Editor's note: So here's a weird thing. After telling Twitter that Offworld needed more articles on ability and accessibility, we received this author's enthusiastic pitch and encouraged him to write the following piece. After publishing, it was brought to our attention that the author has been involved in some unacceptable behavior on social media, sending harassing Tweets to women in our industry (including our contributors) and signal-boosts people who have attacked us. If we'd known about this, we would not have chosen to work with this author. We've edited out links to content from venues associated with harassment, but we've elected not to remove the piece as we think it's full of useful insight.
Truly, though, we live in a weird world if Gamergaters are bragging about having sneaked a constructive and considered article on colorblindness onto our feminist website.
We're sorry to anyone who was upset by seeing us publish this author. Given that Gamergaters have physically followed me to my speaking engagements and continue to harangue and overshadow my entire professional life for over a year, I'm sure you can understand I sympathize with your offense. Forgive me. -- Leigh
Air travel is degrading, stressful, and humiliating enough as it is, so imagine doing it when you can’t get up and walk off the plane.
A man with physical disabilities was forced to crawled off a plane at Reagan National Airport in Arlington VA, when United Airlines failed to provide him with help disembarking.
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A new profile in The Guardian gets to know young women with ability challenges who are earning money and raising charitable funds
via online streaming service Twitch.
Mad Max: Fury Road has attracted praise for its deft handling of some of the themes that Hollywood normally gets very, very wrong. The way that women take charge, for example, the Gamergate crowd had the rare perspicacity to realize that Furiosa was a new, significant stride in the evolution of female action protagonists.
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In America, chicken has better health care than you.
From their inclusion in 16th-century paintings to their roles in famous families (including, probably, Darwin's), people with Down Syndrome are part of history.
At the Down Wit Dat blog, there's a 8-part (with more on the way) feature that provides some much-needed inclusion to people who are usually just a footnote to somebody else's history. Naturally, the series delves into ideas like eugenics and the institutionalization of differently abled Americans. But, even there, the story is centered on people with Down Syndrome and, as such, it offers a perspective and information that you likely haven't heard before. Great stuff.
Here's an excerpt about the short life of Charles Waring Darwin, the youngest child of the Charles Darwin you know. Based off historical records and the surviving photograph that you can see here, historians suspect that he had Down Syndrome.
Henrietta, one of his daughters, had this to say about Charles Waring in her book "Emma Darwin, A century of family letters...":
"The poor little baby was born without its full share of intelligence. Both my father and mother were infinitely tender towards him..."
Charles Darwin himself had this to say about his youngest child:
“He was small for his age and backward in walking and talking.... He was of a remarkable sweet, placid and joyful disposition, but had not high spirits.... He often made strange grimaces and shivered, when excited.... He would lie for a long time placidly on my lap looking with a steady and pleased expression at my face... Read the rest
While on assignment in the Philippines, reporter Miles O’Brien had an accident and lost his left arm. In the weeks that followed, he learned that every movement, no matter how small, requires rethinking.
Army Staff Sgt. Sam Shockley, who was injured in Afghanistan when he stepped on a buried bomb, prepares to work on his balance and on walking with prosthetic legs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Matt McClain/The Washington Post
From the sixth in a 6-part Washington Post series on war and disability
: "The longest stretch of fighting in American history is producing disability claims at rates that surpass those of any of the country’s previous wars. Nearly half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are filing for these benefits when they leave the military — a flood of claims that has overwhelmed the VA and generated a backlog of 300,000 cases stuck in processing for more than 125 days. Some have languished for more than a year." The flood of claims peaked last year at 611,000. Read the rest
The (awful and not usually very trustworthy) New York Post reports that rich New Yorkers pay thousands of dollars to an Orlando area service that rents out disabled people to accompany them to Walt Disney World in order to jump the lines. The article says that there's a word-of-mouth underground in New York's priciest private schools, in which parents pass on the details of the service, which is allegedly called Dream Tours Florida:
Passing around the rogue guide service’s phone number recently became a shameless ritual among Manhattan’s private-school set during spring break. The service asks who referred you before they even take your call.
“It’s insider knowledge that very few have and share carefully,” said social anthropologist Dr. Wednesday Martin, who caught wind of the underground network while doing research for her upcoming book “Primates of Park Avenue.”
“Who wants a speed pass when you can use your black-market handicapped guide to circumvent the lines all together?” she said.
“So when you’re doing it, you’re affirming that you are one of the privileged insiders who has and shares this information.”
Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World [Tara Palmeri/New York Post]
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A couple weeks ago, I listened to Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America an interesting program on the supposed rise in disability claims produced by Planet Money and aired on This American Life (where I heard it). The program raised some interesting points about the inaccessibility of certain kinds of less-physical jobs to large numbers of people, but it also aired a lot of supposed facts about the way that parents and teachers conspired to create and perpetuate disability classifications for kids.
Many of the claims in the report are debatable, and many, many more and simply not true. A Media Matters report called This American Life Features Error-Riddled Story On Disability And Children systematically debunks many of the claims in the story, which NPR has modified slightly since posting online (though NPR and Ira Glass continue to stand behind the story).
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FACT: Medical Evidence From Qualified Professionals Is Required To Determine Eligibility
Government Accountability Office: "Examiners Rely On A Combination Of Key Medical And Nonmedical Information Sources." A Government Accountability Office report found that disability determination services (DDS) examiners determined a child's medical eligibility for benefits based on a combination of school records and medical records, and that if medical records in particular were not available, they were able to order consultative exams to review medical evidence:
DDS examiners rely on a combination of key medical and nonmedical information sources -- such as medical records, effects of prescribed medications, school records, and teacher and parent assessments -- in determining a child's medical eligibility for benefits.
Developmentally disabled news reporters cover the weird world of the 2012 RNC and DNC. We interview director Arthur Bradford, and backer Matt Stone (South Park, Book of Mormon).
Update (June 12): The young author of the post alleging mistreatment by the TSA contacted Boing Boing to request that we delete/unpublish this blog post, explaining that he hadn't intended the story to "go viral." He then took down his account from his Tumblr (which, before this widely re-posted item, appears to have been a small personal blog read by a small number of real-world friends). Today, the TSA also published this post at the official TSA blog. Snip: "A close examination of the video during this timeframe indicates that officers working the checkpoint were professional and appropriate with all passengers." The author of the original Tumblr post told Boing Boing he wants privacy.
teaandtheatre, who is deaf, writes about an upsetting incident of "ableist" or "audist" harassment he claims to have received from the TSA, while going through a screening at the Louisville, Kentucky airport.
He explains that he was returning home from the National Association for the Deaf's biennial conference, with friends who'd attended the same event for deaf rights advocacy. He writes on Tumblr that he wrote the post as a kind of heads-up for other deaf folks, but it has gone viral outside of that community. Snip:
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While I was going through the TSA, some of them started laughing in my direction. I thought it might’ve been someone behind me, but I found out otherwise.
They went through my bag (for no reason), and found a couple bags of candy I brought. I was told I wasn’t allowed to fly with that (wtf?
The Transportation Security Administration launched the “TSA Cares” program to assist disabled fliers just four months ago, but a story making the rounds today proves that the TSA definitely does not. The Frank family was traveling from New York City's JFK airport to Florida, and were abruptly pulled aside after a dispute over how their 7-year-old daughter Dina was screened. The child is developmentally disabled and has cerebral palsy. She walks with crutches and leg braces.
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[Video Link] From H. Hoover at Distriction blog, a little anecdote about a cool interaction that Stephon, a young man who was "born deaf and justifiably proud," had with the president at a recent event:
Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later.
So the 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student took his cue and spoke to President Obama in his first language: American Sign Language. “I am proud of you,” Stephon signed. The president, almost involuntary, instinctively, immediately signed back.
“Thank you,” Obama replied.
The whole story is a nice little read.
This has nothing to do with the neat story behind this video, but I've always wondered: is being bald and steely-eyed a requirement for Secret Service agents? I mean, is it in the job description? And if they're not already bald, do they make them shave their heads? Because it seems like every one I've seen in real life, and in this video, is a steely-eyed bald guy. Someone please get back to me on that. Thanks.
(via Steve Silberman) Read the rest
I've known of James Hathaway and the NGO he co-founded, Clear Path International, for many years. They do great work to help civilian survivors of landmine blasts, people who now have disabling injuries, live better lives through medical care, education, improved mobility and access, and other forms of support. Clear Path originally focused their efforts in Vietnam, but have since expended into other conflict/post-conflict zones including Cambodia and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, James says, is “by far our largest project,” with work ongoing in 19 of the country's 34 provinces.
James returned to Kabul to work with the CPI team there, just as the security situation abruptly escalated to a new level of crisis.
James and crew are spending a lot of time with bulletproof vests on, in safe rooms, and surrounded by very heavily armed security guys. James is blogging daily, and explains why he's there and what they're trying to accomplish in the following account, republished here in entirety with permission.
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[Video Link] sloanchurman says: "I was born deaf and 8 weeks ago I received a hearing implant. This is the video of them turning it on and me hearing myself for the first time :)" (Via Sean Bonner) Read the rest