Monday, December 6, 2010
WISDOM FROM A T-SHIRT: IT’S GOOD TO BE DIFFERENT
By Barbara Davis
My favorite t-shirt of all times is one that says, “You laugh at me because I’m different; I laugh at you because you’re all the same.” I’d love to have a million of those shirts printed up, and make them mandatory wear for everyone who bullies others because of perceived differences.
News reports in the last several months tell of gifted musicians, kids with a quirky sense of humor and kind teens who want to make a difference in the world, who ended their lives in order to stop the bullying. These talented and unique individuals were picked on and tormented because they were different.
Different isn’t better or worse; it’s just different. It is this diversity that makes the world such an interesting place.
Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein are considered to have autistic characteristics. I believe it is due to these autistic traits that they were able to make historical contributions in the areas of inventions and scientific theories. There are many other celebrities who, because (or despite of) their disabilities or differences in sexual orientation, national origin or religious views, are able to make significant contributions in health care, science, entertainment and other fields. “Everyday People” who are not celebrities also make significant contributions despite of, or because of, their differences.
My own experience with being bullied has taught me that the greatest bullying-prevention factor is self-acceptance. Once we accept ourselves as we are, it is easier to accept others as they are. In addition, insecure people generally pick on other insecure people. The popular girl who stood up for me in junior high definitely marched to a different drummer. This would have made her a prime target for bullying, except that there was something in her body language that said, “Don’t even think about it.” I studied that body language and tried to adapt it. I wasn’t successful with it until I embraced the unique differences that make me who I am.
I believe everyone has a responsibility to do whatever it takes to stop the prevalence of bullying in our society. We can start by accepting ourselves and others without causing harm to anyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or unique personalities. We can teach our children to accept others as they are, and we can stand up for those who are being bullied and don’t know how to defend themselves.
The world is a better and more interesting place because no two people are alike. We should all be thankful for that.
Get the T-Shirt Here: http://www.amazon.com/Laught-Because-Different-Laugh-2XL-Black/dp/B003R5QTJ6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=apparel&qid=1291658874&sr=8-5
Monday, November 8, 2010
By Barbara Davis
CAL staff and the disability community have lost a valued friend. Angela Casey was a genuine, warm, caring and enthusiastic person who was a strong advocate for disability rights and services. Many will remember her as Pongo and Sassy’s mom. I will remember her as a friend and person whom I enjoyed working with.
When we think of Angela—and we will often—we will think of her friendliness, and we will think of how she served as a role model for those with disability. Angela lived a full and independent life despite her disabilities and health problems. She showed all of us that nothing has to stop us from making the choices that are right for us and living the life we choose to live.
Angela’s dedication to CAL’s consumers was evident in every decision she made. She constantly strived to provide services for any unmet needs in the community.
We will miss you, Angela, and we will all consider ourselves fortunate to have known you.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Several years ago I attended an autism conference at which one of the featured speakers was a family of two teens on the autism spectrum. When the father’s turn came to speak he said, “Don’t try to fix them, they aren’t broken. Instead, as a parent or a professional, your job is to remove the obstacles that are keeping them from reaching their fullest potential, and then get out of their way and watch ‘em fly.”
As a person with multiple disabilities who later became a parent of two on the autism spectrum, I followed that advice long before I heard it. I understood how limiting this attitude of wanting to fix us can be, because I had endured it myself from family and professionals.
Those of us with disabilities aren’t broken, and we don’t need to be fixed. We want to be accepted for who we are, and allowed to reach our fullest potential. Sometimes we are able to use creativity, resourcefulness and intelligence to remove any obstacles in our paths. Other times we need help to remove the obstacles that stand in our way.
When we ask for accommodations we aren’t asking for special treatment. We are asking for help in removing obstacles that we can’t remove on our own. I am 4’11. If I had no physical disabilities at all, I would still need a ladder to reach office supplies on a high shelf. Would anyone think I was asking for special privileges if I expected my employer to pay for that ladder and keep it on hand in case I needed it to perform my job?
If I ask for an amplifier on my phone or a chair that my back can handle sitting in, I am simply asking for a “ladder” that will let me do my job. The ADA understands that some accommodations are unreasonable, and makes allowances for this. Reasonable accommodations, on the other hand, are tools that allow us to remove any obstacles that may keep us from functioning independently, working and thriving in the community.
At times I need the help of a professional to get the services I need. I don’t ask the professional to manage me or fix me. Instead, I seek help in removing the obstacles that stand in my way. I want to know who to contact, how to fill out paperwork and other advice needed. I welcome a reality check, but I need to take the information given me and make my own decisions.
It is human nature to help and protect those we care about. We just need to remember that our disabled family, clients or patients aren’t broken and don’t need to be fixed. They need to be seen as the individuals they are, and sometimes they need help removing the obstacles that keep them from flying.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grrphoto/242048784/
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
- By Guest Blogger Stephanie Hickey -
Can I pay the water bill next month? Can the brakes on my car last until October? How long can the roof hold on until I have the money to fix it? Many people ask themselves these questions due to the present economy. However, I ask myself these questions nearly every month because my sole source of income is an SSI check.
A cashier once told me he wished he could get that much money (insert SSI check amount here) for doing nothing. Too flabbergasted, I didn’t respond, but the remark has stuck with me. Is this cashier’s perception of SSI dependants the popular assessment?
