Category Archives: Uncategorized

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Discrimination is only discrimination if you end up being sacked

The study apparently says that many people with MS put off telling their bosses (and so receiving appropriate accommodations at work, which might help them to manage their MS) because they are afraid they will be discriminated against.

Dr Simmons says that fear is unfounded, because “only 15 per cent of people [left] their jobs because they were sacked”.

I assume this means that that’s 15% of people leaving their jobs, and not 15% of people who told their bosses they had MS. If it’s the latter, that’s actually a significant amount of discrimination – about 1 in 6! But even if it’s the former, that seems to me to be fairly significant. It may be that not many people are getting sacked because of their MS, but it does tend to support the idea that it is a realistic possibility that you will be sacked if you tell your boss you have MS. In other words: the fear of discrimination (eventuating in unemployment) is hardly unfounded!

Screen Reader Access to SharePoint

As many screen reader users have found out the hard way; Microsoft’s SharePoint service is not very screen reader friendly. It can be navigated, but is clearly not understandable for your average user. Microsoft’s apparent lack of interest in adhering to w3c standards further complicates the situation. Despite this, many of us have to use SharePoint in our daily work. So with that said, I am writing this article to share with other screen reader users some tricks, tips and general information I’ve gathered over time while working on the “SharePoint issue”. I have primarily been working with the 2003 and 2007 editions of SharePoint, but most of these items hold true with 2010.

LINKAGE: Black Fashion Museum

Museums and other archival institutions typically display the extraordinary rather than the ordinary, the First Lady’s inauguration ball gown rather than her J.Crew shorts. But because of the implausible convergence of racial, gender, sexual, class, and language barriers that confront non-White and working women, their lives and their accomplishments were not deemed extraordinary in their time. The material evidence of these lives not considered important enough to save or to study. Museums and other archival institutions that privilege white middle and upper class women’s experiences collude in the ongoing marginalization and erasure of the material cultural histories of minoritized American women.

Call for submissions: /Slant/Sex/

This is a call for bold, honest investigations of the sexual female/trans self that polite society has yet to fully embrace.

We particularly encourage submissions from women of color, older women, queer women, women with disabilities, and transgender/two-spirit/intersex/gender nonconforming folks.

Experiences of Transgendered Profs a Case Study in Sexism

In an excerpt published in the Australian newspaper The Age, The Hidden Brain author Shankar Vedantam discusses the different post-transition experiences of transgendered Stanford professors Ben Barres and Joan Roughgarden. Unsurprisingly, they paint a depressing picture of the prevalence of sexism even in the supposedly egalitarian world of university research.

Where ever you are is where I want to be: Crip Solidarity

What does crip solidarity look like? Between crips?

We are traveling, trying to track down food. My chair can’t go into this restaurant, your dog isn’t allowed in that restaurant; so we will order in. You can’t fly to the meeting, so we will come to you—all of us. They won’t let you go to the bathroom because they say you’re “too slow”, so we will demand they do—and make them wait for you—together. Sometimes we are comrades, sometimes we are strangers, but we will stay together. We move together.

I know what it is like to be left behind, left out, forgotten about. I know you know as well. We vow to not do that together, to each other.

Canada: Council of Canadians with Disabilities Chairperson’s Update

The month of April is an important anniversary month for the disability community, and indeed all equality-seeking Canadians, because on 17 April 1985 Section 15, the Equality Section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, came into force. Governments had been given a grace period, where they had the opportunity to bring legislation and policies into conformity with the standard set by Section 15. As we all know, the Governments of the day had a very limited vision of what was required of them and few changes were made. When Section 15 came into force, Canada’s equality-seeking community began to make use of Section 15 as a new tool for eliminating barriers. CCD, and other groups in the disability community, began to undertake test case litigation, based on Section 15 and other articles of the Charter, to create equitable outcomes for Canadians with disabilities.


Discovery could help treat spinal injuries: U of A researchers uncover trigger that causes muscles to move without signal from brain

Canada: Schools lack access to mental-health professionals, report says

Recommended Reading for I Can’t Believe May is Almost Over!

I mean, where does the time go?!

