Category Archives: global

Wild Women With Disabilities Speak Out

The video is subtitled.

Transcription:

Title Image: Reflections from MIUSA’s WILD2010
Wild Women with Disabilities Speak Out
Global Fund for Women

[Drumming]
Narrator: In August, I had the privilege of representing the Global Fund for Women at the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Development, or WILD, a three-week program hosted by Mobility International USA. Women disability rights activists came from 34 countries to a serene natural setting in Eugene, Oregon. They came to share with each other their wisdom and strategies for how to win recognition, inclusion and rights for the disability community. During the final week, WILD alumni and representatives from international organisations particpated by networking, mentoring, and discussing gender, disability and development.

From these incredible women, I learned how it feels to be excluded from the mainstream women’s movement in India, how it feesl to be marginalized in a male-led disability rights movement in Botswana, and the importance of bringing women with different disabilities together for a stronger and more unified voice in every country.

I was so proud that the Global Fund for Women had provided seed grants to many of these grassroots leaders who had experienced other funders telling them “We don’t do disability.” I was overjoyed to be able to say “Yes, we recognize the importance of investing in women with disabilities.”

Some of our grantees shared with me what receiving a Global Fund Grant meant to them.

Jasmina: I’m Jasmina Risteska from Macedonia, and I’m working for an organisation, Mobility Challenge. Our focus is women with disabilites and their inclusion in every aspect of social life. The great work the Global Fund for women is doing is that they support us in the most difficult moment for us, that is, our beginning, and thank you very much Global Fund for your support.
[La, la, la, la, la]

Ekaete: Hi, my name is Ekaete Umoh. I’m the Executive Director of Family-Centered Initiatives for Challenged Persons, an NGO working with women and girls with disabilities based in Nigera and a Grantee of Global Fund for Women. I really want to thank Global Fund for Women for giving us the foundation which we are standing on today. In 2004 we got about $6,000 from Global Fund for Women to support our organisation and since then things have really changed. The money came when we needed it the most and it was so strengthening, it gave us the energy to move on. With that money we’ve been able to do a lot for our organisation, and the issues of women with disabilities in Nigeria has been brought to the front burner.

[La, la, la, la, la]

Karine: I am Karine from Armenia. I am the President of Agate Center for Women with Special Needs NGO. Our NGO was founded thanks to the grant provided by Global Fund for Women in 2007. I want to thank them for their support and trust. They were the first who trusted us.

[La, la, la, la, la]

Alicia: My name is Alicia Contreras and I am disability activist. Thanks to the Global Fund I got a grant and I started a women’s program in Mexico. I started the first independent living center for women with disabilities, and without the Global Fund I would not be able to do it. My advice for those who think you can’t do it, do it, try it, start it.

Narrator: After the program, women returned home energized to overcome challenges and raise the visibility of women with disabilities in their communities. I, too, left eager to be a stronger ally to the global women’s disability rights movement. These loud, proud and passionate women have deeply inspired me and I will hold their vision, songs, and laughter with me forever.

We want to be a part of your community.

Recommended Reading for 19 November, 2010

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

little light at Questioning Transphobia: clamavi ad te. Please note that the post discusses suicide, abuse, and murder of trans people. If you think you can handle it, though, it is powerful reading, as is everything little light writes.

When you have been told you are less than human–less than sacred–less than beautiful–your community has failed you. When you believe it, it is because your community has failed you. I do not intend to mince words. … You deserve better. Because you are not the problem. You are not broken. You are not worthless. You are not a problem and you are not a mistake.

Liz at Dis/Embody: Thoughts on World Usability Day:

Now, of course, usability is not the same as accessibility; it is focused on ease of general use, for a mass audience. And, usability doesn’t always incorporate a universal design perspective in which the needs of those who face the most challenges are centered, with the understanding that products designed for that group may also be more usable by others.

That said, usability and communication is an interesting theme, as it seems to implicitly tie back to media accessibility in particular.

Interviews conducted by Meena Bakhtash at the BBC: Voices: Disability and the Hajj to Mecca:

The annual Hajj pilgrimage – a religious duty that every adult Muslim is expected to do once in their lives – can be a tough challenge.

