Tag Archives: badd

BADD: A Screenshot’s Worth A Thousand Words

More for Blogging Against Disablism Day.

I just poked around the entry for “Ableism” on Wikipedia. On the Talk page, I found a box placing the Ableism article within WikiProject Sociology:

Screenshot: This article has been rated as Low-importance  on the project's importance scale.

“This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project’s importance scale.”

Ableism of low importance within Sociology? Erm, ooookay. Let’s have a closer look at their definition of “Low-importance”:

This article is of little importance to this project, but it covers a highly specific area of knowledge or an obscure piece of trivia.

20%, people. Disabled people form around 20% of the population in Australia and the USA (and similar numbers in similar societies). One in five. Discrimination is huge, it is institutionalised, it is very often legal. Disabled people are some of the most vulnerable, the most underemployed, the most abused, the most excluded, the most neglected, the most murdered people in our cultures.

“Low importance”? “Obscure piece of trivia”?

OK, so let’s have a look at some other big discriminations. Racism and sexism, are they categorised as obscure pieces of trivia too? (On Wikipedia, I wouldn’t be surprised…)

Screenshot: WikiProject Sociology (Rated Start-Class, High-importance)

Sexism is of High Importance. OK. I agree.

So, racism. I guess the importance of racism within sociology, according to Wikipedians, would be, oh, about similar to that of ableism?

Screenshot: WikiProject Sociology (Rated B-Class, High-importance)

OK, so racism is of High Importance also. OK. I agree with that too.

So why is Ableism of Low Importance? Why does the biggest encyclopedia on earth consider it to be of lesser importance than discrimination against other minorities? Why are sociologists learning and being taught that racism and sexism are The Discriminations, that all others are secondary or tertiary or not really worth bothering about? Why, when a person is both female and PWD, or of colour and PWD, or all three, and/or lesbian, trans, non-citizen, working class, and so on, is ableism automatically ranked as the least important discrimination they’ll encounter? Why are PWD losing this Oppression Olympics, a game we shouldn’t be playing in the first place? (“Intersectionality” hasn’t yet received a rating on the Importance scale at Wikipedia.)

Other topics considered more sociologically important than Ableism (not equal, but more), as far as Wikipedians are concerned, include:

est and The Forum in popular culture

Ralph Larkin

Wilhelm Dilthey

Vixen (comics)

Stay-at-home dad

Weddings in the United States

Truce term

Friendship Paradox

Heterophobia

Babywise

Boomerang Generation

eHarmony

Lavalife

OkCupid

Yahoo! Personals

Fritzl case

List of UFO religions

Greenbelt, Maryland

The Hapa Project

Biosocial criminology

Grand Tour

Speed dating

Blond

Schoolgirl

and Hooters.

I can’t count on anybody to understand. (Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010)

(Cross-posted at three rivers fog. See more BADD 2010 at Goldfish’s blog.)

I’m pretty open about my health issues. To be honest, I don’t know any other way to be. I know how to strategically hide my disabilities from strangers in passing interactions, but from the people with whom I interact on a daily basis? Given my appearance — tall, slim, young white girl, pretty enough, clean and conventionally dressed, perfectly middle-class — you’d think it would be easy to keep from communicating variant health, while in reality it is highly tasking. It takes energy to mask my medication-taking, body-resting, trigger-avoiding, activity-budgeting ways from the people around me, and I’m already running an energy deficit just to be around them in the first place.

So fuck it. I don’t hide it when I have to down a pill. If pain, fatigue, or cognitive issues are preventing me from doing something — a task requiring me to stand up or walk somewhere when my back pain is flaring up; speaking with anyone by telephone when my head is throbbing and my brain is not processing full sentences — I say so. I’ve stopped bothering to tuck in my TENS wires to make them completely invisible. When people ask me about the Penguins game last night, the response they hear begins with a mention of my 8:30 bedtime.

There are drawbacks to this. Sharing or not sharing information about one’s health is an extremely fraught decision; some people consider this information rude and gross (even when the actual content is totally innocuous), it can invite unwanted questions and speculation, and there are people who will use your undisguised behavior or the information you have volunteered against you in the future. It amounts to a choice between a life of concealment, which can quickly drain a person’s spirit and often aggravate their actual condition — and a life of vulnerability, never knowing what will be held against you, or by whom. Continue reading I can’t count on anybody to understand. (Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010)

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010: Do You Need Assistance?

It’s Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010, and I would highly recommend checking in at Diary of a Goldfish to see other posts on the theme!

A question that I get from a lot of nondisabled folks as they are starting to explore ableism and interacting with people with disabilities is ‘I really can’t stand it when someone appears to be in need of help, and I want to offer assistance, but I don’t know how. Can you tell me how to politely ask someone if help is needed or wanted?’ The desire to offer assistance is a natural one, but it often expresses in really offensive and sometimes dangerous ways (‘here, let me push your chair for you!’) so this is a question I don’t mind answering!

And I’m going to start my answer with an anecdote from my own life which I think illustrates a reasonably good example of how such interactions can go:

I was in line at the grocery store, and I noticed a wheelchair user behind me with a basket. I quickly observed that his chair was low and the conveyer belt was high, and it might be difficult for him to get his groceries up onto the belt, so I said:

‘Would you like assistance with that?’

And he said:

‘No, thanks, I kind of just shove the basket up there and let the checker deal with it.’

