Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to shake a fist in the universe’s general direction?
A few weeks ago, I had the fairly weird experience of two different people trying to make the fact that I use a cane a topic of conversation (?) on the same day. Usually, when people feel the need to point out the obvious to me — that I use a cane as a mobility aid due to chronic pain — it happens pretty infrequently, maybe once a month. Twice in the same day, though, just felt strange.
Incident one: As I am waiting for the elevator in a building on my university campus, a young woman approaches me and asks me why I use a cane. She’s curious about it, she mentions, because her mom uses one. I reply that I use it because I have chronic pain, and this seems to satisfy her curiosity. I feel oddly relieved when the conversation stops there.
Incident two: I am walking to a coffee shop, and I pass a row of garbage and recycling containers out on the sidewalk on a busy street. A guy rummaging through one of the containers picks that exact moment to look up; he sees me and yells out, “You’re a YOUNG DISABLED LADY!” I am too confused to respond, and keep walking.
I can hear the refrains now: Those people were just trying to be friendly! They didn’t mean anything by it! They were just trying to start a conversation!
Maybe, but that doesn’t stop having the fact that I move differently from most other people pointed out to me in a very obvious manner (as if I don’t already know that, what with using a cane and all) from being annoying as all get-out.
So, the next time you see a person who uses a mobility aid, service animal, or other assistive technology, please remember: If you have the urge to point it out to them and/or try to use it as a conversational springboard, chances are that you probably do not have to do this. We know that we use assistive devices, and that said devices may look odd to people who are not disabled. It’s cool. We totally get it. And, even if you don’t “mean anything by it” by pointing it out to us or trying to tell us about someone you know who also has a disability, we might read your enthusiasm as something else entirely.
My name is Mary Lou Bensy, and I am a Doctoral Student and researcher at Hofstra University, located in New York. As part of my Doctoral Dissertation, this ground-breaking research and survey is being conducted to help us learn more about the sexual harassment and abuse of special education students in schools. We need this vital information to help protect this victimized population. The survey is designed primarily to gather information on individuals with disabilities who have ever been sexually abused in school.
Parents, guardians, advocates and caregivers of students with disabilities are asked to respond on behalf of ONE victimized student per survey. If an individual chooses to respond on behalf of more than one student, he/she can feel free to take the survey more than once. Adult survivors are asked to complete the survey for themselves.
Note: Gender binary, US-centric so likely best for US residents to answer, TRIGGER WARNING for the questions, survey ends with link to sexual abuse resources, highlights that you can skip questions you don’t want to answer. The disabilities you can select flagged up to me as problematic groupings (“emotional disturbance”?) but this may be that I come from a different educational background.
As always, I cannot answer questions about this survey.
Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.
Inclusion Europe: Czech District Court rules on full restoration of legal capacity
A court in the Czech Republic has ordered that a woman with intellectual disabilities should have all her legal rights restored.
This is important because this is the first time that a Czech court based its decision on the concept of supported decision making.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities says that people with disabilities must be able to live an equal basis with others in all ways.
The woman, Renata, lived in an institution but with the help of a support person is capable of living an independent in the community.
Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology: Quality of Captioning, Exemptions & News Captioning Rules Up for Refresh by FCC
On October 25, 2010, the FCC issued a new Public Notice seeking comment on the closed captioning rules that have been in place for the last twelve years. While the FCC has received over a thousand comments and petitions to address these older rules, they now intend to refresh and likely issue updated or modernized captioning rules. Comments are due by November 24, 2010, with Reply Comments due December 9, 2010. The dockets are CG Docket No. 05-231 and ET Docket No. 99-254.
Access Tourism NZ: New USA Laws Affect Tourism and Travel for People with Disabilities
The law will make it easier for people who are deaf, blind or have low vision to access the Internet, smart phones, television programming and other communications and video technologies. It will also make sure that emergency information is accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision. In addition, $10 mil lion per year will be allocated from the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund for equipment used by individuals who are deaf-blind. The law also applies to on-board entertainment in airline travel, which hasn’t been captioned for deaf travellers as of yet, despite the fact that all movies and TV shows must be captioned (the airlines actually remove them). “Finally, 30 million Americans with hearing loss will be equal to the rest”, writes Kennedy. Meanwhile a new website called “Fix the Web” has launched in the U.K. which allows people to report inaccessible web sites after which volunteers will report complaints back to site owners.
A Chinese court ruled Friday against a man who filed the country’s first lawsuit over employment discrimination against people who are HIV-positive, the man’s lawyer said.
The man, identified only by the nickname Little Wu, brought the suit in the eastern city of Anqing after being refused a teaching job because he tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS.
ABC Capricornia: Disability to PossAbility: Expo a hit
She says the expo aims not only to make people aware of the services offered, but to not become complacent with what is available.
“It’s encouraging people to not accept what is currently there, look at what we can use that is existing in the current community but how we can tweak it a little bit so that it’s more inclusive for all people,” says Jenni.
Rockhampton Manager for the Endeavour Foundation Lyn York says the expo is long overdue and the event has grown out of frustration.
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.