But the obstacles are infinitely greater for Muslims with disabilities, who choose to take the journey.

Melissa Jenkins at the Sydney Morning Herald: Disability package gets tick:

The Victorian government is taking the right approach by directing the majority of its disability package towards early intervention, advocacy groups and unions say.

Kirsty Whalley at This is Local London: Disabled girl from Norbury a “health and safety risk”, says school

A disabled 11-year-old girl has been rejected by an academy school because she poses a “health and safety risk” to other children.

That’s all for this time. Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited.

A.I. spotlight: Keepon and Paro

At the risk of understatement, exciting things are happening when it comes to robotics and artificial intelligence and the potential applicability of these fields in the lives of PWDs.

[Description: A small, bright yellow robot with two eyes and a black nose stands in front of a white background. Outlined in orange and bright blue, the robot leans slightly to the left while it sits atop a small black pedestal]  Image courtesy of this page on the CMU website.

The little ‘bot pictured above is Keepon, developed by Hideki Kozima and Marek Michalowski at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Keepon’s purpose is to interact with children with emotional, neurological or sensory processing disorders, and who otherwise may have difficulty interacting with other children, relatives, or caregivers. However, Keepon has become something of an internet sensation in recent years, most notably when a 2007 video of the robot dancing to Spoon’s “I Turn My Camera On” became extremely popular on YouTube, and inspired a Wired Magazine-backed promo video for Spoon featuring Keepon. As this 2008 excerpt (accessibility warning: video is not close-captioned) from Discovery Channel’s show “The Works” demonstrates, there is quite a bit of potential for Keepon’s original purpose; it may be cute (and a great dancer), but the potential for this sort of technology to help children with disabilities is worth further exploration.

A New York Times article from this past July, written by Amy Harmon, discussed another A.I. creature, Paro, which is made to resemble a seal cub. Paro was first developed by Takanori Shibata, a researcher working at Japan’s national science institute AIST.  The NYT article describes Paro thusly:

Paro is a robot modeled after a baby harp seal. It trills and paddles when petted, blinks when the lights go up, opens its eyes at loud noises and yelps when handled roughly or held upside down. Two microprocessors under its artificial white fur adjust its behavior based on information from dozens of hidden sensors that monitor sound, light, temperature and touch. It perks up at the sound of its name, praise and, over time, the words it hears frequently.

The whole article is worth a read, as it covers the success that some senior residential communities in the U.S. have had with using Paro as an assistive device — sort of akin to animal therapy without an actual animal (which might cause problems for, say, residents with allergy issues) — for some residents.  There is also a video at the NYT’s website (unfortunately, sans transcript) that shows Paro in action. The article also discusses at length some of the benefits of this sort of technology, as well as some of its limitations.

Of course, Keepon and Paro are only two examples of the amazing possibilities of artificial intelligence, and it remains to be seen as to whether this technology — which, like many new technologies, currently comes with a rather hefty price tag — can be made more accessible to people or organizations that cannot afford to pay $6,000 U.S. for a Paro. Hopefully, these A.I. breakthroughs will not be as pricey in the future, and will be made accessible to a wider variety of people — including PWDs.

Recommended Reading for 13 August, 2010

You know, if you’re into the Gregorian calendar (also, Friday 13th! Spooky!). Why hello there, gentle reader! This is my first Recommended Reading. This is very exciting for us all. While this should be a time of celebration, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites (and it’s all MSM articles in this edition of RR!) tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

A group of people lying in a circle on the grass, hands stretching towards and touching in the middle. There are three wheelchairs scattered about nearby, and some rope on the ground. Rocks are just visible to the bottom of the shot. The photo was taken from the top of a flying fox.

Photo by Louise Dawson. From the photo’s Flickr page: ‘Participants in this Outward Bound group, with a variety of physical disabilities, had just tackled a ropes challenge course as part of a 9 day program.’ The photo was taken in November 1996.

IRIN Africa (from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs): SENEGAL: Children with disability – when stigma means abandonment. Warning for some highly unpleasant treatment of disabled children.

The shame attached to mental and neurological disorders is a strong force, said Dakar hairdresser Ibrahim Gueye, the father of a child with a severe learning disability.

“In Senegalese society it is quite difficult to have a child with a mental disorder. The prevailing belief is that it is a curse; it is difficult to get family and friends to accept such a child.”

In the District of Columbia in the USA, from the Washington Post: Independent administrator to oversee D.C. compliance in disability lawsuit:

The fight over appointing an administrator is the latest chapter in the Evans lawsuit, which was filed in 1976 over the District’s abysmal care of people with developmental disabilities.

That’s right, the case has been going for thirty-four years.

From the Ghana News Agency, 50% of Brazilian buses for persons with disabilities:

Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Wednesday announced that 50 per cent of buses expected from Brazil would be friendly to persons with disabilities.

[…]

He said the constitution of the National Council on persons with disabilities was the beginning of the educational programmes that would help to redress their challenges as public institutions noting that the transport system still lacked facilities for them.

In the UK, from the Guardian, Why the next Paralympics will be the greatest ever by Ade Adepitan, Paralympian and TV presenter.

The news that Channel 4 is going to spend millions on the London 2012 Paralympics and give it 150 hours of coverage is a landmark moment. The BBC did a fantastic job of increasing the Paralympics’ profile, but it usually ended up on BBC2 – second fiddle to the Olympics. I only found out about the Paralympics when I was 14 – before then I didn’t know it was possible for someone in a wheelchair to compete in a global sports event.

In the Canadian town of Cobourg, at Northumberland News, Electronic voting a win for disability groups:

The system ensures security by sending each registered voter a pin number by mail; that number can then be used to access the electronic ballot either online or on the telephone.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com.

Recommended Reading for August 10, 2010

Wheelchair Dancer at Feministe: On the Cover [trigger warning for discussion of violence]

Regardless of how disability plays out in Aisha’s world, the vast majority of readers of TIME live in a culture that understands disability as tragedy. As shocking. As among the worst things that can happen to you (bar death). Mainstream American culture thinks it knows disability and knows how to read it. Ms. Bieber has a history of photographing disabled bodies[. . .]But the work she does in the Real Beauty series does not come through in this photograph — perhaps because of the context and placement of the image. Here she (and or the editor) uses Aisha’s disability to trade upon the readership’s sympathies and their horror: this and other unknown kinds of disability are a direct result of the US departure from Afghanistan. This is not about Aisha; it’s about the message of the article.

Cripchick at Cripchick’s blog: tell me who i have to be to get some reciprocity?

don’t feel the way white supremacy creeps into your life and plops itself in the center?

in the last wk, white ppl have:

  • told me how to rearrange my words as to be more approachable.
  • made my need to have ppl of color time about them.
  • asked me invasive medical questions about my body.
  • thanked me over and over for teaching them about oppression.

Cara at The Curvature: Disabled Student Assaulted on School Bus; Bus Driver Watches and Doesn’t Respond [trigger warning for description and discussion of severe bullying]

Most readers here who have ever ridden a school bus will have at some point been on at least one end of bullying and harassment. Many will have at different points throughout their childhoods and adolescences acted as both bullies and victims — myself included among them. Big news stories since I stopped riding a school bus have left me with the impression that little has changed. School buses are places where bullies, harassment, and violence thrive. And as all current or past school bus passengers know, students with disabilities, particularly cognitive or intellectual disabilities, are especially vulnerable.

Daphne Merkin at the New York Times Magazine: My Life in Therapy

This imaginative position would eventually destabilize me, kicking off feelings of rage and despair that would in turn spiral down into a debilitating depression, in which I couldn’t seem to retrieve the pieces of my contemporary life. I don’t know whether this was because of the therapist’s lack of skill, some essential flaw in the psychoanalytic method or some irreparable injury done to me long ago, but the last time I engaged in this style of therapy for an extended period of time with an analyst who kept coaxing me to dredge up more and more painful, ever earlier memories, I ended up in a hospital.