And I said:

‘Ok, cool.’

And then we had a conversation about fruit.

Note that this interaction had several characteristics. I observed something which I thought might be an issue and offered assistance. I did not yank this gentleman’s basket out of his hands. I didn’t shout at him or talk very slowly as though I was afraid he wouldn’t understand me. I looked at his face, not his chair, while we were talking.

And when he said ‘no, thanks,’ I didn’t force the issue. I gracefully acknowledged his equally graceful decline of my offer, and we went on with our days. In other words, we had an interaction where we both treated each other like human beings, equally deserving of courtesy, respect, and autonomy.

When you want to offer assistance to someone, offer politely, and don’t swoop in as though you are assuming that your offer has already been accepted. Never touch a person’s body, service animal, or assistive device without permission. If that person says ‘no, thank you,’ say ‘ok.’ If that person says ‘yes, please,’ pay attention when that person explains how you can be of the most help.

Over at Jesse the K’s place, a great conversation took place recently in which we talked about the language people use when offering assistance, and what a difference it makes:

When someone says “Can I help you with that?” my negative response can be interpreted as “you’re not capable of helping me” (which many folks would perceive as rude). To me, that question is more about the asker’s need to help than my requirements for assistance. When someone says “would you like a hand with that?” saying “no” focuses on me, not the asker. (Jesse the K)

When framing offers of assistance, it is tremendously beneficial to phrase them in a way which centers the person who appears to need help, rather than the person offering it. Saying ‘Do you need assistance?’ or ‘Do you need a hand with that?’ sounds very different from ‘Can I help you?’ In addition to watching your literal language, it helps to watch your body language and tone; are you using a sing songy voice? Are you talking any differently from the way you would talk to anyone else? Are you staring at a physical impairment or assistive device while you talk?

The brief version of the answer to the question of ‘how can I offer help without being intrusive or offensive?’ is:

  1. Address the person, not the impairment, using language which centers that person.
  2. If the answer is ‘yes, please,’ pay attention so that you know how to help.
  3. If the answer is ‘no, thank you,’ say ‘ok,’ or something along those lines.

In respect for the spirit of Blogging Against Disablism Day, particularly the language amnesty, this is designated as a 101 thread. People with all levels of experience with disability activism and the disability community are encouraged to comment and exchange questions and ideas.

(Crossposted at this ain’t livin’.)

BADD: How can I support Blogging Against Disablism Day?

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2010Today is the “beginning” of Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010. I put beginning in quotes there not just because the day is done in Australia and the West Coast of Canada is still waking up, but because Diary of a Goldfish, who hosts BADD every year, acknowledges that people with disabilities are not necessarily able to post precisely on the date of a blog swarm – that there is inherent disablism in demanding that disabled people write a post on a specific time table.

Every year since I started participating in BADD, I’ve had many people ask me how they – both as currently non-disabled people, and as people with disabilities – can best participate in BADD if they don’t want to, or can’t, write a post, put up a photo, or create a video or podcast. Here is just a short list of suggestions:

Check out the ever-growing list of BADD posts over at Diary of a Goldfish. Even “just” (there’s no just about your time/energy investment!) reading people’s posts and learning about their experiences contributes a lot to BADD. Blogswarms like this are all about raising awareness, and raising your own awareness is just as important. As well, you may find a whole new set of blogs to add to your blog-reading lists. There are so many bloggers with disabilities out there, fighting the good fight against ableism every day.

Comment on some BADD posts. I know that every time I write something and it gets no comments, I feel like I’ve put effort out for nothing. [This is not a demand for more comments for me! I’m just sayin’.] If you have the time/energy to do so, I would really encourage you to leave comments in support of BADD posts. They don’t have to be lengthy: even just “This post was great, thank you for writing it” can make a difference. If you’re up to writing more, go for it! But just leaving words of support can be a big deal.

Tell people about the awesome posts you’ve read. If you have a blog, link your favourite BADD posts so others can check them out – if not today, then over the next few days, or even weeks. Months. They’re not going anywhere, and although we all hope the prejudices against people with disabilities are going to disappear, that’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon, either. There’s nothing saying you have to only link to BADD posts this week. If you’ve got a twitter account, tweet some links to your followers! The hash-tag for BADD seems to be #badd, but I like to also tag my tweets #disability as well. (This is selfish on my part – I follow the #disability tags on twitter.)

Think about dis/ableism in your every-day life. This one is mostly for the non-disabled people, or for people like me – I always need to remind myself to think outside my box of “what disability looks like”. There are huge swaths of my workplace that someone in a wheelchair can’t get in, and I went to a university last week that claimed it was impossible to put floor announcements in their elevators. Many [not all – I’ve heard very good things about some places, like L’Arche] of the group homes in Canada for people with cognitive impairments are more like prisons than the “home-like” environment they claim to be. The websites for each of the major political parties in Canada are inaccessible to many people with disabilities, and events that are held for “all Canadians” have no captioning, no visual description, and no way for Sign users to participate.

I think BADD is a great opportunity to see just how much is out there about disability on the internet. For disabled people who may be feeling isolated, it’s a great time to see just how many people are out there that struggle with similar issues. For the non-disabled, it’s a great way to start educating yourself about disability issues.

The Blogging Against Disablism 2010 Page will update throughout the day. Here’s just a tiny selection of posts that I’ve had the chance to read, and highly recommend.