*** HEARING THURSDAY ***
Landrieu to Chair Hearing To Examine Regulatory Burdens Facing Small Businesses
WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, will hold a hearing Thursday, November 18, 2010 entitled “Next Steps for Main Street: Reducing the Regulatory and Administrative Burdens on America’s Small Businesses.” This hearing will give small businesses the opportunity to discuss federal regulations resulting from labor and workplace safety law, environmental protection laws, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Committee will also have discussions on the Form 1099 reporting requirement taking effect in 2012.
Your coverage is invited
U.S. Senate Small Business Committee Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Small Business Committee Members
Hearing entitled, “Next Steps for Main Street: Reducing the Regulatory and Administrative Burdens on America’s Small Businesses”
Thursday, November 18, 2010
10:00 a.m. EST
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
I came across this on tumblr and rolled my eyes so hard they just about fell out of my head. I feel like I should get bingo just for looking at it:
The text reads “Even though autism can cripple communication, Paul managed to overcome his disability and save a teens Life. Seeing a 17 year old lying on the ground because of Alcohol poisoning, he went over to him, asked him how he was doing and called 911. To read more click here: [link].”
Inspirational crip! Using the word “cripple” to describe the effect of autism on communication! He “managed” to do something! And thus overcame the immeasurable burden of his disability!
This was posted on the tumblr of the organization “The Friendship Circle,” whose goal is “bring[ing] together teenage volunteers and children with special needs for hours of fun and friendship. … Our special friends blossom and gain the confidence they need to make the most their abilities and talents.”
This has got to be bingo. Someone give me a prize.
Your friendly neighbourhood Anna is out of town at the moment. Please enjoy this recommended reading post from the future.
Lindsay at Autist’s Corner: Doubly Deviant: On Being Queer and Autistic
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This is a very long, rambly autobiographical post about being bisexual and being autistic: it compares my experiences coming to terms with both of these facts (always knowing about the autism, vs. having to figure out the sexual orientation; and also, doubting the possibility that I could *have* a sexual orientation because I thought autistic people didn’t date or have sex, or even want to do either of those things) with those of Amanda Forest Vivian, who is a lesbian, and autistic, and has written about those things at some length at her own blog. I also discuss the ways being autistic has complicated being gay for me — besides my initial difficulty realizing that what I felt about girls was, in fact, sexual desire, there was also a profound isolation from the larger Gay Community, which I never felt like I could (or would want to) join.
Have we linked to High Functioning yet?
A list of different ways people use the word “high-functioning” about people with developmental disabilities; an attempt to figure out what it actually is supposed to mean.
Interested humans–people with disabilities, staff, family members, allies, and people who are more than one of those things–are invited to share different ways they have heard the term “high-functioning” be used.
Amanda Forest Vivian at I’m Somewhere Else: 12. Bird Brains
The classic example of impaired “social skills” in people with “Asperger’s” is a person who constantly talks about their favorite subject, and doesn’t notice other people’s boredom or discomfort. I will explore this by presenting two people who like to talk differently.
Shiva at Biodiverse Resistance: Call for Papers – * Critical Autism Seminar Day * Tuesday, 18th January 2011 (UK)
Keynote speaker: Anne McGuire* (Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Canada). Anne’s doctoral research analyses the social significance and productive effects of cultural representations of autism produced and circulated by individuals and collectives engaged in autism advocacy in the contemporary West.
Our aim is for this conference to be as inclusive as possible. We welcome activists, undergraduate and postgraduate students, practitioners and academics to join us.
Melissa Mitchell at Service Dogs: A Way of Life: Book Review: MAKING THE MOVE TO MANAGING YOUR OWN PERSONAL ASSISTANCE SERVICES (PAS): A Toolkit for Youth With Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood
(includes PDF link to download of book)
This in-depth 69 page guide covers this ins and outs of personal assistants for youth with disabilities utilizing the stories of youth with disabilities to illustrate topics related to utilizing, hiring, and selecting personal assistants. Pages 10-12 talk about Service Dogs and an option for meeting personal care and assistant needs. The section is clear, honest and bringsup many good points people who are new to dogs often don’t realize.
US: National Federation of the Blind: Penn State Discriminates Against Blind Students and Faculty
Baltimore, Maryland (November 12, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, announced today that it has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, requesting an investigation of Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) for violating the civil rights of blind students and faculty. The NFB filed the complaint because a variety of computer- and technology-based services and Web sites at Penn State are inaccessible to blind students and faculty. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public state universities to offer equal access to their programs and services.
This is being discussed as well at the Chronicle of Higher Education: Penn State Accused of Discriminating Against Blind Students. Please be aware that the comments are… Well, they’re internet comments in a place that isn’t exactly disability-friendly, although there are many people pointing out that blind students would like to be able to get classroom material as well.
Anyway, I have just realised that I am actually writing this from the past – I always get confused when I travel if I’ve gone forward or backward in time.
When I tell people I write for a feminist site focusing on a disability issues, one of the most common responses I get is confusion. ‘What does disability,’ people ask me, ‘have to do with feminism?’ I’ve written before, very topically, about why disability is a feminist issue, and I’d hope that a lot of the content on this site backs that assertion up, considering that we’ve talked about a number of issues considered important in the feminist movement, like reproductive rights and rape, just to name two examples.
