Tag Archives: blind

Blindness in Greek Myth

Ages ago, I said I was going to write a series about disability in Greek myth. Of course, I had to do things like “study,” “sleep” and “move three times in six months” so that fell through. Oh, Hephaestus, I am sorry. However, I hope this post covering a fair portion of the myths featuring blindness will do you!

From blinding as a means of punishment or defeating enemies to associations with musical and prophetic gifts and indeed insanity, blindness performs a whole lot of functions in Greek myth. There’s so much to cover, so I’ll assume a certain familiarity with the myths themselves (just Google if you get confused, or ask me for a reference, I’ve got loads on hand). Let’s dip in, shall we?

Defeating monsters

There’s a recurring theme in Greek myth of gods and heroes blinding monsters. Zeus ends the Titanomachy (the Titan rebellion against the Olympians) by blinding the Titans with his flash of lightning. His enemy, Typhoeus, is a threat because of his hundreds of flame-spurting eyes. The power to force blindness is positioned as a defining power in conclusive defeat. By having both Apollo and Heracles then shoot out Ephialtes’ eyes, this frankly offputting kind of power reinforces the collective dominance of the Olympians.

Perseus continues the institution of blindness in order to subdue in stealing the Graeae’s eye and continue his quest. There’s also Argos: only in closing his eyes – being “blinded” – is he vulnerable to Hermes, who then decapitates him. But when Odysseus blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops, he himself is punished. Who ought to be sighted and who blind, then, ought to be under divine control, according to these narratives.

Blindness as punishment

This is a frequent trope! Metope, for example, is punished by her father Echetus with blindness and must work to regain her sight. Where Argos had to be “blinded” in order to be decapitated, Alcmena’s mutilation of Eurystheus’ eyes is performed after his decapitation in order to humiliate him. (Yep, not exactly blindness-positive here, are we…) Then there’s blinding as revenge, as with Polymestor’s punishment for murder in Hecabe.

People are often blinded for offences against the gods, as with Erymanthos after he saw Aphrodite bathing. Stesichorus is supposed to have been blinded on insulting Helen, the daughter of Zeus who was caught up in the Trojan War. Unusually, when he retracts, Stesichorus regains his sight. Another case in which blindness is temporary is when Poseidon put a mist before Achilles’ eyes to stop him killing Aeneas. Orion is blinded as a punishment for rape, but he regains his sight upon seeing Helius, the sun: blinding punishments don’t seem to hold for gods as they do for humans without divine favour.

Oedipus

As much as it pains me to have to talk about metaphorical blindness, it’s important when it comes to Oedipus. Perhaps the most famous blind figure in Greek myth, the idea is that his lack of insight leads to his literal loss of sight. The parallel is particularly drawn in the passage in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, in which Oedipus and the prophet Tiresias throw accusations of “blindness” at each other. Oedipus, still sighted at this stage in the Theban cycle, accuses Tiresias of having both blind eyes and mind, but it is the foresight of the blind prophet that predicts that the same will be said of Oedipus. This grates on me, but it’s still pretty great in that, where blindness has in many myths represented a lack of power – in punishment and defeat – here Tiresias’ associated prophetic sight trumps the visually sighted Oedipus.

Moving on to Oedipus at Colonus, following his self-inflicted blinding, Oedipus has clearly undergone an internal change, exchanging his sight for much insight into his destiny and that of his family. Psychoanalytic readings deem Oedipus’ self-blinding a symbolic castration, a punishment for his improper sexual behaviour (he marries a woman who turns out to be his mother). That interpretation certainly fits with the dynamic of blindness as punishment.

Prophecy

Greek myth features a singular association between blindness and prophecy. I find the stories of those who move between blindness and sightedness particularly intriguing. That’s the case with disease-blinded fisherman Phormion’s recovery of his sight after a prophetic dream. Rarely for Greek mythology, seer Ophioneus was born blind, and his temporary sightedness occurs after a sudden head pain. These myths, in their very inversion, point to a Greek tradition of linking prophetic insight with visual sight across many types of myths.

This is furthered with the instances of prophecy being granted as recompense for loss of sight. Euenios only receives prophecy as compensation because his inaction helped the cause of the gods. Conversely, a god is responsible for Tiresias’ blinding, because although his seeing Athena bathing was also a mistake, Zeus’ law mandates that he must be blinded. However, Athena’s gifts of prophecy and long life to Tiresias fill the compensation component we’ve come to expect. Fellow seer Phineus perpetuates the link between long life and blindness, choosing both over sight. Once more, visual sight is exchanged for something far more powerful.

