Category Archives: events

Upcoming Events for the Week of November 15 to November 22

Events from the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

US: San Francisco, California, November 15:

The Disability Issues Caucus of the National Communication Association will have a memorial for Paul Longmore at 7 p.m. Monday, November 15. It will be in the Franciscan A room of the Hilton San Francisco, at 333 O’Farrell Street. All are invited to attend.

Paul’s submission to the conference, his paper titled “what we have been prepared to see”: Charity Professionals and the Framing of Disease and Disability, was selected by anonymous review to receive the 2010 Top Paper award in the Disability Issues Caucus. His paper will be presented at the memorial and participants will have the opportunity to share their memories of Paul and his work.

For more information, please email Jim Cherney at jlcherney@wayne.edu

Canada: Langley, British Columbia, November 20:

Civil Rights Now! in Langley Nov 20

What is wrong in BC for people with disabilities and what can be done to make it right? Zosia Ettenberg and the Langley Pos-Abilities Society Present Civil Rights Now!

Saturday November 20
1:30 to 3:30 pm
Langley Senior Centre
20605—51B Ave, Langley

Civil Rights Now! Is a not for profit, non-partisan, all volunteer society that thinks the way the government of BC delivers services to people with disabilities strips them of their freedom and dignity. What do people with disabilities and their families need?

  • Law that gives the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter practical force and effect in their daily lives.
  • Law that gives every person with a disability truly-portable, sufficient-funded, consumer-driven Individualized funding.
  • The ability to enforce the law by government funding of test cases involving civil rights of people with disabilities.
  • Civil Rights Now! is organizing a campaign to persuade the provincial Liberals and NDP to make a commitment that if they win the next election they will put these three ideas into action.

    RSVP pos-abilities@telus.net 604.961.0117

    Everyone is welcome!

Canada: Toronto, Ontario, November 26

Students with disabilities who are interested in pursuing a career in rehabilitation research are invited to attend Toronto Rehab’s 6th Annual Research Day, a unique and fun way to learn more about research at Toronto Rehab.
Toronto Rehab’s 6th Annual Research Day

When: Friday, November 26, 2010, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: Sheraton Centre – Dominion Ballroom, 123 Queen Street West, Toronto

This year’s event will feature morning Minute Madness sessions where researchers are challenged to present their work in just one minute, a keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Philippa Clarke on “Optimizing Independence in Later Life: The Role of the Urban Built Environment”, as well as a poster session and interactive displays. Another highlight will be the awarding of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Scholarship in Rehabilitation-related Research for Graduate Students with Disabilities, funded by TD Bank Financial Group.

This exciting event is a great way for students with disabilities to find out more about rehab research which encompasses a broad range of fields, and to meet scientists, students and award recipients.

Who can attend: All are welcome. Please join us!
Lunch will be provided. Registration is free. Space is limited so RSVP now.
Register online at this website. Registration will remain open until November 19, 2010. The Sheraton Centre is wheelchair accessible. (Attendees are asked to let us know about your accessibility requirements in advance – we will do our best to accommodate you. Please see the registration form.)

Check the Research Day webpage for more information. Questions? Contact Toronto Rehab’s Conference Services at conferences@torontorehab.on.ca or 416-597-3422 Ext. 3866.

New Zealand (all), November 3 to December 17
Via the Rolling Rains Report:

Have Your Say On International Disabilities Report

The Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Tariana Turia, is inviting public comment on a draft government report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Government is required to report to the United Nations on how the Convention is being implemented in New Zealand.

“This is the first time New Zealand has reported to the United Nations about the Convention. I am very keen for disabled people and their families to have the opportunity to have input into this report” said Minister Turia.

From 3 November 2010 through to 17 December 2010 the Government is seeking public input into this report through face-to-face meetings, online discussion and written submission.

Sadly, I can’t answer questions about any of these events.

The 2010 Don’t DIS My ABILITY Campaign Has Kicked Off!