A dark body protrudes from the left, with many thin tendrils along it, showing orangey red.
A dark body protrudes from the left, with many thin tendrils along it, showing orangey red.

Second-harmonic generation microscopy image of a primary cultured Aplysia neuron stained with the membrane dye DHPESBP. The signal is modulated by membrane potential and was found to be capable of recording action potentials with 0.6 µm and 0.833 msec spatiotemporal resolution. The high-resolution and deep tissue imaging capability of this nonlinear microscopy technique should prove valuable to future electrophysiology studies. (Journal of Neuroscience) [Not entirely sure what all that means, but I find the brain endlessly beautiful and fascinating.]

Diary of a Schizophrenic – Little Girl

I am writing this to you because I want you to remember.  I want you to remember that you love unicorns and crystals, pinned butterflies and christmas beetles, love hearts and sea shells, sequins and puppy dogs. You feel special you have your ears pierced even though you are only six and you already know Santa isn’t real.  You love fairies but don’t tell many people because you are tough and like playing with the boys. You can catch and throw a ball and love to dance.  Dressing up will always be your favourite even when you’re big. Even though somewhere deep in side, you are sad, you love a lot and you see beauty everywhere.  You are smart and quick and can already talk the tail off a donkey.  You question everything and most people do not realise your careful quiet soul. One day, when you are older, you are going to lose your mind.

Pulse Media – For Enlightened White Guys [a useful set of tips for anyone participating in a group in which they have privilege]

5a. Count how many times you put your ideas out to the group.
b. Count how many times you support other’s ideas for the group.
. Practice supporting people by asking them to expand on ideas and dig more deeply before you decide to support the idea or not.
a. Think about whose work and contribution to the group gets recognized.
7b. Practice recognizing more people for the work they do and try to do it more often.

Boston Herald – Disability Group Faults Massachusetts on Water Crisis

An advocacy group for the disabled today filed a federal civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice over the state’s handling of a drinking water crisis earlier this month. The complaint made by the Disability Policy Consortium says the state wasn’t prepared to adequately respond to the needs of disabled and elderly people when a water main break left nearly 2 million eastern Massachusetts residents under an order to boil their water for several days.

All Africa – Nigeria: Yuguda Makes Case for Children With Disabilities

FIRST Lady of Bauchi State, Hajiya Abiodun Isa Yuguda and Founder, Challenge Your Disability Initiative, CYDI, yesterday at 2nd Vanguard Children’s Conference, called on corporate organisations across the country to learn to include children with disabilities in their programmes as part of efforts to show love and care to such group in the society. Addressing the children at summit held as part of exercise to mark this year’s Children’s Day celebration, Mrs Yuguda said children with disabilities should not be left out in programmes, particularly, programmes that would help shape their lives as future leaders.

AP – Spike in Disability Claims Clogs Overloaded System

Nearly 2 million people are waiting to find out if they qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It will be a long wait for most, even if they eventually win their cases. The Social Security system is so overwhelmed by applications for disability benefits that many people are waiting more than two years for their first payment. In Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and other states, the wait can be even longer.

Penhurst Asylum Archives. No excerpt, just a recommendation to browse the astonishing range of original source documents available at this archive of Penhurst State School and Hospital, which was surrounded by and eventually closed in response to allegations of abuse and neglect. A lawsuit after the facility closed led to a Supreme Court decision establishing that people who are involuntarily confined are entitled to “reasonably safe confinement.” The site is a testament to those who were subject to conditions that nobody could call reasonably safe. There’s some interviews and personal accounts, papers documenting problems at the hospital, and even redacted patient reports.

Recommended Reading for May 17, 2010

A large number of crutches of multiple sizes leaning against a wall
Description: a large number of crutches of multiple sizes leaning against a wall.
“Disabling Art”, by tomswift46, creative commons license.

Childhood, Disability, and Public Space

But adults with severe cognitive disabilities, like children and the elderly, often behave in ways that challenge non-disabled adults’ beliefs about how people should behave, particularly their beliefs about how people should behave in public spaces. The ways in which I’ve seen people be made uncomfortable by children in some ways mirror the ways in which I’ve seen people be made uncomfortable by people with disabilities.