Music

There’s also a strong association between blindness and musical talent. The talented piper Daphnis’ blindness is another example of removal of sight at the hands of supernatural forces. Such treachery of the Muses is also demonstrated with Achaios, who is blinded by bee stings (bees are associated with the Muses). It reappears in Demodocus’ case also, with the giving of musical talent and the taking away of his sight marking another instance of sight being exchanged for a powerful talent.

In the Iliad, the Muses are said to have maimed and taken the voice of the bard Thamyris after he boasted he was more talented than they were. Intriguingly, there is a tradition that Thamyris was also blinded, but Homer’s text itself doesn’t make this explicit. The continuation of such a tradition even outside tangible support from the official text demonstrates, I think, the significance of the blind musician in Greek culture. Indeed, references to the figure of the blind singer seem to have been encouraged by the Homeridae, the descendants of the blind poet Homer.

These myths, however, have very different meanings and doubtless cultural significance. The blindings are a mix of punishments and arbitrary whims, tied to the musicians’ talent and not. There’s no cohesive mythical function of blindness going on here that I can figure out; blindness just seems to be inserted every which way.

Madness

Back to metaphors again, I’m afraid, with Atê, the spirit of delusion and “blind” folly. She is known also as Ruin as she leads all who follow her astray by causing them to become “blinded” to their mistakes and often insane. Another of Greek mythology’s numerous linkings of blindness and madness is in Ajax. Athena describes the madness she institutes in Ajax in very visual terms, saying she will make his eyes dark although he still is sighted. This rendering of blindness is in fact a means of saving Odysseus from Ajax, further showing that blindness in Greek myth can be as much about divine favour as it is about punishment.

In conclusion…

Greek myth is characterised by myriad meanings and functions of blindness. Whether blindness is representing establishment or exercise of power dynamics, whether it appears as a metaphor, whether it is performing a variety of functions all at once or something else entirely, blindness is everywhere in Greek myth.

[Cross-posted to ZatB]

Spotlighting Kirstenbosch Garden!

Do you know, readers, it struck me that I have never posted about South Africa’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden? As the Garden is both stunning and disability friendly, I do not know how this is possible! I must correct it at once.

Kirstenbosch is set on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town and, according to the website, ‘was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora’. It’s part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Kirstenbosch is famous for its Braille Trail. Signed in Braille and large print along a guiding rope, the trail is designed specifically for blind visitors. You can read more about the Braille Trail here. It begins and ends with a fragrance garden, where the sensory emphasis is on touch and smell. Most of the garden is wheelchair accessible, including the Trail.

WheelchairThailand has a video called “Wheelchair access Kirstenbosch – South Africa”:

Video description: Video opens with a panning shot of a paved area surrounded by buildings. At the bottom is the word ‘Kirstenbosch’ in yellow. The next title is ‘Botanical garden Cape Town,’ then ‘Wheelchair friendly areas’ and then ‘South Africa’. Through this, relaxing music plays and there are shots of wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users moving about pathways, experiencing the gardens. There’s a shot of a green signpost, focusing on the ‘Braille Trail’ sign, and then a white sign titled ‘The Forest Braille Trail’. There are then shots of a Braille sign, the rope leading along the trail, and then some guinea fowl doing their guinea fowl thing. After that, we’re back to shots of wheelchair users experiencing the gardens. The ending title card says ‘produced by www.gehandicapten.com’

Address, contact details and operational hours are available here.

Recommended Reading for 10 December, 2010

Well, if it isn’t Friday again. I suppose it is for you, readers of the future, but I am writing this from Tuesday, in the past! Such is the power of the blog’s scheduling function.

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

An Actor Finds Truth & Power Negotiating her Vision Loss by Marilee Talkington guest posting at Brains of Minerva. Extremely relevant to this disabled actor’s interests, and a pretty wonderful piece in any case.

So I decided I wouldn’t tell the directors or anyone on the casting end that I was visually impaired. Which always felt like a betrayal. And I would show up as early as I needed to to re-write the entire script by hand in large print.  I hadn’t learned how to vocally advocate for myself yet in a way that didn’t feel angry or demanding, so at times I flat out lied. I remember calling an audition hotline once using a different name and asked if someone who was visually impaired could get the script ahead of time to memorize.  I was told that they couldn’t because it would pose an unfair advantage over the other actors.