William Davies King at PopMatters: In Defense of Hoarding

To be sure, a special label like compulsive hoarding seems required by many of the heart-rending cases they recount, people neck-deep in the slough of their despond, overwhelmed by more whelm than can be weighed. But sadness and dysfunction are hardly rare or new. What is new is the social imperative to ram open that front door. Bring in the wheelbarrows, the commanding case worker, and the camera—especially the camera, which enlists us all in the drive to evacuate these cloacal dwellings. Reality TV rolls up its sleeves, puts on the rubber gloves, and hoards the evidence while [authors] Frost and Steketee stand alongside the labyrinth, notepad in hand, giving that Skinnerian nod.

The High Price of Industry: Cancer Villages in China

Starting in the 1990s, cancer rates in China began rising at an astounding rate. By 2007, cancer was accounting for one in five deaths in China. Similarly rapid increases in cancer rates are being seen in many other nations that are in the process of industrialising. Once considered a disease of the industrialised world, cancer is a growing problem in many nations that are struggling to gain a foothold in the global economy, as well as nations that are already well positioned, but still rapidly growing, like China.

A lot of news stories like to blame this on the acquisition of ‘Western habits’ and the ‘Western diet,’ or on smoking. These are, after all, convenient and popular targets for blame in the industrialised world as well. Other studies point to increased life expectancy that increases the chance that people will develop cancers simply by nature of living longer.

However, many of these stories ignore a major hidden contributor to rising cancer rates: environmental pollution.

Industrialising countries tend to have extremely high pollution rates. Environmental pollutants like heavy metals in the water have been clearly and substantively linked with cancer in numerous studies. Air, water, and soil pollution have been associated with a wide range of cancers including breast, liver, stomach, and lung cancers. Need evidence of pollution in China? There’s the Asian brown cloud, a proliferation of e-waste in China, and, of course, the pall cast by coal fired power plants, among many other things.

The tendency to attribute rising cancer rates to personal habits is one that places the responsibility for cancer solely on the individual. It’s easy to see why leaning towards ‘habits’ when it comes to attributing cancer rates is appealing, especially for policy makers and corporations, because it dodges the environmental link and any government or corporate-level responsibility. If cancer can be blamed on people, instead of institutions, it eliminates the need to address environmental causes of cancer, like pollutants that sicken people in their own communities, occupational hazards like workplace exposures to chemicals, and pollutants that disseminate and sicken people far from the source.

Regulation of pollution is erratic and sometimes very lax in rapidly industrialising countries, many of which have ‘economic zones’ of some form or another that are specifically designed to attract foreign companies with lax environmental, labour, and tax laws. Historically, people have presented this as some sort of flaw on the part of the populations and policymakers in these nations, implying that people are greedy for the potential profits of industrialisation, or not very knowledgeable about environmental issues, or that they are susceptible to bribery and thus can’t be trusted to make sound policy.

The truth is actually more complicated. Industrialising nations are subjected to immense pressure from industrialised nations to keep their regulations lax and incomplete and to meet demands from multinational companies to create ‘hospitable’ business climates. Many of these industrialised nations are former colonisers, adding another layer to the situation, and many of these corporations take a role in policymaking and governance which might surprise you, like using armed paramilitary forces to silence human rights advocates, Indigenous people, and communities. Many nations with international trade agreements are pressured by corporations that want to cut down on the costs of production by making products in countries with less stringent environmental and labour laws; look at the maquiladoras that line the United States-Mexico border for an example.

We need only look to BP operating in the United States to see how aggressively corporations resist environmental regulations in industrialised nations. In industrialising nations, which are largely regarded as low-hanging fruit for profit, that resistance is magnified, and corporations are much bolder about pressuring nations to refuse to adopt or change environmental regulations and violating those regulations when they are put in place. The same holds true with labour laws; many companies outsource production to nations with less stringent labour regulations to take advantage of the low, low costs of child and slave labour.

China represents a perfect storm. An industrialising nation with environmental regulations that are not keeping pace with pollution and the rise of vast factory towns where companies from all over the world expect to obtain a source of low-cost labour in a lax regulatory environment. Entire villages are sickening and dying as a result of environmental pollution (link via abcsoupspot). Reporting on China’s ‘cancer villages’ is suppressed, and it’s difficult to estimate the full extent of the phenomenon.

