Tag Archives: accessibility

Nominations for the 2010 Captioning Awards (Australia) to Close Shortly!

To give you a bit of background, the Deafness Forum of Australia is, according to their website, ‘the peak body for deafness and seeks solutions and advocates on issues for all Australians who are Deaf, have a hearing impairment or chronic disorder of the ear’. They’ve been working hard to to make cinemas more accessible, for instance, and they’re running Hearing Awareness Week, which is coming up on 22-28 August! They’re also running the Captioning Awards, which are aimed at motivating companies to improve their captioning services.

You can nominate in the following categories: Free to Air TV Captioning Award, Subscription TV Captioning Award, Advertising Captioning Award, Best New Captioning Initiative Award, Live Event Captioning Award, DVD Captioning Award, Roma Wood Community Award, Best Promotion/Consumer Education Campaign Award, Most Consistent Captioning Award and Members’ Choice Award (the last only if you are a member of the Deafness Forum). Here is the Captioning Awards page and here are the nomination forms.

Nominations close Friday 6 August, so get them in now!

Recommended Reading For 27 July 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.

Actress Marlee Matlain, a pale, middle-aged woman with medium blonde, hair past her shoulders, and who is hearing impaired uses sign language as she addresses guests marking the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law designed to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities and to make buildings more accessible by wheelchair, on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday July 26, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Actress Marlee Matlain, a pale, middle-aged woman with medium blonde, hair past her shoulders, and who is hearing impaired uses sign language as she addresses guests marking the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law designed to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities and to make buildings more accessible by wheelchair, on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday July 26, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Feminist Law Professors: CFP: Aging as a Feminist Concern, Jan. 21-22, 2011 Emory University School of Law

Aging is a feminist issue. The elderly, especially the oldest of the old, are disproportionately female. Among the elderly, women are more likely than their male peers to face a number of challenges, including poverty, disability and isolation. Yet, the legal academy, including feminist legal theorists, is only just beginning to pay attention to old age and its implications. This workshop will advance this agenda by bringing together a diverse group of scholars to explore the relationship between feminist theory, law and policy, and the concerns of the aging. We will focus on understanding how the relationship between age and gender can be theorized, as well as exploring how feminist legal theory can inform policy and law in the U.S. and abroad.

PR Newswire: As ADA Turns 20, Harris Interactive Survey Finds Lifestyle and Economic Gaps Still Remain Between Americans With and Without Disabilities

“We are privileged to live in a country that committed 20 years ago to equalizing rights and opportunities for people with disabilities,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “The disability rights movement lags behind other civil rights movements and we have to catch up. There is a role for everyone. Governments need to remove disincentives for people with disabilities so they can start to work. Businesses need to realize the enormous contributions workers with disabilities can make. Schools need to prepare students with disabilities sooner for the world of work. And Hollywood should routinely feature more people with disabilities in their TV shows and movies.”

NPR: RI Rep. Langevin Presides over House for 1st Time

Langevin said his temporary turn wielding the gavel marks an important step for people with disabilities and he hopes it inspires others.

“What a powerful symbol of inclusion and opportunity for anyone who wants to serve in the United States Congress,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday. Congress has become increasingly accessible in the past decade for people with disabilities, he added.

Post-gazette.com: Pennsylvania getting up to speed on assisted living care

Now that it’s an official designation, the door is open for the state’s 1,400 personal care homes to apply for assisted-living status, which carries higher standards in terms of larger living space, private bathrooms, kitchen appliances, resident independence and other aspects.

No facility is required to change to meet the requirements of the new category — and it’s impractical for most older and smaller homes to do so — but if they don’t, the door is closed to them to market themselves as “assisted living.” They also will be shut out of new government funding that is supposed to cover facilities’ cost of caring for a limited number of low-income, assisted-living residents sometime in 2011.

“If indeed the state starts funding assisted-living services, it will of course encourage more providers to get into it,” said Ron Barth, president of PANPHA, a state trade group of nonprofit long-term care operators.

NPR: How the Disabilities Act Has Influenced Architecture

[Audio at the link with transcript]

Prof. PONCE DE LEON: So I have a private practice, and we designed a library for Rhode Island School of Design about now six years ago. And in the project, we designed with universal design principles.

So for example, when we designed the cubicles for the library, no two cubicles are actually the same. We used software that allows you to design for variation as a way of creating a whole range of cubicles that had different sizes, differing height tables, different height seating, different widths, so that we could accommodate many different body types in a very subtle way.

SIEGEL: So depending on one’s individual needs, one’s individual size, or for example if one used a wheelchair, you could find a space that would work for you in that.