People. People. I cannot even tell you how excited I am. In November-December in New South Wales, the awesome-est state in Australia[1. My esteemed co-blogger Lauredhel might disagree with me there.], we have a little something called the Don’t DIS My ABILITY campaign. There are loads of events run around the state leading up to the International Day of People with a Disability.

My personal favourite bit is the campaign magazine, Made You Look. You may remember that Lauredhel wrote about playground accessibility for disabled parents for the magazine last year. This year, Ouyang Dan and I both contributed pieces. OYD’s is on ableist language and is called “Think before you speak,” mine are “Type (re)Cast,” about popular culture representations of PWD, and “Seen and not heard,” on my experiences of being young and disabled. If you’re in NSW, you can pick up a hardcopy at your local library, all over Sydney and at loads of regional newsagencies (full list of places you can obtain the mag here). If you are elsewhere, you can download a copy, in one go or in sections, if that’s easier.

But that’s not all! Check out the Don’t DIS blog. I’m going to be writing there over the next month about such topics as who gets to speak about disability advocacy, narratives of disabled laziness, where conversations about disability tend to stop, body image while disabled and what respecting disabled people means. You yourself can participate: check out this post about blogging for the campaign here.

It’s going to be a fabulous month, readers.

Review: Stand Up for Mental Health

Last night I attended Stand Up For Mental Health Days on Campus, the first evening of the cross-Canada tour of Stand up for Mental Health.

I was trying to sort out a good way of summing up what Stand up for Mental Health (SMH) is, but I figure I’ll just use the description on the website:

David Granirer counsellor, stand-up comic and author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success, created and leads Stand Up For Mental Health (SMH). David teaches stand up comedy to people with mental illness as a way of building their confidence and fighting public stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.

Our shows look at the lighter side of taking meds, seeing counsellors, getting diagnosed, and surviving the mental health system. We perform at conferences, treatment centers and psych wards in partnership with numerous mental health organizations. SMH performs in Prisons, on Military Bases and University and College Campuses, at Government, Corporate and Community fundraisers and Forums, and Most Importantly, for the General Public across Canada and the US.

SMH will be on several university campuses over the next week, so I wanted to take the opportunity to review the show in case people are trying to decide if they want to go.

Go.

While some of the jokes and routines are funnier than others (my sense of humour is a lot dryer than this sort of thing does), the whole point of them is to talk about being Actually Crazy, to humanize what Actually Crazy looks like, sounds like, and behaves like. And it is, remarkably, not like in the movies.

The performance I attended opened with the CBC documentary “Cracking Up” (unsubtitled), which covered a year in the life of the program, highlighting five people who started out afraid to even say their names and ended giving a sold-our comedy performance. The documentary manages to somehow be both hilarious and harrowing, making it clear how much of the social stigma about mental health and mental illness deeply affect those of us who live with it. The people in the documentary learn that they can be funny, that they can talk about what’s happening in their lives, that they can speak about being Crazy. At the same time, though, the audience sees that this is not all just fun and games and being silly. It’s very apparent that these are people whose lives are incredibly difficult because of both the social stigma of mental illness and the actual affects of their conditions. Many of them live in very very small spaces in what are considered dangerous areas of Vancouver. One of them disappears and attempts suicide part way through the year the documentary covers. This is not a Very Special Lesson, but a pointed commentary.

The thing that Granirer and his group does in this is talk seriously about mental health issues while surrounding them with safe and easy-to-digest humour. This isn’t the first talk I’ve gone to at University that does exactly that. Jorge Cham’s talk about Procrastination and how he developed PhD comics also uses humour as the bread in a “people in grad school kill themselves and that’s something we’d like people to avoid doing” sandwich. It’s like folks in North America need to be eased carefully in to acknowledging that short-term or life-long mental health conditions exist, and the way to help is to talk about what’s going on, and what this culture of silence and stigma actually does to people.