Why CART in Government? by Martha Galindo at CCAC In Action:

1. Good government leads the way for all its citizens by setting best standards for equality and inclusion.

2. To reduce discriminatory gaps which now still exclude many able citizens (who happen to be deaf, deafened, or have a hearing loss, or who need quality text for many other good reasons) from regular and important government meetings, workshops, rallies, advisory committees, and public input to city, state, or federal bodies.

Lene Anderson at The Seated View: Disability Time

So there I am, sitting in the waiting room a full hour and half before my appointment and although I had a book, I was annoyed, so instead I started thinking about Disability Time. You don’t find it mentioned much in Google in the way it’s used in the disability world, but maybe some day, it’ll make its way into search engines. Disability Time refers to the way in which most things take much longer when you have a disability. There is personal Disability Time, as in it probably takes me double the time to make a cup of hot water in the microwave that it would you and then there is the Disability Time that’s imposed by others and there are a couple of those.

Donna Jodham: Out of sight out of mind

A few months ago I had a meeting with some officials of a financial institute to discuss making more financial planning services available to blind and sight impaired persons and at that time I raised the issue of making information available in alternate formats such as Braille, large print, and electronic text. To my chagrin but not to my surprise, the officials admitted that they had never thought of doing so. I also had a similar meeting with a major supermarket chain in Toronto to discuss making their weekly specials more available to their blind and sight impaired customers either online or through a phone service and again, I was told that this had not been thought of up until now.

Claudia Dreyfus for the New York Times: A conversation with Julian L. Seifter, Nephrologist and Patient. It’s an interesting interview with a physician, Dr. Julian Seifter, who just cowrote a book on living with chronic illness.

Q. Has being a patient helped you be a doctor?
A. I’ve certainly learned things I’ve brought back to the clinic. I have a retinopathy, for instance, which can be a complication of diabetes. I don’t have good vision in my right eye, as a result. When this first happened, I said to my ophthalmologist, “I can’t lose vision. I need to read.” And he said, “Any vision is better than no vision.”
That was important. I started thinking, “Concentrate on things you still can do and develop some new things.” I’ve since started gardening, which doesn’t require the most acute vision. It’s something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. I counsel my patients to replace what they’ve lost with something new.

Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited. And have yourself a fabulous weekend.

Recommended Reading for November 17, 2010

Your friendly neighbourhood Anna is out of town at the moment. Please enjoy this recommended reading post from the future.

Lindsay at Autist’s Corner: Doubly Deviant: On Being Queer and Autistic

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This is a very long, rambly autobiographical post about being bisexual and being autistic: it compares my experiences coming to terms with both of these facts (always knowing about the autism, vs. having to figure out the sexual orientation; and also, doubting the possibility that I could *have* a sexual orientation because I thought autistic people didn’t date or have sex, or even want to do either of those things) with those of Amanda Forest Vivian, who is a lesbian, and autistic, and has written about those things at some length at her own blog. I also discuss the ways being autistic has complicated being gay for me — besides my initial difficulty realizing that what I felt about girls was, in fact, sexual desire, there was also a profound isolation from the larger Gay Community, which I never felt like I could (or would want to) join.

Have we linked to High Functioning yet?

A list of different ways people use the word “high-functioning” about people with developmental disabilities; an attempt to figure out what it actually is supposed to mean.

Interested humans–people with disabilities, staff, family members, allies, and people who are more than one of those things–are invited to share different ways they have heard the term “high-functioning” be used.

Amanda Forest Vivian at I’m Somewhere Else: 12. Bird Brains

The classic example of impaired “social skills” in people with “Asperger’s” is a person who constantly talks about their favorite subject, and doesn’t notice other people’s boredom or discomfort. I will explore this by presenting two people who like to talk differently.

Shiva at Biodiverse Resistance: Call for Papers – * Critical Autism Seminar Day * Tuesday, 18th January 2011 (UK)

Keynote speaker: Anne McGuire* (Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Canada). Anne’s doctoral research analyses the social significance and productive effects of cultural representations of autism produced and circulated by individuals and collectives engaged in autism advocacy in the contemporary West.

Our aim is for this conference to be as inclusive as possible. We welcome activists, undergraduate and postgraduate students, practitioners and academics to join us.