Prof. PONCE DE LEON: Exactly. You’re actually acknowledging that we all have different degrees of abilities. So at RISD, since you have a student body that is there for four or five years at a time, there was a great possibility that a student may find actually their favorite spot, maybe because their legs are longer than the average or maybe because their height is a little shorter. And it enabled us to embed different ranges of abilities within the design of the space.

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

Quick Press: Action For Access

Passed along to me via email is this downloadable and printable survey, Action for Access.

You go to the website, and follow the instructions for download. The survey can be taken to locations on the map, then matched up (to my understanding) with the online version, to rate local businesses and establishments in the UK on their accessibility.

There are instructions for following up on the information you provide.

If anyone is interested, or has tried this survey and followed up on it, I would be interested to know how successful they found it (or even how accessible they found the survey itself).

Recommended Reading for 23 July 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.

Cube: Modern Warfare 2: Gaming with a Disability, Junkyard talking with Ian (MW2 Gameplay/Commentary)

I was able to get an opportunity to talk with Ian who is paralyzed from the middle of the chest down. Not letting his situation dismay him from playing video games he has been able to adapt and come up with a solution to overcome his disability.

Sustainable Diet: Common Ground Organic Farm & Veteran Cooperative

[donation solicitation at the end of article]

The model-of-care has been successfully demonstrated with over 60 Marines, veterans and military families at the current program called Operation Recovery.  The model-of-care is now positioned to expand and serve hundreds of active duty, veterans and their families through a financially sustainable program called, The Common Ground Organic Farm and Veteran Cooperative. Mr. Bornt has a lease-option and an opportunity to purchase the ideal property for the expansion – a 70-acre farm with existing residences and infrastructure within 40 miles of downtown San Diego and 28 miles from Camp Pendleton.

The potential of the veteran farm cooperative has generated collaborative interest from Camp Pendleton Marine Corps command and Chaplains, Balboa Hospital ASYMCA, Alliant University, Palomar Collage, the VA PTSD clinic and many other local and national veteran service agencies. The farm will provide a safe, familiar decompression zone, immediate veteran employment, veteran short-term housing, and peer-to-peer treatment training and veteran micro-enterprise development.

Wheelchair Diffusion Blog: Marine Veteran Invents Powered Beach Wheelchair

Blaker states that he was inspired and motivated by his Marine buddies, some of whom suffered injuries that made mobility difficult.

“I worked on cobras and hueys the avionics systems, so that’s where I got all my understanding of electronics and what not,” explained Blaker.

Blaker served six-years as a Marine, and was stationed all over the world, and after finishing his service, he now spends his time building wheelchairs that work on the beach. He was inspired to extend the freedoms non-handicapped people enjoy to those who still want to experience the beach.

Rhivolution (Dreamwidth): Practicing my dropkick skills: OCD

So I saw the book Saving Sammy at the public library, and after picking it up and skimming the inside cover, I sort of couldn’t bear to read it, mostly because the subtitle is ‘Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD’.

Caught. OCD. Cure.

Now, for those of you not aware, a few years back, the US National Institute of Health concluded that in some children with sudden onset OCD and/or Tourette syndrome (henceforth TS), the conditions appeared after the children had had a strep infection, and that this could possibly be causal. Your bog standard OCD and TS are, apparently, slow onset in pre-pubertal cases, and these cases came on rapidly, like a switch was thrown. This proposed condition is called PANDAS, an acronym for something I’m too spoon-less to write out here involving strep and pediatrics and psychiatric disorders and stuff.

Teach Me Tonight: CFP: Fat Studies Edited Anthology

CFP for fat studies edited anthology

Julia McCrossin and I were approached at the PCA/ACA Conference by a publisher and asked to put together a fat studies anthology. The result is the call for papers listed below. Please feel free to distribute far and wide with our thanks.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email either Julia or me. Our addresses are listed below. Huge thanks, and I look forward to hearing from many of you! 🙂

~Lesleigh Owen

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 July 6, 2010

jadelennox (DW): How to fight ableism: some easy steps

So I thought it might be valuable to gather together some ways in which able-bodied people can do something about ableism in the world. Then, next time a person is feeling frustrated about ableism, and is thinking about doing some signal boosting of, say, some crappy thing the writers did on the latest episode of Glee, maybe that individual would have the option of committing to spending the same amount of time doing some more concrete fighting of ableism. Not that I’m critiquing the kind of signal boosting that a lot of us do on the blogosphere! But I’m assuming some people would find utility in hearing about other things they could do that might be useful.

Venus Speaks: Between the Lines

Today I realized something: How my disabilities shape the words I do, and more often don’t, say.

