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!
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’
And one other thing, I don’t want to pay any more for my smartphone than anybody who has a Blackberry, Droid, or iPhone. I don’t believe I should have to pay extra for a screen reader, like TALKS or MobileSpeak. I don’t mind paying for apps that maximize my capabilities, like GPS or the Kindle app, because everybody pays for those. But everybody doesn’t pay extra for the opportunity to read what’s on the screen!
When I go to meetings with sighted colleagues, I find they are connected in real-time to their smart phones. Ask them a question like, “What does a First Class stamp cost?” (I can never remember…), or “What should the temperature of a medium-rare burger be? — and they can respond, literally, in seconds! That’s because they can see the screen, so they don’t need spoken output to access the information, giving them immediate access to answers.
Mad Catz, makers of many PS3 modded controllers, supplies the circuit boards to Broadened Horizons for several of its accessible controllers. These controllers are responsible for allowing severely disabled gamers with no dexterity or hand movement at all to use their PlayStation 3. Normal OEM controllers require lots of finger movement and hand strength while Broadened Horizons’ controllers allow for little or no movement at all.
Suddenly, and without warning, several of these motor impaired gamers were locked out of their favorite activity.
Silence when it comes to mental illness is a killer, a killer of self esteem, hope, and emotional safety. Silence mixed with stigma is painful and is a cause for those living with Mental Illness to separate ourselves from the world around us. Rarely does a person living with mental illness speak out to identify with or protect others traveling down our own road, because the fear of being stigmatized by others is a constant shroud that covers us. We have all faces stigma, either self imposed or from a external source, both feed each other and keep us in so many ways from reaching our potential.
One thing that struck me when reading RMJ’s post was that, like the mythology that surrounds Dissociative Identity Disorder has roots in the truth, most of those negative connotations of the word “crazy” spring from reality, however distant. In light of that, I understand why Natasha Tracy and others choose to embrace the word. Why not call a duck a duck? The problem as I see it is that while most of us reserve the word “duck” exclusively for referencing actual ducks, we don’t use “crazy” in the same way. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s used in positive or negative ways. If, from this day forward, we all used that word only to mean (1) stunningly awesome, or (2) mentally ill, it would still irk me. Because if your boyfriend is crazy hot, DID isn’t crazy. And if DID is crazy, your boyfriend isn’t crazy hot.
For that’s exactly what this felt like to me – an assault. It was a direct, physical affront to my person. This man wasn’t just messing with some piece of equipment. He was interfering with my mobility, my power to position myself, to go where I want. My wheelchair is a part of my means of being in the world. In other words, it was part of me that he grabbed – my wheelchair, my body, myself.
Would anyone else recognize this? If I had tried to charge him with assault, would the legal system have supported me? Were other passengers aware of the depth of this violation? Or did they accept his statement that he was “helping” me?
Her take is that it’s a moral thing and that it’s to be done to prevent suffering. She does then go on to say that there are millions of disabled people who live “Marvellous” lives but there are also thousands of millions who are suffering and not live no kind of life.
She’d do it to a child she really loved and she doesn’t know any mother wouldn’t. I personally am very glad that according to Ms Ironside’s views my own mother can’t love me and must be a terrible mother.
I do have to change my cat’s diet and routine a bit. One thing that is always time intensive is when new tasks get added to the schedule around here. I have a limited number of care hours. Anything that goes over those hours gets added to what I have to do with adaptive devices. That can drain energy I need to work.
So I start by trying to figure out ways to do the new tasks using assistive devices. If I can’t or if the energy it will take won’t work, I add it to what others do and have to pick out something they are doing that I can take on. There are only so many care hours and since I also use them also to help me get my work done, it takes a lot of planning and resourcefulness on everyone’s part.
Contains minor spoilers for Doctor Who from “Voyage of the Damned” through to “The Next Doctor”.