It raises a flood of questions: Does getting one lump sum to sustain you through an entire month of living (not to mention being disabled in some way) sound like an easy life, a “free ride”? Do individuals think SSI dependants live high on the hog? For most of us, after rent, utilities, food and other basic necessities--soap, toiletries, clothes, etc…--that grand lump sum we attain for “doing nothing” is gone, leaving us without anything until the beginning of another next month. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
And what of the “nothing”--the reason we get SSI checks. To remind those with “cashier attitude” it’s because of that pesky little thing called a disability. We have to deal with mental or physical impairments for which we didn’t ask, didn’t want. I developed Cerebral Palsy before I could walk, let alone work a job. I am lucky, though: my condition has improved to the point where I can work and want to. But what of the dependants whose conditions haven’t and/or won’t improve to the point that they can work? Does getting that lump sum really provide for them or even out being disabled?
I’m not ashamed of my disability, never have been, will be, nor even consider it a disability, but there are times I wish I could trade places with an individual whose body is completely healthy. It’s not so much for those physical things that would be easier for me to do, but to rid myself of the stigma, the shame I sometimes feel because of others’ beliefs. There are those who take their resentment--for lack of a better word-- of disability benefits further than the casual “cashier attitude”, contending too much of their tax dollars pay for people who, in their minds, do nothing. Do these “hard-core cashiers” think we feel good being dependants, being seen as free-loaders?
And to those who think it would be easy or that it is too much on tax payers, I challenge them to live on an SSI check for one month and see if it is truly enough on which they, or any individual can truly live. In fact, I challenge those sitting in Congress--who freely give themselves generous raises--to do the same and see how their opinions might change after seeing how the “other half lives”. Perhaps that might bring about the real changes this country needs.
Photo Credit Flickr
Saturday, September 18, 2010
The Ongoing, Positive Impact of Disability Mentoring Day
- By Barbara Davis -
From the time the Center became local coordinator of Disability Mentoring Day until the present, I have been involved with it as an assistant coordinator. In this capacity, I have seen first-hand the immediate impact that DMD has on its participants. Since I am still in contact with many of the participants I have worked with through the years, I can also attest to its ongoing influence.
Most DMD participants are teenagers and college students who have never worked. Some are adults who face a career change as a result of a newly acquired disability. Many have no clue about where to start or how to transfer the skills from the previous career to a new one. Participating in DMD gives them a place to start and a chance to see what they can do.
One person recuperating from a stroke found a new career path through direct participation in the first DMD I helped coordinate. He was not hired through the company where he was placed as a mentee, but the person who mentored him recommended him to someone she knew, and he was hired. Other adult participants eventually found work, including one woman who was hired by the company where she shadowed in a previous year. Each of these participants said that the confidence gained from DMD allowed them to apply for jobs they otherwise wouldn’t have.
For youth with high-functioning autism and similar disabilities, DMD has been a miracle. These young people were all eager to work, but faced a number of challenges. Their biggest one has been a lack of understanding of autism, and the stigma and fears from this lack of understanding. Most of these youth were never presented with any kind of opportunity to explore careers. They were always told that doors were closed to them in the area of employment.
Participation in DMD gave these kids a chance to walk through an open door. It allowed them to stock merchandise, answer phones, shadow a security guard, make flower arrangements, and help clean up in a gym. They saw people working together, they were met with acceptance and they were patiently shown how to do things. They also learned about time clocks, time sheets, pay checks, and lunch breaks. This was quite an awakening for them, and they loved it.
After this awakening, most of these kids found the confidence to walk through some other doors to pursue volunteer work and/or vocational training. Nearly all of them eventually found jobs; some with the assistance of a job coach and others, on their own. One youth whom I see pretty frequently, is independently riding the bus, volunteering in the community, and has become more confident in starting conversations with others. He has been on several job interviews, and I believe he will find a job sometime in the near future.
For most, Disability Mentoring Day is not just a one-day experience, nothing more than a few hours of learning about a job. Instead, it means finding that brass ring, grabbing hold of it, and sailing off – maybe after a few years of the “upward domino effect” of the confidence gained – into a bright new world of employment and other community involvement.
If you would like to participate in the 2010 Disability Mentoring on October 20, 2010, contact Keith at 502-589-6620 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
- By Guest Blogger Samantha L. Henneman -
During my early school career, I was always well-liked. However, I was always treated as the "disabled" girl. My teachers figuratively shined a spotlight on my differences by constantly asking if I needed assistance and/or publicly announcing the modification of my assignments. However well meant, this caused me embarrassment, and made me feel separated from my classmates.
With the concept of inclusive classrooms being more widely accepted, teachers have an easier way to truly include special needs children into the educational and social environment of the classroom. Differentiated instruction can be beneficial to all children, as they themselves scaffold each other in the development of skills. This approach pairs younger children with more capable classmates. However, special needs children can specifically benefit from this approach, in a modified form. If teachers can group children together, making sure each group contained a mixture of special needs and non-special needs children, the non-special needs children can provide the special needs children with socialization and assistance, without teacher interference. This grouping can also build the special needs children's sense of self-esteem and self-worth, as they contribute to the group effort, and build friendships.
Non-special needs children can also benefit from this grouping arrangement. They will have the opportunity to personally get to know and learn about special needs children. This knowledge will increase their acceptance for other children's differences. Having any of their questions answered firsthand will relieve the unavoidable tension that occurs when children are faced with the unknown. As non-special needs children closely interact with special needs children, teachers will be required to "explain" about the special needs children less, and allow more natural participation.