Melissa Mitchell at Service Dogs: A Way of Life: Book Review: MAKING THE MOVE TO MANAGING YOUR OWN PERSONAL ASSISTANCE SERVICES (PAS): A Toolkit for Youth With Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood

(includes PDF link to download of book)

This in-depth 69 page guide covers this ins and outs of personal assistants for youth with disabilities utilizing the stories of youth with disabilities to illustrate topics related to utilizing, hiring, and selecting personal assistants. Pages 10-12 talk about Service Dogs and an option for meeting personal care and assistant needs. The section is clear, honest and bringsup many good points people who are new to dogs often don’t realize.

US: National Federation of the Blind: Penn State Discriminates Against Blind Students and Faculty

Baltimore, Maryland (November 12, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, announced today that it has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, requesting an investigation of Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) for violating the civil rights of blind students and faculty. The NFB filed the complaint because a variety of computer- and technology-based services and Web sites at Penn State are inaccessible to blind students and faculty. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public state universities to offer equal access to their programs and services.

This is being discussed as well at the Chronicle of Higher Education: Penn State Accused of Discriminating Against Blind Students. Please be aware that the comments are… Well, they’re internet comments in a place that isn’t exactly disability-friendly, although there are many people pointing out that blind students would like to be able to get classroom material as well.

Anyway, I have just realised that I am actually writing this from the past – I always get confused when I travel if I’ve gone forward or backward in time.

Signal Boost: Personal Successes: Unlimited Potential eBook from the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

(via email)

How would you define success in your own life? This is a very individual question, and there are many different answers, both large and small.

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians collected success stories from blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians. These success stories were on any topic, whether on employment, community involvement or conquering your own personal goals. Most importantly, these success stories differ from others that tend to reinforce the “superhero” notion of disability, by highlighting the often simple and realistic techniques we employ to complete everyday tasks and achieve our goals.

We hope that this collection of stories will, on the one hand, educate the public by painting a more realistic image of blindness, and on the other, encourage those who have recently experienced vision loss to work towards their goals.

Visit Personal Successes, Unlimited Potential to download your copy of the book today!

AEBC continues to collect success stories from blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted Canadians. Do you have a story to share? What do you constitute as “success” in your own life? Please email your story to info AT blindcanadians DOT ca.

Recommended Reading for 22 October, 2010

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

At Astrid’s Journal, Multiplicity Myths:

I wrote this collection of myths a few years ago, intending to create a multiplicity page on my website. That never got to be, but I still like this list. I have edited some parts where appropriate.

At Tunisia Online News, Tunisian-Italian project to benefit blind people in Gafsa:

A project as part of a Tunisian-Italian partnership to promote the status and integration of the disabled in society, will soon lead to the building of a house for visually impaired and blind people in Oum Larayes in the governorate of Gafsa (South western Tunisia).

From the Los Angeles Times in the United States, Georgia settles suit on confinement of disabled people:

In a settlement that will serve as a model for enforcing the rights of the disabled, the Justice Department reached an agreement with Georgia to move many patients with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities out of the state’s notoriously dangerous psychiatric hospitals and into the community.

From 3News.co.nz, NZ offer world first service for deaf:

Until today, [15 October] New Zealanders who are hearing impaired and deaf have had to use a fax machine to make contact with 1 -1 -1.

[…]

At midday a system was switched on which allows the seven thousand members of the hearing impaired and deaf community to text for help.

From Pro Bono Australia, Judge Caps Court Costs on Disability Case -PIAC:

A decision in the Federal Court is expected to have national ramifications for public interest litigants according to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, PIAC.

[…]

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre was acting on behalf of Julia Haraksin, who tried to book a seat on a Murrays coach from Sydney to Canberra.

Bizarrely enough, I’ve taken a Murrays bus from Sydney to Canberra myself and was just thinking about their lack of accessibility yesterday! Here’s hoping Julia Haraksin wins the case.

That’s all for this time. Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited.

Canadians: Participants are needed for a study of cell phone based emergency services.

(via email)

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
EMAIL: research@neilsquire.ca
Toll Free Telephone: 1-877-673-4636
Address: Suite 220 -2250 Boundary Rd.
Burnaby, BC V5M 3Z3

Principal Researcher
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.

Signal Boost: Request for Article Suggestions in the Canadian Blind Monitor

The theme for the next issue of the Canadian Blind Monitor will be Passionate Pursuits. We want to hear about the things that AEBC members and other vision impaired Canadians are passionate about and the things in which they are involved. Maybe it’s related to community, family, politics, health, education, a vision issue, recreation, work, etc. It can be controversial or about every day life and either positive and negative in nature. Articles from or about family, friends, and other members of the community will also be considered.

