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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Return of the Ableist Narrative: Why do We Keep Having to Demand Food Accessibility

Blog post by author of the “Crippled Scholar” blog, who is a doctoral student in disability studies.

crippledscholar

A little over a year ago a tweet went viral.

Image Description: tweet with a picture of peeled oranges in plastic containers on a grocery store (whole foods) shelf. Tweet reads “If only nature could find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them”

This tweet had everything it needed to go viral. It featured a picture of a product that was perceived to have no real use and to be extremely wasteful. It was paired with catchy sarcastic commentary. It’s no wonder that not only did the tweet go viral. It sparked many articles condemning the environmental impact of plastic and what was perceived as a particularly egregious example of…

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Before I Resist and Persist, I Must Exist: Bioethical Choice, Living “Like That,” and Working the Early Shift of Cleaning Up Ableist Narratives

Tales From the Crip

filmdis-feb-18-1I represented DREDF in this conversation but it’s stirred up a big case of the feels about “choice” and being a liberal woman writer with a congenital disability, and the context this establishes for storytelling, and resisting and persisting. I continue, after 30 years of adult activism, to feel like I have an  early shift of ableism — prepping the world to accept that I exist — while my nondisabled fellow human resisters and persisters get to sleep in.  And if I weren’t white, conventionally educated, cis gendered, unthreateningly queer, and had all sorts of middle-class, married advantages, I’d probably never sleep at all. Image courtesy of the Disability Visibility Project.

 Step 1: I Exist!

As many people who know me know — all too well — I’ve been writing a novel* for the past 400 years or so. The novel, The Cure for Gretchen Lowe, is the…

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On Deaf Ableism: Disabled People Aren’t Broken

By Silas Beasley
I am another person who is also Deaf/deaf and disabled . Although I respect that some Deaf people don’t want the disability label for themselves, I think sometimes the rejection of that label is rooted in ableism. People, disability is not a bad word. And as Silas Beasley says in this article, “disability” does not mean “lesser than”. It is not a synonym for “helpless”, it simply means you’re living in a society that isn’t designed for you. If you don’t want to identify as a person with disabilities, fine. It’s your identity, and that makes it your choice. But please try to respect those of us who do feel comfortable defining ourselves as people with disabilities while also being deaf/Deaf, whether because we have additional disabilities or because we are comfortable with defining our deafness as being BOTH a cultural identity AND a disability.

If you are an immigrant (even US citizens), here are nine things you need to know

How all US immigrants can protect themselves under Trump’s new regulations. This includes US citizens, green card holders, people with student visas or temporary work visas, and undocumented immigrants. The video is in American Sign Language (ASL) with English captions. (You might need to toggle the captions on to see them). Full transcript for the video follows below.

