Dear abled people who like to glare at people who use disabled parking spaces,
Hi there. It’s great that you’re so conscious that disabled parking spots are for disabled people! I’m pleased you’re so keen to keep disabled spots for disabled people – after all, that’s the law and the right thing. People who aren’t disabled certainly shouldn’t be using those spots.
However, you know what my problem with what you do is? My problem is when you take your anger out on people who are using those spots legitimately. I don’t know if you glare and shake your head and tut because you don’t notice the disability signs/stickers on the front of the car – or if you think they’re faking their disabilities – or if you think those crummy disabled people simply don’t deserve to hog the best parking spots. I don’t know if you do this because you don’t expect to encounter disabled people out and about, so you think the parking spot user isn’t legit. I don’t know why you’re letting dominant narratives crowd out the person there in front of you.
I’d also like you to keep in mind that some people who need disabled parking spaces are prevented from getting the sticker. The red tape involved can be incredibly difficult to negotiate, especially for someone running on the second shift for the sick. Some people who need stickers fall through the cracks formed by the “we need to tighten restrictions because of the tiny number of fakers!” meme.
Just keep in mind that, just as there are a lot of people out there who use disabled parking illegitimately, there are also a lot of people who make life harder for people who are using the parking legitimately.
Don’t be one of them.
Canada must make Web accessible to blind
A federal court ruled Monday the government had denied Jodhan’s equality rights by not providing equal access to government programs online.
“She has been denied equal access to, and benefit from, government information and services provided online to the public on the Internet, and that this constitutes discrimination against her on the basis of her physical disability, namely that she is blind,” Justice Michael Kelen wrote in his ruling.
The government was not living up to its own 2001 accessibility standards, Kelen ruled, and he gave Ottawa 15 months to make its Web sites more accessible.
In a rare move, Kelen said the court would monitor the government’s implementation of online services for the visually impaired to ensure it complies by the deadline.
I am so excited to learn of this! Congratulations, Donna – your hard work is greatly appreciated!]]>
This open thread is for people to talk about their voting experiences (you don’t have to be USian to participate, and you don’t just have to talk about the current midterm elections!) and, most importantly, I would really like to hear from people who encountered accessibility issues at the polls in regards to this election.
If you couldn’t access your polling place, spotted problems with accessibility, had trouble getting an absentee ballot, etc., please let us know. As I mentioned recently, California voters can report problems with the polls to Disability Rights California, but I didn’t see similar systems in place in other states, let alone on a national level (if you know of any, please drop information in comments). I’ll be compiling the reports we receive and forwarding them on to the appropriate parties.
Disenfranchisement of disabled voters happens on a de facto level all the time and I’d like to start highlighting individual cases to illustrate how systemic and widespread this is.
Now, if you’re eligible to vote and you haven’t done it yet, get thee to the polls!
ETA: I can’t believe I left this out! *headdesk* If you experience/witness problems at the polls, you should immediately contact a poll worker and ask to speak to the precinct supervisor to report it. Document as much as you can, if you are able. Also contact Election Protection, a nationwide nonpartisan organization. You can also report problems with the polls to your Secretary of State as well as political organizations, and if you are registered with a party, contact the local office to tell them what happened.]]>
You’re intelligent, personable, and get good grades. It might look like higher education is a given.
But it isn’t. Not when you have a disabling illness. Then, making it to graduation could be more challenging than you ever imagined.
Last year, I tried to finish the degree I dropped when I got ill back in 1998. The disability services department at my new university contacted me the summer before I started my course, asking what extra help I would need.
I had never been a student with disabilities before, so I couldn’t anticipate all the challenges I might face. But the system for reporting those I was aware of seemed doomed to failure: a disability advisor emailed my department in the first week of the semester to advise them that I needed my seminars and lectures to be accessible. Inevitably, this was too late. One of my lectures was in a building with a lift that was almost always out of order, leaving me the choice of missing out or making myself ill. And my registration experience was disastrous.
Registration and enrolment were in two separate buildings nowhere near each other. As no buses ran in that direction, this meant a fifty-minute round trip on foot, well beyond what I could cope with. So I emailed the university to explain this, asking if I could register and enrol online, instead.