On the surface, SMH looks like it’s going to be a fairly simple “come out and see a bunch of crazy people talk humourously about being crazy”, but there is a very serious point to it: mental health stigma kills.

I really recommend people in the Canadian cities the tour is touching down in this week take the chance to go and see the show.

If you’re interested in supporting the program but can’t make it out to a show, consider voting for them in the PepsiRefresh Challenge (Canada), as they’re hoping to mount a larger tour next year.

ADAPT Protests partially lock-down White House! Media Yawns, Changes Subject

I spent most of my weekend pretty much glued to Twitter following ADAPT’s latest action in Washington, DC and wondering where the media was, especially after a huge group of wheelchair users blockaded one of the White House gates and 16 people were arrested. I actually thought that the White House security arresting a group of people with disabilities would surely be the sort of thing that the media would pick up on.

Foolish me! Just like with the Arnieville protests that s.e. wrote about last week, the media is basically ignoring this four-day-long protest in Washington in favour of more important things. Despite repeated hunts by me and several other people, the only mention of the protest, “partial White House lockdown”, arrests, and march is this CNN report, which only quotes White House staff and the ADAPT webpage. Apparently CNN couldn’t even find someone from ADAPT to quote directly. (Also, the photos of the event that ADAPT have posted make it clear that CNN’s report is factually inaccurate.)

[If you would like to read NationalADAPT’s tweets, a good place to start is their September 18th tweet, and just keep going from there. Their timeline includes a variety of photos taken of the event, and also will point you towards other tweeters that were there.]

ADAPT has been protesting at the White House at least once a year (sometimes twice a year) since 1997, and has been holding protests in other cities across the US for 25 years. The focus of their protests for the last 11 years has been the Olmstead Decision and the Community Choice Act.

Eleven years ago, in the Olmstead decision, the Supreme Court said that Americans with disabilities have the right to live in the most integrated setting. Yet today, states are responding to budget shortfalls by drastically cutting home and community-based services. These draconian cuts are forcing seniors and people with disabilities into nursing facilities and other institutional settings because they don’t have the services they need to remain independent.

On Sunday, ADAPT held a funeral, complete with casket, to both mourn and bring attention to the number of people with disabilities who have died in nursing homes around the country while fighting to get out of them. Monday involved marching directly on the White House. While CNN reports that 9 people handcuffed themselves to the White House gates, the ADAPT photos and Reports make it clear that far more than 9 people were involved in this action.

The Park Police had closed the sidewalk and street in front of the White House around 10 in the morning as ADAPT approached. When the police used an SUV to block ADAPT and the sidewalk, the bulk of ADAPT charged into the intersection of 15th and G Streets stopping traffic completely. The police had believed they had successfully stopped the line of activists when suddenly all the traffic was stopped and the intersection was packed with activists.

“The people they thought were meek or expendable,” said Jennifer McPhail about the police force, “were the people who had taken their power.”

While ADAPT’s actions continue today across Washington, DC, members who are required to attend court this morning after being arrested have been illegally challenged at the court to produce documentation for their service animals, and need to bring attention to ADA violations to the very people one would expect to be enforcing the ADA.

When a local Washington paper was challenged on their decision not to report anything about the ADAPT protests, their response was first that they don’t cover national protests and then, when it was pointed out this was also a local protest, that it was a matter of debate, and there were protests every day in DC. Other media sources haven’t responded to questions about their lack of coverage.

I do understand this, to a point. Certainly I’ve attended protests that have received very little media coverage, and most of that in either local papers or in grass roots news organizations. However, at what point do we start to seriously question why multi-day – or, in the case of Arnieville, multi-week – protests by people with disabilities are getting ignored? The ADAPT actions have decades of history, and touch on issues that are hot-button topics in the US right now, such as health care, funding for social programs, and the standard of living.

And yet, still, despite everything: we protest, and are ignored.

Guest Post From Jesse the K: Making Space for Wheelchairs and Scooters

Jesse the K hopes you can take a disabled feminist to tea this month. Her previous guest post was 20 Years and a Day for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Originally Posted at Access Fandom.

These guidelines come out of my experience working on WisCon, a 1000-person annual convention in a recently remodeled hotel.

There are many elements to making your event wheelchair-accessible. While U.S. law requires minimal wheelchair access, never rely on a venue’s general assertion of “oh yes, we’re accessible.” Those little wheelchair stickers? Anyone can buy them and post them at will, even at the bottom of a flight of steps.

There’s an entire shelf of 2-in (5,08 cm) thick books on this topic; so consider this the Twitter version. Links to helpful resources appear on June Isaacson Kaile’s site.

David Hingsburger is a long-time disability rights activist who’s begun using a wheelchair in the last few years. His essay “12 Steps? Me, I’d Rather Sit” captures the frustration of a last-minute change from an inaccessible venue to one that worked for him:

…These things are difficult because while I appreciate everyone’s understanding, I didn’t want it. While I was thankful for the extra effort made to find a room immediately, I didn’t want it. What I wanted was simple. Accessibility.

Accessibility doesn’t just mean I get easily into a building. Accessibility means anonymity. It reduces the need for compassion, understanding, special consideration, to Nil. It allows me to slip in unnoticed and set up quietly. This doesn’t mean it masks my disability, it just makes it mean something very different.…

Verify & report

Do an on-site survey with someone who’s truly familiar with the needs of wheelchair and scooter users. (Not all wheelchair users automatically have this knowledge, just as not all walking people know everything about sidewalk construction. Some non-wheelchair users also have these skills.)

Check for level paths to every area. A single, unramped step is as significant a blockade as two flights of stairs. Wheelchairs need at the very least 36″ (1 m) for corridors and 60″ (1,5 m) to turn around.

Describe any non-conforming areas in your publicity and program: forewarned is forearmed, and it demonstrates that you’ve actually checked the place out. Don’t use the term “wheelchair-friendly,” which has no defined meaning. Do reference any standards the venue meets: “ADA compliant” in WisCon’s case.

Make sure that stages are ramped as well. (Our venue can only ramp one stage at a time. This requires members to self-ID at reg, and program coordination to place ensure the ramped stage and the wheelchair using panelists are in the same room. I know from experience it’s easy to blow this one.)

Wheelchair Parking aka Blue Zones

Providing designated wheelchair parking in all seating areas permits wheelchair users the same freedom to come and go as those using the seats. Well-meaning non-disabled people will often say, “oh, but of course I’ll move a chair out of the way if you just ask.” And from their viewpoint, that’s a one-to-one personal issue. But from perspective of us wheelchair users, it’s a one-to-many problem, since we must ask for seating rearrangement every where we go.

While leaving empty spaces seems like a solution, chairs inevitably migrate further apart, filling them in. The inexpensive and highly effective alternative are “blue zones,” 36 in (1 m) squares outlined with 1in (2,54 mm) blue painters’ tape. It’s bright, stays down on carpet and comes up easily.

If you know how many wheelchair users are in attendance, be sure you make that many blue zones at the big get-togethers. (Otherwise, 1 for every 100 is a rough guideline.) Always have at least one blue zone, especially in the smallest program rooms (where crowding is most an issue). When you have room for two, put one up front and one in the back. The former is great for the wheelchair user who may also have hearing or vision impairment; the latter works well for those of us who get claustrophobic and need to be able to leave right away.

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today’s Recommended Reading focuses on how to make event-sites more accessible to people with disabilities, and experiences people with disabilities have had with accessibility at events and in their communities.

Accessibility Discussions: How To

This list is no where near comprehensive (I went a hunting for a few specific ones I know I’ve read and couldn’t find), so please feel free to leave more links in the comments!

Via Ms Crip Chick’s five fav tools to dialogue about justice: Accessibility Checklists at the National Youth Leadership Network:

Are you looking for ways to outreach to more people? Are you trying to get people involved? Are you trying to keep them involved? How a document reads and looks affects whether people can understand the information being shared. This is a checklist for document accessibility. It also includes some tips to think about when making programs or services accessible to all people.