I’ve been compiling a list of all the characters who are wheelchair users in New Who. For everyone who has no earthly idea what I’m talking about, I’m referring to British television show Doctor Who (which is well worth watching by the way) specifically the episodes airing since 2005 after a long hiatus. The show had, shall we say, not the world’s greatest history of representing disability up until that point. I’d noticed a trend of characters who are wheelchair users (or users of SF-ish devices meant to echo wheelchairs) in recent years, and some rather sinister commonalities. Here they are (though if I’ve forgotten any, do add them in comments):
Davros: The creator of the Doctor’s enemies, the Daleks. Evil as they come, wanting to destroy reality itself at the end of series 4!
Max Capricorn: The villain of “Voyage of the Damned,” who wanted to crash a ship into Earth and frame his former cruiseliner company for mass murder.
Mercy Hartigan: I can’t remember “The Next Doctor” so well, but seem to recall her being wired in a chair in the CyberKing towards the end, shortly before her death.
John Lumic from “Rise of the Cybermen” and “The Age of Steel”. Dying and desperate to stay alive, he invents the parallel universe version of Cybermen, kidnapping homeless people to experiment on and seeking to “upgrade” all of humanity. Cybermen convert him into one of them against his will.
Timothy Latimer: From “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”. A noble and brave young man who saves the day, we see him as a old man in a wheelchair towards the end of TFoB.
Colonel Hugh Eddison: From “The Unicorn and the Wasp”. He reveals himself to have been faking needing a wheelchair for many years in order to keep his wife at his side (presuming she’d do so out of obligation or pity, I guess).
As we can see, the trend with wheelchair-using characters in this show is that they’re evil and must die at the hands of our charming able-bodied hero. Of the two exceptions, one is a Faker™. The other is only shown in his wheelchair right at the end; he’s allowed no dialogue.
Doctor Who makes me sad because, as much as I love it, those running the show clearly have a fair bit of contempt (or contemptous indifference) regarding PWD. We’re represented very narrowly: when real, when having agency, wheelchair users (because disabled characters are always wheelchair users) are bitter villains. The very few disabled characters aren’t allowed to be anything other than caricatures. There’s nothing grand or beautiful or important or good about them, they just exist as plot points to help the story along or to be obstacles for the Doctor to overcome.
Today I listened in a bit to the IACC conference call on “risks and prevention.” I ended up not listening to the entire thing, partly because I’m quite busy, and partly because the conference call format just does not work very well for me in terms of processing information and understanding what it’s said. And because of the different volumes at which people talk, I find myself constantly having to adjust the volume to prevent sensory overload. It is telling, I would say, that the IACC would select such an autistic-unfriendly method of holding its discussions. A chatroom, or another written format, would be much more accessible.
But the main reason I stopped listening was because of the conference call’s content, and the fact that I have very little desire to expend so much effort to listen to a discussion in which I am unable to speak and disagree with the premises so profoundly.
From there on, I automatically assumed that Campbell Alexander was faking. You know, the dog was just a regular dog, but the owner had a huge sense of entitlement and thought his being an attorney made him eligible for access with a dog. Even way until the near end of the book, when the dog starts barking loudly in the courtroom and Campbell refuses to remove it, I assumed that he was really feeling better than the judge. Even if it is a service dog, it should behave itself, right? I couldn’t imagine that maybe there was a reason that dog barked, until the reason Campbell has a service dog in the first place was shoved right into all other characters’ and my face.
I am so sick of people assuming I can always manage inaccessible venues – which gets them off the hook from having to arrange accessible ones – because I sometimes use crutches. My church is holding confirmation classes in a venue which has “a few shallow steps”. This unwillingness to think about access means that the burden is conveniently shoved onto me – the burden of finding accessible parking near enough that I can walk in, the burden of coping with steps, the burden of sitting on unsuitable chairs in pain for an hour and a half so that the following day is a nightmare of agony for me…
If we’re going to a place we have never been to, we must check if it is accessible. EVERY time we forget to do this, or we assume that the place will be accessible, the restaurant ends up having two flights of stairs or narrow doors. Sometimes, the staff will tell us they are accessible “but we have a few steps out front that we can help you with.” Assholes don’t even know how much my chair weighs. Plus, HELLO, dangerous! Lawsuits!
If I can get into a restaurant, I will either not receive a menu (because I am just at the restaurant to look at the decor, evidently), or the waiter asks if we all want menus. Or they ask if I need a children’s menu. I’m almost certain that able-bodied folk do not experience this phenomenon, and this menu game is only done for those who look gimpy. I know, I know, I should ask for a menu if I don’t get one, right? But no, I just borrow my mom’s. I don’t feel like dealing with it. Bad activist moment.
Almost one in 10 disabled people in the UK have been the victim of a hate crime, according to a leading disability charity.
For the first time, the 2009 version of an annual survey carried out by Leonard Cheshire Disability asked respondents whether they had faced a crime which they felt was motivated by their disability, with 9% saying they had.
“Even without a comparison for previous years, this is a shocking figure,” said Eleanor Gore, from Leonard Cheshire, who compiled the review. “It’s often hard to know how big a problem disability hate crime is as it tends to be very under-reported, and sometimes police and councils don’t recognise it properly.”
Friends and family are aware enough of my health problems to understand when I have to cancel things, or rearrange them. But these days, I am much less involved in feminist activism than I ever have been.
This is definitely spoon-related, and also directly related to my main local feminist group meeting in an inaccessible venue for so long that I gave up arguing with them about it. (They now meet somewhere which may be accessible, but they’re not sure. I feel so thoroughly disenamoured with them that I’m not willing to test it out).
But I have also found that while individual feminists can be very understanding with my lack of spoons on a day-to-day basis, it sometimes seems less acceptable when it interferes with my ability to attend actions, protests and meetings.
But, more fundamentally, I find it problematic that the entire set up of a hospital is about the production of health care, not the recipients of that care. Long after being shuffled into a room filled with equipment and posters not designed with my challenging body in mind, and as I watched the doctor treating me struggle to find words beyond, “Well, I’ve not actually met anybody who has done that,” I wondered seriously about what could possibly be done to fix a system that has so little respect for the bodies of the individuals it treats.
We all carry our scars, surgeries, allergies, broken bones, memories, genetics, blood, hopes, and guts with us wherever we go. We are stunning in our uniqueness, and our bodies are the seat of who we are. Of course, we all have the same basic parts, but I wouldn’t take a car to any old mechanic or my pet to any vet—I want someone who understands the particular quirks of my engine or that my cat needs to be coaxed gently out of her hiding spot.
This week, Meyer’s 16-year struggle for a productive life will become more difficult. Scheduled California budget cuts will increase the deductible some low-income disabled people must pay for workers from the In-Home Supportive Services program. The cost hike may leave him with as little as $600 a month to live on, pushing him closer to the point where he’s forced to enter a nursing home. “I just want to be able to stay here, live a healthy life, and be a productive citizen,” he says.
The suit contends S.G.’s May 2007 Individual Education Program was never modified and he was “unilaterally removed from his ‘inclusion’ classes without notice to (his parents) solely as a result of disability in December 2007 and in direct violation of his IEP.”
The suit also claims S.G. was placed in a more restrictive environment when removed him from his inclusion classes, “caused negative cognitive and social effects as well as mental anguish.”
Moreover, S.G., who has an allergy to milk and soy products, was given them on a daily basis during the 2007-08 school year.
These links are to images that belong to Getty Images, so I’m just going to link to their site rather than post them here. I cannot speak for how accessible their website is, though.
They are shots of wheelchair-using athletes “finishing in the wheelchair division of the New York City Marathon”.
Don and I started watching Joan of Arcadia this week.
Basically, it’s a story about a teen, Joan, who starts to get missions and messages from God, for some mysterious purpose. She’s the middle child of three, with a younger brother, Luke, who is very smart and ignored by his parents, and an older brother, Kevin. Kevin was the golden child, destined to go to uni on a baseball scholarship, before a car accident left him paraplegic 18 months before the show’s start.