Signal Boost: Invitation to Respond to Government’s New Accessibility Standards from Citizens with Disabilities of Ontario (Canada)

Invitation to Respond to Government’s New Accessibility Standards
from Citizens with Disabilities of Ontario (CWDO)

The provincial government has now posted its proposed new accessibility standards. The new standards will cover accessible employment, transportation, and information and communications.

You are invited to help CWDO prepare a response to these standards by the government’s deadline of October 16, 2010. CWDO will be hosting a series of three on-line meetings to contribute to our response.

Where? IDEAL Auditorium 1 (our on-line conference centre)
Time? 1:30 to 3:30 pm, EDT
When?
Sunday, Sep 19 – Information & Communication proposed standard
Sunday, Sep 26 – Accessible Transportation proposed standard
Sunday, Oct 03 – Accessible Employment proposed standard

At all three sessions, members will be invited to comment on the common components of the standards. These sections address training, policy development, compliance and enforcement.

Time is short, so please read the proposed standards ahead of time.

More information can be found on our Accessibility Standards Committee page.

To join any or all of these events go to: CWDO

By 14 September, 2010.    signal boost   



Signal Boost: The Arc FINDS Survey 2010 (Open Until 1 November)

This informational survey is being conducted by The Arc, a national [US] disability organization whose mission is to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

The purpose of this survey is to capture the perceptions of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages,and their families, on issues concerning disability support needs across the life spectrum. Responses will be used to help inform disability organizations, services, policy, and public perceptions on issues related to disability supports that you or your family member has now, needs or is anticipated to need in the future. Your answers will remain completely anonymous and confidential. We will not connect your responses and answers to you personally; your identity will remain unknown to staff working on this project unless you choose to provide your name and contact information at the end of this survey.

There are no risks or costs associated with completing this survey.

Respondents needing personal assistance with filling out the survey may have their appointed personal assistant help complete the survey, but responses in the first section of the survey should be those of the respondent, not of the caregiver or personal assistant.

Your completion and submission of this survey indicates that you, or your parent or caregiver, are at least 18 and voluntarily consent to participating. Average time to complete this survey is 30 to 45 minutes.

Copies of this survey may be made available upon request in Spanish, large print and Braille.

Link to online survey.

Recommended Reading for 13 September 2010

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.

The Quixotic Autistic: Early Intervention: My two cents and my many apprehensions

The way I see it, early detection is the ultimate Pandora’s Box for people on the spectrum.

HP Blog: I Have Dissociative Identity Disorder: Disclosure DOs and DON’Ts

What’s comfortable for you may be unhealthy for someone else, and vice versa. With that in mind, what I offer you today isn’t advice on whether or not to reveal your DID diagnosis, but a short list of DOs and DON’Ts – things to keep in mind when considering disclosure.

Disability Scoop: Employment Gains Seen For People With Disabilities

Not only were more people working last month as compared to the month before, but more people were considered part of the workforce, meaning that they had work or were actively looking for it.

UN News Centre: At UN, countries call for strengthening of rights of persons with disabilities

Hundreds of delegates and civil society representatives took part in the three-day conference at UN Headquarters in New York to see how to better implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in 2008.

The convention, among other elements, asserts the rights to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation and equal recognition before the law for persons with disabilities.

Midlife and Treachery (Thanks to Penny from Disability Studies at Temple U. for the link! Again!)

Disagreement on issues? Fine, lets.  But don’t decide I’m not a person if you disagree with me.

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.

By 13 September, 2010.    recommended reading   



Weekly Job Round-Up: APPLICATION WINDOW CLOSING SOON!

As always, these jobs are not endorsed by us in any way, and we cannot answer any questions about them.

Canada:

Accessibility Program Manager Please Endorse the AODA Alliance’s Brief to Elections Ontario on Proposed Polling Station and Returning Office Site Accessibility Standard (Ontario)

18-Month Temporary Assignment/Secondment
OPEN

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Chief Electoral Office Division, is seeking an energetic and motivated individual to provide specialized program management and consulting expertise in the management, coordination and delivery of accessibility programs/initiatives for Elections Ontario.