Here’s where I point out something that should be obvious but seems not to be: when disabled students express a preference, it shouldn’t be brushed aside in favour of what administrative staff would prefer. Being assertive can be very difficult, especially in situations where someone has power over you. Expressing one’s needs can also be embarrassing, as many long-term illnesses and disabilities are stigmatised. It’s an issue that deserves to be treated with sensitivity, but too often isn’t.
Instead of granting my request, a member of staff from registry services suggested I meet her late in the afternoon, instead. Because her address was at the end of her email, and was somewhere I could access by bus, I agreed. But when I went to her office at 5 PM on registration day, the shutters were closed. Tired, upset, and alone, I vented on Twitter: “I don’t think this university cares about disabled students.” Then I called my mum in tears and she offered to leave work and drive me to the building where registration was taking place. I finally made it and explained the mix-up to one of the staff, who said someone there wanted to speak to me.
The head of registry services strode over and introduced herself, a stern expression on her face. She then shouted that I couldn’t say what I liked on Twitter without giving them “right of reply” and that the university did care about disabled students. “I’m fully conversant in equality law,” she snapped. When I mentioned the mix-up over where I was registering, she said that perhaps I should read emails more carefully in future.
She wasn’t wrong: I could have double-checked. But in my defence, starting university was an overwhelming undertaking, and confusion and anxiety are big parts of my illnesses. I had also made the mistake of assuming that no-one would suggest we meet somewhere I had specifically said I couldn’t access.
I was finally able to register but because of the delay, I couldn’t get into the student intranet until two days later, so the seminars I wanted to sign up for were full. This meant that instead of organizing them at times to suit my illness, I had to take whatever was left. When I contacted my departmental disability liaison officer to ask if I could be squeezed into more convenient seminars for a couple of subjects, he demurred, and I got the impression he thought I was trying it on. I didn’t have the energy to argue that this seemingly small issue was essential to the management of my illness.
As I thought I would, I struggled with my schedule. Ten hours of class time isn’t much, but I hadn’t counted on the extra time I’d need to walk to lectures (and then sit down and catch my breath). In retrospect, I needed to take taxis to my classes. But I was reluctant to organise this because one of the disability support staff told me that some taxi drivers were “funny” about short journeys.
But my biggest challenge was the fire alarms, which went off once or twice a week. We would traipse out of the classroom, walk down three or four fights of stairs, stand around for ten minutes, and then go back up again. I had no idea what disabled students were supposed to do, and didn’t know who to ask, so I just struggled on, my muscles spasming from pain and stress.
I know what some people will think: maybe I was too ill to be at university in the first place. But I had a good reason for attempting it: money. In England, if you’re on a full-time course, you are entitled to loans, grants, and bursaries, which add up to (just about) enough to live on. A part-time student is only entitled to £225 a year. So I took a risk.
It’s a risk that failed. Although I could cope academically, physically I was falling apart. After five weeks, I suffered a severe stress-induced relapse and the university recommended I take a leave of absence. This meant I wouldn’t have to reapply if I felt well enough to return, but I wouldn’t be entitled to student finance or disability benefits during this time, either. I only scraped by thanks to my overdraft, a little writing work, and my supportive parents.
This summer, I had to decide whether or to go back. I decided against it. I didn’t feel well, and I didn’t feel welcome.
I don’t think my experience is unique: I suspect it is more common than universities realize. The way I was treated is part of a much larger problem: how we, as a society, view people with disabilities. We need to stop being surprised when someone has special needs, and there needs to be a socially acceptable way of saying “I can’t do that,” or “I need more help”, especially in educational institutions and the workplace.
Policies like the British government’s plan to reduce the number of people claiming disability benefits (without regard for the number of people with disabilities) perpetuate the sadly still prevalent belief that those of us who have disabling illnesses which are not terminal or immediately visible are lazy, when nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is, students with disabilities need better support. An attempt to understand and cater to students’ individual needs rather than just paying lip service to the idea of equality would be an excellent start.]]>
One thing that seems to be very important: YouTube videos! Each of the parties maintains their own YouTube channel, and they stock these channels with videos. Every week or two, I get another email from a political party that really wants my vote (or at least my money), and they often include links to the YouTube channel, or even embedded video. And every week or two, I respond like clockwork, asking them to please provide captioning and/or transcription of the video.
So far, the response has been silence.
I wonder if the reason for this is simply because there’s the new Auto-Captioning service at YouTube, which attempts to automatically subtitle a video a video. Surely this will provide a good working set of subtitles, right?