But I’d like to spend a little time drilling down into some specific aspects of disability and living with disability that tie in with feminism, very strongly, because I continue to encounter pushback when it comes to integrating disability into conversations about feminism.
Today: Gendering when it comes to access to health care and disability services. Gender inequality is a core issue in feminism and it can be seen especially clearly when it comes to disability issues, which is one reason I’m always surprised to see that people don’t consider disability a feminist issue. I’m not talking here about the gendering of disability itself, which also occurs and is a separate issue that really needs its own post to do it justice. I’m discussing gendering when it comes to who can access health care and what kind of health care people can access, and how that plays out for people with disabilities.
Let’s start with the fact that, in the United States, to access health care, you need money. You need money to pay out of pocket, or you need money to buy insurance, or you need the kind of job that includes insurance as a benefit (we’ll talk about who can access government assistance, including health care, in a moment). Guess who is likely to have less money? Women. Women of colour and nonwhite women in particular are on the bottom of a pretty incredible income disparity as a result of intersecting oppressions. When women get sick, when they are injured, when they acquire disabilities, they are less likely to be able to access treatment because they cannot afford it, they are less likely to be able to adhere to treatment because over the long term it is expensive, and they are more likely to experience complications because of issues like caring for children, trying to deal with poor access to food, and other things while also trying to get better.
Outside the United States, money can still be a profound determiner when it comes to accessing health care, because money is tied in with so many things. People with money are more likely to have pursued advanced education, to be informed about health issues, including the early warning signs of conditions in need of treatment. People with money can access care the government doesn’t cover, can afford private hospitalization, can pursue treatments that cost a lot of money, and can persist through a health crisis when it comes to demanding and getting treatment. People with money can afford that supplemental private insurance that may make the difference between being turfed off in a corner somewhere and given actual treatment. Money talks, worldwide, and women are less likely to have it, less likely to hold it, less able to earn it.
But, but, poor women can go on government assistance! Then they don’t need money to pay for health care, so everything is ok. Yeah, except, the income standards for government assistance are hopelessly skewed and hopelessly wrong. Women have to be not just poor, but really poor to quality for government assistance, and they have to stay poor. Disabled women who apply for government benefits must be willing and able to jump through a number of hoops on command; they need to pull together reams of supporting documentation, to prove they are disabled enough, and guess what the government really doesn’t like paying out benefits on? Conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia, which disproportionately impact women and are often dismissed as ‘not real disabilities,’ so even after doing everything right, these women might still be denied benefits.
For women who can get on disability, it’s a lifetime of poverty. The government has very strict limits about income and assets for people receiving benefits, which means that disabled women can only work very limited hours, can’t save money, and certainly can’t own any meaningful assets. ‘But they don’t need to, they’re on benefits.’ Well, poverty tends to intersect rather dramatically with a lot of feminist issues; how do you escape an abusive partner or caregiver when you have no money in savings and you can’t afford a hotel, a deposit on a new place, bus fare out of town? How can you plan for your future when you can’t save any money? How can you pay for treatment the government doesn’t cover when you have no funds? How do you buy the meds everyone says you have to take to be a ‘contributing member of society’ when they cost hundreds of dollars every month and the government delays your benefits for mysterious reasons all its own?
Accessing health care also requires time. You need the time to sit on the phone to make appointments. You need time to go to the doctor’s office for evaluation, time to go to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, time to perform prescribed exercises at home, time to argue with insurance companies about benefits. Time is something women tend to lack access to because they’re often juggling a myriad of tasks. Or they’re working in the kinds of jobs where asking for time off to get medical care is frowned upon. Or they’re working multiple jobs to afford to stay alive and can’t figure out where to fit a doctor visit into their schedule. Or they have young children whom they can’t leave alone, but can’t take to the doctor, either.
And let’s talk about the fact that a number of health conditions are underdiagnosed or diagnosed too late in women as a result of gendered ideas about who gets what. Heart attacks, for example. Are often not diagnosed in women both because they are believed to be a ‘male’ health complaint, and because heart attacks in women present differently than they do in men. This means that women are more likely to experience complications from heart attacks, if they survive, because they weren’t identified early enough.
Drilling down, we can see that certain classes of people wait longer for treatment and are often provided with inadequate care when they do receive it. Often, women are among these groups; for instance, women of colour/nonwhite women and poor women tend to experience delays in accessing breast cancer treatment. It’s notable that breast cancer is a very popular social cause, yet there are still significant disparities in terms of who can access diagnosis, treatment, and support for breast cancer.
This is a feminist issue. Women are dying, right now, all over the world, because they can’t get the care they need, and when they access care, they are treated unequally. For women with disabilities, the gendering of health care access creates a lifetime of barriers that don’t need to be there, from being told you ‘aren’t really’ disabled to being denied care on the grounds that the problem you’re having ‘doesn’t happen to women so it must not be happening.’ Gender disparities in health care access and treatment have very real and meaningful consequences for women who are sick, as well as disabled women. They can literally be the difference between life and death.
Tell me that’s not a feminist issue. Go on.