All posts by Anna

Recommended Reading for Wednesday

Hi All! My laptop is broken, woe, and thus I am more scattered than even the last month might lead you to believe. (Repair will take a few days, I haven’t lost anything important, and it won’t even cost much to fix, so don’t fret!)

Hand to Mouth: Lilliput touchscreen monitor review: a pleasant surprise

So. A friend of mine did the gambling for me, and surprised me with a 7” Lilliput touchscreen USB monitor. I am typing on it with the stylus taped to my fingers, because otherwise I lose my grip after a while and the pinching motion hurts.

If you want to use this device on something other than your home computer, be aware that the monitor requires driver installations for the device and the touchscreen capability. The disk includes drivers for 2000 through 7, 32 bit. Installation is straightforward, as is the touch calibration – you hold the stylus on 4 points until it says OK. You can also choose 9 or 25 points from the calibration menu later on, and there is also a draw test to determine accuracy. You do need some degree of fine motor control.

Lisa J. Ellwood at UK Uncut: Guest post: Disabled Activists and the Anti-Cuts Movement

Recent media coverage has shone the spotlight on disabled people, and that spotlight has been less than favourable. We are castigated as ‘scroungers
and ‘fakers’ not only by journalists and their employers, but also neighbours, friends and even family. It would seem that the vast majority of the great British public knows several people who are as fit as a fiddle and audaciously raking money in hand-over-fist thanks to bogus benefits claims based on faked illnesses. There is an endless stream of rhetoric to be found when reading any newspaper, blog or listening to talk radio. Too often I find myself reading the latest venomous shots fired by the disgruntled and wonder if the face behind the pseudonym is a familiar one.

Musings of a Marfan Mom: Ellen’s Birth Story

My husband and I decided to have biological children in spite of my genetic risk. During one of my first ob-gyn visits with my first pregnancy in 1999, I brought up delivery options. My bone disorder is rare, and medical professionals who don’t quite understand it can be overly cautious. I knew from my research that women with my type of OI (the most mild type) who have not had pelvic fractures or pelvic deformities can deliver babies vaginally. I was also familiar with research indicating that c-sections are not necessarily safer for babies who have OI. But I was afraid my doctors would freak out about a fragile mom delivering a potentially fragile baby and insist on a c-section. I was relieved when the doctors said they were fine with my planning a vaginal birth. I settled into my pregnancy, took childbirth classes, and looked forward to seeing what my body could do.

Miss Invisible at Fucking Meds: Fun with benzos

Dear Ativan,

You were first prescribed to me on an as-needed basis for panic attacks, and you were so good to me. Other meds often do awful things to my system, but the worst you ever did was knock me out, which was nice when I was, y’know, too panicked for rest. So it made sense for the pdoc to put me on you when I needed a day-to-day med. Just a tiny bit, just a quarter of a .5 mg tablet. Barely a dose at all.

Astrid: Change in Autism Symptoms and Maladaptive Behavior after Exiting High School

I’m not quite in the mood for studying. However, I thought that, since I’ve been nominated for best autism spectrum blogger in the Mental Nurse TWIM blog awards, I’d better do an autism post for a change. This time, I’m going to review a study on a subject that is dear to my heart: the effects of exiting high school on autism symptomatology and maladaptive behaviors in adolescents and young adults with ASD.

Recommended Reading for Monday, December 20

Oh, happy day. They were testing the fire alarms in my building. For two hours. Yes, they work. I have no idea how Don slept through them.

Also, this is going to be a bit of a massive edition of Recommended Reading because I have open many many tabs and want to close them.

Bipolar Burble: I Can’t Remember Not Being Depressed: Emotion and Memory

When I am depressed I can’t remember what it’s like not to be depressed. It’s an interesting phenomenon, actually. Although I, logically, can state that I have spent massive chunks of my life out of major depression, when I’m depressed I feel that’s not true. I literally can’t remember what non-depressed feels like. Logic ceases to be convincing. I understand there’s a high statistical likelihood that depression will pass. But I just can’t believe it when depressed.

Learning Disability Bulletin: Disability Living Allowance Discourages Work? I don’t think so

The facts about learning disability and employment are stark. The latest statistics suggest that in Scotland only 4.3% of people who have learning disabilities are employed in the open workplace. That is a shocking statistic. However, for the Department of Work and Pensions to suggest a causal relationship between Disability Living Allowance and unemployment is at best naive and at worst cynical.

Many people who have learning disabilities would love to have the opportunity to work. However, there are numerous barriers standing in their way. For many, there has been an incorrect assumption that they would be unable to work throughout their school or college lives and as such they have not been encouraged to understand the importance of having a job. ENABLE Scotland is supporting schools, colleges and people who have learning disabilities across Scotland to change some of these assumptions.

The Emperor Has No Toque: One Block: a Tale of Two Caregivers

In most health care institutions, there is institutional stigma regarding mental illness. Rarely are MH patients treated with warmth, or mutual respect, but usually treated like opposing forces. Very few more facilities are newer, up to date or maintained as well as the physical health side of the coin. Mental Health care even though it serves a large and diverse population is usually the recipient of hand me down facilities and equipment. And yes some hospital staff offer different levels of care for mental health and physical health patients.

Gazza, The Rebuttal: The Last Post (via The Abundance of my Heart)

But we deafies that need to watch movies with captions are a fragile lot. So instead of rolling out captioning they have decided to proceed with caution for our own good. “We didn’t know people would get sick!” they claim. “It’s not our fault that the technology has let us down!” they proclaim. That most movies released are 2D and that sickness watching 3D movies is nothing new is not something that the cinema bosses highlight. And let’s not forget our Blind and vision impaired friends! Presumably they get sick listening to 3D movies through audio description so we have to delay the roll out of that too. Bottom line is that the excuse the cinemas are spouting to delay and water down the rollout of captions to cinemas is POPPYCOCK. It’s an excuse! They are throwing their toys out of the pram because they had their hands forced when nearly 500 people let the Australian Human Rights Commission know that what the cinemas were offering was pathetic and that they wanted more. And for once the Australian Human Rights Commission showed some teeth and told the cinemas that what they were offering was an insult and that they needed to do MORE! Now all of this seems to have been to no avail.

Latte Republic: Disability, Work, Income, and Benefits

There are approximately 38,000 Washington residents who depend on the Disability Lifeline program. I challenge readers to live on $450 a month (cash grant plus food stamps). That’s $5,400 a year. The stress from the financial hardship alone is enough to kill a person. No matter how you look at it – it’s inhumane to treat the disabled this badly. We should be ashamed of ourselves as a nation and a state.

Disability Lifeline program enrollees can not accept financial assistance from churches or relatives. If they receive more than the cash grant in any month, they are removed from the program. In 1995, Welfare reform removed the penalties that prevented recipients from working. It’s time to remove those barriers for the disabled. Many disabled citizens could work part time or in their homes, if the prohibition against work was lifted. We should encourage worker re-training and vocational education and allow recipients to accept financial assistance from churches and family members.

Benefits Helped Turn My Life Around (via Forthwritten)

As soon as I was discharged with a punishing regime of psychiatric medication to control my condition, I was advised to find a job. It would give me something to do and besides, living with my employed boyfriend, I wasn’t entitled to benefits. Despite being noticeably manic, with difficulty caring for myself and a tenuous grasp on reality, I looked for employment. In between my grandiose applications for gym instructor roles, I found a job with the help of a friend. I was barely able to wake up in the morning due to the sedating effects of my antipsychotic medication, which gave me embarrassingly noticeable hand tremors. I slurred my speech, and was routinely asked at work if I had been drinking. Though I had disclosed my illness to my employers, I was unable to get time off for psychiatric appointments. Bereft of that support and barely able to take medication because of the adverse effect it had on my work, I became ill again.

NZ: Tasers Used in Mental Health Cases

A new study shows that police tasers are more than twice as likely to be used at mental health emergencies than criminal arrests.

Canada: New Coalition Calls For Completely Accessible Broadcasting System

“While current regulatory trends mean that sight- and hearing-impaired Canadians will only obtain complete access to television in thirty years, Access 2020’s goal is to achieve fully captioned and described television content within the next decade,” said Beverley Milligan, on behalf of Media Access Canada which is leading the Coalition. “We will be inviting the CRTC to empower Canada’s accessibility organizations to research, test, develop and monitor the implementation of modern, multi-platform digital accessibility standards.”