Ha ha. Ha ha ha.
In alphabetical order, let me show you what the YouTube auto-captioning displays when I try to watch political messages from my current or potential political representatives:
The Conservative Party of Canada:
Image: Screen capture of a YouTube video, with subtitles that read “You don’t think that’s a whole group called american this country and you have to decide”
Actual quote: Voice Over: “Adopted Britain as his home. Called America his country.” Ignatieff: “You have to decide….” (This advertisement is discussing Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s past.)
Here is leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May:
Image: Screen capture of a YouTube video, with subtitles that read “we’re on Friday evening breeze through across Canada will gather”
Actual Quote: Elizabeth May “…Where on Friday evening Greens from across Canada will gather.”
I will totally admit the Green example is not as terrible as the others. The Greens don’t have a lot of advertising at the moment. (Non-Canadians, this is in part because they’ve not got an actual member in the House. I count them as a national party because they run in all 308 Federal ridings, and May participated in the Federal Leadership Debate.)
The Liberal Party of Canada:
Image: A screen cap from a YouTube vid. Caption reads “the prime minister’s their lives for stroger’s we have a garden”.
Actual quote: “… The Prime Minister is there to inspire us to do our best, and we have a guy who….”
The New Democrats:
Image: A YouTube screen capture. The caption reads “costs are skyrocketing so why does is Stephen harper dead”
Actual Quote: “Heating costs are skyrocketing. So why doesn’t Stephen Harper get it?”
This is what I wrote in one of my last emails to my MP about this issue:
I know disability and accessibility are things you care about too, Megan, so I hope that you will pass along my concerns to the NDP Leadership: Transcribing and subtitling/captioning of video and audio content is an accessibility issue. Providing both a transcript and subtitling allows for more Canadians to be able to access the message of the NDP. As well, it shows a commitment to accessibility and to including Canadians who prefer or require transcripts and subtitling, for whatever reason. As this is something I believe the NDP values, it would be helpful for the party, at all levels, to provide transcription and subtitling for all the videos that they produce.
Of course, subtitling your video (and providing a transcript) are not only for people who are d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing. They’re also for people who have audio processing disorders, who have difficulties understanding spoke English, who don’t want to turn up their volume, or even don’t have speakers or headphones on their computer. They’re for people who just want a transcript or subtitling because it makes their lives easier today. (For example, I have an ear infection and subtitles are the order of the day.)
Every political party in Canada “cares” about “the disabled”. They really do. Each one has a little subsection of their website dedicated to explaining how they “care” about “the disabled”.
I think it would be awesome instead of telling me how much they cared, they’d show it. And one way of doing that would be subtitling their ads, so everyone can know what their message is.]]>
Now, I read that a Congressional committee has noticed that patient being treated with radiation for thyroid cancer have been possibly exposing other people to, yes, radiation.
Well, let’s think about this for a moment. In the past, people who had thyroid cancer and who were insured and who were given this treatment were allowed a hospital stay so that the very strict regimen of sterility could be followed without putting extra strain on the patient. Then, someone got an itch and decided that it was just too costly to keep this up and that these leaches could just go home and do their own laundry every day. Not to mention, I am not sure what they are supposed to do with their garbage, how they are supposed to quarantine themselves from their families if they don’t have separate wings in their homes to live in, or how they are supposed to get home if they are weak from treatment and live alone.
The new regulations are supposed to discourage patients from taking public transportation, from staying in hotels, and from a whole slew of other things that really don’t take simple practicality into account. I think we can all agree that not exposing people to radiation is all around a good idea. I have no idea how much we are talking about, and the hyperbolic pictures of HAZMAT masks on the paper edition article I read didn’t help, but it must be significant if it is causing such a stir. Though, spokesman David McIntyre says it is “unclear” if the levels are harmful.
I remember getting a bone scan a few years ago and the tech had to wear a suit, and the dye they injected into me came in a lead tube. I was told I had to avoid metal detectors and public transit for a few days and was given a card to show that I was recently injected with radioactive substances. But I was a single mother, and a sailor, and I had no one else to help me out. Back to work I went, showing my card to security, who walked me through the non-metal detector way. I picked up my kid from daycare later, and drove myself home. I imagine that someone who has no support system who might be in a similar or worse situation would have to make similar decisions. So, I can see how people would disregard directions to go straight home.
