Art of inclusion: Celebrating 100 Years

Last night I attended this wonderful virtual concert and gala sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind, celebrating a century of work to create a world of no limits for blind Americans. The performances featured a culturally diverse group of talented artists, and the concert included captions, ASL interpretation, audio description, and a transcript, making it equally enjoyable for sighted, hearing, blind, D/deaf, and deafblind attendees alike.

Check out the video and transcript here!

The Darker Story Just Outside the Lens of “Framing Britney Spears” [Repost]

“Spears isn’t an anomaly, and in actuality, conservatorship has few safeguards and checks. Legal personhood is regularly stripped from disabled people through conservatorship, and nobody blinks an eye.”

“Conservators have an enormous amount of power over their conservatees, and there are few, if any, checks on that power. Despite that kind of absolute control, conservatorships are often seen as fundamentally benign. The question of basic self-determination is treated as an afterthought.”

 “I might eat more M&M’s than my doctor would think is in

my best interest for my cholesterol, for example, but nobody’s going to court to ban my access to M&M’s because I’m not perceived as having a disability,” she explained. “There’s this double standard where, if you’re perceived as having a disability, your preferences are subsumed by what’s in your, quote, best interest. That’s just not how humans function.”

Recently there has been much discussion of Britney Spears’ conservatorship. Many have stated that guardianships and conservatorships are not intended for people as young and “normal” as Britney. These discussions neglect the real harm that guardianships can inflict on real disabled people.

Read More Here

This is What Allyship Looks Like…

“There was nothing more liberating for me than laying down my arms and walking away from the fight against difference. There has been nothing more fulfilling than whole-heartedly accepting myself and those I love for exactly what and who we are rather than despite what we’re not, or because of who we may someday become. Because it was then that we all discovered the joy that comes from supporting one another as we strive, not toward the folly of indistinguishability from the masses, but toward the glory of becoming our very best selves. I choose acceptance. This is why.”

“For now, my goal is to continue to work in community with those who share a fire in the belly to disrupt, dismantle, and upend the toxic systems so long ago built on bigotry and fear and to rebuild them together on a solid foundation of loud, messy, brave love. I want to leave my girls a world that welcomes and encourages them – and everyone – to be the best versions they can possibly be, of exactly who they are.”

Written by Jess Wilson of Diary of a Mom. Read more here:

From the Facebook Files: The Adventures of Blind Elevator Travel

I did my postdoc at the University of Washington Medical Center. My office was on the ninth floor of an eleven-story hospital building. Each day I walked about a quarter-mile from the bus stop to the front entrance, traversed much of the hospital lobby, and finally reached the elevators (I think in the B-wing) to ascend to the ninth floor. My walk from the bus stop to my office, and back again at the end of the day, became so routine that I could be buried in thought while doing it. But many spectators found this simple task to be truly incredible.

Frequently, I ran into strangers who made interesting comments about my elevator use. Below is a story of one such encounter, and a little education on how ordinary elevator travel can really be for us blind folk.

From December 14, 2015:

Lady in the elevator at work: “Wow. You know where you’re going better than I do!”

Said lady almost missed the elevator because she thought it was going down instead of up. Then she started to exit on 5, said “oops” then got off on 8.

Sometimes the standards for blind people are low indeed.

BTW, for those who don’t know: I can tell if the elevator is going up or down because when it arrives it beeps once for up and twice for down. I find my

floor button by reading the Braille numbers on the panel. (They’re not just there for decoration!) Then I know when to get off by counting the number of

beeps as the elevator moves.

These things may not be obvious but they’re very simple.

Now, believe me, I’ve made the same mistakes that lady made, more than once. But like most people, I make those mistakes when I’m not paying attention,

or doing something on my phone.

Blindness doesn’t limit a person’s ability to move about in the world.

People Would Rather Get Cancer Than Be Like Me

“     Ellie’s words are a sledgehammer blow to my chest. We’ve shared homework assignments, secret nicknames, jokes, and drunken, laughing nights. Do they

really think I live every day in darkness and suffering? Do they think I’m faking my happiness, my love of life?”

“I want my sisters to understand that being blind isn’t the apocalypse.

Researching cures for blindness is all well and good, but it can’t happen at the expense of our dignity and our truth.”

“I do what society has trained women, especially disabled women, to do: assume that the

fault lies with how I raised the issue, not the response of those in power. The world may think blind people live in eternal darkness and suffering, but

ironically, it wants to see happy, nonthreatening, nonchallenging blind people.”

How do you cope when a member of your chosen community makes a speech demeaning members of another beloved community? On this week’s post, Sophie Trist writes about the experience of attending a sorority function where one of her Greek sisters spoke about the imperative to cure blindness as part of the sorority’s philanthropy. It can be hard to know how to cope, and even harder to know if you have done the right thing, or even if you can continue to hold the same level of trust after such a microaggression.

People Would Rather Get Cancer Than Be Like Me