Recommended Reading for 16 December, 2010

Talulah Mankiller at Life Under a Rock: Just the Facts, Ma’am (via Kiri) (post mentions domestic violence but doesn’t describe)

Even when I was very sick and had no idea what was wrong, I always had two versions of reality in my head: what I logically knew was actually probably going on, and what I emotionally understood was happening. The two rarely matched up, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t both there. For years, various people made futile efforts to help me “grow up” and “learn to deal with things” by trying to get those two versions of reality to overlap as much as possible, but the fact of the matter is that they were never going to. Because those kind people, those lovely people, thought if I just understood that another, less emotionally volatile reality existed, then I would just magically walk right over there and everything would be fine.

Problem was, I’d been well aware of that reality the whole time. I just couldn’t reach it. Because, you know, MY BRAIN CHEMISTRY IS FUCKED.

Kiriamaya: “Why aren’t you angry?”

Because I’m fucking exhausted, that’s why. Depression means I don’t have much energy to begin with, and I have to use most of what I do have for school, work and social situations, which doesn’t leave much over to do activism or to be angry about shit. Oh, and I’m also trans, which means I have to constantly fight just to be seen as human (and usually fail). And I try to squeeze creative projects in amidst all this because that’s how I keep from killing myself.

Old Kentish Sign Language Put On the Worldwide Endangered List

A centuries-old sign language thought to have been spread throughout America by Kentish settlers is on the worldwide endangered list.

Evidence of the use of Old Kentish Sign Language dates back as far as the mid-1600s, but is now thought to be extinct thanks to the rise of British Sign Language in its place.

It is also thought to be one of the forerunners of American Sign Language, as a number of 17th century settlers on the island of Martha’s Vineyard near Massachusetts – the majority of whom knew how to sign – migrated from the Kentish Weald.

Disability Scoop: Violent Crime Odds Double for People With Disabilities

The findings come in a report released Thursday by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics that looked at 730,000 nonfatal violent crimes during 2008 in which the victim had a disability. Overall, those with disabilities age 12 and older experienced crime at a rate of 40 cases out of 1,000. During the same period those without a disability were affected at a far lower rate of 21 per 1,000, the findings indicate.

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): Inside an isolated world

There are more than 300,000 Australians who are deafblind and an Access Economics report is predicting that with an ageing population that figure will top one million by 2050. The 7.30 Report’s Natasha Johnson spent a day with a woman who is deafblind to witness the many challenges she faces.

Recommended Reading for 15 December, 2010

Jody McIntyre: Student Protests, Part Three

From the corner of my eye, I spotted one of the policemen from the earlier incident. He recognised me immediately. Officer KF936 came charging towards me. Tipping the wheelchair to the side, he pushed me onto the concrete, before grabbing my arms and dragging me across the road. The crowd of 200 ran and surrounded him. I got back up and stood in front of the horses.

When I finally got home at 5am, exhausted but pleased at what can only be seen as a victory, I found that the picture of me being pulled from my wheelchair had been creating a bit of a storm online. But I am not the real victim. The real victims of yesterday are people like Alfie Meadows; a 20 year-old student who was rushed to hospital for emergency brain surgery after internal bleeding caused by police truncheons.

Abuses Reported at Mexico’s Institutions for the Disabled

MEXICO CITY — Ten years ago, a human rights group released a scathing, groundbreaking report on abusive, decrepit conditions in Mexican institutions for the mentally and physically disabled, moving the country to promise change and to take the lead in writing international agreements to protect the disabled.

But in a new report released Tuesday, the group, Disability Rights International, working with a Mexican human rights organization, said a yearlong investigation revealed “atrocious and abusive conditions” that included lobotomies performed without consent, children missing from orphanages, widespread filth and squalor, and a lack of medical care.

Making the Case for Irish Sign Language in Education

“As we say to parents at this stage, don’t think about your child at five . . . think about your child at 10, at 15 and at 25. Where is he or she going to be at 25? You know, part of a deaf community or a hearing community, but hopefully a mix of the two. And sign language is a critical aspect of that.”

NPR is doing an investigative report called Home or Nursing Home

People ages 31 to 64 now make up the fastest-rising proportion of nursing home residents. One reason: As states face record budget gaps, the programs that help people live at home are being cut.

Muscular Dystrophy Org: Disabled children hit by Residential Education Transport cuts [This link has a moving image on the top that makes me dizzy to look at]

In a move condemned by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, when changes to mobility support claimed through the Disability Living Allowance come into force in October 2012, families with a disabled child in a residential school will immediately lose access to either adapted vehicles used to transport their children or the £49.85 a week allowance available to assist with the higher costs of accessible transport.