Perhaps home is a day’s drive. Perhaps home is filled with young children and has only one car available. A hotel and train ride might be the only option, since the loosened restrictions mean that insurance will not pay for a hospital room that is no longer required. Or perhaps there is no insurance at all, and it was all a patient could manage to scrape up the cost of the treatment in the first place. There are so many reasons that these restrictions are not being followed, and I feel like this article, this committee, and this investigation are looking more at the people who are ‘violating’ the rules and less at the systemic problems that cause them to do so.
So, yes, those poor, unsuspecting people who have fallen victim to the carelessness of these cancer patients who have been so selfish to expose themselves to the world are who we should be focusing on. They are the true victims here, not the people who are trying to get healthy again, whose bodies are fighting cancer, and living with poison in them, and who are also now having to deal with the extra burden of a cumbersome set of rules of conduct for how to navigate live with a poison inside their bodies. The conversation is not, nor never is it, about them, but about the people around them whose lives are affected by their treatments, the ways those treatments impact their lives. All about the abled body, never the chronically sick or disabled unless it somehow affects the healthy and able.
Unless Congress is willing to establish a way to provide a place for these people to stay — all of them — I don’t see how a more enforced set of restrictions is reasonable. You can’t force a person to stay in a place they have to pay for against their will, and you should not be able to punish them because they had to use the resources available to them to survive.
These are just my own personal musings. I, of course, have no personal experience with these situations, but I grieve at the idea of restrictions that people might not be able to handle through no fault of their own.
I wonder if Representative Edward Markey (D – MA) and the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment are interested in hearing any of our thoughts on this matter while they re-think the policy.]]>
Crazy Mermaid’s Blog: Mental Illness Medication Side Effects
One of the biggest reasons for noncompliance is the side effects of the drugs. Especially for those with more severe cases, the side effects of strong doses of medication can cause horrific side effects. So horrific, in fact, that the patient makes the conscious decision to stop taking the medication to avoid those side effects. Living with the mental illness becomes more appealing than living without it.
Diary of a Goldfish (Thanks, Deborah, for sending this in!): Coming Home Undefeated
But it also helps that I am choosing to live with them now, because it is a sensible and practical thing which I actually want to do, not because I don’t have any other options. And it helps a very great deal, that this situation is not permanent. I think it would be a lot harder without plans for the future.
Deaf Echo: It Gets Better. It Really Does. (Thanks, codeman38, for the link!)
A few hours later, I received an email from some guy named Terrence, who told me he had just finished captioning the clip. I guess I’m a little slow these days, because I made no connection between Terrence and Terry.
That’s right. Terry, Dan Savage’s husband, took time out of his day to transcribe their video clip, figure out the program, and upload the captions so that gay deaf kids could have access.
Because. It. Is. Just. That. Important.
Penelope Friday: Read About Cost to the Poorest of the Newest Welfare Reforms (Thanks, Rosemary, for the link!)
And explain patiently to me that if a family is earning £44000 then they don’t need child benefit. Even if it is the father who earns the money, and the mother who may depend on the child benefit to have any money of her own (which yes, is often the case, even these days). When women have been able to use their years of claiming child benefit to count for contributions to National Insurance, and now will presumably lose that benefit alongside the present money.
Disability Scoop: SNL Offers Apologies For Disability Cracks
After repeatedly mocking New York Gov. David Paterson for being blind, “Saturday Night Live” used the governor’s appearance on the show’s season premiere Saturday to make amends.
During the show’s “Weekend Update” segment, the real Paterson made an appearance to take some jabs at Fred Armisen’s impression of him and set the record straight.
To be sure, many patients with complex or poorly understood medical problems like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis congregate in large virtual communities such as PatientsLikeMe, where they share details of their medical treatments and symptoms with each other—and occasionally even launch their own unregulated and informal drug trials. These communities provide some helpful information and support for many people.
brigid at Feminists With FSD: On the FSD hierarchy and why it hurts all of us
A lot of support groups, both on and off the web do not want to recognize women with conditions such as endo as legitimate cases of fsd. We don’t have vulvodynia, vulvular vestibulitis, or vaginismus so we couldn’t possibly go through the same things as women with those conditions. I’m here to change that misconception.