By 13 September, 2010.    Uncategorized   



Today in Journalism: Arnieville

Back in May, I wrote about the rampant slashing of the sections of California’s budget pertaining to disability services. abby jean has also written about how California structures social assistance programs and their funding.  These are issues seen not just in California, but across the United States, where states are struggling to come up with ways to provide services while facing falling revenues and funding shortfalls in every direction. The most vulnerable populations in many states are the first to face cuts, and some of those people have decided to fight back.

Which brings us to Arnieville1. In June, disability rights activists occupied a traffic island in Berkeley to fight budget cuts. The Arnieville protests continued off and on throughout the summer and protesters led demonstrations in other areas of the state as well, leading to things like arrests in Sacramento.

Arnieville put disability rights issues front and center. People passing by couldn’t help but notice a large encampment of people with disabilities, and their numerous signs, protesting policy and budget cuts. It was a very in your face protest, and it makes sense that such a thing would take place in Berkeley, a city long known for its active disability community and disability rights activism.

Yet, if you rely on mainstream media for your news, you wouldn’t know about Arnieville. A search on the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the largest Bay Area newspapers, for ‘Arnieville’ returns no results. Likewise with the Press Democrat, a smaller regional paper that still manages to find time to cover other local news. The Los Angeles Times, an award-winning California newspaper with a long history of investigative journalism and coverage of both disability issues and the California budget, also has absolutely no coverage of Arnieville.

If you don’t follow the disability community in the Bay Area closely, you probably wouldn’t know about Arnieville. Unless you happened to read independent media like IndyBay, The San Francisco Bay View, The Berkeley Daily Planet, or New American Media. Coverage in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and San Francisco Bay Guardian, three farily large independent media outlets? Nil. Zero results. Coverage on radio and television news is a little more difficult to track as I can’t search through months of broadcasts as conveniently as I can through months of print media, but I suspect coverage has been relatively minimal, if not nonexistent, with the exception of KPFA in Berkeley.

Arnieville is news. People with disabilities camping out in a traffic island to protest budget cuts, to demand independence from institutionalisation, to challenge social policy, is news. Yet, most of California’s media is completely ignoring the Arnieville protest, let alone its implications. This is typical. Disability issues are rarely covered in the media and when they are, it’s usually in a very patronising, frustrating kind of way.  An article on budget cuts, for example, might focus on interviewing parents of children with disabilities instead of interviewing the children themselves, or interviewing adults with disabilities.

Activists from other movements are profiled in the news in California. Protests demanding everything from clean energy to better accountability in police brutality cases are covered, extensively, as they should be. Because protest is one of many legitimate forms of communication with the government, and newspapers have an obligation, and a mission, to report on issues of interest to citizens. Disability rights is an issue of interest to many California citizens, not just people with disabilities, yet, the media seems very disinterested in covering it.

What about Arnieville isn’t newsworthy? The Los Angeles Times had no problems covering a tent city in Sacramento in March of 2009. A whole series of articles was run, including profiles of members of the encampment and a number of very strongly written editorials about social responsibility, budget crises, and public shaming. But a disability rights protest in the form of an encampment on public land? Not even a stray word.

One of the reasons our lack of visibility in the media makes me angry is that the general population is often unaware of the issues that affect us, and of the long history associated with many of those issues. It’s extremely hard to fight social attitudes when the media either ignores us or reinforces its social attitudes with its coverage, instead of debunking those attitudes through news stories. Arnieville conflicts with a lot of beliefs about people with disabilities, and I suspect that’s part of the reason why it hasn’t been covered in the media, because it threatens established social attitudes.

To cover Arnieville might suggest that the protesters have a legitimate grief and have something important to say. It might even hint that some people with disabilities are not happy with the current state of social services. That people with disabilities do not want to be institutionalised and have the capacity to live independently. That people with disabilities have a right to live, have a right to participate in governance, have a right to voice their objections to policy that harms them. These are scary, scary things to many nondisabled people, which is why they are being swept under the carpet.

  1. A reference to encampments established during the Great Depression by people who lost everything, nicknamed ‘Hoovervilles’ after President Herbert Hoover, blamed for the policies that led to the catastrophic economic collapse; in this case, the camps are named for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.