Are you (or someone you know) aged 13 – 30 and living in the US?

We mentioned this when the first Call came out for proposals, but I wanted to mention it again because I think it’s a good opportunity for the “new generation” of people with disabilities to get their thoughts and voices out there. (Also, I want to read it when it is done, so people submitting to it = better chance of it getting published!)

Call for Proposals: Disability in America: Voices of a New Generation

Ari Ne’eman and Stacey Milbern, Co-Editors
Deadline: January 15, 2011

This year, the disability community is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), civil rights law that protects the rights of disabled people.

Growing up in a post-ADA America has meant that many of us have had access to more opportunities than previous generations. We know if we had been born in 1967 instead of 1987 our lives would look completely different. We know the history of our people is tainted by eugenics, ableism, lack of access and the sting of low expectations. We recognize the work that has been done by disability movements over the last century to make the current lives we live possible. We are proud to be members of this vibrant, breathing, community.

Although the struggle continues, we recognize that the realities of disabled people look vastly different in many ways. With this in mind, we are requesting proposals for chapters in a book-length anthology to document this legacy and record the stories of disabled young people talking about what it is to grow up with a disability in this day and age.

Part One of our anthology will attempt to explore how a new generation experiences these age old challenges, affording a chance to assess how far we have really come. Part Two of our anthology asks disabled young people to identify what our struggle looks like now.

We’re seeking a diversity of perspectives and topics. A few questions we pose as food for thought:

What does it look like to navigate the medical system?
What is it like trying to find and keep a job as a young person with a disability today?
How are mental health challenges and psychiatric impairments approached by family members?
Do students still have to choose between support and inclusion?
What is the impact of pity and charity?
How do we survive the traumas we experience by people who say they are helping us, whether this is in schools, in doctor?s offices, our places
of worship, or within our support systems?
How do people with less visible disabilities choose whether or not to
How has the nature of “passing” changed or not changed?
How do we fight eugenics, with its many faces?
How do we work with personal assistant services and our support systems?
How is disability portrayed differently in American society?
How are media, and pop culture representations of disability viewed by the new generation of young people with disabilities?
What do our relationships and sex lives look like?
How do we find community?

We are seeking creative non-fiction essays from young people with disabilities ages 13-30 (some flexibility will be available for compelling submissions from individuals slightly outside our preferred age range). People with all types of disabilities are welcome to submit. Speaking from personal experience is strongly encouraged. The intent of this project is to use personal voices to capture the experience of the new generation of young people with disabilities.

Submissions should range from 2,000 to 5,000 words. Please include your address, phone number, e-mail address and a short bio on the manuscript.

Proposals are due by e-mail to to January 15, 2011 but we encourage and will consider for approval early submissions. Please e-mail co-editors Stacey Milbern and Ari Ne’eman at with questions.

“There’s a suggestion that you were rolling towards the police in your wheelchair”: BBC Interviews Jody McIntyre About His Assault By London Metropolitan Police Officers

I would like you to take a moment to imagine the look on my face when I realised that the BBC interviewer in the following clip (transcript below) actually asked Jody McIntyre, a 20 year old man who uses a wheelchair and has cerebral palsy, whether or not the fact that Jody is a “revolutionary” is reason enough for the police to have assaulted him twice during the London riots last week. The following interview is full of similar gems, including a rather pointed “appear to show” what the actual footage shows.

I want to salute Joey for his calm yet firm responses throughout the interview.

BBC Jody McIntyre interview

[This is an interview conducted by an unidentified male BBC reporter Ben Brown with Jody McIntyre, a man with Cerebral Palsy who was pulled by police officers from his wheelchair during the recent protests against tuition fee increases in the UK. There is repeated footage of McIntyre being pulled from his chair, which was being pushed by his brother. The footage shows multiple London police officers pulling McIntyre from his chair and dragging him across the pavement and away from his brother and his chair while outraged bystanders shout in horror at what they’re seeing. The clip shown is a cleaned up and enhanced version of the clip that went up on YouTube – the original is full of a lot of cursing and screaming from bystanders which has been edited out by the BBC.]

