Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Have a Disability and Deserve Your Respect

- By Keith Hosey -

“If you like me, you won’t discriminate against me.” – Cass Irvin

In case you missed it, March 2nd was Spread The Word To End The Word day (the r-word, “retard”). So what’s the big deal? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, right?

Wrong. I used to use words without regard. I’d call things I didn’t like “gay” or “retarded.” Here was my reasoning: I didn’t mean anything by it. I was calling a thing ‘retarded,’ not a person. What was the problem?

Nobody’s perfect and I’ve certainly learned my lessons, I have since cut much of it out of my language (and continue to strive toward that goal). Now, in life, I correct people when they don’t use appropriate language. This applies to it all bigotry-charged words; racial, sexual orientation, disability related, etc. With disability related words, I am sometimes scoffed or mocked, it doesn’t really matter to some, it’s “too politically correct.”

When you use the r-word as a cut down, it hurts real people - people who might be you neighbors, friends or coworkers who have a relative with an intellectual disability. People you have never met standing behind you at the store or sitting next to you in a restaurant. Still think it’s a victimless crime?

Words are indicative of attitudes and world views. I grew up with a disability. Crippled, gimp, retard are all words that have been used at one time or another as weapons against me. Verbal weapons aimed to hurt and bully me. They pierced me to the core, sharply cut my heart, spirit, confidence, my world view of myself. I’ve seen this pain in other people, too. I’ve seen the hurt a word can do to individuals, family members, and friends.

When you talk about “cripples”, when you say that something is “retarded”, I remember every time those words were used as weapons against me. I remember the pain they caused before I was strong enough, proud enough in myself and my differences to not let it hurt. I know it hurts many others like me and, as strong as I am, it still stings a little. It stings because, if you use those words, you don't accept my peers with disabilities as equals. If you accept me as equal, if you consider yourself as not being bigoted, you cannot use these words. I will not accept it. It’s not “too much political correctness”, its respect… for me and others with disability as your equal.

I’ve written about the r-word and ableism before and so has my co-blogger, Stephanie Hickey. As Writer Jeff Goins said, “Do yourself and the world a favor and stop using the word “retard.” Period. No questions. No excuses. Just stop. Stop calling your friends “retards”… When you open your mouth and words like “retard” come out, well, it makes you look dumb. And a bigot. And kind of a jerk.”

Most people in “polite society” will hesitate to use the n-word, the three letter f-word for gay people. They are no different than my words. Some people think they are different because they don’t think it hurts anyone. Me, they hurt me. I have been called crippled, gimp, retard. I have a congenital disability and deserve your respect, so please don’t use those words that have made people with disabilities feel inferior for centuries. It’s time to change. In 2011, I’m making it personal.

Not convinced? Try these two stories. A Parent’s Story and The Retard in the Next Booth. Then make the pledge to stop using the R-word.

Monday, April 11, 2011

CAL Appreciates our Volunteers!

In honor of National Volunteer Week 2011 (April 10 - 16) we thought we'd highlight two of our volunteers. Like so many other non-profit agencies, we here at CAL would not be able to do our jobs effectively without great volunteers helping us every day.


Janie Eckstein has been involved with CAL for sixteen years. She has volunteered as our receptionist and has acted as our “Girl Friday” by helping with numerous projects including our peer groups! Currently, Janie is attending Murray State University. In her free time she loves to read, sew and spend time with her dog, Freedom. She has an interest in therapeutic touch and is working toward being a home owner. Her dedication to the independent living philosophy makes her a wonderful advocate! Always ready to lend a helping hand, she has given countless hours of her time to the Murray Center and for this, we will always be grateful!
- Jeanne Gallimore, Murray Branch Director

Jake Coates has been volunteering here at the Center in Louisville for close to a year now. Jake has helped with countless jobs around the office to help us. He started on the phones, and continues to help there, and has worked his way through filing, data entry, mailings, and keeping our brochures made and stocked for important outreach events. Jake is always eager to jump in and when he’s on a project, I feel like I can walk away and not worry because he’ll deliver. He said he really likes using the folding machine, and database work. In his free time Jake likes role playing video games, like Elder Scrolls, and writing fiction stories. Now Jake is ready to take his skills and abilities out into the workforce. While I’ll hate to see him leave us, I’ll love to see him succeed somewhere else.
- Keith Hosey, Associate Director

Thanks to ALL our volunteers for what you do!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Busy April

- By Barbara Davis -

April is a busy month. There is April Fool’s Day (1st), tax time (15th), Easter (24th) and – in the Louisville area - Thunder over Louisville (April 16th – visit for accessibility information and if you plan to TARC it to Thunder). See for a complete list of other April observances. I have included a few of them below:

· Autism Awareness Month: Autism can be overwhelming and confusing to those who have it, parent it, or provide healthcare, education and other services to those who have it. Local and national organizations keep us informed about all aspects of autism. To find these organizations type “autism information and support” in Google. You can add the name of your town to these words to find local service providers and support groups.

· Keep America Beautiful Month/Earth Day (April 22): A litter-strewn sidewalk can be inaccessible to wheelchair users. Pollution can trigger asthma and other health problems.

· National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Child abuse causes physical and mental disabilities, and even death. Children must be protected, not just in April but every day of the year. Additionally, every disabled parent knows the fear of having children removed from the home as a result of the parent’s disability. Disability advocates need to be vigilant in heightening awareness of parenting and disability issues.

· National Parkinson’s Awareness Month: With Parkinson’s my great-grandmother’s hands shook so badly she couldn’t feed herself with ease, and at the time (late 60’s) medications didn’t help much. Today medications and treatments do make a difference, and stem cell research offers hope for an eventual cure. Visit to learn more.

· Fair Housing Month: Speakers from CAL and other service providers will be at the Main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library on April 14 from 1-4 p.m. to celebrate Fair Housing Month.

· Stress Awareness Month/National Humor Month/World Health Day (April 7th): Stress elevates blood pressure, causes strokes and heart attacks, increases pain, causes tension headaches and worsens a number of disabilities. Humor helps to manage stress. Googling “stress management” provides information on stress management techniques. World Health Day ( focuses on a variety of health issues in the US and around the world.

· No Housework Day (7th): Do we really have to be told not to do housework?? Individuals with disabilities often struggle with housework. The internet is a wealth of information on cleaning shortcuts and adaptive tools for helping us manage our daily household chores. If you need housekeeping assistance and cannot afford to pay for it, call 211 for information on programs in your area that might help.

· Take Our Child to Work Day (28th): An excellent opportunity to let our children see that disabilities do not have to keep us from working.

Photo Credit Flickr: