Category Archives: Uncategorized
Hi! As you may have noticed, we’re rotating Recommended Reading between a few contributors now. This is my first one, and it may have a little bit of a different style? I don’t know. Anyway, here it is!
History Lessons – Scar
My daughter will inherit my scar. Obviously I know that you can’t inherit a scar, but she’ll likely end up having the same spinal surgery as me in the future. We both have scoliosis. Pretty bad scoliosis. I was diagnosed at eight; she was diagnosed at five. I wore a back brace and she wore one too. … There is no reason to cover it up.
BBC News – Making Light of Disability
Disability is one of those things that makes people feel awkward – there is perhaps a deep-rooted, psychological fear of contamination by association. So what we often do when something makes us feel uneasy is to laugh about it. It’s still well within living memory that TV comedians would poke fun at people from different ethnic groups – but broadcasting executives soon cottoned on to the fact that they risked alienating growing sections of their audience for the sake of a cheap gag.
Wheelchair Dancer – Disability and Race: Who Will Catch You If You Fall? (not new but still recommended)
In the workshop, I found myself in a conversation about disability and race. One of the participants had worked with some black disabled men; she was confused about why they identified more with being disabled than with being black. Didn’t they experience racism every day? Were they blocking out their blackness, disconnecting from their roots? Were they denying the hatred that black men experience on a daily basis? And then I got thinking. There are many ways to put the pieces of the puzzle together; indeed, for academics, “black disability studies” and other race and disability enquiries have recently become a new edge (yeah, I know… it’s problematic…). I would put some of the many pieces together like this…
Blog of Legal Times – Colorado Lawyer Settles Discrimination Suit Over Dog
A Colorado Springs lawyer who refused to allow a veterinarian and her service dog to enter his law office for a scheduled deposition in a civil action has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a federal discrimination suit. LeHouillier demanded the veterinarian, Joan Murnane, prove her dog, an Australian shepherd, was a certified service dog. According to the suit, LeHouillier was not satisfied after reviewing a letter documenting Murnane’s need for the dog. LeHouillier feared the dog would soil recently installed carpeting, according to the Justice Department complaint.
The FBI is investigating an affordable-housing deal in which Los Angeles officials channeled $26 million to a developer who they knew was under criminal investigation for alleged misuse of public funds, city officials said Thursday. The developer, David Rubin, was indicted last fall in New York for alleged bid-rigging and fraud, charges unconnected to the L.A. project. The $26 million went toward construction of a 92-unit apartment building near downtown L.A. for disabled homeless seniors. It has sat empty since October while its prospective tenants live in shelters or substandard housing.
Many professional athletic teams in the U.S. and Canada (for Hockey and Baseball, but I do not know of other sports, or of other countries’ sports’ teams) have what are known as “Disabled Lists“. Major League Baseball calls it this specifically, where a player who is temporarily injured and can not play for whatever reason is placed on this list.
The National Hockey League and the National Football League have what are called “Injured Reserved Lists“, but these are basically the same thing.
These lists are made public, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is for fantasy leagues and gamblers so that they are always on top of who is in and who is out of the game.
How does this poke you, gentle readers? Does this feel like an appropriation of language by people who make their living off of able bodies who stretch them to extremes?
Does this fall under the “temporarily abled” thought train that some of us use when talking about how our bodies will eventually break down, knowing that professional athletes will often succumb to serious injury at younger ages than expected by society due to the constant beating they take?
I leave it to you, now to discuss.
File this under “Who Even Knows, Anymore?”
s.e. smith recently posted a photo of a “5 a day” tag that came on some asparagus she bought. She felt, and I agree, that those tags are a form of food policing – instructing people what they “should” eat. The corollary, of course, is that if people do not follow these food guidelines, their unhealthiness is their own fault. s.e. explored some of the problems with these educational campaigns over at This Ain’t Living, but I want to highlight another problem here.
That problem being, namely, that NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. From a recent article at Scientific American:
The recommendation that people eat at least five servings (about 400 grams) of fruits and veggies each day, espoused by the WHO since 1990, was based on studies that found a link between higher intakes of these foods and lower risks for cancer and other diseases.
Since the 1990s, however, evidence from large studies has been mounting that the protective effects of these foods against cancer in particular might be modest—if it exists at all.
The results are in line with other findings both in the U.S. and abroad that suggest the protective effect of fruits and vegetables is “much smaller than had been believed 10 years ago,” Harvard School of Public Health’s Walter Willett, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, noted in an e-mail to ScientificAmerican.com. People who eat more fresh fruits and vegetables are also more likely to make other healthful lifestyle choices, such as exercising more and drinking and smoking less, which the researchers noted “may have contributed to a lower cancer risk” overall.