The Questionable Privilege of being med-free

As a person who lived for two years without psychiatric medication apart from a PRN tranquilizer, I have experienced the relative privilege people who don’t use medication are awarded. It is subtle, in the comments people make. “Oh, that’s good for you,” people said when I told them I wasn’t on any medication. When, at the introduction to mental health recovery I attended, one of the speakers informed the audeince that she was med-free, everyone also either cheered as if it was the greatest goal to achieve, or mumbled in sorrow that they could never achieve that. Fortunately, the speaker made it quite clear that this was her personal choice and it was not in any way meant as advice to anyone else. But it’s not just patients who do this; I repeatedly caught the ward psychiatrist in compliments on the fact that I managed without meds. Yet whether a person is or is not on psychiatric drugs, may have little to do with how well they manage.

SDS 2010 conference is upon us! attend and/or follow via web 2.0

The Society for Disability Studies’ annual conference, “Disability in the Geo-Political Imagination,” kicks off Wednesday, June 2, on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This year’s will be the largest SDS conference ever, with a day-long inclusive education preconference on June 2, and five concurrent streams of papers, as well as a film festival in a dedicated theater, running Thursday, June 3 through Saturday, June 5.

To all you mothers, in every sense of the word

Even when it’s Mother’s Day, the ableists are out. They are folks who, among other things, are bound and determined to treat people with disabilities badly because they think they can.

I felt sorry for my mother when we ran into a waitress who acted as if I wasn’t capable of ordering my own meal yesterday. I watched as her eyes filled with tears when I was insulted in front of her.

I pushed back. That’s what advocates do, even on Mother’s Day. Maybe particularly on Mother’s Day. I believe I did it for all the mothers out there, in every sense of the word.

Shame, Medication and Mental Illness

Every month when my amitriptyline starts running low, I have the hardest time remembering to call it in. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t remember on my own and if I don’t remember I’ll run out and could miss days of my medication. I missed more than a week last summer and ended up high for days and days as my body readjusted.

So every month I pick up a pen hold it to my hand and debate what reminder to write there. I don’t want to write “MEDS,” right there in big letters where everyone can see it, but that seems to be my only option. My friends suggest coining a codeword. I try faces, check marks, exclamation points and stars. Nothing works — except “MEDS.” Every time I try something else I somehow forget and end up missing a dose.

Science Fiction Writing Contest [More details at the link]

Open to Native, First Nations, Indigenous, and Aboriginal students currently enrolled part-time or full-time in any accredited university, college, or high school.

This year’s Judge: Acclaimed SF, experimental fiction, and horror writer Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfeet), author of The Fast Red Road—A Plainsong, The Bird Is Gone—A Manifesto, Ledfeather, and much more.

Entrants should submit a personal statement (one paragraph) containing affiliation or descent, student status (the where, the when, the why, and the how much more), and goals for their sf writing, along with the previously unpublished writing sample.

“Canadians are most certainly welcomed! Canadians, Australians–all “indigenous” types from wherever they reside.”


Three men charged for hate crime

FARMINGTON — The three men who allegedly branded a swastika on the arm of a mentally challenged man and who face hate crime charges for the incident were arraigned Monday in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Yet city and Navajo officials claim race relations in Farmington have improved dramatically during the last decade.

UK Signal Boost: Study about Disability & Benefits at the University of Leeds

Are you a person with a disability?

Do you currently receive disability benefits?

Do you want to work?

If so, we want to talk to you! A research project at the University of Illinois at Chicago is interested in your experiences in and views of employment programs associated with work-related activities under reform to Incapacity Benefits or the Employment and Support Allowance.

We would like for you to participate in a focus group and share your experiences with the researchers and a group of people like you.


To be eligible, you must:

live in the city of Leeds or receive services there;

be between the ages of 18 and 64;

receive Incapacity Benefits or the Employment and Support Allowance; or be participating in or eligible for employment services through Pathways to Work or the New Deal for Disabled People

Continue reading UK Signal Boost: Study about Disability & Benefits at the University of Leeds

Signal Boost: Disenfranchisement at its Worst

Jady Lady describes her experience as a blind vote in today’s election in the UK

It was only whilst walking home with my partner that we compared notes. It appeared that my template had been placed fairly close to the left hand edge of the form, and my partner’s had been nearer the middle of the form. We phoned a friend and asked where the boxes appear on the ballot paper and were told that they are down the right hand side.