When teachers are relieved of the pressure of having to "find a place" for special needs children in the classroom, they can focus on providing the entire class with an appropriate education. While they will still remain to take on the role of a facilitator in maintaining group cohesion, teachers can focus less on a specific group of children, providing a more natural classroom environment. Overall, the group dynamic will help special needs children develop a broader view of their world, beyond their challenges.
Almost from birth, special needs children are made aware of their differences. They are almost automatically placed in a "separate group" from the rest of society, especially in the school environment. However, this only serves to alienate them socially, emotionally, and educationally from classmates. Intermingling special needs and non-special needs children, through grouping, will encourage socialization and the concept of special needs children as valued members of the class.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Most disability activists cringe when Labor Day comes around.
The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon may seem like a benevolent event. But in reality the charity mentality and the MDA's use of the "pity approach" to raise money seriously undermines the disability civil rights movement.
The general public accepts the idea that people with muscular dystrophy--really all people with disabilities--are pitiable victims who want and need nothing more than a big charity to take care of them. Or, better, to cure them.
Disability activist like Mike Ervin challenge MDA's representation. He says millions of viewers come away with the idea that disabled people need pity and charity rather than accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens.
Mike Ervin, a Muscular Dystrophy Association poster child in the 1960s, helped organize Jerry's Orphans, advocates who annually protest the MDA telethon because of the debilitating effect it has on people with disabilities.
Before you decide how you feel about this issue, you might want to look at THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, a half-hour documentary about Mike Ervin and Jerry's Orphans.
To learn more, go to: www.thekidsareallright.org
and/or watch it on-line at: www.thekidsareallright.orgwatch.html
Bye for now,
Author Home Bound, a memoir Temple University Press
Free To download Home Bound, Chapter 1 go to
www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/1425_reg.html and click on Excerpt
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
- By guest blogger Stephanie Hickey -
I love words. But there is one word which I hate very particularly. Retarded. I hate that word and not only do I hear it constantly, I hear it everywhere: on television, on the streets, while riding the bus, everywhere.
“That’s so retarded!” It is a phrase that permeates our culture. Even more common to hear is the phrase “God, you’re so retarded!” The definition of the word means 1.) To delay or hold back in development or progress or 2.) A person who has a mental disability. In parenthesis, the definition specified the word retard was an offensive term or abusive.
Now although most people today don’t say “retarded” in reference to mentally or intellectually disabled individual (in fact, many--when asked--agree that to use the word in such a context is cruel and wrong, opting for the more politically correct and thoughtful terms such as “developmentally disabled” or “intellectually disabled”, the word is so still prevalent in everyday life. Its context is merely different. When a person currently says, “That’s so retarded”, he or she means stupid, lame or ridiculous. I’ve actually had people say to me, “You know I don’t mean it that way” or justify their use of the word when describing something as “Well, there’s really no other word to describe it (fill in some random example such as a blunder one would see on America’s Dumbest Criminals or America’s Funniest home videos). What else can a person say besides, “That’s so retarded!”?
No harm done, right? After all, it’s not meant that way. Well I contend that using the word retarded, referring to something as retarded and--especially jokingly calling others retarded, does cause harm, however unintentional. Damage is done because whether or not people mean people with mental disabilities when saying retarded, the word evokes images of people with intellectual disabilities because the two are linked to each other in our subconscious through previous years of usage and tasteless jokes that persist today. So each time someone utters the word it reinforces the cavalier attitude that it is okay to use the word, ignoring the fact that it is an offensive term that abuses people with developmental disabilities.
Suppose that a previously offensive racial slur took on a different meaning and began to be commonly used in everyday language. Can we really imagine that the minority against whom the term was a slur would forget its offensive history and tolerate its common use? Why should retarded be any different?
While I know that dreaded r-word is a permanent fixture in our culture of which we will never be rid, I would like to challenge the what-else-can-we-say attitude. If a person means retarded as in stupid, lame or ridiculous, why can’t that person say stupid, lame or ridiculous? How about thick, silly or absurd? Harebrained? Preposterous? Outlandish? Instead of using an offensive term meant in a “nice way”, why can’t we challenge ourselves to stretch our vocabularies? Perhaps if we do then the dreaded r-word may disappear from pop culture forever.
For more information, or to help “Spread the word to end the word”, please visit http://www.r-word.org/.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
- By Guest Blogger Pinalben "Pinky" Patel -
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has always been about giving equal access to people with disabilities. It was a bipartisan bill with great support from both parties and the president. Before the ADA, people with disabilities were not able to participate in the community unless they were rich enough to have a few attendants around all the time to lift them over steps or stairs to get into buildings.
My disability -- Friedreich's ataxia -- is degenerative so I was almost able-bodied before the days of the ADA. And I was only nine years old when the ADA came into law. I was born in India. My family and I came to the USA when I was four years old, but we had to go back to India when I was about 12 years old.
It was three years later in India when I realized the importance of the ADA. My disability had progressed and I couldn't walk with one person holding me anymore. I needed to use a wheelchair. Most schools around where I lived were a couple of stories high without elevators and they have seven or eight steps to the first floor without ramps! I had to drop out of school. Luckily my family got a chance to come back to the USA a couple of years later. I started school again after I got back, and today I am a writer with a journalism degree from Murray state University!
I know I would not have gotten to study if it weren't for the ADA. I am grateful to the people who pushed for the ADA to be signed into law. I can go to many places where I don't have to be lifted like stores, restaurants, theater. I remember the last time I was in India – where there is nothing equivalent to the ADA -- I did my shopping from the car. There was only one store I could go into but still had to be lifted for one step. That store had two floors and I didn't even get to go upstairs!
