19 July 2013

How to React When Called Out on Abled Privilege

The other day, one of the housing employees responsible for the building where I am currently living sent an email notice about painting work in my building. The email consisting of an un-described, un-transcribed image without alt-text where the message is in the image (a la screenshot or PNG or JPG version of a flyer).

I reminded the sender to send a plain text message so everyone can read the announcement. Not only did she immediately thank me for making the observation that she'd sent an inaccessible email, but she wasn't resentful, bitter, annoyed, or angry at being reminded, and then proceeded to immediately resend the notice to the entire building in plain text.

If you want to be an ally, respond the way this person did when called out on abled privilege. Acknowledge your mistake, fix it, and move on.

In a 2011 news article about the torture and murder of a disabled woman by her primary caregiver and the caregiver's mother and stepfather (trigger warning for obvious reasons on that), another professional caregiver for disabled people was quoted as saying, "This woman was tortured to death and the only thing people are saying is sometimes the caregivers get overwhelmed. When did we start sympathizing with the aggressors..."

If you want to be an ally, respond the way this person did when you hear the usual justifications for murders of disabled people.

Allies do not make excuses. Allies recognize reality as it is.

01 July 2013

See Autistic Hoya in New Hampshire on July 29th (shameless self-promotion)

This summer marks the first time I've been invited to give a keynote address. I will be opening this year's National Center on Inclusive Education Summer Institute in Manchester, New Hampshire, and I even produced a snazzy title for my address -- "Reconstructing Special Education within a Neurodiversity Framework." The other keynote speakers are George Sugai, Dan Habib (of Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, and Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories), and JoAnne Malloy. The conference will be held from July 29th through July 31st, and it will also coincidentally be the closest I'll be to my home in Boston for the rest of the summer (and most of the fall).

If you're anywhere near New Hampshire or otherwise want to attend, the website with the entire schedule, program, and registration information is here.

Here's the blurb for my keynote address:
With the emergence of the philosophy of neurodiversity, which re-frames neurological difference as human diversity, the educational system has a unique opportunity to promote empowerment and to amplify the voices of advocates and allies demanding presumption of competence, universal design for learning, abolition of abusive practices, and equal access to alternative and augmentative communication. Highlights of this presentation will include an examination of neurodiversity, a deconstruction of common misconceptions about Autistic people, and a spoken word exposition of aversive practices with disabled students.
I promise it will be fun and interesting, especially if you generally like what I write about on this site, non-disability-specific posts notwithstanding.

Also, as it happens, I'm going to be in Baltimore on July 11th for the Association on Higher Education and Disability conference, as the lovely folks at the Disability Cultural Center at Syracuse University invited me to speak to the efforts we've been putting in at Georgetown on a panel they're hosting about disability cultural centers at universities.

Also, I've created a Tumblr page to (sort of) accompany this blog along with a Flickr page. (See pretty pictures, basically.) There may still be a few image descriptions missing from Flickr, but the ones that aren't there yet will be up shortly.

Now I'm done with shameless self-promotion.

Let's talk about exorbitant rates for inmate telephone calls that become even more ridiculous and enormous for Deaf and hard of hearing prisoners who use video relay. Talila Lewis of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD) has been a longtime advocate for systemic reforms to end the severe discrimination and abuse that many Deaf prisoners face in both federal and state prisons across the United States, in violation of international human rights law and increasingly ironically, given the laws that are intended to ensure equal rights but which evidently do not seem to apply in prisons. Certainly, there's an unequal standard of (in)justice here, especially when you consider that the prison-industrial complex also disproportionately incarcerates the poor and people of color in addition to further disenfranchising (and dehumanizing) the disabled and queer. Classism and racism collide with ableism and heterosexism and cissexism to create such disadvantageous and abusive conditions. Frankly, the refusal of the FCC to enact and enforce regulations on calling rates for either typical inmate calls or video relay calls for the Deaf has amounted to complicity in a system that injures those who already exist on multiple margins. It's extortion, otherwise known as the capitalist system at work.