So this “5 a day” rule – which has been adopted as healthy eating dogma all over the world – may not actually be based on much of anything and there’s virtually no evidence to support the assertion that eating more fruits and veggies will automatically lead to better health.
But watch – it will still be used to shame people, and to blame them for their own health problems, regardless of the lack of scientific support. This strongly supports the argument that these healthy eating rules, and other rules about what people “should” do to be healthy, are much less about scientifically proven relationships between eating and health and much more about shaming people for their health problems.
(h/t The Awl for the link, and the suggestion that You Are Going To Get Cancer Anyway, So Have The Steak)
The UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) is pleased to announce the launch of an exciting new manifesto for the coming year. The Manifesto for 2010 sets out the UKDPC work programme on key issues that have a decisive impact on justice and rights for disabled people.
The UKDPC Manifesto highlights the essential issues and demands of disabled people for equal rights and justice for 2010. The UKDPC work programme for the coming year will specifically focus on human rights, independent living, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), ensuring the role of disabled people in co-production of future policies and striving to firmly place disability at the top of the political agenda.
They have a three page manifesto at the link. I know it’s election time in the UK.
Are you, or have you been, a post-secondary student with a disability? What have been your experiences with navigating your institution as a disabled student? Is/was there a Student Accessibility Services office, and how effective were they in assisting you?
If you are willing to talk about what happened – good or bad – please email me. anna @ disabledfeminists.com
You can present information in Braille, large print, Sign Language, or easy read, but it will still be useless if it cannot be understood.
Once again we are talking about clear and straightforward communication, familiar language, jargon free text and information that is well structured and easy to follow. This is true whether the information is presented in a web site that has clearly understandable navigation and other interactions such as forms, or in any other format.
I’m worried about dropping out of school at some point. And part of that is because I like education. Which is a valid reason to feel worry about not being able to complete it. But part of that, part of it is because of the enormous social pressure to succeed in this environment. Part of it is the society telling me that if I can’t handle university, the problem is with me not wanting it hard enough, or not trying hard enough. The problem is me, not the system that isn’t set up to accommodate more than one (fairly specific) type of learning. And it’s really hard not to internalize those messages, even if you know about the problems with them. It’s hard not to buy into something you see everywhere.
Because I am very functional, and because the standard image of “someone with OCD” is Adrian Monk or Hannelore, I do occasionally have to deal with people assuming I’m exaggerating. I don’t compulsively wash my hands or clean my kitchen, I’m definitely not a germaphore, and if I re-type books completely between drafts, well, that’s just a quirk. But obsession and compulsion both take many forms, and while I have found peace with mine, and consider them a vital part of who I am, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. (Why I would joke about having something that is considered a mental illness, I don’t know.)
Remember that just because someone is a functional, relatively normal-seeming human being, that doesn’t mean they’re wired the way that you are. I have to remind myself that not everybody wants their day broken down into fifteen-minute increments, because for me, that is the norm. The human mind is an amazing thing, full of possibilities, and each of us expresses them differently. I am a cybernetic space princess from Mars, and that’s not a choice I made; that’s the way I was made. I can get an address on Earth, but Mars will always be my home.
In the news (just headlines today, all from the US):
Short Bursts of Activity Ease Fibromyalgia
[Image description: a woman’s hand rests on an inlaid wood cane.]
I use a cane! This should not come as a surprise, but often when I am out in public, it does. People seem surprised to see a young person who uses a cane; while I have not gotten people “confronting” me about it directly — quite unlike my limp caused by cerebral palsy, which is more often cause for extremely invasive personal questions and/or people asking in an oh-so-concerned tone of voice if my “foot” is okay (even though it’s not just my foot that is affected by the CP!) — I have gotten stares because of it. Staring seems to be one of those things that folks think they can get away with, but most of the time, they can’t.
I am used to being stared at; it’s something I have dealt with quite a bit, as a person with several disabling conditions (one of which — cerebral palsy — I’ve had since birth). In Western society, it is usually considered impolite to stare, if not outright rude. And yet, people do it anyway. There is no faster way to learn this than to be a person with a body that does not fit mainstream expectations of “normal” — whether this body is marked by race, disability, sexuality, class, gender(ed) performance or status, fatness, or other signifiers that mark someone as different from “the norm” (which is, in itself, socially constructed).
I don’t usually get offended if I catch someone staring at my cane; I do get offended, however, when the stare-er tries to pretend that s/he/zie wasn’t staring, mostly because this seems like kind of a dishonest move, and I tend to favor honesty. Ideally, no one would stare at my cane, or at me, and I could just go about my business when I’m out in public. But there’s a question, additionally, that’s always on my mind about having a body that isn’t totally mainstream (even if the body in question has other types of privilege): are these people who stare actually noticing me in a way that matters, or are they thinking, “Thank [deity] that I’m not like her.”