Open Letter to People Writing Articles About Successful People with Disabilities

Open letter to people writing articles about successful people with disabilities:

Yes, that’s right, [insert disability here] completely failed to stop this person from [insert ordinary accomplishment here].

Do you know why their disability did not stop them from doing well with the thing?

Here, let me help you. The reason why their disability didn’t stop them? Is because there’s no reason why it would! Because having this disability doesn’t have anything to do with the success that you have described!

The negative assumptions that other people make about disabled people? The prejudice and discrimination that people with disabilities have to deal with? The accessibility barriers in our environment? These things can slow us down. Sometimes these things can even stop us altogether. But nine times out of ten, articles about successful people with disabilities aren’t talking about these things when they say, “[disability] did not stop this person from [accomplishment]”!

You may think you are doing a good thing in sharing stories that help bust stereotypes about disability. You are helping show that people with disabilities can be successful!

Yes, this is good. But the way you frame this matters. When you say that the person accomplished X despite having disability Y, you help reinforce the concept that disability Y should normally be a barrier to achieving accomplishment X. These kinds of statements can actually reinforce negative assumptions about disability. This can imply that the person’s success is a rare exception that other disabled people might not achieve. And often that implication is incorrect.

If you really want to help break stereotypes, then please don’t do it like this. Instead, please help your readers understand that,

  • Yes, this person with a disability is successful!
  • Because lots of people with similar disabilities are also accomplishing great things!

Help employers and other gatekeepers understand that, very often, the only thing standing in the way of the next successful disabled person is the lack of opportunity. And they’re in a position to offer these opportunities.

Thanks.

Signed, Annoyed Reader with Multiple Disabilities Who Sometimes Gets Tired of Seeing the Same Tropes in News Stories About People with Disabilities

[Note: I originally posted this “open letter” at my Tumblr.]

[Disclaimers: Yes, I recognize that sometimes disabilities are the barrier. I do not intend to erase the experiences of people for whom disability is the primary challenge to meeting conventional definitions of “successful”. However, in a high ratio of media coverage, disability in and of itself is not as much of a barrier as media purveyors seem to assume. Also: Yes, I absolutely agree that people do not have to be employed to have value as people, or to be defined as “successful”. Hence, “and other gatekeepers”.]

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No, Automatic CRAPtions are Not Captions!

CRAPtions = auto-generated captions that some hearing YouTubers use as an excuse for not providing actual, human-edited captioning.

In this video, Rikki Poynter explains why the aut0-generated craptions are, in most cases, pretty much useless for deaf people who want to watch videos, and provides examples of really bad craptions. (The first 44 seconds, and the last 50 or 60 seconds are about a VidCon she was preparing for at the time she produced this video. But the rest of the content in between is focused on “craptions”.)

Consider joining the #NoMoreCRaptions campaign being launched this September 25th by YouTuber and blogger Rikki Poynter. Read her guidance below on how you can help.

If you don’t do YouTube, then Rikki has said that she also will welcome people writing blog posts or Tumblr. If you don’t do that either, then consider using your other social media to bring the attention of your friends and your favorite YouTubers to this event.

If you are personally a YouTuber who isn’t sure how to caption your videos (or get it done by others), check out this resource: http://captionedwebtv.blogspot.com/p/producer-information.html

#NoMoreCRaptions!

Sick of checking out a YouTube video only to find that it uses the computer generated CRAPtions and not properly human-edited captions? Wish more YouTubers would properly human-edit their captions, or get someone else to do it for them, and not just trust that the automated YouTube CRaptions will turn out alright? Then join the #NoMoreCRaptions campaign being launched this September 25th by YouTuber and blogger Rikki Poynter. Read her guidance below on how you can help.

If you don’t do YouTube, then Rikki has said that she also will welcome people writing blog posts or Tumblr. If you don’t do that either, then consider using your other social media to bring the attention of your friends and your favorite YouTubers to this event.

If you are personally a YouTuber who isn’t sure how to caption your videos (or get it done by others), check out this resource: http://captionedwebtv.blogspot.com/p/producer-information.html

 

Finding Captioned Online Videos: Captioned Web TV: http://captionedwebtv.blogspot.com/

The Captioned Web TV blog site is meant to help people find online (web) television programs that have captions.  Captions can be crucial in enabling many people to understand videos, particularly people who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have audio processing disorder.  Without captions, many of us may be completely unable to understand what is said in a video.

The quality of the web TV programs highlighted at the Captioned Web TV blog can vary because some are made by amateurs.  But some web videos are created by emerging professionals, so some are quite good!  If you’re interested in a particular genre or in a particular theme, you can search the blog by category. Just scroll down the page a bit and look in the right hand side bar for a listing of “labels”.

It can be very hard to find the few online videos that have captions. Please help make it easier for people who want captioned videos to find them!