It would therefore appear that both our bballot papers are spoilt and we haven’t had a vote in this very important election.

If I never campaign for anything else in my life, I’m determined to get my voice heard on this one.

If you read this, I would urge you, please circulate it as widely as possible. I want as many people to realise how open to error the voting system is for blind people.

Our right to independence relies wholly on a sighted person to line the template up for us, and we have no way of checking that the vote has been cast properly.

I wonder how many other blind people’s ballot papers have been unknowingly spoilt today?

Read the whole thing.

Recommended Reading for Thursday, May 6

A collage, with black and white newspaper figures at the bottom. Some have bubbles above their heads, some reading 'abled' and some reading 'disabled.'
A collage, with black and white newspaper figures at the bottom. Some have bubbles above their heads, some reading 'abled' and some reading 'disabled.'

“Society” by Martin O’Neill, via Laugh or Cry.

the personal hurricanes of kirsty mitchell – the guardian asks why so many women suffer from depression.

hmmm, i’m getting a little tired of articles like this that always seem to be about the same thing. white, middle class, married, slightly older than ‘normal’ mothers talking about how they got depression trying to hold down a city job, run a family, and still look (and i quote) fabulous. the tone is always this one of overwhelming apathy, this ‘but i was only trying to have it all’ whinge, rather than a direct look at the root causes of what’s making them feel that they have to have it all, at once, in the first place.

MarketWatch – MetLife Study Finds Less Than Half of Americans out of Work Because of a Disability Had Income Protection in Place

Three in five individuals who were out of work for at least six months because of a disability did not have disability income protection, according to findings from a new MetLife study released today. The MetLife Study of the Emotional and Financial Impact of Disability also found that among those individuals who did have coverage, only about one-third of their income, on average, was protected.

Journal of Medical Internet Research – Mobile Therapy: Case Study Evaluations of a Cell Phone Application for Emotional Self-Awareness

We developed a mobile phone application with touch screen scales for mood reporting and therapeutic exercises for cognitive reappraisal (ie, examination of maladaptive interpretations) and physical relaxation. The application was deployed in a one-month field study with eight individuals who had reported significant stress during an employee health assessment. Participants were prompted via their mobile phones to report their moods several times a day on a Mood Map—a translation of the circumplex model of emotion—and a series of single-dimension mood scales. Using the prototype, participants could also activate mobile therapies as needed. Five case studies illustrate participants’ use of the mobile phone application to increase self-awareness and to cope with stress.

Disability Scoop – Poll Shows Public Support For Community Living

A Harris Interactive poll released Wednesday indicates that a majority of Americans support legislation that would allow people with disabilities to choose community-based care over nursing homes. The poll commissioned by the self-advocacy group ADAPT and the Coalition for Community Integration, gauged opinions on the Community Choice Act, a bill proposed in Congress that would mandate that states offer people with disabilities the option to use Medicaid funding to pay for community-based rather than institutional care. Findings from the poll indicate that 66 percent of Americans support the legislation without knowing what it would cost. When informed that the measure would likely add no more than $6 to a middle class taxpayer’s bill, 89 percent of respondents were supportive.

More Than Coping – “When Medicine Got It Wrong”: When We Blamed Schizophrenia On The Parents Airing on PBS Beginning This Week