What’s happening in China is also happening in communities all over the world. As concerns about pollution rise and regulators tighten up, which they are doing in China, the pollution doesn’t disappear, it just moves. Sources of pollution such as industrial waste dumps and factories don’t just disappear. These things are still ‘needed.’ They simply move to other locations.

Those locations tend to be impoverished communities. Either they are forced on communities that are not given a choice, or they are actively welcomed by communities in dire need of jobs and income. As goes Xinglong, so goes Kettleman City. There is a long and ignominious history of shunting pollution on to poor communities that are the least equipped to deal with it, the least equipped to protest it, and the least likely to have infrastructures in place for early diagnosis and treatment of pollution-related illnesses. Many of these communities also have big minority populations, with environmental racism coming into play when it comes to deciding where polluting industries should be situated.

Environmental pollution is a global human rights issue, not a problem limited to tree huggers. With pollution comes much, much more than loss of biodiversity, extinction of endangered species, destruction of topsoil, and a host of other specifically environmental problems. Death and disease ride with environmental pollution, just as classism and racism perpetuate and determine which communities will be affected by it.

International Disabilities Alliance Disability Rights Bulletin May 2010

Global News

Spain first country to submit its initial report to the CRPD Committee

On May 3rd, 2010, Spain submitted its initial report, on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the CRPD Committee). This means that Spain has become the first country to submit a report to the Committee on how the rights of persons with disabilities are being implemented. For the moment, the report is only available in Spanish. Please click the following links to have access to the report and its annex: Spanish report and Annex.

Elections for the CRPD Committee

The election of six Members of the CRPD Committee to replace those whose terms are due to expire on 31 December 2010, and to increase the membership of the Committee from twelve to eighteen persons as a result of the 80th ratification of the CRPD, will occur during the Third session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention. The Conference of States Parties will take place in New York from 1-3 September 2010.

On May 3, the Secretary-General of the UN sent a letter asking States Parties to nominate candidates to the Committee by July 1. The CRPD Committee has recently published a section in its website on these elections. For further information on the elections for the CRPD Committee, please click here.

IDA has prepared a number of documents explaining the process as well as a questionnaire to be filled in by candidates. Please click here to access these documents and to get more information on these elections.

IDA is including in its website, information on those nominations that have been decided at national level. To have access to the information on the candidates, please click here.

OHCHR

The OHCHR has recently published on its website on disability a new tool: “Monitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Guidance for Human Rights Monitors.” Please click the following links to see this publication: pdf version of report or word version of report.

CRPD ratifications reach 86

The ratification of the CRPD by Nepal, on 7 May 2010, has increased to 86 the number of States Parties to the CRPD. Ratification by Nepal of the Optional Protocol (OP) increased to 53 the number of the States Parties to the OP. The number of signatures to the CRPD is 144, while the OP has 88 signatures.

Treaty Bodies

The CAT Committee, in its 44th session, considered from 26 April-14 May 2010 reports from Austria, Cameroon, France, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen. To have access to the disability analysis of the Concluding Observations adopted by the Committee during this session, please click here.

IDA prepared a number of documents (uploaded on the CAT Committee website) with suggested recommendations for the Concluding Observations, which were adopted by the Committee in this session. Some of these recommendations have influenced the Concluding Observations of the reviewed States such as Austria, to which the Committee recommended to cease immediately the use of net beds as it constitutes a violation of article 16 of the Convention.

Universal Periodic Review

The UPR Working Group has held its 8th session from 3-14 May 2010. In this session, the following countries were reviewed: Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Guinea, Lao People´s Democratic Republic, Spain, Lesotho, Kenya, Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Sweden, Grenada, Turkey, Guyana, Kuwait, and Belarus. The review of Haiti was scheduled for this session but was postponed.

For an analysis of the refer ences to persons with disabili ties in the UPR Working Group reports, please click here.

Upcoming Meetings

The 54th session of the CRC Committee (25 May-11 June 2010) will consider reports from Argentina, Belgium, Grenada, Guatemala, Japan, Nigeria, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Tunisia. OPSC: Argentina; Belgium; Colombia; The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Japan and Serbia. OPAC: Argentina; Colombia; Japan; Serbia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Click here for the references to persons with disabilities in the States’ reports, lists of issues, and written replies.