0:07
Are you a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant?
0:15
We recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself in our current version of America.
0:20
The last couple of weeks have reminded immigrants, even naturalized U.S. citizens, that they were not born in the United States.
0:28
Our office has received countless phone calls, emails, and social media messages from people worrying about what their family’s future in the United States holds.
0:40
Most people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves from what promises to be a wave of anti-immigration activity by the federal government.
0:47
Trump’s Executive Order on Interior Enforcement has some provisions that should make most Americans shiver.
0:56
We recommend the following actions for each of the following groups:
0:59
Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you have a foreign accent, and you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans),
1:12
we strongly recommend carrying with you your US passport, or passport card, or a photocopy of your naturalization certificate.
1:24
Because of the unpredictability of the current situation,
1:30
we recommend keeping a photocopy of these documents in a safe place at your home, so that if necessary, someone will have access to it.
1:46
You may very well need to prove your US Citizenship.
1:52
Permanent residents. Most people don’t know this,
1:56
but federal law requires that anyone who is NOT a US Citizen is required to carry with them at all times, evidence of their lawful status.
2:05
So, carry your green card with you at all times!
2:11
You should also keep a photocopy of your green card in a safe place at home so that it can be accessed by someone in case you lose your card and you need it to identify yourself.
2:21
You should also renew your green card a full 6 months before expiration.
2:28
If your green card has expired, renew it now.
2:33
And, if it is not obvious at this point, you should start the process to naturalize immediately!
2:46
Lawfully present nonimmigrants
3:02
DACA
3:07
U Visa,
3:14
EADs,
3:23
Visitors, Students,
3:27
H1Bs, etc.).
3:41
Carry with you at all times your Employment Authorization Document, I-94 card, passport with entry stamp, or other proof of lawful presence
4:10
More than 60% of the US population lives in this zone (100 mile border)
4:23
If you are within the 100 mile border area
4:28
Carry the original with you and keep a photocopy in a safe place at home
4:43
Undocumented immigrants in the US for more than two years.
4:46
Keep with you at all times evidence that you have been present for at least two years.
4:52
Why? Because President Trump just ordered DHS to examine activating a never used provision in immigration law
5:03
that allows for the immediate removal from the US of anyone who cannot prove they have been here for two years (absent a claim for asylum).
5:14
We do not know when ICE or CBP might activate the change, but we need to be prepared.
5:24
Evidence that you might want with you are utility bills, receipts, Facebook posts, mail or any other documentation with your name going back two years,
5:38
BUT, be very careful of using pay stubs if you have used false documents or information to get your job, as those are prosecutable offenses.
5:52
Again you should also keep this information at home so that it is accessible to someone who can help you.
6:00
Keep a photocopy at home.
6:03
And, make sure you have a family plan in place to call for legal assistance if you fail to return home as usual.
6:10
Undocumented immigrants in the US for less than two years.
6:20
The bad news is that you need a plan in place on what will happen to your belongings and your family
6:29
if you do not return home from work, shopping, or school.
6:35
Make sure your relatives know they can look for your name on the ICE detainee website.
6:47
We assume that ICE and CBP will not release you on bond,
7:00
and that if you have a fear or returning home,
7:04
you will need to be VERY vocal about letting everyone know if you are detained.
7:10
Undocumented Immigrants with 10 years in the United States and children.
7:21
You are eligible for Cancellation of Removal, and release on bond.
7:37
Begin now to prepare the paperwork you will need to secure a bond, and to prove your case.
7:53
Don’t be caught unprepared!
8:03
Non-US Citizens (Permanent Residents, Visa Holders, and Undocumented Immigrants) who have a criminal convictions OR are arrested.
8:25
If you have a criminal conviction, or are even arrested for a crime,
8:32
ICE has begun to detain people in this category and has released only a very few on bond.
8:42
If you have relief from removal, you are eligible for bond, but, depending on where you are, you may not be released.
9:00
Prepare for this by saving money for bond now, and have the paperwork organized so that our attorneys can quickly help seek a bond.
9:12
Undocumented Immigrants with prior deportation orders.
9:16
If you have a prior deportation order and have returned to the United States,
9:21
you are subject to prosecution by the federal government for the crime of reentry after deportation.
9:29
President Trump has ordered his U.S. Attorneys to increase the number of people charged with this crime.
9:38
Depending on WHY you were deported (for example a serious criminal offense), you can spend up to five years in federal prison for reentering the US.
9:51
Again, make your plans now about how you want to deal with this situation.
9:56
If you have a deportation order and never left, NOW is the time to speak to an immigration attorney and seek advice about your options to reopen your deportation case.
10:05
For those Arrested by ICE, especially for the undocumented
10:09
In the last few weeks we have heard of parents being picked up at school bus stops and at work and home while the kids are in school.
10:15
Have a plan in place.
10:18
Decide now who picks up the kids from school/daycare, who will be authorized to do so with the school, who to contact first, have a power of attorney prepared for this.
10:28
Also, do your research now into immigration attorneys that you may call in a moment’s notice.
10:33
Keep their phone number handy and ready for family and friends to use.
10:42
Or better yet, go see an excellent immigration attorney now and see what options you may have available to you.
10:49
We give these warnings because we want people to be prepared NOT scared.
10:55
Preparation will ensure that your family is protected.
Published on Feb 20, 2017

This video is about ICEVLOG

No, I don’t Worry about Alienating Allies

Post by Kim Sauder at her “Crippled Scholar” blog

crippledscholar

I have noticed in my online activism that if I call out problematic behaviour or comment on the cultural context of disability being mentioned in particular contexts either by an ally or by someone who is perceived as an ally, I will often be chastened for the nebulous offence of “alienating allies”.

When this happens, allies seem to stop being people who are devoted to the idea of meaningfully improving the lives of disabled people but are in fact thin skinned individuals who will reject the rights of disabled people if they are not rewarded with copious amounts of praise regardless of the impact of their actions.

As Ginny Di puts it,

http://ginnydi.tumblr.com/post/153247564955/okay-heres-the-problem-with-the-idea-that

The thing is, the pushback that I experience has never been from the people I am directly commenting on but either other disabled people who are concerned that the criticism will lead to the loss of allies…

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Disability is often written out of history. We need to ask why

Written by Rosemary Frazer

Scope's Blog

As we continue to mark Disability History Month, Bekki Smiddy writes about  chemist and inventor Alfred Nobel. His legacy are the Nobel Prizes.  Nobel experienced epileptic seizures throughout childhood and here Bekki talks about her own experience of epilepsy and why it’s important we recognise that disability is not a bar to achieving great things in life.

I was diagnosed with idiopathic generalised epilepsy when I was eleven, after several years of unexplained seizures. I had no idea what any of it meant. And I didn’t really care. What I did care about was the way people had started to look at me.

Before I was diagnosed, I figured epilepsy meant I fell down and couldn’t remember sometimes, it wasn’t a big deal. It was other people that made it a big deal.

Every time the word epilepsy came up, everyone in the room would look at me.

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