Yes, the accommodations required by the ADA make our lives easier. But there are so many more improvements to be made. It has been 20 years since the ADA and there are still many inaccessible places. Some politicians and candidates still want to exempt private businesses from the ADA requirements. That's not how it should be especially 20 years later – there are ways to retain a building's authenticity while making it accessible! Many architects still think that putting grab bars in bathroom stalls or changing rooms for able-bodied people would make them accessible! Those architects should spend a couple of days in a power wheelchair or consult with a wheelchair user before remodeling. Installation cost shouldn't be an issue for successful businesses such as independent restaurants, bakeries, or parlors so don't be afraid to complain if access is not available.
The ADA is a Central Civil Rights law for people with disabilities. We are a protected group of people and the largest minority in this country. In its 20 years, some politicians, the Supreme Court and others tried to weaken the ADA.
Even though the ADA has made it illegal to deny a job because of a disability, there are still far more educated, unemployed disabled people than able-bodied people. We need to keep fighting for our rights, and we need to stand up to the injustice and discrimination.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
- By Keith Hosey -
“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hello again readers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be twenty years old July 26th. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about this lately. This is our second installment in the Center’s
I want to tell you about one of my heroes. There are many advocates who worked towards disability rights. There was Ed Roberts, Justin Dart, Jr., and tons more. I want to tell you about a guy I’ve had the pleasure to meet, hear and be inspired by. The good news: he’s agreed to be part of our
If you’ve ever been on an accessible bus in
"Where would the blacks be if that poor, tired lady hadn't decided to fight back and not give up her seat on the bus?" asks
Arthur inspires me, he never stops. He fought for the
Who inspires you?
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Three reasons they might not:
- Stem Cells. The science is in its infancy, but the applications seem to be out of this world. It promises to possibly help people with paralysis walk again, people with ocular diseases regenerate vision, and people with degenerative diseases fight back. Where will it take us? I’m not sure, but when I think about quality of life that it could create for millions of people… this thing seems to me like the best medical advance since penicillin.
- Genome Sequencing / Gene Manipulation. Order up, we’re already doing it with our food. Imagine a world like the movie Gattica, where before you’re born the doctors can see what genes may cause a disease or disability. Will future Hosey generations have no worry of their children being born with severe bilateral club feet? Will we be able to cure congenital diseases before they exist?
- Nano-Technology. The other night I saw a news piece on a Nanoknife: “It's not really a knife, but state-of-the-art technology to remove tumors that are considered inoperable. U of L Hospital is one of only twelve medical centers in the country to have the device.” Computer technology is getting smaller and more advanced, so it’s not out of the question that an army of nano-bots isn’t in medicine’s future.
Three reasons they might:
- The have nots. In the movie “Gattica” the rich had access to gene manipulation and the poor had congenital disabilities and diseases. Take polio, the vaccine was invented in 1955. Dr. Jonas Salk refused to patent the vaccine, so it could be widely available to everyone who needs it. The last case of polio occurring in the
USwas in 1979 (not counting any cases that were brought to the by foreign carriers or caused by the vaccine). Do you want to see what countries still have polio cases in 2010? US
- We’re getting older. Science and medicine has extended life expectancy well into people’s nineties (my grandma is 97 this year and goes on cruises). What about when we’re living to 120? There is a race between life expectancy and quality of that life. Stem cells could likely make a thirty year old in a wheelchair a sight of the past, but what about the hundred-and-thirty year old?
- Cochlear Implants. There is a hot debate in the Deaf Community (capital D, culturally Deaf), which consists largely of Deaf people whose first language is American Sign Language. Many Deaf individuals don’t consider their hearing loss as a disability, rather it is a cultural heritage. The community is split on the issue, but there are some Deaf parents who would rather not get the implants for their children. Maybe to an outsider this doesn’t make too much sense. The debate has softened in the past few years, but there is a greater question of culture here. They feel it is an attack on their culture and heritage. I don’t know many people that wouldn’t readily “take the cure” if it were available, but there are some who identify their disability as a major part of who they are.
Did I miss an important list item? What do you think? Will Disabilities Exist in the Future?
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenr/2275518435/
Thursday, July 1, 2010
- by Guest Blogger, Stephanie Hickey -
I am, like a fair amount of people these days, looking for work. Until that time, I have to make do with my disability income. A few months ago when cashing my SSI check, the cashier commented, “You get this much money a month for sitting around and doing nothing? Wow!” The remark reminded me of an incident in high school. As part of the dress code, we were not allowed to wear tennis shoes. However, I had to wear braces on my feet and tennis shoes were the only shoes wide enough for the braces to fit in.
One of the girls did not like this and pitched a little fit. “Why does she get to wear tennis shoes?” I realized why, of course. I do not look visibly disabled--I’m not in a wheelchair or using a cane. More than a decade of therapy and seven operations helped me improve my condition a great deal. The assumption bothered me, as if I were receiving special treatment, as if I wouldn’t have gladly exchanged having to wear those irritating and painful braces (inside my tennis shoes) for a cute pair of dress shoes like everyone else had. I would’ve happily done so, just as I used the stairs instead of taking the elevator, which I could’ve easily obtained a pass to use.
I constantly encounter the attitude behind that remark. It’s the belief that people with disabilities get special privileges. From tennis shoes to the parking sticker to a free income, we get some things so easy? This is not the case. These things considered “privileges” are trivial in comparison to the reason we have them. While I don’t feel ashamed of my disability, I would gladly exchange bodies with a--for lack of a better word--healthy individual so that I’d have no use for these “luxuries”. I believe that many individuals with disabilities agree that these comforts are no real trade off for disability.