Signal Boost: Add Your Voice to the Leeds Metropolitan University Accessible Tourism Survey (UK)

Add Your Voice to the Leeds Metropolitan University Accessible Tourism Survey

This survey reviews the specific needs of travellers using a wheelchair or other mobility aids or those who simply experience some form of mobility limitation.

The data collected will be used for the thesis I am preparing as part of the requirements for my MSc in Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK, where I am working under supervision of Dr Simon Woodward.

Please answer if you, or a person you often travel with, experience mobility problems when travelling.

This questionnaire is completely anonymous and the findings will be used for my academic research only

By 12 September, 2010.    signal boost   



Signal Boost: Consultation on guidance about definition of disability in Equality Act 2010 (UK)

Consultation on guidance about definition of disability in Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 is a new piece of legislation that will replace the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

The Equality Act includes the legal definition of a disabled person who is protected from discrimination. This definition is slightly different from the definition used in the DDA. It will make the law easier to understand.

Because of this change, the government is updating the guidance that helps people to understand how the definition works. We have published draft guidance that reflects these changes and a consultation document, which asks for your views. We are seeking views on whether the draft guidance will help people understand the definition of disability.

We are particularly interested in views from organisations (such as courts and tribunals) that will use the guidance when deciding whether someone is a disabled person. It will also be of interest to people and organisations that give advice about the Act.

The consultation closes on 31 October 2010.

Please see our website for more information.

By 12 September, 2010.    signal boost   



Conversations About Body Image: A Place at the Table for Me?

Conversations about body image come up often in feminist communities, and unfortunately, many of those conversations are predicated on the dual ideas that all people should love their bodies and that lovable bodies are healthy ones. This can be seen in the language used by campaigns designed to get people thinking about body image; I can’t tell you how many ‘positive affirmations’ I have encountered that say things like ‘love your body, because it is beautiful, healthy, and strong.’ I guess people who don’t have healthy or strong bodies can’t love them, or people who actively reject beauty can’t love their bodies either. And, of course, this reads like a mandate: You must love your body, because the idea of not loving your body is highly alien, as is the idea of feeling neutral about or disassociated from your body.

For people who may dislike their bodies, for any number of reasons, these conversations end up being exclusionary, as they are often treated as ‘unenlightened’ for not loving their bodies and they are lectured in an attempt to get them to submit. For people with disabilities, an added layer of complexity is introduced, as it is assumed we do not or could not love our bodies because of our disabilities. Similar complexity can arise for some members of the trans community, who may experience inner conflict with our bodies but feel uncomfortable expressing it, for a variety of reasons ranging from fear of being perceived as spokespeople for the trans community when we are just talking about ourselves, to fear that discussing dislike/hatred for one’s body is not acceptable. Especially when encountering campaigns mandating that people love their ‘natural’  or ‘inner’ beauty, I am left with more questions than answers.

I was reminded of this by ‘Black Torso,’ the piece I featured in my post on sculpture last week. What, for example, is a breast cancer survivor who chooses to get reconstructive surgery supposed to do? The rebuilt breast is not ‘natural,’ so does that mean the patient does not love ou body? What about the breast cancer survivor who cannot afford reconstructive surgery or is not a candidate for it? Maybe ou hates the scar and is uncomfortable looking in the mirror, but feels unwelcome in body image discussions rooted in the idea that ‘love’ is mandatory for all people when engaging with their bodies.

I’d like to start deconstructing conversations about body image to make a seat at the table for people who might feel relegated to the fringes of those conversations right now, and there are a couple of angles that need to be considered with more care in conversations about body image and in campaigns designed to spark conversations about body image.

The first is the idea that everyone must love their bodies. Not all people love their bodies and they should not be required or pressured to; indeed, we should be actively creating a space for people who aren’t comfortable with the bodies they are in that doesn’t consist of ‘we will educate you into loving your body.’ We should talk, too, about the reasons why people may experience conflict with their bodies, and how social attitudes, life experiences, and other things may play a role in the relationship people have with their bodies, without singling out people or shaming them for not loving their bodies, or not loving them all the time.