Upcoming Session of the Human Rights Council

The 14th session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 31 May-18 June, 2010, in Geneva. Click here for further information on this session.

IDA has prepared a disability analysis of the following reports prepared for the 14th session of the Council.

Special Procedures

The following Special Procedures reports, which have been prepared for the 14th session of the Human Rights Council, include references to persons with disabilities: Independent Expert on cultural rights; Special Rapporteur on migrants; Special Rapporteur on education; Independent Expert on extreme poverty; Special Rapporteur on racism, and the Independent Expert on Haiti. For detailed information on the references to persons with disabilities in these reports, please click here.

UPR

All UPR Working Group reports, which were prepared at the 7th session of the UPR (February 8-19, 2010) and will be presented to the 14th session of the Council, include references to persons with disabilities. Click here for the disability analysis of these reports.

Other reports

IDA has undertaken an analysis of other reports that have also been prepared for the 14th session of the Human Rights Council. Click here to access this analysis.

About the IDA Disability Rights Bulletin

This bulletin is intended for experts advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities, in particular within the Geneva-based human rights framework. It is prepared by the IDA Secretariat, which also provides support to the Group of States Friends of the CRPD.

For more information about IDA, its CRPD Forum and its member organisations, please visit: www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org.

Contact us via email at: stromel@fundaciononce.es.

Recommended Reading for I Can’t Believe May is Almost Over!

I mean, where does the time go?!

A dark body protrudes from the left, with many thin tendrils along it, showing orangey red.
A dark body protrudes from the left, with many thin tendrils along it, showing orangey red.

Second-harmonic generation microscopy image of a primary cultured Aplysia neuron stained with the membrane dye DHPESBP. The signal is modulated by membrane potential and was found to be capable of recording action potentials with 0.6 µm and 0.833 msec spatiotemporal resolution. The high-resolution and deep tissue imaging capability of this nonlinear microscopy technique should prove valuable to future electrophysiology studies. (Journal of Neuroscience) [Not entirely sure what all that means, but I find the brain endlessly beautiful and fascinating.]

Diary of a Schizophrenic – Little Girl

I am writing this to you because I want you to remember.  I want you to remember that you love unicorns and crystals, pinned butterflies and christmas beetles, love hearts and sea shells, sequins and puppy dogs. You feel special you have your ears pierced even though you are only six and you already know Santa isn’t real.  You love fairies but don’t tell many people because you are tough and like playing with the boys. You can catch and throw a ball and love to dance.  Dressing up will always be your favourite even when you’re big. Even though somewhere deep in side, you are sad, you love a lot and you see beauty everywhere.  You are smart and quick and can already talk the tail off a donkey.  You question everything and most people do not realise your careful quiet soul. One day, when you are older, you are going to lose your mind.

Pulse Media – For Enlightened White Guys [a useful set of tips for anyone participating in a group in which they have privilege]

5a. Count how many times you put your ideas out to the group.
5
b. Count how many times you support other’s ideas for the group.
6
. Practice supporting people by asking them to expand on ideas and dig more deeply before you decide to support the idea or not.
7
a. Think about whose work and contribution to the group gets recognized.
7b. Practice recognizing more people for the work they do and try to do it more often.

Boston Herald – Disability Group Faults Massachusetts on Water Crisis

An advocacy group for the disabled today filed a federal civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice over the state’s handling of a drinking water crisis earlier this month. The complaint made by the Disability Policy Consortium says the state wasn’t prepared to adequately respond to the needs of disabled and elderly people when a water main break left nearly 2 million eastern Massachusetts residents under an order to boil their water for several days.

All Africa – Nigeria: Yuguda Makes Case for Children With Disabilities

FIRST Lady of Bauchi State, Hajiya Abiodun Isa Yuguda and Founder, Challenge Your Disability Initiative, CYDI, yesterday at 2nd Vanguard Children’s Conference, called on corporate organisations across the country to learn to include children with disabilities in their programmes as part of efforts to show love and care to such group in the society. Addressing the children at summit held as part of exercise to mark this year’s Children’s Day celebration, Mrs Yuguda said children with disabilities should not be left out in programmes, particularly, programmes that would help shape their lives as future leaders.