This is the kind of treatment I’ve seen people with disabilities get. If we are not forgotten or invisible to society, save the awkward stares, we get treated as inferior by a far majority of those lucky enough to be fully able. People with disabilities don’t get enough consideration in society or government. Not enough buildings are accessible and while there are programs to help people with disabilities, there could still be a lot more.
I’m not trying to make this a self-righteous diatribe, I’m just asking people to think before they speak. It’s truly as the saying goes: “You never know someone’s life until you walk a mile in their shoes.” And I’d readily trade you my shoes and my parking sticker if I could.
Friday, June 25, 2010
The ADA: 20 Years
- By Keith Hosey -
Hello readers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be twenty years old in July. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about this lately. What does the ADA mean to me? Well, I’m certainly not as severely disabled as many people I know, who have probably been more affected by the ADA and could probably answer this question better. So what I thought, is that I’ll take some video this year to celebrate the ADA anniversary of people I know telling their stories and how the ADA has affected their lives. Please look for that in the coming few months.
The ADA is an essential piece of civil rights protection for people of all disabilities. While many groups have had civil rights for decades, people with disabilities were not guaranteed by law equal rights and protection from discrimination until 1990 (or later depending on the provision). While I’m a romantic at heart, I know the truth is that people with disabilities still fight daily across this great nation for their rights. Not special treatment (as the argument goes sometimes), equal access, equal rights. Rosa Parks fought in the 50s and 60s for the right to sit anywhere on the bus she wanted. ADAPT fought in the 80s for the right of people with disabilities to simply be able to get on, and ride a bus.
It was a wonderful bipartisan piece of legislation that has freed millions of Americans with disabilities and hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians with disabilities to live the American dream. These laws would not have passed without Senators and Congress people who believe that equality and human dignity should triumph above all.
The ADA is no done deal. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was enacted recently because the original ADA had been weakened so much in the area of employment by the courts, the legislature felt they needed to return disability rights to the original intention of the ADA. We still struggle for our rights. Let’s not forget those who have paved the way for us to keep fighting.
But, please, share: What does the ADA mean to you?
Note: I just learned that a Center for Independent Living in California asked Google to change their doodle on July 26th to celebrate the ADA. Google replied that the ADA is "not the type of event promoted on [its] home page."
And yet Google HAS changed its Doodle to reflect the anniversary of a constructed language called "Esperanto," Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday, and the 30th anniversary of the Pac-Man video game! It is insulting to choose to celebrate a video game in lieu of a piece of civil rights legislation that has won new levels of freedom for the millions of Americans with disabilities. Please join their cause by asking Google to celebrate the ADA.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
- by Guest Blogger Stephanie Hickey -
My grandmother told me about a story on our local news: a young woman was raped by a census taker in her home. She was twenty-one and had Cerebral Palsy. I have Cerebral Palsy, so my grandmother warned me to be more careful - as if that story was more applicable to me than to other young women because of my condition. I told her I didn’t think I was any more at risk than anyone else because I have Cerebral Palsy and reminded her I have a dog to protect me from possible intruders. Of course that put Grandma on another topic: I should not have a dog because of my disability. A German Shepherd is too big a dog for someone with my disability. I could’ve argued that Sasha - my German Shepherd - has been an asset for my disability. Because of her I am not only walking more, but I am walking better.
Still, I knew there was no point arguing. Grandma made up her mind on my having a German Shepherd before I’d gotten Sasha. A German Shepherd would be wrong for me. Grandma’s reaction to Sasha is just the latest instance of my family members giving me their opinions on how I should handle and live with my disability.
Grandma is just one member of my very large family and they all are caring and supportive. If I hadn’t had such a strong support system, I wouldn’t have made the strides and improvements in my health that I have made over the years. But it has not been without its price. Every family member seems to have something to say related to living with my disability, whether it’s about my exercises, my weight, the way I walk, and now, even my dog. I can always do something more to improve my condition. But it is just that: my condition.
I know that my family only offers their advice because they are concerned. I appreciate the help they’ve given to me throughout my life, but I am capable of doing what I have to do on my own. I accept that I face certain challenges because I have a disability, but I do not think those challenges are extraordinary obstacles. So I want to do as much as I can without interference.
I think that many people with disabilities out there can relate to my situation. Many of us have family members that can’t help but give helpful suggestions about our lives. What they need to understand is that we have to overcome personal obstacles that we face in regards to our disability and any discrimination. We want to have as much independence as possible, and we don’t want to fight our families to achieve that independence. I think families can find a happy medium between being helpful and supportive and giving their loved ones the room to explore their independence.
Everyone - disability or not - has someone in his or her life who thinks they can live your life better than you do - and invariably wastes no opportunity to tell you so. Don’t be afraid to tell them, like I told my grandmother, that you are capable of living your own life.
(Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/r_rose/100090926/)
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Should we laugh at disability? I’d like to make myself clear… I believe teasing, taunting and mean spirited gestures have NO place in our world. But is there such thing as “good clean funny”? Sarah Palin was outraged at Family Guy when the character Chris dated a girl with Down Syndrome, but Andrea Friedman, the actress who voiced the girl has Down Syndrome herself and is an advocate for people with disabilities. Friedman said herself she felt a good sense of humor is healthy and that she positively portrayed a person with a disability.