For information or to give suggestions, please call 1-800-561-7447 and leave your phone number so that we can call you to determine if you or someone on the CBM team could write an article about your suggestion. You can also email bcooke[@]blindcanadians[.]ca

Deadline for ideas is October 31. Deadline for articles is December 15. See the AEBC website for writer guidelines. The next CBM out in early 2011.

Today in Journalism: You Mean They Can Ride Horses Too?

This delicious little story in the Carluke Gazette by Craig Goldthorpe is pretty much your run of the mill profile of a local person with disabilities by a journalist who has no idea what he’s talking about, but, gosh, thinks it’s actually neat! Milena Canning is an equestrian who enjoys riding Clydesdale horses, which isn’t exactly a news item, except for the fact that she’s blind. The story is cringe-inducing, but the real standout in the piece, to me, is the level of astonishment at the idea that a blind person could ride horses. Alas, I can’t pick up a copy in person to read the promised expanded version.

I’ll be sure to tell blind Paralympic athlete Ann Cecile Orr of Norway, who took two silver medals in Sydney in 2000, that she has talents that ‘can’t be believed.’ Likewise, I’m sure the International Blind Sports Federation, which recognises dressage in particular as a sport practiced by blind and visually impaired athletes worldwide, will be interested to know that blind people can’t ride horses. The folks over at Blind Equestrians will be surprised to learn they can’t ride or handle horses and the rapidly expanding Para-Equestrian community should probably be alerted as well, as should therapeutic riding schools that work with blind and visually impaired students, like the Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrians Program (yes, I know, the name leaves something to be desired) at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s stories in the news about how amazing a disabled athlete is, simply because of the disability. While I think it’s good to profile disabled athletes, for a number of reasons including the fact that it’s important to alert people to the fact that, yes, people with disabilities do engage in sport, articles like this don’t do much to educate people. Goldthorpe could have written about blind equestrian sports and discussed the various adaptations blind riders use to engage in high level competition (people, it does not get much higher than Olympic-level sports, which is what the Paralympics are) instead of engaging in a ‘wow, look at the blind person!’ story. He could have pointed out that the story takes place within the larger context of a long history of disabled athletics.

Like other blind athletes, blind equestrians may work with guides and spotters. Callers are stationed around the ring for sports like dressage (where riders are also expected to memorise their own programmes) and I’d note that nondisabled equestrians also rely on callers and spotters during their own training; many people who have had an opportunity to be around horses probably remember riding while someone else controls the horse with a lunge line, to learn balance, focus on your seat, and get better connected with your horse. Blind and sighted riders have more commonalities than disparities, not just a love for horses and equestrian sport, but shared learning experiences.

I have an interest in equestrian sport and a love for equestrians because I used to ride, although I never reached a very high degree of proficiency. Thus, I tend to look out for stories about horses and riding, and I always watch equestrian events when I can. I love the connection that develops between horse and rider, where a working team can reach a very high level of communication and focus, and many equestrian sports are also just beautiful. Dressage, for example:

Dinks' Dressage: A dark horse faces the camera, head down and neck arched. The rider has a relaxed, comfortable seat with  hands low on the reins and the horse's ears are flicked back, almost as though listening to the rider

(Photo by Flickr user Axel Bührmann, Creative Commons License)

Dressage Abram Hall July 09: A shot of a horse in action, hooves in motion and neck out, with a rider posed comfortably and confidently in the saddle.

(Photo by Flickr user J.harwood, Creative Commons License.)

Articles like this, with their patronising attitudes about blind athletes, don’t do much to break down social attitudes. They tell readers that the subject of the article is astonishing and send the message that we should gawk at disabled athletes because they are disabled, not because of their athletic abilities. They also don’t leave people with more information; say, for example, information for blind folks about how and where to take riding classes, if they are interested, or information for people interested in watching athletic events. (Of course, given the writer’s level of surprise that a blind person could write horses, I’m guessing he probably doesn’t know there are entire events organised just for disabled riders in general, in addition to events for blind riders in particular.)

There are, of course, dangers to equestrian sport, but those dangers are present for all riders at all levels of ability, and the commonsense steps to address them are the same. Horses used in therapeutic riding programs are trained and handled especially carefully to address concerns about new riders who may not have the experience or the strength to control frightened and nervous horses, and riders, disabled and nondisabled alike, learn about safety as soon as they start handling horses. Riding is dangerous. Skiing is dangerous. Boating is dangerous. People participate in all these sports at all levels of ability because they want to, and find them interesting, and journalism that suggests that sports are just not accessible, or highly unusual, for people with disabilities frustrates me.