AP – Spike in Disability Claims Clogs Overloaded System

Nearly 2 million people are waiting to find out if they qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It will be a long wait for most, even if they eventually win their cases. The Social Security system is so overwhelmed by applications for disability benefits that many people are waiting more than two years for their first payment. In Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and other states, the wait can be even longer.

Penhurst Asylum Archives. No excerpt, just a recommendation to browse the astonishing range of original source documents available at this archive of Penhurst State School and Hospital, which was surrounded by and eventually closed in response to allegations of abuse and neglect. A lawsuit after the facility closed led to a Supreme Court decision establishing that people who are involuntarily confined are entitled to “reasonably safe confinement.” The site is a testament to those who were subject to conditions that nobody could call reasonably safe. There’s some interviews and personal accounts, papers documenting problems at the hospital, and even redacted patient reports.

Recommended Reading for May 13, 2010

Jacquelyn Palmer-Boyce lies on her back, wearing a yellow t-shirt and jacket and a yellow bandana on her head, surrounded by dandelions for MCS Awareness Month. ©2010 John Boyce

Photo via The Canary Report, who writes: “Heralding MCS Awareness Month, profile photos radiating the warmth and vibrancy of yellow are popping up throughout our community on Facebook and on our network. Yellow, for those of us with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, symbolizes the canary in the coal mine, with which we all identify. Our identity as a canary embraces and honors our bodies’ wisdom, and uses our song to alert the world of the menacing dangers of toxic consumer goods and a polluted planet.”

Alexandra Lammers and Eric Hoyle, she in a wedding dress with a festively decorated cane and he in a morning suit exit the church after their wedding.
Alexandra Lammers and Eric Hoyle, she in a wedding dress with a festively decorated cane and he in a morning suit exit the church after their wedding.

Photo from The New York Times Vows article about Lammers’ and Hoyle’s wedding. While Lammers was using a cane due to an injury, rather than a disability, it was still nice to see a mobility aid in the New York Times like this.

Disability Scoop – Disability Advocates Reserving Judgment on High Court Nominee

Disability advocates were hesitant to say much about [nominee to the United States Supreme Court Elena] Kagan. Without a judicial record, they said little is known on her positions regarding disability rights law. “I think her hearings are going to be important,” Louis Bossing, senior staff attorney at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, said of Kagan’s upcoming Senate confirmation process. “We’re going to spend time working with the judiciary committee so the senators can ask questions we’ll need to know whether to support or oppose her nomination.”

The New York Times – When Treating One Worker’s Allergy Sets Off Another’s

On the first day Ms. Kysel took Penny, [her allergy-detection service dog] to work, one of her co-workers suffered an asthma attack because she is allergic to dogs. That afternoon Ms. Kysel was stunned when her boss told her that she could no longer take the dog to work, or if she felt she could not report to work without Penny, she could go on indefinite unpaid leave. She was ineligible for unemployment compensation because of the limbo she was put in.

Ghana News Agency – Women with disabilities demand respect from society

Women with disabilities in the Upper East Region has called on society not to see them as liabilities but help empower them so they could take care of themselves. They complained that many people regarded them as a curse to their families and did not want to associate with them especially in issues of marriage. They explained that when they receive marriage proposals the potential groom’s family would usually argue that the disabled woman would join the family with her curse and discourage their son. These concerns were raised at a meeting of the Association of Women Living with Disabilities, held in Bolgatanga, to discuss their situation and find ways to make things better for their members.

MB the MD/MC – on (dis)ableism

I have a lot of people in my family with disabilities, though none of them would consider themselves disabled. In talking with another radical woman of color, it seems that disability is so the “norm” in our communities, it’s often not marked as an identity unto itself. I often wonder about what a release it might be for women of color to see disability as a framework that intersects with race and gender, to not always feel the need to keep fighting, even when it hurts, to let go of the ways that we as cis and trans women of color in particular, have taken up ableism in ways that reproduce harm to ourselves and the communities we “work” so hard and care for. Why does disability mostly look white?