The second is the idea of ‘healthy, strong, natural’ bodies being celebrated in these campaigns and focused on in language about body image. The fact is that not all bodies are healthy, strong, or natural. Health is something that changes over time from person to person, and while some people may always have healthy bodies, others do not. ‘Natural’ is also not necessarily something everyone possesses, and I dislike the idea that a body needs to be ‘natural’ (who is defining this, incidentally?) in order to be celebrated.

Finally, we have these really complicated intersections between body image and disability, compounded by a lot of social attitudes about disability. Disability is scary, so disabled bodies are scary, and I notice that many body image conversations leave out people with disabilities, because no one knows what to do with us. Looking through many of the responses to the American Able art project, I was struck by the fact that many people were uncomfortable with viewing a disabled body, especially in the context of desirability. If our bodies are so frightening that people can’t see them on television and in ad campaigns, it shouldn’t surprise me that people have trouble fitting us in to discussions about body image.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room, in body image conversations, for people who may feel conflicted about their bodies, for people who reject a lot of the ‘affirmations’ promoted, for people who may not fit into the categories some participants in these conversations assume apply to everyone. Are there exceptions to these rules? Conversations where people are thinking about issues like disability and the rejection of beauty? Yes, there absolutely are, but they are exceptions, not the norm, and that is a trend I would like to reverse.

This is what we talk about when we talk about working towards the neutral place; creating a space where bodies and identities are neutral, so there is room for everyone, room for all relationships between people and their bodies, room for people at all levels of exploring their identities and their bodies.

Recommended Reading for 10 September 2010

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.

Clarissa’s Blog: So you’re telling me you don’t have autism?

I really admire you, you know. Not having autism must be so tough. My friend’s son was diagnosed with not having autism and she was heartbroken. She cried for three days. What do you mean why? Of course, you seem completely normal but have you seen those neurotypical people they show on TV? (In a dramatic whisper.) They are all freaky and weird and they keep banging their heads against the wall. Well, you are right, of course, anybody would bang their head against the wall if their mother cried for 3 days because they are the way they are, but still . . . It’s tragic for a parent to realize their child will never be happy, or have a career, or get married. Yes, it’s true, you seem pretty happy, and your career is great, and you even have a husband.

Switchin’ to glide: Maybe it’s the anti-depressants working

And now… I’m sitting here crying the biggest cry I have in years, wondering what life could have been like if I had been allowed to feel validated, or if I had ever been allowed to validate myself; because all of these small things together form a picture of person who has actually done alright, but I have felt–been made to feel–the whole time like a perpetual failure.

Ms. Marx: On Pop Culture: Anorexia jokes and celebrity diets

I don’t think there is ever an appropriate time for anorexia humor… it just isn’t funny. It is a very serious medical condition that kills women (and men, but mostly women). With websites purposefully encouraging anorexia, it needs to be clear that none of this is funny.

Please Tape Me Back Together: My head is spinning with questions

I’m frustrated.  My neurologist told me he thought I had a mini-stroke (TIA) but ran no tests.  He just told me to take an aspirin a day and asked me to show him my EDS.  Actually he didn’t ask he grabbed my hand and tried putting it backwards.  I don’t like people touching me so I took my hand away and bent it backwards.  It was a painful day anyway and that caused even more pain.  I was kinda pissed that he didn’t seem to believe me.  He’d never heard of EDS, either.  How could he not believe me when he didn’t even know what EDS is?

HR Morning.com: Employee commutes: New area for ADA accommodations? (Thanks to Codeman38 for the link!)

Would changing an employee’s commute qualify as a “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act? A federal appeals court says yes.

The case involves a woman who worked for a retail chain in Oregon as a wine steward. She developed a visual impairment that affected her depth perception in low-light conditions, which made it difficult for her to drive after dark.

She requested — and was granted — a schedule that allowed her to come in and leave work during daylight hours. The company didn’t run into any problems with her working the modified hours — indeed, sales in her department went up.

Nonetheless, the company reversed its decision.

When the woman refused to work her new shift — which would have required her to commute home after dark — she was fired.

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.

By 10 September, 2010.    recommended reading   



Reactions, part 1

[Warning for somewhat graphic discussion of medical procedures and adverse allergic reactions.]