When Medicine Got it Wrong is the groundbreaking story of a small group of loving California families in the 1970s who challenged the commonly-held belief that schizophrenogenic parents caused schizophrenia. Angry at being blamed for an illness they knew was not their fault, mothers and fathers in San Mateo, California started Parents of Adult Schizophrenics (PAS) and began fighting for better understanding and treatment. The story starts in 1974, and centers on two families — the Oliphants and Hoffmans — whose sons developed schizophrenia in their teens. Doctors told the boys that their parents were the cause of their problems. Medical records labeled each child as the “identified patient” in a dysfunctional family structure wherein the parents were more psychologically ill than the family member exhibiting delusional and psychotic symptoms. The cure: separation from the parents. The boys were institutionalized at Napa State Hospital, and the parents were warned that visits would be detrimental to their sons’ chances of recovery. The Oliphants and Hoffmans prompted researchers to question their assumptions about schizophrenia’s etiology. Their passion inspired parents across the country to organize and lobby for research and more appropriate, compassionate care. Their passion paid off: by the end of the 1970s neuroscience was investigating causes outside of family dysfunction and interpersonal relationships. Rapid discoveries in the next decades revolutionized medicine’s understanding of these brain diseases. By the mid-1980s, textbooks dropped the term “schizophrenogenic,” and in the 1990s pharmaceutical companies introduced the first new generation of medication in decades.

Los Angeles Times – When prescribing a drug, doctors have many choices — too many in some cases (h/t notemily)

Even when research has identified the best drug choice, doctors don’t always prescribe it. “Physicians make many decisions that aren’t evidence-based,” says Dr. Michael Hochman, assistant professor of clinical medicine at USC and lead author of the JAMA article. “Every physician decides a bit differently.” Some physicians can’t keep up with all of the new drug information. Others simply prescribe medications out of habit; they may learn to use one drug during their medical training and, if they have good experiences with it, continue to use it for many years. Still others factor a drug’s cost into their decision-making to help their patients save a bit of money. Then there’s the pharmaceutical industry. It can affect the choices of doctors and patients. Many drug companies provide physicians with medication samples, and the availability of these samples can dramatically alter doctors’ prescribing patterns, studies have shown. It can lead physicians, in short, to dispense and prescribe medications that wouldn’t otherwise be their first choice.

Signal Boost: Feminism and Mental Health – Call for Submissions

Feminism and Mental Health – Call for Submissions – Deadline: June 1, 2010

Call for Submissions:

The lived experience(s) of mental health in feminist communities

Call for submissions from people of any gender who identify with feminism and have lived experiences of a psychiatric diagnosis.

Our upcoming anthology, Feminist’s Navigate Mental Health (working title), will explore the complexities of navigating mental health and how a feminist identity may (or may not) shape those experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Submissions are welcomed in the form of personal short stories.

The submissions received will shape the outcome of the book. The final
manuscript will be submitted to relevant independent publishers.

Possible themes may include (but are not limited to):
o Coping – what works and what doesn’t
o Any positive aspects of your mental health that are commonly considered deficits
o Treatment preferences and past experiences
o Medication
o Personal/lived understandings of your diagnosis (acceptance or rejection)
o Stigma/tension around mental health issues in the feminist community
o Feminism and well-being/strength/empowerment
o Feminism and distress

o Remember to take care of yourself while writing about topics that may be distressing;
o Good writing skills are great, but not mandatory! We will work with you to edit your piece;
o Submissions should be saved in .doc or .rtf, size 12 font, Arial or Times New Roman, and double spaced;
o 500 to 4000 words
o Include contact information and a brief biography;
o Only email submissions will be accepted;
o Submission deadline is June 1st, 2010.

Who we are
The women behind this project are Jenna MacKay and Alicia Merchant. Jenna is a psychiatric survivor and community activist who is particularly interested in violence and mental health. Alicia is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various magazines and has been published in CR Magazine, thirdspace and the Globe & Mail. Both self-identify as feminist, are interested in critical perspectives of health and live in Toronto. This project is not affiliated with any institution or organization.

Comments, concerns, questions and submissions should be directed to:

Canadian Signal Boost: NEADS’ 2010 Conference Call for Speakers

[National Educational Association of Disabled Students]

NEADS’ 2010 National Conference “Learning Today – Leading Tomorrow” invites expressions of interest to speak at this conference to be held November 12-14, 2010 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The event provides the only Canadian opportunity of its kind to share and exchange best practices and expertise on education, accessibility, and employment for post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities.

A wide variety of submissions are encouraged in the topic areas outlined below. The list is suggestive of the types of submissions for consideration, but by no means restrictive to these specific areas. Reviewers will be looking for proposals in the general domains of education, employment, accessibility, and disability issues.

