Disability History Education Video

I wanted to share this Disability History Education video by the Disabled Young People’s Collective. The DYP is based in North Carolina, USA, and is made up of people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-eight. See the DYP website for more.

The video is mostly captioned, but the captions can be a bit difficult to read at times, so here’s a video description.

[A group of people sitting on stairs call out, one at a time.] The following are stereotypes of people with disabilities: special, begger, psychotic, crazy, mongoloid, lazy, needy, handicap, disgusting, retard, insane, incapable, slow, helpless.
[Written out on the screen] The following are shocking facts from disability history.
[Individuals say the following]
[On an exercise machine, a person says] Did you know that 70% of people that are blind or visually impaired are unemployed?
[A person walks up stairs then pauses to speak] Did you know that disabled people were sterilized during the eugenics movement?
[A person is watching TV and says] Did you know that disabled people were killed in the Holocaust?
[A person walks closer to the camera to say] Did you know that disabled people were required to stay inside because they were considered ugly?
[A group is sitting in a parking lot, blocking a car, which honks at them. One of them says] Did you know that Section 504 was the longest sit-in ever in a federal building?
[Standing in a doorway, a person says] Did you know that disabled people had their teeth removed, because institutions didn’t want to pay for their dental costs?
[A person using a motorised wheelchair is in a parking lot with ‘another inaccessible sidewalk’ and so moves along beside the sidewalk, saying] Did you know that 92% of parents abort children who have the possibility of having Down Syndrome?
[A person signs with speech voiceover] Did you know that students at Galludet University staged a protest by hotwiring buses to block campus gates in order to get the first Deaf President there?

You can find the words to the Self-Advocacy Rap, which is at the end of the video, in the sidebar of the YouTube page.

Thank you to @cripchick for tweeting about this video.

9 thoughts on “Disability History Education Video

  1. That is Cripchick in the power chair who talked about Down’s Syndrome, isn’t it?

    Shouldn’t the explanation have said that it was a woman in the chair? It’s not directly relevant, admittedly (it’s not as if Down’s is her disability), but any sighted person would have noticed it, and normally when relating an event where someone spoke, you’d say if it were a man or a woman.

  2. That’s an interesting point, Matthew, and I was actually talking to one of my fellow contributors about describing people, though in relation to race. I do not feel comfortable describing identification terms without knowing how the people themselves identify. So in this case, I don’t actually know whether all the people in the video identify as ‘woman’ or ‘man’ (though I know cripchick identifies as a woman!). I guess there are no easy solutions. In this case I thought it was best to say ‘person’ rather than ‘young white woman’ or ‘young black man’ or whatever, because I didn’t want to assume that the people in the video who looked to me to be young white women or young black men actually were. I couldn’t find that information for all of the people in the video, though if one of them requests I edit their description, I happily will. That said, I realise this a) compromises the fullness of the description and b) runs the risk of erasing the identities of the people in the video regardless. So hopefully that addresses some of my concerns in writing that description.

  3. Well, the vast majority of male adults identify as men and the vast majority of female adults identify as women. Surely the thing to do is to call them that unless they object? If you were talking about a female adult you met out shopping, even if she wasn’t uber-feminine in the style of, say, Nanci Griffith circa Last of the True Believers, you would still said “this woman said so-and-so”?

  4. Yes, I generally do read people as ‘man,’ ‘woman,’ ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ but I am trying to not assume that so much as it so often erases non-binary people. Also, not everyone fits ‘male’ or ‘female’ so neatly. I don’t think the thing to do is to call people terms that can erase or harm, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to assume the most prominent groups as default. There are lots of valid approaches to writing descriptions; this is mine, at least for now. Now let’s get on topic!

  5. I’m contributing to the derail momentarily to add that I think Chally articulated her reasoning very well in the above comment, especially with this line: “…runs the risk of erasing the identities of the people in the video regardless.”

    I am nonbinary and I am routinely thoughtlessly misgendered on a daily basis. I make an effort to refrain from gendering people until I hear, from them, about how they wish to be gendered and described, something which is not possible with people whom I don’t know in an Internet video. (I suppose I could write the producers…)

    Someone who looks “female” in your eyes, Matthew, is not necessarily a woman. And variations in gender identity and expression are much more common than you might think; many of us allow people to misgender us for our own safety or to avoid awkward social situations and it is very hard to get accurate numbers on gender variance. I appreciate that Chally is trying to foster an environment which is inclusive of nonbinaries, and I would like the environment at FWD to be inclusive of people with nonbinary gender identities.

    That said, I do understand your frustration; for visually impaired folks, I can imagine how not having gender or racial or age descriptors in a description of video content would be unsettling. I don’t really know how to resolve this issue; either we run the risk of erasure, or we run the risk of making content inaccessible to visually impaired folks. There’s pretty much a no-win here.

    Ok, back on topic, for cereal this time.

  6. @Chally: I’m going to say right now, despite what Matthew Smith is saying – Thank you. Better to err on the side of caution than to make a false assumption, because those assumptions are what get nonbinaries and many other transfolk silenced and ignored.

    On topic: Groups like this make me happy. Unfortunately I don’t think there are any like it near where I live. I liked the video though, it mentioned a lot of things I didn’t know.

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