Interviewer: Pictures of a disabled man being dragged from his wheelchair by police officers during the protests in London over the tuition fees have emerged online. Now these pictures appear to show Jody McIntyre, 20 year old fiscal activist and blogger who suffers from cerebral palsy being pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the road to the pavement. While the Metropolitan Police have released this statement on that incident, saying

In connection with the incident shown on YouTube of of a tuition fees protestor in a wheelchair the Metropolitan Police confirm that the man involved, Jody McIntyre, has not launched an official complaint. The issue has been referred by the Metropolitan Police to the Directorate of Professional Standards and the Met Police say they will contact Jody McIntyre directly.

That is the statement from the police that we’ve received, and we can speak to Jody McIntyre now whose in our Westminster Studio.

Interviewer: Good evening to you.

Jody (JM): Good Evening.

Interviewer: Could you just explain what happened to you?

JM: Well, during the demonstration I was attacked by and pulled out of my wheelchair by the police on two occasions. The footage you have just shown is of a second incident. One of the police men who had dragged me down the road in the first incident obviously recognized me, came running over, pushed me out of my wheelchair on to the road, and then dragged me across the road.

Interviewer: The police say you haven’t made any kind of complaint, so why not?

JM: I haven’t made a complaint yet but I’m in contact with a lawyer and I will be doing so.

Interviewer: It’s been a few days since this happened. Why haven’t you complained before?

JM: Because I wanted to consider my options before taking that step.

Interviewer: There’s a suggestion that you were rolling towards the police in your wheelchair. Is that true?

JM: I think justifying a police officer pulling a disabled person out of a wheelchair and dragging them across a concrete road is quite ridiculous and I’m surprised that you’ve just tried to do so.

Interview: So that’s not true, you were not wheeling yourself towards the police.

JM: Well I can’t physically use my wheelchair myself. My brother was pushing me. I think it’s quite obvious from the footage that I was 100% not a threat to anyone.

Interviewer: In the Observer newspaper you were described as a cyber radical and you were quoted as saying you want to build a revolutionary movement and that can only happen through direct action on the streets. Do you classify yourself as a revolutionary? [Anna: I think this is the article he’s referring to]

JM: I don’t classifying myself as anything but I think we all have a right to fight against what the government are trying to do. They’re trying to tier education system whereby only the rich will be able to afford it. That is something that I think we should all be fighting against.

Interviewer: Now the police have said that they have referred this incident to the Directorate of Professional Standards… what’s your reaction to that?

JM: I don’t have a reaction to that but I will be making a complaint in the near future. I would say that it’s very important not to see this as an isolated incident. This is the police’s role at demonstrations. To incite and provoke violence. They’ve done it in the past and they’re continuing to do it now. I am not the real victim here. The real victims are the students, like Alfie Meadows, who is in hospital within an inch of his life after a policeman struck him on the head with a truncheon and he needed emergency brain surgery. Now imagine if it was Prince Charles, or Camilla, or a police officer who had been within an inch of their life.

Interviewer: But I have to say, I was in Parliament Square covering that demonstration and I saw protesters throwing lumps of rock at the police, throwing missiles, various missiles, at the police. Were you throwing anything at all at the police that day?

JM: I wasn’t throwing anything at the police during that day or during any [unclear] But what is clear is that the media are trying to distract the public from the real issue, which is the cuts that the government are making.

Interviewer: Were you harmed in any way in that incident with the police?

JM: Not in that … incident, in the incident that’s being shown. There was also another incident around 45 minutes earlier when a police officer struck me with a baton and yes that did cause some injury.

Interviewer: And why then, do you think– Are you saying the police picked on your twice. Why do you think they did?

JM: I have no idea. I mean, to make one suggestion, I think in the second incident at least, I think there’s a clear element of trying to provoke protesters into violence. Personally, I see myself as equal to anyone else, but I do understand that I could be perceived as more vulnerable, so I think there was an element of trying to provoke violence from others.

Interviewer: Did you shout anything provocative or throw anything that would have induced the police to do that to you?

JM: Do you really think a person with Cerebral Palsy in a wheelchair can pose a threat to a police officer who is armed with weapons?

Interviewer: But you do say that you’re a revolutionary.

JM: That’s a word, it’s not a physical action that I’ve taken against the police officers, a word that you’re quoting from a website. I’m asking you: do you think I could have in any way posed a physical threat from the seat of my wheelchair to an army of police officers armed with weapons? This whole line of argument is absolutely ludicrous because you’re blaming the victims of violence for that violence. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the way the BBC report on the Palestinian conflict–

Interviewer: When are you going to make your compalint to the police?