For instance: Whenever anyone uses the word “crippled”, I spot it from a mile away. Context doesn’t matter – it could be in anything – a novel, a newspaper article, a headline. “Recession cripples the American economy”, or “The onslaught cripples the meager defenses” or simply “crippling blow”.

Lauren McGuire at Sociological Images: On Disability and the Public Service Announcement [accessibility warning: embedded content lacks transcripts]

Disability-related PSAs cover a wide range of topics, but generally there are three main categories that the message falls into: how people with disabilities are viewed/treated by society, their value in the job market and society, and what their lives are like. Although these are pretty straightforward messages, there is a great deal of variety in the ways in which these basic messages are presented.

Michael Le at Racialicious: An Open Letter to Racebending.com Detractors

It’s easy to draw comparisons between the Airbender casting and an English actor playing an Irish one, or a Spanish actor playing an Italian actor. But it’s not really the same, and the reason is that Hollywood and media don’t consider whether an actor is Irish or Spanish or English. They think of that actor as “white.” The same is not true of actors who are Asian or Latino, who have to fight over the few roles specifically written for those ethnicities. And a lot of times, even when a role is steeped in Asian culture, even when a role is based on real-life individuals of Asian descent, those roles still go to white actors.

Garland Grey at Tiger Beatdown: CRAWLING OUT OF BED: Internalized Ableism and Privilege

In the two years since I have learned things about my own body. I have learned that once my knees start wobbling, GAME OVER. There is no powering through. There is no mystical internal light of determination that I can draw on – if I keep going my body will fail me. This has been a humiliating lesson to learn. But I can still walk. I can still exercise within limits and these limits expand the more I push them. I have also learned how much privilege I carry. I don’t have chronic insomnia like other members of my family. I’ve never lost a job because of being hospitalized, like my friends with Fibromyalgia. If I’m spending time with someone, and I don’t want to have to go into the whole story I can take an anti-inflammatory and ignore the pain, or blame it on fatigue.

Wii Fit Making Exercise More Accessible?

A black box containing a Wii Fit Plus sits on top of a white box with grey and bright green letters containing a Wii Fit Balance Board.I read recently in an issue of Family Circle Magazine (DON’T JUDGE ME!) (There was a fried chicken recipe I wanted to try out!) that “Japanese research” (could they be any more vague and list any fewer resources?) indicates that using a Wii Fit burns just as many calories as doing moderate exercise. There was no resource listed, nothing. Just a blurb stating that there was some research going on in Japan telling us that the Wii Fit was good for us. I have read on random gaming and parenting boards that there is hubbub about the Wii Fit that it is exercise vs. still being “just a video game”…

Now, I don’t really care about calories as much (or at all) as I do having access to some kind of exercise or movement that I can do without having to leave my house and trek all the way up to the base, or pay for a pricey gym membership, or exhaust my silverware drawer trying to get there, or trying to get through a class of exercise that is of a safe level for my body. Sometimes I need to move. I’ve found our Wii Fit to be small chunks of movement that I can handle when I am ready for some, and unlike a yoga class, something I can stop quickly when I am out of resources. I could go on…but you get the idea. I still prefer a good swim when I have a good day, but we all know that our bodies do not always give us what we want…

Having a Wii Fit in my house has been something useful for me, and I acknowledge that there is quite a bit of privilege there as well. There are disabilities that don’t make the amount of movement required for the Wii Fit accessible at all. It isn’t affordable for everyone (and we had the console already when the balance board was released, but the board is not required for all the games), and the games aren’t released in all countries. Even on a good day I can not always use the board safely, and sometimes my old issues with eating disorders can’t handle some of the game details that include measuring your weight and abilities to balance…

But the Wii Fit has made exercise, and moderate amounts of movement, available to some people for whom it wouldn’t otherwise have been available and accessible.

What are your thoughts, gentle readers? Have any of you used the Wii Fit and been pleased with it, as I have? What are your major complaints with the idea that it is an accessible form of exercise/movement? Love it? Hate it?

Photo Credit: Keith Williamson

Where About Us But Without Us Leads

On 1 June 2010, E. Fuller Torrey MD wrote an op-ed column for the New York Times, “Make Kendra’s Law Permanent.” Dr Torrey is the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a nonprofit group whose sole purpose is to lobby states for the passage of so-called assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) laws like Kendra’s Law in New York and Laura’s Law in California. The New York law is named after Kendra Webdale, who was killed by Andrew Goldstein in 1999.