Associated Press –Feds Sue Over Treatment of Disabled in Arkansas

The federal government accused Arkansas in a lawsuit Thursday of leaving people with severe mental or physical disabilities with no choice but to go into state institutions. The Justice Department lawsuit accused Arkansas of a “systemic failure” that places people in institutions when the state should pursue less restrictive avenues for their care. “The state gives individuals with developmental disabilities the draconian choice of receiving services in segregated institutions or receiving no services at all,” the lawsuit states. The federal government accused the state of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees people with developmental disabilities the right to live in the most appropriate setting for their needs. The state has six centers for the developmentally disabled that, in all, care for about 1,100 people.

A faded street sign reading 'CAUTION DEPRESSION AHEAD' is in focus with a blurry background of escalators.
A faded street sign reading 'CAUTION DEPRESSION AHEAD' is in focus with a blurry background of escalators.

Photo credit unknown, seen at Nowhere Pixie.

An Open Letter to Ms Magazine Blog

Dear Ms Magazine Blog:

My name is Anna. I’m what some people in North America would call a person with a disability, and some people in the UK would call a disabled person. My husband, many of my friends, all of my co-bloggers, and a large number of our commenters are also people with disabilities/disabled people.

Your blogger, Carol King, would instead refer to us as “the disabled”, and as pawns of the religious right. In her blog post Kevorkian and the Right to Choose , she wrote:

The “right-to-lifers” enlisted the disabled in their cause when they cautioned that allowing people to choose to die would soon become their “duty to die.”

I’m pretty angry about that. Not offended, Ms Magazine, angry. You see, I’m really tired of “the disabled” being treated like we’re unthinking masses. I’m especially tired of the feminist movement – you know, one that allegedly wants equal rights for all people, including women with disabilities – doing this. It makes me angry because I’m a feminist as well as a woman as well as a person with a disability as well as someone who is not the pawn of anyone, thank you very much.

Some people with disabilities support the right to die. Others do not. Others do in some cases and not in others. Each of us has come to the conclusions we have because we are reasoning individuals. Gosh, some of us are even feminists who use a feminist lens to come to our decisions, regardless of which of the many places on that particular spectrum of opinion we find ourselves.

People with disabilities deserve better treatment than you have given them. We are not a throw-away line so you can score some sort of points. We are people, and I’m appalled that a feminist blog like Ms would publish something that would treat us as otherwise.

Frankly, I am so fucking tired of this shit. I’m tired of smiling while feminist organisations treat people with disabilities like they’re afterthoughts and problems to be solved. Like we’re just pawns in politics, like we need to be appeased but never spoken to or considered, like we’re too angry or not angry enough, like we have to push this fucking rock of dis/ableism uphill while you – our “sisters” – stand by and politely look away.

Do you remember Beijing, Ms Magazine? You’ve talked about it a lot lately. You know what I know about Beijing? I know the accessibility tent was inaccessible to people with disabilities. [transcript follows]

“We will achieve our rights and the respect we deserve as women with disabilities.” “Because the issues of women with disabilities have often been excluded, the goal this year was to make sure the concerns of disabled women were addressed.” Oh, hell, just watch the whole damned thing – it’s subtitled – and see the commitment feminists made to women with disabilities. Ask yourself, seriously, Ms Magazine, why your new blog has decided not to talk much about women with disabilities. “No woman who attends this conference should be able to leave Beijing without thinking about the rights of women with disabilities.” Do you?

You know what? If that’s something you can’t do, let me sum it up:

Nothing about us without us.

You wanna talk “about” “the disabled”? How about talking to us? How about letting us talk for ourselves?

How about treating us – people with disabilities – the way you would like women like yourselves to be treated? As though we have some understanding of our own experiences, our own opinions, our own thoughts. As though our thoughts do not belong to anyone but ourselves?

As though we are thinking beings?

Again, my name is Anna. I, like you, am a woman, and I am also a person with a disability. And we deserve better from you.

Sincerely,

Anna.

Please note: This thread is meant to be about the continued marginalization of people with disabilities in the Feminist Movement. I won’t be approving any comments about Kevorkian or related discussions.
Continue reading An Open Letter to Ms Magazine Blog