JM: I will be making my complaint very shortly, in the near future.

Interviewer: Okay, Jody McIntyre, thanks very much for your time, thanks for talking to us this evening.

JM: Thank you.

Further Reading: Jody McIntyre’s blog, Life on Wheels

[ETA: Thanks to various people for letting me know the interviewer is Ben Brown.]

Recommended Reading for 13 December, 2010

You are Here: Safety Haiku: Automatic Captions

This is the reason why you should not send me breathless, excited emails about the wonders of automated speech-to-text. You see the “CC” button and you think you and I will both enjoy the same media. This is what I actually get. (On the other hand, in a black turtleneck and beret, with bongos in the background, this little poem could actually be kind of cool.)

Where’s the Benefit: Demolition of the Case for DLA Reform

In fact, though the report claims that there exists a “perception of disability permanently precluding work is prevalent among individuals with disabilities not already in employment”, there is no evidence cited in the report that suggests DLA could be a barrier to work. The section and all references to it in the consultation paper could be interpreted as an attempt to misdirect, and should be removed forthwith. Further, it should be noted that the consultation commits the statistical crime of confusing correlation with causation. Whilst RR No. 648 does provide evidence that low employment is correlated with claiming of DLA, this in no way implies that one causes the other.

Guest Post at MarfMom: Jennifer’s Birth Story #2

Jennifer Levesque, 38
Diagnosed with Marfan at age 12 -inherited from father
Mother of two
Methuen, MA

Boing Boing: Universal Subtitles: add subtitles to any video on the web

For video creators, this is a dead simple way to increase the audience for your work — especially since there’s a full-text search coming shortly. For subtitlers, the upcoming workflow management and collaboration tools will make volunteer efforts even easier to run.

Both Mozilla and Wikipedia will be including the Universal Subtitles tool for their videos — and the tool itself is free/open source software, which means that the community can be sure that it won’t be orphaned and that the tool can always be improved.

Trigger Warning for violence against disabled people: Damn Interesting: Howard Dully’s Lobotomy

Howard Dully was brought in for the procedure because his stepmother described him as “unbelievably defiant,” saying among other things: “He objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming and when asked about it he says ‘I don’t know.’ He turns the room’s lights on when there is broad sunlight outside.” After Howard’s stepmother visited with Dr. Freeman, he suggested that “the family should consider the possibility of changing Howard’s personality by means of transorbital lobotomy.”

Howard Hyde Inquiry Ignores Ableism As Cause of Death

Note: This post discusses police violence against people with mental health conditions.

The results of the Hyde Inquiry were released on Wednesday.

Some things about the Hyde Inquiry, since I don’t think it’s been widely covered outside of Nova Scotia. I wrote this summary several months ago:

Howard Hyde had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The treatments he was on were making him sick, so he stopped taking them. He became violent.

His wife called the mobile mental health team – a project in Halifax that will go to you rather than you needing to go to them. She then called 9-1-1.

Two days later, he was dead in police custody, having been tasered.

Various things went horribly wrong. Among them were -and continue to be – the police’s inability to deal with people who have schizophrenia, amongst other mental health related conditions.

What they should have done was taken him to the hospital. Which they did, for a bit, and then left, returning him to lock-up.

His wife had tried to contact them and make sure that he was okay, and that they were aware that he had schizophrenia.

“I really wanted him to be in the hospital and get the treatment he needed for psychosis,” she said.

He had been taken to hospital for assessment, and the hospital staff requested that he be returned to the hospital after his arraignment hearing. He was not.

Parts of the surveillance tape of the tasering itself are “missing”.

“Hyde began struggling when officers tried to cut the string from his shorts. Though images were not caught on tape, surveillance audio recorded sound of the scuffle. Edwards can be heard saying “Howard, sit down.” Fellow Const. Greg McCormack is then argued to have said “You’re going to be doing the f***ing dance next, Howard,” although his voice is muffled.

It was also revealed that more than 30 minutes of footage of Hyde in a cell waiting to be booked has gone missing.”