Michael Janger at Abled Body: Web Content Accessibility Law Needs More Brawn
However, the newly accessible video content is only the tip of the iceberg. The major broadcast and cable networks that are covered under the new law produce about 100,000 hours of video content a year from their TV programs. On YouTube — which is not covered by the new law — almost 13 million hours of video content are uploaded annually, and that number is increasing. Over 99% of this Web-exclusive content is not closed-captioned or video-described, nor will it be required to be, under the new law.
Flash Bistrow at Where’s the Benefit?: DLA and work? Who is confused here?
The government has already said that the new medical test is intended to reduce the number of DLA claimants by 20%. But I am not sure how taking benefit from 1 in 5 people will “reduce dependency” (on what?) and “promote work” – indeed, several of the people quoted in my previous article about DLA would have to stop working if they lost that benefit, because they do not have enough energy or capacity to both care for themselves AND go to work. If the government think that turfing disabled people off DLA will suddenly give them the capacity to work, they are very much mistaken. It will just disable them even further.
Sam Roe and Jared S. Hopkins for the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune: The final hours of Jeremiah Clark (major trigger warning for discussion/descriptions of abuse and neglect)
Jeremiah is among 13 children and young adults at the North Side facility whose deaths have led to state citations since 2000, a Tribune investigation has found. Some of these deaths, records show, might have been prevented had officials at the facility taken basic steps, such as closely monitoring residents and their medical equipment.
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.]]>
Participants are needed for a study of cell phone based emergency services.
Researchers at the Neil Squire Society are conducting a study to look at how 911 emergency calls and emergency disaster alerts on cellular phones can be made more accessible.
The goal of this project is to get input from actual cell phone users on how the next generation of emergency services should be designed to ensure accessibility before they are released. Your feedback will be used to make industry and government aware of the unique needs of the Blind community.
We are currently looking for people who are blind and currently use cellular phones and would be interested in attending a focus group or completing a brief survey.
Eligible participants will have a choice of attending one of the focus groups being held in locations across Canada or answering questions in a survey. The focus groups will typically last 2 hours and consist of 6 to 8 people. There will be a brief presentation and an open question and answer session.
To learn more about this research and your eligibility, please contact:
Neil Squire Society
Toll Free Telephone: 1-877-673-4636
Address: Suite 220 -2250 Boundary Rd.
Burnaby, BC V5M 3Z3
Dr. Gary Birch, PhD, P.Eng.
Neil Squire Society
Executive Director and Director of Research & Development
Sadly, I cannot answer any questions for you regarding this study.]]>
The Topic Guides on ADA Transportation, a series of technical assistance documents funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and developed by DREDF and TranSystems Corporation, will be featured in a series of seven once-a-month webinars, one webinar on each Topic Guide. The webinar series will be coordinated by the DBTAC Great Lakes ADA Center and the DBTAC-Southwest ADA Center in collaboration with Easter Seals Project ACTION.
Registration: Registration is available on-line at www.adaconferences.org.
Funded by FTA to provide technical assistance on transportation to transit agencies, riders, and advocates, the Topic Guides on ADA Transportation bring together the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Department of Transportation ADA regulations, FTA determinations, and best operational practices for ADA compliance. The Topic Guides also draw information from many other sources. The Topic Guides are available online at http://dredf.org/ADAtg.
Webinar Schedule: Second Tuesday of the month, beginning October 12, 2010 and ending April 12, 2011.
2 pm to 3:30 pm Eastern Time
1 to 2:30 PM Central Time
12 to 1:30 Mountain Time
11 to 12:30 Pacific Time
10 to 11:30 Alaska Time
(Hawaii time will vary)
Presenter(s): Marilyn Golden, DREDF Policy Analyst and invited guests to be announced
This series of Topic Guide Webinars will include:
1. Equipment Maintenance (October 12)
2. Stop Announcement and Route Identification (November 9)
3. Eligibility for ADA Paratransit (December 14)
4. Telephone Hold Time in ADA Paratransit (January 11)
5. Origin to Destination Service in ADA Paratransit (February 8 )
6. On-Time Performance in ADA Paratransit (March 8 )
7. No-Shows in ADA Paratransit (April 12)
View the Topic Guide Home Page, which offers each Topic Guide in HTML, a PDF download, and a plain text option, at http://dredf.org/ADAtg.
The FTA Office of Civil Rights has also linked to the Topic Guides on ADA Transportation on its ADA website at www.fta.dot.gov/ada under DREDF.
Unfortunately I will be unable to answer any questions about these webinars.]]>