex, and empowering facets.

This year we have selected a theme for Superfest: CHILDREN & YOUTH.
Work must be about, feature or be appropriate for children or youth (up to age 24).
Read more: Signal Boost: SUPERFEST International Disability Film Festival Calls for Entries

By 26 December, 2010.    signal boost   

Reminder! Carnival of Mental Health is coming up!

CBTish reminds us all that the Carnival of Mental Health #2 is coming up!

This is a reminder that the next Blog Carnival of Mental Health will be published here on December 31.

Thank you to Nyx and Kaie, who have already submitted their blogs for this carnival. If you have a post to submit, please let me know by commenting here, before midnight GMT on December 30.

The theme is: Night

By 26 December, 2010.    Uncategorized   

Recommended Reading for Thursday

Exciting Laptop update: I dropped it off at the repair place today. I will likely not get it back till after the holiday. Picture my face of woe. Woe. Lucky I can at least borrow Don’s laptop to check email and play Farmville. Right now I’m at my library, which closes at the horribly-early hour of 6 p.m. (Usually it closes at midnight.)

Yay! The newest Disability Blog Carnival is up at Rolling Around in my Head:Long Nights: Disability Blog Carnival!

We’ve all had long dark nights. We’ve all learned, to greater and lesser degrees how to survive them. This Disability Blog Carnival comes on the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. One can forget that in another part of the world, it is the day with most light. There is always balance. The submissions to the Carnival speak of strategies rather than solutions, realizations rather than remedies. I think that’s what makes them so compelling. I wrote my post the other day and realized how deep and how difficult it was to write about darkness. I applaud all who submitted and thank them for the many times I was moved, to tears, to thought and, perhaps even, to action.

The next Disability Blog Carnival will be hosted by Butterfly Dreams

he theme I have chosen is LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY, taken from the title of a song in one of the Shrek movies, and one of my favorite songs of all time. Write about a time when you openly and proudly identified as a person with a disabilty, or, if you’re a non-disabled ally, write about a time when you were proud to stand by us. Or….you could make it into a musing on the word “freak” itself, and related words. Do they help us? Hurt us? Is it wrong to call ourselves freaks, spazzes, and gimps? Or is it empowering? Or……something else!! I’m flexible – as long as you can justify it fitting the theme, I’m good.

Noelle Cigarroa Bell at Deaf Echo: Why I Almost Didn’t Sign The Dailykos Petition

I was reluctant to sign the Dailykos petition in support of Netflix and asking the FCC to reign in Comcast’s abuse of corporate power. Why was I reluctant to do so? Because of the history of Netflix’s hostile business practices towards the deaf community, in refusing to caption streaming videos. Dana Mulvany, a consumer advocate, explains the history between Netflix and the deaf community, which I am a part of:

Yet virtually all new DVDs and TV programs have captions or subtitles. Why hasn’t Netflix figured out how to repurpose the captions and subtitles from DVDs more quickly for online streaming? Hulu.com does this with a very short turn around period without even charging viewers. Netflix has dragged its feet about doing this even when it’s raking in millions of dollars from its subscribers. The problem seems to be one of attitude and will, not resources.

Pipe Cleaner Dreams: Slip Sliding Away

I need your help. This is the first year that we have had our wheelchair ramp and really needed to use it. It is Ronnie’s only access into the house.

Last week, we had our first snow. I was dreading it – not because I don’t like snow – I really love snow – but I knew that the ramp was going to be an issue. And sure enough, it was.

So here’s where I need the help. What do others of you that have ramps do when the ramps get snowy or icy?

Wheelchair Dancer: Check ME out!

Not in that way, peeps. Although if you absolutely must. Smile. This comes to me via a variety of folks, and I have enjoyed it so much that I thought I would add it to my blog. It’s a neat, neat idea: How To Borrow A Person From The Library, by Liz Colville at the Hairpin. The Toronto public library has this idea, taken from the library in Copenhagen — that people are just as cool as books and that you could just check out a person from the library.

Disability & Self Esteem: Advertising

I don’t have a t.v. at home so I don’t actually watch a lot of advertisements, but when I do, there’s one thing I notice: Unlike the rest of my life, advertisements only include people with evident disabilities when they want to make some sort of point.

I’m really bothered by this. I know, I know, it’s advertising. We also don’t get excited about brighter brights in our laundry and aren’t followed around by wind machines when we get new shampoo. It’s certainly not supposed to represent “real life” in any way, because it’s all fantasy to sell you stuff. But part of what advertising sells us is ideas about people. And part of what I think it sells us is that disability is a punishment, a novelty, a metaphor, or a joke.