I’ve since learned that what was actually said to Howard as the police officers approached him with a knife:

A surveillance camera captured the moment when an officer told Hyde a utility knife would be used to remove a knot from the drawstring in Hyde’s shorts, saying: “I just have to cut off one of those balls there.”

Anyway, as I said, the results were back. After 11 months of looking into the death of a man who police were called to help, we’ve all been told that Howard’s murder was an “accident” and it had nothing to do with his mental health condition.

“The only useful approach is to understand that Mr. Hyde died because of physiological changes in his body brought on by an intense struggle involving restraint,” Derrick wrote. “He did not die because he was mentally ill.”

I suppose this is technically correct. Howard’s death was not because he was mentally ill, his death was because the police were ill-equipped to deal with someone having a mental health crisis. I don’t have statistics about the number of men having mental health crises that are murdered by police officers every year, but I do know that I can’t go a whole month without at least one report, and it’s an issue that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada feels needs to be addressed.

I think it is naive to state that Howard wasn’t murdered because of his diagnosis. I think it ignores a frightening history of people with mental health conditions being murdered by police officers. I think it ignores that the criminal justice system is not equipped to effectively deal with people with mental health conditions. I think it ignores that there are limited resources available for people with mental health conditions and their families to get the help they need to cope with crisis situations.

I think it completely ignores the fact that Howard’s wife called the police for help, and two days later he was dead.

So yes, Howard Hyde isn’t dead because he had schizophrenia. He’s dead because ableism kills.

Recommended Reading for Thursday, December 8, 2010

I hate this time of year because I live in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s dark really early. At least we’ve been avoiding the snow-dumps I hear are all over central Canada, but it’s only a matter of time.

Civil Rights Now!: Civil Rights Now! speech at Dec10 CLAS Forum on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

As my lawyer friends say there’s no right without a remedy; because most BC voters with disabilities cannot afford a good lawyer their rights have very little meaning because they have no way to enforce them. And that’s why our governments, Health Authorities, businesses, School Boards, service providers and unions can do anything to you if you are a voter with a disability.

That’s why Civil Rights Now! believes BC voters with disabilities need:

  • Law which gives the equality provision of the Canadian Charter practical force and effect in their daily lives.
  • Law which gives them truly-portable, sufficiently-funded, consumer-driven Individualized Funding.
  • Law which gives them funding for test cases involving their civil rights.
  • Civil Rights Now! launched a campaign this year to persuade BC politicians to commit that whichever of them wins the next election they will enact such laws. By so doing they will fulfill the intent of the Convention and, more importantly, the equality provision of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, many decades after it became the supreme law of our country.

Urocyon: Disability and UK fuel poverty

I felt pretty bad, because until I started reading about the extent of problems this winter, I hadn’t considered just how bad the situation is. (Bit of a shame this is another thing that it apparently takes larger numbers of middle-class people being affected to draw more news attention.) This is in spite of having dealt with parental disability-related poverty and substandard heating for years, in a colder-winter climate not moderated by the Gulf Stream. This isn’t the coldest month, but it’s supposed to be 10°F/-12°C tonight back home–not unusual. It honestly didn’t seem that cold to me, even though I was aware that last winter was the harshest in 30 years for the UK, and this one is looking to be if anything worse. (Climate change? No…) But, even though it isn’t very cold in absolute terms, if you’re not used to its getting, much less staying, below freezing very often? That’s a pretty big problem.

Then I started thinking about how disabled people just weren’t getting mentioned much.

Anna Racoon: The Orwellian Present – Never Mind the Future.

No, he can’t, he has no access to the Mental Heath Tribunal – Autism isn’t a mental illness. This action isn’t being taken under the Mental Health Act – it is being taken under the Mental Capacity Act. Under the MCA he only has access to a ‘Best Interests Assessor’ – who is appointed on a consultancy basis, and paid, by…..the Local Authority.

He can be deprived of his liberty for up to a year, which period can be renewed indefinitely, for the purpose of ‘assessing’ him – see above – being sent to Wales to ‘assess’ why he is unhappy at being locked up.

Sharon Brennan at Comment is Free: It’s now officially ‘unsustainable’ to support disabled people

Let’s be clear: this increased DLA caseload is not because of fraud. DLA has one of the lowest fraud rates of any benefits. In fact, government figures published by the House of Commons work and pensions committee suggest that benefit fraud for DLA, carer’s and attendance allowance among others has reduced since 2001 from 2.2% to 0.8% between 2008-2009 (the most recent year for which statistics are available).

