Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dave's Faves 2

Three very different links:

A horse for a service animal? Interesting.

Ruth’s back-up aide didn’t show up. She offers this prayer. I hope today is a better day for you, Ruth.

A pharmacist is fired by Walmart because of his diabetes. This is why we need the ADA Restoration Act.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Carnival #25!

Kara Sheridan has the 25th Disability Blog Carnival up at her blog, "If the World Had Wheels."

The carnival is an assortment of posts on the wide-open theme of "If...." Looks like lots of creative responses - I hope you'll check them out!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Imagine a world without celebrity gossip

If we spent less time talking about Britney Spears ……

*The dramatic fall in gossip would lead to a gigantic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and global warming would slow.

*The media would have to find something else to fill their magazines, websites, and talkshows – say the Iraq War? Crises in Darfur and Somalia? Healthcare for children?

*With all our extra time, we could actually research the Presidential candidates and cast informed votes in the primaries.

*Maybe people could fill the profound silence by listening to the perspectives of minority groups, such as people with disabilities.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Anniversary to us!

We've had one full year of disability blog carnivals - thought-provoking, interesting and fun collections of posts about all sorts of different topics.

Disability Blog Carnival #24: The 1st Anniversary Edition is no different - varied, great posts on the theme of milestones. Head on over and check them out!

Thanks to all the hosts, posters, and commenters - I really enjoy our every other Thursday gatherings. Quite a blogsosphere community we have developed! And a huge applause for our fearless organizer Penny Richards!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Another assault on human rights

How can it not break your heart to hear of people being treated as less than human? I know it can be seen over and over again around the world, but it still feels like a punch in the stomach, knocking me breathless and sapping my energy.

Last January, I was shocked to learn of the decision and public support for the surgical and hormonal alteration of a 6 year old girl. Now it's happening again, this time in the UK, and this time I feel older and I am not surprised; I just feel great sadness. Why is it that our societies don't or won't support families challenged by the care of their loved ones with disabilities? How do we convince ourselves that we don't need to think creatively, that we don't need to problem-solve, that we can jump right in and tinker with the healthy body parts of another person?

I hope I never am convinced. I'd rather feel a punch in the stomach than cold, mind-numbing apathy.

Helpful links:

Penny Richards at Disability Studies at Temple U is continually updating links to bloggers' views on this issue.
When the Slippery Slope Becomes a Mudslide - Exceptional Parent's position statement
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Modify the System, Not the Person from the Disability Rights Education Rights & Education Defense Fund

Monday, October 08, 2007

Voting questionnaire

A friend from my high school days contacted me about a newstory that she is writing for her journalism class at NYU. Katie is a journalism and politics major, and is writing about access to voting for people with disabilities. I answered her questions and offered to post her questions here so that she could maybe get a few more responses. If you have a disability and can take a few minutes to answer any or all of her questions by noon on Wednesday, October 10, she'd greatly appreciate it.

Two New York Times articles last summer (here and here) addressed the issues and delays of voting machines which allow independent access to voting by those with disabilities.

Katie's questions:

1. Have you voted (for President, Congress, even school board)?

2. If so, tell me about your experience - did you use a paper ballot or a machine? Did you find the system difficult? Any problems getting to the voting place?

3. If not, why didn't you vote?

4. Do you plan to vote in the 2008 Presidential election?

5. There is a federal law stating that all disabled persons must be able to cast their vote without assistance, because someone helping them might influence their vote. Do you think this is important? Is voting on your own a part of being independent?

6. The new law discussed in the New York Times articles is being debated because experts are worried that the voting machines that are easiest for most disabled people to use may not be totally secure - it is possible that hackers could hack into the system and screw up the votes. So, politicians are trying to balance what is most important - giving the disabled full access to voting or protecting voting security. What do you think?

7. Do you think it is important for every effort to be made to help disabled people vote? Why?

8. What would you think if you found out that the voting machines used to help the disabled were being canceled because of hacking concerns?

9. What would be the easiest way for you to cast a ballot?

10. Do you have any political issues that are especially important to you? What are they and why?

Email your answers to Katie at: no later than Wednesday at noon. Your thoughts on any of the questions would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Milemarker Mania

I like to travel. I’ve talked on this blog about my Wisconsin summer vacation, my Costa Rica adventure, and my Yellowstone vacation. When I was 10 years old, my family took a 2 week car trip around Lake Michigan. The vacation was a combination of driving, sightseeing, visiting cousins, swimming, biking, hiking, and just hanging out together.

On our drive, we stopped at picturesque lighthouses along both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. As a passenger in the car, I watched lush, green forests go by my window, and for the first time, noticed milemarkers along the highways. I learned that these posts tell you how far you are along your road and, if you do the math, how much further you have to travel to get to your destination.

One often hears that life is a journey, and that the goal is not to race to the “finish line”, but rather to embrace the whole trip. Yet, when you are a child growing up with a disability, many people, particularly educators and health care providers, focus solely on your milemarkers, as though the milemarkers and the journey are one and the same. Gross motor skills, fine motor skills, speech and language abilities, cognitive skills, academic level, activities of daily living skills, social skills and on and on - it is easy to become consumed with measuring progress against these markers, and take them on as though they were life itself.

My parents carefully planned the routes we would take for our Lake Michigan adventure; we traveled through northwest Indiana and southern Michigan, spent a few days visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City, took a bike trip around Mackinac Island, drove along chilly Lake Superior, and then traveled home through the farmlands of Wisconsin. My parents planned the daily mileage, the finances, the fun, the food, and the sights we would see. They also left room for potential adjustments in the itinerary, and adjustments did take place when we were having a particularly fun time somewhere or when a road was closed due to construction.

The same careful planning is important for my life – defining my priorities and what will make my life full and fulfilling, and then considering how to reach these priorities. I also have to be open for the unexpected pleasures and necessary detours along the way. For example, when I started my interview project, I never expected to have so much fun blogging, to "meet" so many interesting people through the blog carnivals, to learn from the experiences of others and to feel a part of an internet community; I very much appreciate this unique side trip.

Like the time I waited in a long line for a piece of famous Mackinaw Island fudge, sometimes short term sacrifices are necessary to achieve a long term benefit. For example, I do a lot of physical therapy – not how I’d like to spend several hours a week. The reward is not the range of motion of my hips or the fact that I can get good chest and diaphragm expansion. Those are merely milemarkers. What is meaningful is being able to have fun singing, having the breath support to be able to speak understandably, and getting fewer respiratory infections. Sometimes my motivation to endure physical therapy is to avoid a major hip or back surgery, just as when a driver chooses an unpleasant bumpy backroad detour to avoid a bridge that is out.

Milemarkers just give a number, a neutral number. They don’t tell you if you are on the road to New York or the road to California and they won’t inform you to what road is best for you. So, before looking at the milemarkers, thinking carefully about where each road leads is wise. Which of the many possible roads, should one choose? Sometimes, multiple roads can be taken at the same time, while other times that is just not practical, and choices need to be made.

Milemarkers are wooden or concrete posts stuck in the ground, and they give limited, lifeless information. My trip around Lake Michigan was not merely driving from one milemarker to the next – what a drag that would have been! I would have missed so much of Lake Michigan, so many fun times with my family. Nor should life be merely a rote, absent-minded journey from one milemarker to the next, with no thought of the road, the destination, or the beauty of the present.