  • Reblog this!  You might have more followers than you think who could benefit from captions.  Make sure they know about the Captioned Web TV blog.
  • If you make on-line videos, please consider captioning them!  There are a number of different software programs you can use, some of which are free.  You can search via google to find instructions.

No, I’m not involved with the Captioned Web TV blog.  I’m just a deaf person happy to have discovered how to find more fun on-line videos that I can actually understand.

Disabled Activists Demand Ratification of Disability Treaty #CRPD!

Feel the energy of these advocates asking the U.S. Senate to ratify the CRPD “Disability Treaty”! Six minutes with captions:

You can take action to support the CRPD at http://disabilitytreaty.org.  The Action Center there can guide you through phone calls to your Senators with phone numbers and a suggested script.  (Although phone calls are best, the Action Center can also help with emails.)

Want to learn more about the CRPD? Start with these basic handouts: http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager and http://bit.ly/CRPDmyths.

Want to know what the CRPD says? Read the full text for yourself.  Or, if you prefer, you can just read a brief summary at http://bit.ly/CRPDoverview.

Finished calling the two Senators for your state?  Or, live in disenfranchised DC?  Consider calling a few more Senators!

Yes, each phone call is counted even if you have called on the same issue many times before.  Winning CRPD ratification is partly a game of numbers: we lost at our first attempt at U.S. ratification in December 2012 because people believing in conspiracy theories about the UN flooded Senators with more phone calls than CRPD supporters.  Please don’t let this happen again.  We need to boost the number of our calls to Senators in order to win.  One easy way to do this is to either call more Senators, including Senators from other states, or else call Senators multiple times, or both.

Consider more ways to take action at http://bit.ly/ActionCRPD.

Violence against women is never a game! @NTFVAWA needs your stories of online violence! #stopcyberviolence

The following text was recently circulated via email by the National Task Force to end Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women (@NTFVAWA in Twitter)

Violence against women is never a game!

Congress must ensure that persons making online threats of assault, sexual violence and death are held accountable.  WE NEED YOUR STORIES!!!

#stalkingisnogame

October 29, 2014 – please distribute widely!

Trigger warning: rape, murder, violence; this alert contains disturbing and offensive language

On October 15, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, nationally known for her efforts to call out violence against women in online gaming, was forced to cancel a speaking appearance at Utah State University when the school received an anonymous email threatening to carry out “the deadliest shooting in American history”[i] if the event was not cancelled.  The email was only one of a long history of online threats and harassment directed at Sarkeesian. She, like other activists against online gender-based violence, has been forced to move out of her home.  The FBI only recently took on her case; they, like many other law enforcement agencies, face many barriers to effectively investigating online threats of sexual and physical violence, and often, cyberviolence/online stalking is not a priority.

Congress must act to ensure that our laws keep pace with growing online violence and to ensure law enforcement has access to the tools necessary to enforce those laws.  We will ask Congress to hold a hearing on cyberviolence/online stalking – we need your stories!

Background: Sarkeesian and two female video game developers, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu are at the center of “Gamergate”, a culture war within the video game community.  A tiny subset of video game fans are attacking people who critique the misogynistic content of many video games; these trolls claim to be policing journalistic ethics by threatening Sarkeesian, Quinn and Wu with rape, torture and death.[ii]  The following is just one of many threats aimed at Sarkeesian: “I’m going to kill your parents . . . I’ve seen their house [her parents’ address]. . . I’m going to go to your apartment at [her home address]. . . and rape you to death.  After I’m done, I’ll ram a tire iron up your c%^t”.[iii] These women, and many, many more in this country, deal with threats like this every day.  Trolls have hacked their computers and posted personal information and nude photos online.  They have been forced out of their homes and into hiding.

Law Enforcement’s Response: In many jurisdictions, law enforcement does not have the expertise required to investigate cases of online violence.  Many of the people perpetrating such violence are able to electronically hide their tracks, requiring law enforcement to invest much time and effort into investigating these cyberstalking incidents.  Furthermore, the penalties for cyberstalking are laughable.  As Tim Ryan, a former FBI investigator puts it, “Spending a month getting subpoenas and doing wiretaps for a case where the sentence is six months of probation just doesn’t make sense”.[iv]  Another expert adds, “Our legal system hasn’t quite caught up with technology”.[v]

Cyberstalking victimization is not confined to celebrities and the gaming world; anyone who uses the Internet can be a target.  We can use Gamergate to start a conversation, but we need to illustrate the pervasive nature of cyberstalking in our culture.  We are asking Congress to hold hearings on cyberviolence/online stalking, and we need stories from constituents to show Congress how important this issue is. Share your story with us so we can prove the magnitude of the problem!