Dr Torrey and TAC will tell you Mr Goldstein had untreated schizophrenia. They’ll tell you people like him are dangerous, they’ll tell you people like Mr Goldstein are often so sick they don’t understand they’re ill and need treatment, and they’ll tell you they know best. They won’t tell you that Mr Goldstein had been seeking treatment desperately and been turned away repeatedly.[1. Source: Time Magazine, “Will the Real Andrew Goldstein Take the Stand?”] Continue reading Where About Us But Without Us Leads

Recommended Reading for June 1, 2010

fiction_theory (LJ): The internet IS real life

The problem with impeaching someone’s anti-racism based on attendance at a specific march or even public rallies and protests in general is that it assumes that a) attending such events is a more real, valid, and important means of expressing anti-racism than any other means, specifically online and b) that attendance is a feasible option for everyone.

Marching at a rally or attending a protest is all well and good, but it’s not something that is an option for everyone. It’s quite ablist to ask such a question as though the privilege of being able to attend excludes the antiracist work of those who use other venues.

Mattilda at Nobody Passes: Closer

Somewhere between sleep and awake, a new day and last night and tomorrow, like they’re all in a circle around me but I’m somewhere in bed where I can almost read the sentences except they blur away from me, and I keep thinking maybe sleep, maybe this is more sleep except I don’t know if I want more sleep.

thefourthvine (DW): [Meta]: The Audience

I will not bring up my disability, because I don’t talk about it here, except to say that if that part of me appears in a story, it will be as either a clever gimmick (and a chance for a main character to grow as a person) or a sob story (and a chance for a main character to grow as a person). (No, there will never be a main character just like me. Most of the time I think that’s normal, and then I look at, say, SF and think standard-issue straight white guys must have a whole different experience on this issue. How weird would it be, to have basically all mainstream media written for you like that?)

Ian Sample (at The Guardian online): Bone marrow transplants cure mental illness — in mice

The team, led by a Nobel prizewinning geneticist, found that experimental transplants in mice cured them of a disorder in which they groom themselves so excessively they develop bare patches of skin. The condition is similar to a disorder in which people pull their hair out, called trichotillomania.

lustwithwings at sexgenderbody: Do I Owe Everything I am to The Internet?

Despite their lack of a body, my friends are still quite active in the world of Social Networking which acts on the physical world in much the same way things on our mind do. The contents of the Internet affect the physical world through many of the same processes as the contents of a mind, yet the contents of the Internet as a public mind can affect many more minds, and many more bodies than a private mind.

Injuries to mobility-impaired kids: researchers suggest “consider avoiding stairs”

MSNBC is carrying a Reuters article, Insult to injury: More kids hurt by own crutches, about injuries to young people “related to the use of crutches, wheelchairs and walkers”. Apparently, these injuries are “on the rise”, with significant numbers of USAn emergency room attendances related to injuries sustained while using a mobility aid.

Note, firstly, that there is no formal E.R. category nor any panic about injuries related to the use of legs, despite this being a rather large category of actual injuries.

Note, secondly, that journalists reporting on this study make no attempt to interrogate the root cause of the injuries, preferring to attributing the injuries to the use of the device itself, despite this:

[…] three out of four times, the injury was caused by tipping of the device or falling as the result of coming upon some sort of obstacle such as stairs, a curb, a ramp, rough ground, or icy, wet conditions.

Why are these injuries being attributed to use of the mobility aid, instead of to poor, inaccessible design? Why are kids falling trying to navigate stairs when there should be ramps and elevators available? Why are kids falling on curbs when there should be curb cuts? Were these injuries on rough ground and ice preventable by salting, pathways, cover? 70% of the injuries occurred while children were using wheelchairs. How many were occasioned while these children were trying to negotiate inaccessible environments?

We have no idea. Because no-one, apparently, has bothered to ask. Nor has any mention of inaccessibility been considered worth reporting or putting in the press release.

Instead, we get headlines like “Crutches, wheelchairs can cause injuries” and “Injuries can be caused by crutches, wheelchairs“.

The authors of the Pediatrics study themselves chose to title their journal article “Pediatric Mobility Aid–Related Injuries Treated in US Emergency Departments From 1991 to 2008“[1], and there is no mention of universal design or accessibility in their abstract.

In contrast, there are plenty of comments throughout the study of the issue of the supposed “misuse” of mobility aids, despite this accounting for only seven percent of injuries.

There is a mention of accessibility in the full-text article, buried deep in the discussion, but this never made it to anything that will be read by the general population, or indeed most of the medical profession. Furthermore, the mention of accessibility only talks about in-home modification – completely failing to address the number of injuries that occurred on curbs, rough ground, and icy conditions.