I have to agree. Her cartoon character was independent and anything but stereotypical, which added to the comedy… and reality. If some groups should be left out of comedy how will they ever experience true equality? I think that, like the boom in stereotypical gay guys in 1990s, it "normalizes" the experience. I do believe that the growth in representation of gays in the 1990s helped that group experienced the growth in acceptance that it did in the ‘90s and ‘00s. It’s not all good and there is always room for more appropriate representations, but comedy and humor are natural extensions of life, they are equalizers. If you exempt a group from healthy ridicule, you exempt them from equality. But that's just my opinion.
What do you think? Should disability be funny?
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roogi/242676084/
Friday, May 28, 2010
(Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/psit/2247782231/)
- by Barbara Davis -
While searching through the Fox News website yesterday, I found an article about attempts by
My first reaction to the article was, “Who would voluntarily have this diagnosis on their license, and why would they?” My second reaction was that if the purpose of the PTSD diagnosis on the license is to prepare officers for the unexpected, wouldn’t it be a little late by the time they got close enough to the person to look at the license? Thirdly, I tried to think of an upside to voluntarily having this diagnosis on a license, and couldn’t think of a single one. I could, however, think of quite a few downsides.
I once had a driver’s license in the state of
I can still remember how the scenario usually went when asked to show ID in those
If I got this kind of reaction with a hearing loss reveal on the license, I can only imagine what a PTSD reveal could do. I can picture being asked to leave, or being constantly scrutinized in case my behavior became erratic. I can also imagine that a bartender would be reluctant to serve me alcohol due to misconceptions about this disability.
In a world where we have to show ID for nearly everything, life could get really complicated if a PTSD diagnosis was listed on my license. I don’t want to think about the kind of reaction I would get if I tried to board an airplane, apply for admission to a college or university, or attend a meeting in a school, hospital or elsewhere. Plus, in my job search, I would automatically reveal my disability on the job, since I would have to show ID once hired.
I can understand first responders wanting to protect themselves from potentially dangerous situations. But it seems to me it would be much more effective to become educated about PTSD, and to always be prepared to deal with the unexpected, no matter what the circumstances. Asking people to voluntarily disclose a disability on their driver’s license is not only ineffective, it can potentially cause all kinds of problems for the person with a disability.
Friday, May 21, 2010
- by Keith Hosey -
When I posted Social Justice is Everybody’s Issue (please read it if you haven't) the point I wanted to make was that Rosetta Thurman is right-on about allies being essential in social justice. I’m not the greatest writer and I realize I got sidetracked a bit and said “we all get complacent sometimes.” I was shortsighted here in using the word complacent. I don’t use any mobility devices, I’m not limited in my communication or my sight. I have some physical limitations, but they are not near as severe as many people I know. I have been an active civil rights advocate for seven years only – because before I worked at the Center, I never really knew of, or thought about, the inequities in our society that are presented every day to people with severe disabilities, even though I myself have a mild physical impairment.
My point here is this. I am relatively new to disability rights and while I choose, or not choose, to shop somewhere because of access, it’s a choice. When I get tired, when it’s ultimately more convenient to walk over that inaccessible threshold, I can. Sometimes I forget this. Then I read about Glenda Watson Hyatt not making her Duet with Chris Brogan at SOBCon (a conference for Successful and Outstanding Bloggers) because the bar wasn’t accessible. She wrote a great post about it and said, “The group left for the Blue Frog. I went back to the hotel to go bed, disappointed. In that moment, inaccessibility wasn’t about the law, my rights, or me being part of an under tapped market. In that moment, it was about missing the opportunity to do something crazy and unexpected with someone I admire, respect and trust.”
I thought why not fight? I thought about the situation for a whole day. I have been an active civil rights advocate for seven years only – Glenda has been an active civil rights advocate for decades. When she gets tired of fighting, when it’s ultimately more convenient to walk over that inaccessible threshold, she can’t. So if Glenda wants to pick her fights, I'm all for it. And this is why Rosetta’s “allies” are so important. Yes, we people with disabilities need to stand up for our rights, but we need to find those who will help us in that fight. Fortunately Glenda has many allies (she calls disciples) to contact the Blue Frog’s Facebook page and complain. J
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I love the title because my favorite Dr King quote is, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Rosetta had some great comments from speakers at a conference and mentioned the idea of embracing “white allies” in racial justice.
For my purposes, I would like to generalize “white allies” as “those social groups who share the majority of the power” – as in the disability rights movement non-disabled allies. I think the “white allies” in all civil rights and equality struggles are important; those allies have contributed a great deal to the struggles they believe in and add a certain legitimization to the struggle(s). In the Independent Living (IL) movement, we need people without disabilities to embrace our cause as much as we need those with disabilities to embrace it.
Differently than the African-American community or any other minority civil rights movement, the disability rights movement has always had many non-disabled advocates. Our cause grew out of clinically based non-disabled people speaking up for us… and sometimes that’s our problem.
The non-disabled will carry our torch, but sometimes we rely on them for too much. I had a friend tell me once (forgetting that I was born with a disability) that those who are born with a disability are more complacent than those who develop disabilities, but I have seen complacency on both sides of that fence. No mistake about it. We are still fighting a stereotype: “Shut up and be complacent” - and sometimes it's a self-imposed stereotype. If you don’t want that, then sometimes you need to “speak up and be heard”.