ACTION!! SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH US!!!  EMAIL US AT ntfvawa@gmail.com.  PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR STATE BUT NO OTHER IDENTIFYING INFORMATION!

Have you or someone you know been the target of virulent online/electronic harassment and/or threats?  How has that impacted you and/or the target?  Did you contact law enforcement and, if so, what was their response?  Your stories are important!

If you are a member of law enforcement, have you tried but been unable to investigate cyberviolence/online stalking?  What were the barriers you faced?  Your stories are important!

Your stories will be kept anonymous.  The only identifying information we will use is your state, because every legislator needs to know this is happening to his/her constituents!

SOCIAL MEDIA!!!  POST THIS ALERT ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR DISCUSS GAMERGATE ONLINE!

#trollslose

#stalkingisnogame

#stopcyberviolence

Follow us on Twitter at @NTFVAWA and “like” our Facebook page. If you aren’t on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to ntfvawaalerts@icasa.org.

A primer on Gamergate: http://deadspin.com/the-future-of-the-culture-wars-is-here-and-its-gamerga-1646145844

Analysis of gender-based online abuse: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/women-arent-welcome-internet-72170/

Sarkeesian’s critique of misogyny in video games: http://www.feministfrequency.com/tag/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games/

Democracy Now’s interview with Sarkeesian: http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2014/10/20

Why it’s difficult to prosecute trolls: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/10/17/gamergate_threats_why_it_s_so_hard_to_prosecute_the_people_targeting_zoe.html?wpsrc=fol_tw

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/survey-harassment-a-common-part-of-online-life/2014/10/22/497f7330-59f4-11e4-9d6c-756a229d8b18_story.html

[i] Goodwin, A. (2014).  “Women are being driven offline”: Feminist Anita Sarkeesian terrorized for critique of video games.  Democracy Now.  Retrieved from http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2014/10/20.

[ii] Wagner, K. (2014).  The future of the culture wars is here, and it’s Gamergate.  Deadspin.  Retrieved from http://deadspin.com/the-future-of-the-culture-wars-is-here-and-its-gamerga-1646145844

[iii] Beusman, C. (2014).   Misogynistic trolls drive feminist video game critic from her home.  Jezebel.  Retrieved from
http://jezebel.com/misogynistic-trolls-drive-feminist-video-game-critic-fr-1627923562

[iv] Hess, A. (2014).  A former FBI agent on why it is so hard to prosecute Gamergate trolls.  Slate.  Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/10/17/gamergate_threats_why_it_s_so_hard_to_prosecute_the_people_targeting_zoe.html?wpsrc=fol_tw

[v] Ortutay, B. (2014, October 22).  Survey: Harassment a common part of online life.  Washington Post.  Retrieved

from http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/survey-harassment-a-common-part-of-online-life/2014/10/22/497f7330-59f4-11e4-9d6c-756a229d8b18_story.html

Landslide Majority of Americans Support the “Disability Treaty”–So What are They Waiting for?

What Are They Waiting For?    •	Nearly two-thirds of all Americans support it. •	50 percent of Republicans support it, with only 32% opposed. •	61 percent of Independent voters support it.  •	83 percent of Democrats support it. •	(Source: http://bit.ly/DisabilityPoll2014)   Why Hasn’t the U.S. Senate  Ratified the Disability Treaty?  •	The Disability Treaty, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), is an important international agreement among countries to defend the civil rights of 1 billion people with disabilities around the world. •	More than 150 countries have ratified it—but not the United States.  U.S. Senators have been listening to fringe groups who use misinformation and lies to advance their anti-treaty agenda.   Take Action!  •	Please tell Senators that landslide majority of Americans like YOU support the CRPD.   The Action Center at http://disabilitytreaty.org will give you phone numbers for your Senators and a suggested script for talking with them. •	Learn the basics about the treaty at http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager and http://bit.ly/CRPDmyths. •	Find more ideas for taking action at http://bit.ly/ActionCRPD!For people who cannot see the image, I provide the same text below:

What Are They Waiting For?

Text inside circle says "We Support CRPD", text around circle says www.disabilitytreaty.org also on rim of circle are icons for sign interpreter, wheelchair, audio loop, and blind person with cane

  • Nearly two-thirds of all Americans support it.
  • 50 percent of Republicans support it, with only 32% opposed.
  • 61 percent of Independent voters support it.
  • 83 percent of Democrats support it.
  • (Source: http://bit.ly/DisabilityPoll2014)

 Why Hasn’t the U.S. Senate Ratified the Disability Treaty?

  • The Disability Treaty, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), is an important international agreement among countries to defend the civil rights of 1 billion people with disabilities around the world.
  • More than 150 countries have ratified it—but not the United States. S. Senators have been listening to fringe groups who use misinformation and lies to advance their anti-treaty agenda.

Take Action!