Diary of an NHS Buff: The Government is implicated in creating negative attitudes to disabled

Clearly there is a negative perception of disabled people in the UK, which can undoubtedly be attributed in part to right-wing media representation of the disabled. The Daily Mail is notorious for this. A recent front page screamed, “75% of claimants are fit to work”, and carried on: “Tough new benefits test weed out the workshy”.

You expect this kind of thing from the Daily Mail. But what shocked me is that the 75% figure came from a press release from the Department of Work and Pensions. And the figure is wrong. So it amounts to blatant Government propaganda.

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My hearing has finally recovered! Now I know why I was sleeping so much – I couldn’t hear all the construction starting up at 7 a.m. *sigh*

Arbitrary Constant: DLA reform consultation: Great Expectations, Word Apprehensions

The coalition government today published its consultation on the reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The headline is that DLA is going to be replaced by a “Personal Independence Payment” (PIP) from 2013/14.

DLA has been in the news a considerable amount since the emergency budget in June this year, primarily because it has been the main disability-focused benefit the government has looked to cut. I’ve blogged quite a lot on the topic: see here, here and all posts here.

As such, today’s consultation on the reform of DLA is of huge significance and interest because it provides far more detail and intent of what is planned for DLA. Below, I summarise what I think are the key issues. (Via delicious you can keep track of other reactions via my tag DLAreform.)

Where’s the Benefit: DLA Consultation: The Internet Responds

Other disability blogs and websites have already done some great posts on this subject, and I wanted to draw attention to some of what is being said around the interwebz on the reform proposals.

Include Me!

This site has information and ideas on how to include Self Advocates in conferences. There is information for people organising conferences and for Self Advocates going to conferences. The site is written in easy English.

What is a Self Advocate?
A Self Advocate is a person with an intellectual disability or an acquired brain injury who speaks up for themselves and the rights of others.

Bobby Cox at Deaf Echo: Hearing Privilege

I’m sitting down with a close hearing friend. A relative of mine calls my friend and asks her to relay a message to me. My relative had JUST met my friend for the first time the day before, and my relative uses text messaging with me all the time, and there was no reason my relative couldn’t have simply texted me.

So, in the space of one day, my relative was already ‘using’ my new friend to communicate with me. My relative was taking advantage of her hearing status (and advantages) to confer on my hearing friend the privilege of communication while simultaneously weakening me. I was denied the responsibility and control of handling communication.

Victoria Knobloch: The Secret Truth about Depression (via beautyofgrey, via amethystfirefly)

I wish someone had told me.
I wish someone had told me that I had a disease. This disease has no cure. This disease can be fatal. I will fight this disease until the day I die. Some days will feel healthier than others, but this disease will never fully go away. This disease is a disability that very few people will consider to be legitimate. No one ever said these things to me. Instead they told me at 13 years-old that I was depressed and prescribed me medication I do not believe I will ever stop taking.

UK Pushes for Improved Web Accessibility

BS 8878 aims to fill the current gap between site owners and developers by providing a wider scope of information and recommendations, which can be applied before, during, and after the development phase.

This video is subtitled and is presented in ASL. Transcription follows:

Splash: Ontario Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf

Title: It Gets Better….

Hello, my name is Michelle Bourgeois, and I am the Vice President of the Ontario Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (ORAD).

ORAD would like to share a very important message with you… Yes, life does get better!

Many Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer people have had awful expeirences with bullying and harassment.

Imagine, coming out can be quite an ordeal. Then on top of that, searching for people who share the same language as you do can be quite the challenge.

That’s why ORAD hosts social events – for people to come and be with others who share the same language and not feel alone.

We know life does get better. We want to let those of us who are having a tough time that oh, yes, life actually gets better.

We also want to send a message out to those who bully.


This has gone on long enough. We will not go away because of you. We will not stand down because of you. We will perservere and think positive.

Because we KNOW life WILL get better. We need love, support, and unity.

Life. Get. Better.

ORAD is hosting a Halloween social this Friday night at 8 pm at Zelda’s restaurant, 692 Yonge Street, in Toronto.

Come. Join us. Enjoy time amongst friends. Come and see how life can indeed get bteter… 🙂

See you there.

It Gets Better.

Want more info on the Hallowen Social? Go to or see us on Facebook.