We need to remember to step side by side with the non-disabled advocates in our fight for social justice. But only people with disabilities truly know what’s best for people with disabilities. The Independent Living (IL) movement was founded on the expression “nothing about us without us”. Non-disabled are of great importance to the IL movement to help us in our struggle for equal access but people with disabilities are the most essential in the IL movement. So find your allies and either “Shut up and be complacent” or “speak up and be heard”.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
People who know me well know I am big on voting. I'm not sure why voting has always been important to me. Maybe it's because it is something I can do.
Helen Keller once said: I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
So I've been voting since high school -- many, many years ago. (Did you know teenagers did not always have the right to vote?) Life was not very accessible then. I registered to vote at the same time as my classmates. I just didn't arrive with them. All my classmates went downtown in big, yellow buses. School buses were not accessible then so my mom drove me downtown.
Maybe voting is important to me because it shows I'm equal to nondisabled people. My vote carries as much weight as anyone. My opinion matters.
And even though it is sometimes harder than it should be, I like the idea of going to the polls. I like the idea of people seeing me out there voting.
So vote -- because you can.
NOTE : Many of us can vote absentee from home; that makes voting very accessible. For information, to find out if you're eligible and for a form -- ASAP
go to: www.elections.jeffersoncountyclerk.org/absentee_voting.htm
The deadline is May 11th.
Bye for now,
Instructor, Disability History & Culture, Jefferson County Public Schools
Inductee, the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame 2005
Monday, May 3, 2010
- By Barbara Davis -
In honor of the upcoming Mothers Day, I wanted to include a tribute to mothers with spinal cord injuries. Instead, I spent 2 hours searching the internet only to find voluminous scientific articles on pregnancy and SCI, and pages of articles devoted to quadriplegic parents –mothers and fathers—who are fighting for custody of their children just because they have a disability; not because they have done anything neglectful or abusive.
For many years I have worked with people with disabilities. Some of these were parents. Many of them displayed amazing adaptability and incredible love. There were also some who didn’t know how to be a parent. As a result, there were issues that had nothing to do with the disability.
The non-disabled parent population also comes in those who know how to parent effectively and those who don’t.
I would love to see the day come when I can search for tributes to mothers with disabilities and find some immediately. After all, the internet is loaded with Mothers Day tributes to non-disabled mothers.
It would also be wonderful if people would stop automatically assuming that a person with a disability cannot be a good parent because of the disability.
Being a good parent isn’t about whether you have hands to change a diaper with. There are all kinds of adaptations for that and any other parenting task. Being a good parent takes love, maturity, responsibility and flexibility, among other qualities. People with disabilities are totally capable of learning how to adapt the parenting tasks. They are equally capable of loving their children and keeping them safe, healthy and happy.
Children of parents with disabilities can and do grow up to be healthy, happy and well-adjusted. What better tribute is there that that?
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
- CAL Blog - By Barbara Davis -
With all of the budget cuts and reduction in services going on in these difficult economic times, many of us are left feeling frustrated and helpless. We think there is nothing we can do to keep our services afloat, let alone get new ones started. This is so not true. Even in hard times, we have the power and the tools to make a difference. Below are some of the ways we can utilize our clout as persons with disabilities (the largest political minority) to keep existing services alive, or start up new ones.
This should go without saying. It is the most important tool we have in our arsenal. I know, all of the candidates seem like idiots and nobody you vote for ever wins. But once those people get into office, your voting clout can make a big difference.
Participate in surveys
Surveys often seem like an unnecessary waste of our precious time. But for those of us with disabilities, surveys are a way of letting product manufactures and service providers know what we need, and what does and doesn’t work for us. Do we really want to let people without disabilities decide that for us?
A letter to the editor or to your local legislator can have more impact that most people realize. Blogging and social networking are also great platforms for voicing your opinion and possibly effecting change in some small (or even big – look at the effect of Twitter on recent earthquakes) way. If you don’t have a clue how to get started with blogging or social networking, do a “how to” Google search. There is plenty of free information about both of these venues.
Make phone calls
The more phone calls a legislator gets in favor of or against an issue or piece of legislation, the more the politicians are likely to pay attention and vote in favor of or against said issue or legislature. So register to vote, go out and vote in the next election, and keep abreast of the issues by listening to the news and searching the internet. You can sign up for newsletters and email alerts all over the web about your pet issues, including ours: http://www.calky.org/listserv/. Then, if legislature comes up regarding these issues, CALL, and urge others to call. It does make a difference.
Be part of a crowd
Political rallies and other public functions don’t garner much attention if only a few people are present. If a huge crowd shows up, it can gain all kinds of media attention and help your issue to come to the attention of lawmakers and others who have the necessary clout to do something. When a lot of people show up at public forums or meetings to voice their opinions, things can happen. A prime example of this is TARC’s recent attempts at reducing and eliminating several bus routes. Riders spoke out at public forums, thereby saving some of those routes. If you are passionate about an issue, encourage as many people as you can to attend the corresponding rally or public forum with you.
I volunteer with several nonprofits because I believe in what they do. Most of the work I do is from home, like this blog article. When people learn that I volunteer at these places, they ask questions about the organizations, and often ask how they can become involved. As a result of these conversations, some of my friends and relatives have donated money or used items/clothing to these organizations. Others have become volunteers themselves. With reduction in funding, many of these places rely completely on volunteers in order to continue providing services. If you would like find a place to volunteer, visit http://www.volunteermatch.org.
If you have no money to give, like a lot of us these days, there are still ways to donate and help a favored nonprofit. Volunteering your time, as stated above, is one way. Donating used furniture, appliances, vehicles, clothing, food and other items is another way. Participating in fundraising drives and activities is also an excellent way to raise money and have fun at the same time. There are several sports, from bowling to golfing to swimming, etc. that find their way into fundraising ventures. Keep yourself informed about them and participate. You can have fun, make new friends and help a worthy cause at the same time.