Glenda Watson Hyatt at Do It Myself: A Checklist for Planning an Accessible Event

Whether planning a meeting, workshop or multi-day conference, your goal, no doubt, is to assist all participants, including those with disabilities, to feel welcomed and able to fully participate in the event

This checklist is intended as a starting point in planning an accessible event, which likely requires more than ramps and wheelchair washrooms. The key is to consider every aspect of the event and what barriers a person with a disability – whether it be physical, mobility, hearing, sight, or cognitive – might face, and how you can eliminate or minimize those barriers to ensure all participants feel welcomed.

The Access Fandom Wiki

Access Fandom Wiki is a tool to help make Science Fiction conventions and conferences more accessible to people with disabilities. Within you will find specific instructions and resources for carrying out these aims.

Planning an accessible meeting

When you are planning a meeting or event, you want to make sure that everyone can participate, including people with disabilities. By planning ahead, you can build accessibility into every aspect of the meeting.

The two main areas you need to consider when planning an accessible meeting or event are:

  • physical access to the meeting space
  • access to the meeting contents and proceedings.

Here are some general things to keep in mind.

Disability Access @ Stanford – Planning an Accessible Event (One of the things I like about this one is the “questions you should be able to answer” section, because I’m amazed at how many people cannot tell me where their barrier-free entrance is, even when they have one.)

Q: How do I get from [point A] to [point B]?

Familiarize yourself with stair-free pathways in the vicinity of the event (e.g., parking lot to main entrance) and to notable locations…

Q: Where is the nearest wheelchair accessible bathroom?

Know ahead of time where the accessible bathroom is, and how to get to it from your event location.

Accessibility Discussions: Experiences Of

alias_sqbr: Using a Mobility Scooter at WorldCon

Walking is easy on the brain and hard on the legs. Using the scooter is the reverse, the level of concentration required is somewhere between walking and driving, and by the time I got back to the hotel after my first excursion I needed a mental break and did the rest of my (much less taxing) exploration on foot. It got easier with practice, and was also much less taxing indoors in a familiar space without the worry of cars etc. The convention centre was perfect, lots of big empty flat carpeted areas. I got up now and then when it was more convenient but still ended up doing MUCH less walking than normal and as a result was much less tired and in pain than I would otherwise have been, and got to enjoy a lot more of the con as well as being able to go out to dinner etc. One issue was that all that sitting gave me a sore bum/lower back/legs, and I became quite uncomfortable on the plane trip back. I’ve been doing a lot of half lying with my legs out since getting home and am fine now. My brain is also less fatigued, once I got used to the scooter the general lack of fatigue made me more mentally awake than I usually am at the end of a con.

Lisy Babe BADD 10: Discrimination by ignorance and the myth of the DDA

“But I thought everywhere was accessible now.”

How I loathe that sentence. It usually follows my asking “so why did you hire somewhere inaccessible for your event? Because now I can’t come.”

For example, I’ve just spent the last 3 days at a film festival/conference tied to my course… I arrived on Thursday, picked up my ticket and was told by cinema staff “it’s in screen 2, which is not accessible.”

Joy.

And, of course, the “but I thought…” line swiftly followed from the director of the event who’d hired the venue.

Ira Socol at SpeEd ChangeTo be fully human

I move through a lot of schools, and through a lot of public spaces, and everywhere I go I see people who are made to be less than fully human. The high school kids who can not read sitting in classrooms during “silent reading” time. The girl in the wheelchair set off to the side of the middle school choir because everyone else is on risers. The poor reader at the bank or hospital faced with piles of incomprehensible paperwork. The man or woman denied the ability to go out to eat because of too few or badly placed “handicapped” parking places. The child who struggles with writing who is denied the right to communicate in his classroom. The university students forced to spend large amounts of money and time to “prove themselves” “disabled.”