As we’ve said before, disability never just is.

I think this does immeasurable damage to both our perceptions of ourselves as disabled people, but also people’s perceptions of disability and what it looks like.

Today I’ve pulled up a bunch of US-based advertisements (oh, wait, I added the Quebec advertisement after writing this paragraph – Canada & the US!) that feature people with disabilities. I’m curious about what people’s thoughts are when they watch these. What take-away messages about disability do you get?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD): Disability as punishment.


The video is a bit grainy, probably meant to invoke “home movie”. It opens with tinkly piano music of sadness and woe. A male singer croons: Together…..

The video opens showing a young man sitting on a bench, reading a book. He’s labelled “Your Best Friend”.

The Singer croons: We’re meant to be….

The young man looks up! There’s a woman! She’s walking up to him, obviously excited to see him. She’s labelled “Your girlfriend.”

They kiss!

The camera pans back to show this scene as viewed through a hospital window. The couple – your best friend and your girlfriend – walk off together hand in hand.

The singer croons: Together! Forever!

The camera continues to pan back to show the back of someone sitting in an electric wheelchair, staring out the window. The hospital room is obviously very bleak. This person is labelled “You”.

The screen goes black, and then: “You have a lot to lose. MADD: Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”

That’s right, folks: Don’t drink and drive because if you do you’ll become a scary scary cripple and your girlfriend will leave you for your best friend and you will die alone and unloved!

[Of course it’s a terrible idea to drink and drive. But I’ve seen hundreds of anti-drunk driving ads, and they really can send the same message without implying ‘Don’t drink & drive because cripples don’t get no love’. It can be done!]

Berlitz: Bait & Switch


Camera is doing a gradual close-up on a man in a wheelchair. Behind him is a park. The music is the tinkly piano of sadness.

Man: Up until two weeks ago I always said “It will never happen to me.” But today, look at me. Listen to me. Now I speak English fluently.

The screen goes black, and then “Berlitz. In just two weeks.”

I really waffled back and forth on this ad. On the one hand: Hey! It’s a person in a wheelchair and they’re not presenting him as a sad story. On the other hand, the whole point is to “trick” you into thinking he is telling his sad story but it turns out Surprise! He’s not. I feel this falls into the trope of “Disability to titillate”. What do you think?

Michael J Fox on Stem Cell Research (US political ad)

[Michal J Fox has visible tremors from Parkinson’s Disease.] As you might know, I care deeply about stem cell research. In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures. Unfortunately Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research. Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope. They say all politics is local but that’s not always the case. What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans. Americans like me.

“I’m Claire McCaskill, and I approve this message.”

Pepsi Superbowl Ad: Deaf people tell jokes, who knew?

The entire advertisement is in ASL:

Woman: This commerical was created and performed by EnAble – a network in PepsiCo which supports inclusion, diversity, and the inclusion of persons with different abilities.

Two men are driving slowly down a residential street, looking around and obviously trying to find which house they’re going to.

Passenger: Hey! We’re going to be late. We’re going to miss the kick off.

Driver: Which house is Bob’s?

Passenger: I thought you knew.
Driver: I thought you knew?
Passenger: No I thought you knew!
Driver: I thought you knew!
Passenger: No! I thought you knew!

Driver: Great!

He shrugs and starts honking the horn.

Lights in all the houses start to come on. A dog starts barking. People look out their windows annoyed.

One house stays dark.

Driver: That’s it!

Passenger: Yeah, ya think?

They go up to Bob’s house and push the doorbell. The lights flicker. Bob opens the door. Across the street he catches his neighbour’s eye.

Bob: Sorry.

PepsiCo EnABLE
Creating an inclsive environemnt for people with different abilities.

Quebec Society for Disabled Children: Give children wings!

[An animated young boy walks onto the screen, looking sad.] It’s not always fun being a child.

[He sits down into a drawing of a wheelchair.] Especially when you’re disabled.

[A butterfly flies around him, and he begins to look happier.] Disabled children are just like any other children.

[The butterfly lands on his finger. He looks overjoyed.] When you open your hearts, you give them wings.

[The butterfly carries him up into the sky.] Please, help them spread their wings. Thank you for helping the Quebec Society for Disabled Children.

What are these advertisements saying about people with disabilities? What examples of people with disabilities have you seen outside of drug commercials? And what impact do you think these sorts of advertisements have on our perceptions of ourselves, and each other?

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