It’s not ‘remarkable’ that blind people ride horses and participate in competition, any more so than that anyone rides horses. What’s remarkable is that journalists still can’t be bothered to do any research when it comes to talking about disabled athletes, and still repeat the same old chestnuts in most articles profiling disabled athletes.

Recommended Reading for Thursday, 29 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.

Marathon de Paris 2010:  A wheelchair user closes in on the finish line. The image is very dynamic and filled with motion.

Sandra Graf (SUI) nears the 20km mark during the 2010 Paris Marathon. Photo by Flickr User siobh.ie, Creative Commons License.

Alex Nesbitt at Digital Podcast: USA Network Uses Fake Blind Guy to Celebrate Americans With Disabilties Act (h/t Media dis&dat)

A sighted person is playing a blind person, and there are not any real blind actors on the show that I know of.

What does that say about their real respect for the ADA.

If they wanted to make this about people with disabilities why not extend the principles they claim and find a blind actor to play the part. After all, if the CIA can do it why not Hollywood.

ephemeralhope at If I was walking through a sad art gallery…: You Know You’re Blind When…

I am sixteen years old. Many people believe that I am too young to instruct my elders in how they should be treating people. However, I have lived all my life with a disability that has affected the way people perceive me, I know how it influences the way I feel about myself and choose to live my life. I will not judge you for your point of view towards me and my disability; I will only say that I respect those who see me before they see my disability more than the people that only see me as the blind girl. I do not deny my blindness, nor do I deny my independence and determination to prove that there is more to a person than their disability.

Remember this: if you ever became disabled you would still want to be treated as the person you are today, so do I.

Rhianon Elan Gutierrez at PGA Diversity: We Are the Audience Too: Responsibility as Creators

I am a filmmaker and I have a hearing loss. I understand both sides of the experience: as a creator and as an audience member.

I know how difficult it is to raise money to have the equipment you need, the actors you want, the location that’s beautiful, and the crew you know you need to feed and pay. I’m passionate about the process but what makes it challenging (and ultimately more rewarding) is the responsibilities that I have not only to my goals, my craft, and to my team, but to my audience. During the process of making my films and even afterwards, I make a commitment to be respectful of the access and communication needs and abilities of my cast and crew. I learn new things every day from them and about them. When it comes to my audience, I think about the one person of two hundred. It’s easy to forget this person, but I’ve been this person so I know that I must remind myself of those moments. I love the experience of making films and I especially love to see the impact that my films have on others and the difference that it makes when they can follow the story. I know I am not alone in sharing this sentiment.

Steve Kolowich at Inside Higher Ed: For One, for All

When advocates for students with disabilities asked Stephen Rehberg, an associate academic professional at Georgia Tech’s Center of Enhanced Teaching and Learning, to help create workshops to teach science and technology faculty members how better to accommodate disabled students, Rehberg’s answer was simple: “No.”

“Trying to teach faculty about accessibility is a dead end,” Rehberg said last week, during a session as Blackboard’s annual user conference here. “They’re not going to come to the workshops, and [if] they get there, they’re going to glaze over. I said, ‘I’m not going to waste my time or the grant money.’ ”

kissestokashmir at Your fucking culture alienates me: Something I have been thinking about a lot

And what a weird thing to care about. Who would mourn the loss of their birth defect? (Syndactyly is the official name of my condition.) I would most likely feel different about this if it was located on a more visible part of my body, such as the hands, or actually impeded my functioning. But it didn’t. It was just something unique about me, something that set me apart from everyone else I knew and I enjoyed having something that was unique to me and didn’t know that I enjoyed it until it was gone. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s no point in robbing people of what makes them different or unique and they may very well end up resenting you for the imposition into their lives. What you may consider a defect or an oddity, they may consider a vital characteristic of their personality. And you do not have the right to take it from them or to characterize what it means for them.

Astrid von Woerkom at Astrid’s Journal: Autistic Student Denied Education, Loses Court Battle

This is sad. What is sadder, is that quite a number of students with disabilities are left without education for reasons similar to A.’s. School distritcts excuse lack of education by the argument that they don’t have the resources to educate “difficult” students. Even in countries like the Netherlands, where school attendance is compulsory – I don’t know about the UK -, students are left behind to sit at home.