Codeman38 at Normal is Overrated: Of Privilege and Auditory Processing

The Normal Auditory Processing Privilege Checklist

  • I can watch first-run movies in any theater and still understand a majority of the dialogue without having to attend a specially scheduled screening with subtitles.
  • I can understand messages broadcast over PA systems without a lot of difficulty.
  • Lectures are just as easy for me to comprehend without visual feedback such as PowerPoint as they are with visual feedback.

Heather Farley at Oh Wheely… Blogging Against Disablism Day

These people have no idea of the impact they have on my sense of worth. And they don’t care. That shrug of ‘it’s not my problem, it’s yours’ means that I am excluded from that part of life. I’m apparently not worth their effort. On the flip side I have to say that for every person who shrugs there are another five people offering help, opening doors, and keeping my faith in humanity alive. Unfortunately it’s the ‘shruggers’ who stick in my psyche.

For every little battle I fight there are ten more that I have to let pass by. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to argue the toss every time. And every time I do I become less important in my eyes, less worthy of my effort, less deserving of theirs.

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.

Weekly Events Roundup

My weekly events this week are in the UK & the US. Again, we don’t endorse these events, and they are things I come across in my travels round the internet, so these are not the only events going on my any means!

UKUSCalls for Papers

UK:

SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT
Tuesday September 14th 5pm – Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, University of Leeds
Advance notice that the poet and critic Michael Davidson will be speaking in the School of English on “Pregnant Men: Modernism, Disability, and Biofuturity in Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood”

Professor Davidson teaches at the Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego. His research interests are in the areas of Modern Poetry, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies and Disability Studies. His most recent book is Concerto for the Left Hand: Disability and the Defamiliar Body (2008)

ALL WELCOME

For further details contact Bridget Bennett: b.k.g.bennett AT leeds.ac.uk or Stuart Murray: s.f.murray AT leeds.ac.uk

What is Disability Hate Crime?: A Historical Exploration of Crimes Involving Disabled People

A Seminar Presentation by Dr. Alex Tankard

Hosted by the Centre for Culture & Disability Studies, Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University

Time: 2.15pm – 3.45pm
Date: Wednesday, October 13th 2010

The 2007 CPS Policy for Prosecuting cases of Disability Hate Crime states that ‘It is important to make a distinction between a disability hate crime and a crime committed against a disabled person because of his/her perceived vulnerability’ (9).
Under the social model of disability, is this distinction helpful, harmful, or simply meaningless? What is the difference between assaulting a disabled person while making ‘a derogatory or insulting comment about disabled people’ (8), and assaulting a disabled person because social structures and cultural representations have led you to believe that they cannot defend themselves or obtain justice? Should the first be regarded as a politicised crime, and the second as politically neutral?
In 1884, in the Wild West mining camp of Leadville, Colorado, a disabled man shot a nondisabled man and then pleaded self-defence. The details of this obscure and complex case meet none of the criteria outlined by the 2007 Policy, and yet the disabled participant and contemporary press reportage exposed aspects of the judicial system that marginalised and discriminated against citizens with physical impairments.
In this seminar, Dr. Tankard will use the 1884 incident to ask whether the 2007 Policy’s determination to distinguish between ‘hate crimes’ and crimes committed against vulnerable people perpetuates confusion about the real causes and meanings of disability. Dr. Tankard will argue that the most insidious and intractable social injustice may be found not in the open ‘hostility’ and name-calling classed as hate crime, but in the social structures that disable people who have impairments and render them appealing targets for crime of any kind. Ultimately, she will ask whether the CPS’s decision to politicise one set of crimes while depoliticising others illustrates the continuing failure of official and public discourses to comprehend truly the social model of disability.

The CCDS Research Forum is free of charge, but attendees are required to register by sending an email to Heather Barker dbsw AT hope.ac.uk, using “Alex Tankard” as the subject line.