This is what the authors had to say about accessibility:

Curbs, stairs, rough terrain, and steep inclines and declines were common trigger factors for falls and other injuries, leading us to speculate that lack of accessibility, particularly in the home, may be 1 factor contributing to mobility aid–related injury. For children who were using mobility aids on a temporary basis, particularly crutches, home modification and avoiding stairs may not have been considered.

“Avoiding stairs”.

Mobility-impaired children should consider “avoiding stairs”! This is not just ignoring accessibility; it’s a giant slap in the face. Do the authors seriously think that it hasn’t occurred to anyone with a mobility impairment to try to avoid stairs? Really? We’d love to. That would be fabulous, thanks. However, we have lives. Lives in inaccessible environments, where we sometimes are left with the choice to take stairs or not go. To school and university, to work, to doctor’s appointments, to public transport, to artistic and political events, to social gatherings. Mobility-impaired people don’t take stairs and curbs out of choice; we do it because there’s no accessible alternative provided. And what happens to PWD who can’t take stairs no matter what? Confinement. Yes, PWD aren’t “confined” by wheelchairs; PWD are confined by discrimination, thoughtlessness, and inaccessibility.

Instead of using their platform to publicise an unequivocal call for safer public design, the authors choose to focus in their abstract and press release about how they think “additional research” is needed. The need for further research is, indeed, their ONLY conclusion! But if this research focuses on device malfunctions and children’s competence, “misuse” of mobility aids and custom in-home modifications, it is destined to fail.

If there is to be additional research, a broad, societal view must not be so studiously ignored. However, do we really need more and more and more research to tell us that kids with mobility aids have trouble negotiating stairs, have trouble getting up curbs, have trouble on icy ground? More research to tell us, five or ten or twenty years of inaction down the track, that PWD of all ages are endangered by inaccessible environments?

Without recognition of the systemic causes of a problem, there can be no successful systemic solutions. How much “additional research” is needed before there is action? How many inquiries? How many reports? How many white papers? We need to stop looking at the trees, and look at the forest.

The solution is to inaccessibility is accessibility. The first-tier principles of mobility accessibility are straightforward and long-established. Get on with it.

[Hat tip to Andrea of the Manor of Mixed Blessings]

[1] Pediatric Mobility Aid?Related Injuries Treated in US Emergency Departments From 1991 to 2008
Alison M. Barnard, Nicolas G. Nelson, Huiyun Xiang and Lara B. McKenzie
Pediatrics published online May 24, 2010;
DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-3286

Recommended reading for May 11, 2010

sqbr at Poking at Thorns (with gloves on): Disability in Speculative Fiction: Monsters, mutants and muggles

Fiction reflects social attitudes, and the social attitudes to disabled people tend to suck. Disabled people are presented as scary, pathetic, exotic, demanding, laughable, etc. But some tropes are popular/unique to SF.

It’s not all bad: speculative fiction allows for powerful allegory, and can also make very interesting explorations/extrapolations of future attitudes/experiences of disability.

Jamer Hunt (Fast Company magazine): Our Bodies, Our Quantified Selves

The data generated by this micro-physics of the everyday has the potential to create unprecedented, massive databases available for projects from a dizzying array of fields. Imagine what researchers studying disease epidemiology might do with this information, or anthropologists exploring changing social patterns within the digital proletariat.

Courtney at From Austin to A&M: Cosplay, race, ability and gender; or, who gets to dress up as whom?

Doing cosplay as a femme!Doctor (or a black Doctor, or a visibly disabled Doctor, etc.) is part necessity (as in, I am in a lady-body, so if I want to cosplay as the Doctor, he would have to be a lady-body-Doctor, like a person in a wheelchair would have to be a wheelchair-user Doctor, or a black person would have to be a black Doctor). But it’s also a way for fans to see themselves in the Doctor, as the unquestioned protagonist of the show. Doctor Who fans can say all they like that DW is progressive enough in its way, but it’s still dated by its insistence that the main character be a white British man.

Lisa Sanders (NYT Magazine): Diagnosis — Pregnant and Pained

She didn’t have a fever, but the racking cough made her body ache all over. Her husband said it sounded as if she were coughing up a lung. Her OB said it was probably a virus. Whatever it was, it didn’t go away.

Switchin’ to Glide: “Independent Women”: Privileged Feminist Ideologies and Ableism

Independence or the pursuit thereof is a pursuit of privilege; the less that one has to depend on networks and relationships the more “successful” that person is. This is a profoundly ableist notion, in the sense that it constructs any sort of dependency as an obstacle to “success,” and because of the way our society is structured, people who are disabled are neccessarily dependent on various support systems.