I have been dealing with weird, severe, and inexplicable allergic reactions since the age of 14.

Most of these reactions have been to food items; my known food allergies include peanuts, various tree nuts, and (wait for it) green bell peppers. Of course, I take great caution to avoid these foods and my exposure to them. Unfortunately, with my immune system, such caution is no guarantee that I won’t have an “attack” out of the blue.

The first “attack” I had, in fact, was one of those not caused by food. I was a teenager at the time, in Paris on vacation with my family. I don’t remember much about my initial symptoms other than I felt overly-warm very suddenly, and decided that it would be a good idea to take a cold bath in order to rectify the situation. My mom found me in the bathroom of our rented apartment, facedown on the tile floor and missing several items of clothing. I had figured, somehow, that putting my face on the tile floor as a method of cooling down would look less weird than sticking my entire head into the freezer. My face, which had initially turned bright red, swelled up so much that I soon found myself unable to see. I had quickly begun to resemble the Bob’s Big Boy logo; I should note here that if you ever start to resemble a famous food-related logo, you should probably go to the nearest hospital post-haste.

My Bob’s Big Boy transformation was quickly followed by giant, blotchy pink hives that appeared on my neck and shoulders. Joining the party somewhat late was a hot, almost volcanic feeling in my lungs that quickly morphed into breathing trouble. Severe breathing trouble. So my family (my mom, my dad, and my younger brother — who suggested that I not look at myself in any reflective surface so as not to become more freaked out) and I took to the streets of Paris in search of a hospital. We found one — after a quick visit to what we thought was a hospital but which actually turned out to be a convalescent home. At the ER, the staff took one look at me and immediately put me at the front of the queue; I was quickly whisked away to a magical land where a nurse tried to calm me down, completely in French, when I loudly protested the insertion of a large IV needle into the underside of my forearm. The only English-speaking doctor on staff, as it turned out, was on his day off, but came in to examine me and assure my family that I was going to be okay.

When we came back from vacation, I had another attack about a month later. And then another. And a few more, until one ER doctor suggested that I get a full round of allergy tests, more commonly known as “scratch tests.”  The scratch tests revealed a substantial peanut and tree nut allergy. I took care to avoid these foods, or any foods that may have come into contact with them. Unfortunately, I still kept having attacks, even when I avoided the dreaded peanuts and tree nuts. I still have them, approximately once every 3-4 months.

Sometimes, I get them as a result of cross-contamination if I eat at a restaurant. Sometimes, I get them for no reason at all — even if I haven’t eaten for a while. The symptoms tend to be fairly consistent: first, a scratchy feeling will start in my throat and lungs, followed by wheezing. Then comes breathing trouble, which tends to feel like an elephant is standing on my chest. Usually, my eyes will then swell up to the point that I cannot open them all the way, or see. Sometimes, I get gastrointestinal trouble as well, the symptoms and signs of which are not things that I can discuss in polite company due to general grossness and/or TMI.

The first five to ten minutes of these attacks are, generally speaking, the worst part(s). By now, my battle plan for dealing with these attacks is well-established: Take a shot or two of my inhaler at the first signs of trouble (usually breathing difficulties plus another symptom), then four or five antihistamine pills. Of course, it takes a few minutes for these things to kick in, which is part of why the “waiting” part is so physically painful. During these first few minutes, I am in some sort of hellish allergy-limbo: it feels like someone or something has put some bricks on my chest and torso, I can’t see or can barely see, and it feels like my intestines are being vacuumed out of me — and the only thing I can do is wait for the medication to start working. I generally consider myself to be a patient person, but nothing will sap your patience like having to wait out a potentially life-threatening medical emergency.

And if that doesn’t work, I have to go to the next level, which is using epipenephrine, a self-contained steroid shot to be injected into the thigh in case my breathing is so severely compromised that I pass out or am in danger of not getting enough air into my lungs.

For these sorts of attacks, there is really no pat, inspirational or life-affirming end, so much as a screeching halt after the medication actually starts working. And this total lack of inspiration or an end in sight is also reflected in some of the responses I have gotten from many abled people in regards to my “allergy issues” (to be addressed in part two).