Session presentations are 15 to 20 minutes in length and are scheduled as part of workshops on Saturday, November 13 and Sunday, November 14. By submitting, speakers agree that their presentation may be scheduled at any time, on any of these days, at the discretion of the conference planning committee.

Submissions are due by Friday, June 4, 2010

Submit your Expressions of interest Online

Recommended Reading for May 3, 2010

“My Deaf Family” (And My Hearing Life)

Once I started kindergarten, I stopped signing, like I had been in the hearing impaired program and I started living completely in the hearing world. The choice was mine. It was instinctual. With all due respect to the Deaf community, my six year-old self knew I had to learn how to “pass” as hearing in order to survive in this world. It hasn’t been easy and I have often felt like I haven’t belonged in either world, the hearing or the Deaf. I am not completely hearing and I don’t sign any more.

But I made my choice and I lived with it. There’s a lot I haven’t heard, a lot I’ve missed out on. When I go to weddings or parties, I hear almost nothing. Everything becomes white noise. I usually don’t hear things over a loudspeaker, especially if there’s background noise. (Dear airlines, subway operators and any other crowded places, this means you.) Auditoriums and convention centers usually have horrible acoustics, with a million places for microphone sound waves to bounce all over the place.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one already

Change is generational is academic for “wait for people to die” because the assumption is there is no other way, and I’m pretty sure there are statistics to back this up and therefore it must be true.

To codify, to embrace, the idea that it’s easier to die than change says a lot, and none of it comforting, about how little potential we see in ourselves, how rigid we think we are, trapped in some kind of evolutionary psychology/sociological hell where progress is dependent on those who know perfectly well that all they have to do is be loud enough, rigid enough, difficult enough that they can hold up movement simply by standing still, because the casualties will never be their own.

No Country for Strangers

I will not say: no foreigners allowed. That is a rather horrible thing to say considering an overwhelming tendency here to welcome foreigners with open arms and bend over backwards for them, at the cost of discriminating against our fellow Filipinos. It is a statement that assumes we have the power to say such a thing and enforce such a rule when we, well, don’t. “No foreigners allowed” is a fantasy — a short-sighted, narrow-minded, twisted fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless.

Instead I will say: this is no country for strangers. This is not a people that can be known by observation alone, without the risk of actual engagement. This is no land where you can set yourself apart and then delude yourself with claims that comprehension naturally comes with high-minded goals and noble intentions to enlighten a system whose only fundamental flaw is ignorance of your ways. This is not a place that needs more foreigners coming in to visit, then taking away with them their misconceptions and their privileged judgments — because we have been misrepresented enough, not just in the international community but also amongst ourselves, and false categorizations and claims about who we are and where we came from and where we should go are unneeded and shouldn’t be welcomed.

For your tool kit! Contacting Organizations about Inaccessible Websites

Steps to help you report websites with accessibility problems are described on this page:

  • Identify key contacts
  • Describe the problem
  • Follow-up as needed

Additional tips include:

  • Consider what approach will get the results you want
  • Keep records of all communications for possible follow-up
  • Encourage others to also provide feedback to the organization
  • Use the sample emails provided below

Find of the Day:

Until lo and behold, my eyes drifted downward from the video. And there below, was a tab saying “transcript.”

So, if you like using video content for news-related items, I’d say this is a site to check out. Because this, right here, is a hell of a lot more than major news orgs can usually be bothered to do.

Women’s Media Center is looking for writers.

Harry Wieder, LGBT rights, transportation, and disabilities advocate, killed

I’m very sorry to learn of the death of Harry Wielder, a community activist in NY around LGBT rights, transportation, and disability. This article at Gothamist has more [WARNING: Comments are a mess]:

Weider, 57, described himself on his Facebook page as a “disabled, gay, Jewish, leftist, middle aged dwarf who ambulates with crutches.”

Wieder first came to prominence in the 1980s with the activist group Act-Up. He was profiled in Betty Adelsen’s 2005 book, The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity Toward Social Liberation, and also written about by Jimmy Breslin for Newsday, who captured his “combative, roguish nature and his penchant for truth.”

Wielder died after being hit by a taxi when crossing the road to his car.