EUROPEAN CONFERENCE FOR SOCIAL WORK RESEARCH

Inaugural conference: Social Work and Social Care Research – Innovation, Interdisciplinarity and Impact

website

St Catherine’s College, Oxford

23rd-25th March 2011

The first of a major annual series, the conference will bring together researchers and research users from across Europe and beyond to present and exchange research ideas, findings, developments and applications. The inaugural conference aims to provide a forum open to all who are engaged and interested in social work and social care research, including service users. Check out their website for more information. Please note that abstracts must be submitted by midnight on 20th September 2010.

US (via Disability Law Center):

International Forum on Disability Management
Location: Los Angeles, California; Date(s): September 20-22, 2010.

2010 National Self-Advocacy Conference
Location: Kansas City, Missouri; Date(s): September 23-26, 2010.

Accessing Higher Ground – Accessible Media, Web, and Technology Conference

Location: Boulder, Colorado; Date(s): November 15-19, 2010.

Calls for Papers:

Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging, & Technology
Abstract Submission Deadline: December 1, 2010.

Special Issue of Disability Studies Quarterly on the Topic of Mediated Communication

Abstract Submission Deadline: December 15, 2010.

World Suicide Prevention Day

Description appears below
A golden butterfly in a circle, with "Support Suicide Prevention Awareness"
Today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Being suicidal, especially if you have long-term thoughts about suicide and suicide ideation, can be a very isolating and lonely experience. Do you tell your friends and family? If you do, how will they react? What about your job? Will you be forcedly committed into psychiatric care? Will people assume that if you haven’t actually harmed yourself, you’re not really suicidal and just faking it for “attention”? If you’re happy and having a good time today, does that mean you’re not really suicidal at all? What exactly do you say, and who do you say it to?

These are the things I wish I could tell you:

Be as kind to yourself as you can. If you are having long-term suicidal thoughts, you are ill. You are not weak, you are not failing, you are not letting anyone down. You are sick, and just like if you had a bad cold, or some sort of infections, you need to take care of yourself, and let your body and your mind recover.

There is not a quick fix. Talking to a friend, or a professional, or a help line, taking medication, spending some time in short or long term care, these are all helpful but take take time, something you can take as much of as you need. I wish I could promise you that talking to someone would force your mind and your body to heal, but it won’t. This is not because you’re a failure, but because you are ill, and again, you need to give yourself time, because you are not a failure, and you are not letting anyone down.

You do not have to be perfect. Just like someone with a cold or an infection may skip their cold medication or their antibiotics, and as a result may get sicker or set back their recovery, you too can end up screwing something up. This does not make you a failure, and you have not let anyone down. You are still worthy of getting the help you need, and you can still reach out to people who want to help you. Again, there is no quick fix, and you are allowed to make mistakes.

I cannot promise you that everyone around you will be accepting. It is not unusual in my travels through the internet to find people writing about how people who attempt or commit suicide are “selfish” or “bad”. These people are wrong. You are ill, and that is not the same thing at all. But there are people who are trained to help you, and are willing to help you in the road to recovery, no matter how hard or how long it is. Some of these people will be strangers, and some of them will be friends or loved ones. I know it’s socially isolating and scary, but please try and reach out, because they want to help you. Here is a small list of resources that may be helpful to you.

Your pain, and how you feel, it is all real. You are allowed to feel these things. You are allowed to be who you are. None of this makes you bad, or undeserving, or unlovable.

I hope you find what you need.

Weekly Events Round Up

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.

Protests (UK)US Conferences & EventsUK Events & Conferences

Protests:

Join us to protest at the Tory Party Conference – Birmingham, England, on 3 October

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

Rally- noon

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 – linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk

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.

UK Events:

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
All welcome

Further information about room details etc, contact Dr Murray Simpson, email: m.k.simpson@dundee.ac.uk

As always, please let me know about events! anna AT disabledfeminists DOT com

California Judge Says State of California is Still Providing Inadequate Health Services to Inmates

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.