Many government agencies and nonprofits have newsletters that you can sign up for. Google has “Google Alerts” that you can sign up for. It is also easy to check news websites or do a Google search for the topics that interest you. In this way you can stay abreast of pending legislation, fundraising activities, and services that may be facing elimination or reduction. When you are informed, it is much easier to take appropriate action and let your voices be heard.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
To Disclose or Not to Disclose – Part Two - By Keith Hosey
I know that people with psychiatric disabilities are often very apprehensive about disclosing their disabilities due to the societal stigmas that continue to be unfairly associated with various mental illnesses. I read an article about three months ago written by a guest commentator with bipolar disorder about his experiences in employment. He wrote, “Maybe I would have lost the job if I had disclosed. I did anyway because my behavior… I do not walk up to people and say ‘Hi, I have bipolar disorder.’ For myself there is a time and place for disclosure.”
I believe the time and place for disclosure on the job is when your disability is affecting your performance. This is really a good rule for disclosure for anyone whose employer doesn’t know they have a disability; not just those with psychiatric disorders. So, if you need an accommodation you should disclose your disability to your employer. As the author stated, though he had fears related to disclosure he lost the job anyway because he didn’t get an accommodation to help him successfully do his job. If you feel your immediate supervisor won’t understand, Human Resources should know how to respond to your request. The Americans wit Disabilities Act (ADA), and now the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), protects you from discrimination based on an employer’s knowledge about your health conditions and disabilities.
In all disclosure situations it’s a personal choice of where and how you do it. What are your thoughts on disclosing disability in the workplace?
Additional Note:One big misconception I hear often is that you can’t ask for an accommodation after you’ve been on the job for some amount of time. That’s just not true whether you have a hidden or visible disability. You may ask for an accommodation anytime from the application process through the entire span of your employment. If you work at a company for thirty years and on year thirty and a day, you decide you need an accommodation, that company is obligated to begin the accommodation process.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
By Keith Hosey
I was recently invited to speak about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and disclosing disability at a job search support group by my friends at the local VA Compensated Work Therapy program. They have one of the best programs in the country and I’m proud to say they’re serving our veterans here in
Chances are the employer will notice that wheelchair, those Canadian crutches, your service animal or whatever the visible part is of your visible disability. My best suggestion is to disclose after the interview offer but before the interview. An appropriate time to do this is at the end of the phone call in which the interview is offered. The employer may even say “Is there anything else?” If they don’t leave a good opening - make one. The bottom line is people don’t like surprises. If the interviewer has never experienced disability first hand, this gives them time to prepare, possibly look into common accommodations or even just get comfortable with the idea of meeting someone with a disability.
Trust is important, so if you go into an interview and spring your visible disability on the interviewer with no warning you’re not really giving them a fair chance at a productive interview (let alone giving yourself a fair chance!). Those who have gone into an interview situation without disclosing that visible disability have probably experienced the infamous ‘deer in headlights’ interviewer once or twice. What if the interview location or worksite is inaccessible? At that point it’s not the interviewer’s fault because you didn’t give them advance request for accommodation.
Many employers have told me that, for visible disabilities, disclosure prior to the interview is ideal. As I said, people don’t like surprises. Employers want employees that are (mostly) predictable, on time, regular, consistent. People with disabilities can have those qualities but what will the interviewer assume if their first impression is a surprise? Human nature in all of us will ask (with that little voice in the back of our head) what other surprises is this person going to spring on me if I hire him? Remember that there are questions an interviewer can’t ask, so make sure and address your abilities and capability to do the job well. They need to know that you can do the job as well or better than the non-disabled competition. If your disability is in their face, make sure your abilities are too.
Next, part two, Hidden Disabilities.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Immediate Action Needed!
Legislative Alert!! From Greater Louisville Metro Arc
Stand Up & Make a Difference
"No Cuts to Medicaid and Human Services"
Call to Action Campaign - Let's Get 5,000 Telephone Calls By 5:00 PM Monday
Most of you read the article in the Lexington Herald below and have heard that critical budget decisisons are being made this week in Frankfort. James Cheely, Marsha VanHook, Glenna Taylor, and many others testified before the BR Subcommittee last week stressing there be no cuts to Medicaid, and have generated calls to their legislators. Now is the time for all of us to speak up and out to make our VOICES heard by our legislators and the Governor that there be "No Cuts to Medicaid and Human Services." We are already at the poverty level.
The Arc's goal is to get 5,000 phone calls to our members of the General Assembly and Governor Beshear by Monday, March 1 by 5:00 p.m.. The five (5) minutes or so that it takes to TAKE ACTION will have an impact on the lives of thousands. If you prefer to e-mail, please do so -- just so we make ourselves heard!
Your calls are needed now! Please respond as soon as possible and forward this e-mail to everyone you know asking them to join you in the this campaign. The toll free number to talk to your legislator or leave a message is 888-887-0088. You can also call LRC at 502/564-8100 to reach your legislator. The number to the Governor's office is 502/564-2611 to leave a message or e-mail http://governor.ky.gov/contact/contact.htm.
The LRC 's website is http://www.lrc.ky.gov and click on e-mail your legislator. Please take time to personalize your message by adding that "you or your family would be affected by cuts to community services."
Please help us -- STAND UP for a life like yours. Just think, if all Arc members and five of our friends or relatives made phone calls, it would have a huge impact.