Disability Blogger Linkup - January 2019

Disability Thinking: Disability Blogger Linkup

Welcome to the monthly Disability Blogger Linkup! If you are new to this, click here to see previous linkups.

The idea is to share something you have written that's about disability in some way. Please be sure to link to the specific article or post, not just the main page of the website it's on. Also, to make the links easier for visitors to identify, in the “Your name” blank, type the title of the article you are posting. In the "Your URL" blank, paste the URL address of the item. Like this:

Screen shot of Mister Linkey’s entry form with Your Name and Your URL spaces circled in red. The Your Name blank is filled by “Title of the piece you are sharing. The Your URL blank is filled by “http://www.publicationname.com/article,html”

Then click the "Enter" button.

Closeup of a grey computer keyboard with a red wheelchair symbol on the center key

Please don’t post pieces that are basically advertising or endorsing a product or service for sale. There’s nothing wrong with promoting a specific product or service, but that’s not what this writing share is for. Also, please share a single specific piece of writing, not a whole website or blog.

This linkup will close at Midnight Eastern on Sunday. The next Disability Blogger Link-Up will start Friday, February 8, 2019.

That's it! If you have any trouble making it work, or have any questions, feel free to email me at: apulrang@icloud.com.

New Year's Resolutions for 2019

New Year’s Resolution written in white chalk on a blackboard, with three colored post-it's below

Making New Year’s Resolutions is usually a tiresome cliché, but this year I have some anyway. Specifically, I have three New Year’s Resolutions that relate to how I want to live in 2019 as a disabled person.

Resolution 1: I resolve to use less disability jargon, and explain it when I do use it.

Disability culture and politics often seems fueled and even defined by unique and highly specialized words. For example: ableism, inspiration porn, institutional bias, intersectionality, eugenics, erasure, emotional labor, or identity first vs. person first language. All of these terms serve useful purposes, giving voice to experiences and ideas that disabled people share but often have a hard time describing to others. Other groups and cultures have their own “insider” language too, but the disability community in particular seems to rely on words and phrases not only to express our ideas about disability, but to actually shape them.

Unfortunately, this can make disability culture and communication seem intimidating and closed to outsiders and newcomers. That includes many people who actually have disabilities but don’t organize their lives and identities around disability culture and activism. And this can lead not only to an exclusiveness that’s the opposite of our community’s supposed value of inclusion, but also a remoteness that makes important ideas about disability literally inaccessible.

That’s why in the new year I will try to use more familiar, accessible language to explain disability concepts and describe disability experiences. Some disability terms are important in themselves, and can’t be improved on, like “ableism.” But when I use them I will at least try to take the time to explain them. I’m also starting a year-long blog series on disability terminology, called The Disability Alphabet.

Resolution 2: I resolve to reevaluate my relationship with social media.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not going to delete my Facebook account or stop tweeting. I’m not going to stop watching YouTube videos. And I’m not going to start preaching the virtues of “limiting my screen time.”

I’m old enough to remember when it was common for “smart” people to boast that they didn’t watch TV, or even own a TV set. It feels like there’s a trend growing in that sort of direction with social media. It’s becoming fashionable to abstain, and subtly look down on people who use social media. The thing is, for a long time TV really was mostly crap. And at the moment, social media seems to be full of crap, too. But Social media platforms are also vital links and communication tools, especially for disabled people. And like TV, we can choose what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

So what do I mean by “reevaluating” how I use social media?

First of all, I won’t be so quick to dismiss reports about what these services do behind the scenes. And I want to be more aware of how the algorithms that determine what we see, hear, and read can affect how we think.

I also want to reach beyond my own “friend” and “follow” lists to people and publications that approach disability differently than I do. I want to look for interesting disabled people who are not activists, who are just starting out on their journey, or who are still grappling with what, if anything, their disabilities mean to them. I’ll never support disability approaches I completely disagree with … like sheltered workshops and segregated “residential’ programs. And I don’t think I’ll ever like gooey “inspiration porn.” But I will try harder to understand where people are coming from and why they may talk about disability with different priorities, perspectives, and tastes than I do.

Resolution 3: I resolve to speak to more people about disability issues.

Sometimes it seems like I have two personalities when it comes to talking about disability. Online, I’m an extrovert. In person, I’m a shy introvert. I can be nervous, almost embarrassed to talk in person about disability issues even with people I know and love very well. I want to be bolder, more willing to talk to people in my “real” life about disability experiences and issues.

As I’ve already indicated, I also want to connect more with people who are disabled, but aren’t engaged very much in disability issues, culture, or activism … people who don’t already tweet, comment, and blog every day about disability. I’m talking about proactively bringing up political and cultural issues about disability that I think are important to discuss, with people outside the safe and comfortable “disability bubble” I tend to inhabit.

A good test for this will be my 30th college reunion this summer. Will I be able to explain my disability writing, nonprofit work, and activism in a way my old classmates will understand? Will I be able to do it briefly, simply, without rambling or trying to explain too much?

By the way, when I say I want to talk to more people about disability, I don’t mean being more generous with intrusive questions from strangers. While I have a pretty high tolerance for answering questions like, “What’s the matter with you?” and “How do you drive?”, I don’t plan on opening myself up more to strangers’ morbid curiosity. That’s one kind of emotional labor I don’t need more of in 2019. (Emotional labor is the kind of social interaction work that over time takes an emotional toll. See? I explained it!)

What are your resolutions for 2019? Or, do you stay away from resolutions entirely? Feel free to share and comment below!

Monthly Reading List - December 2018

Disability Thinking - Monthly Reading List

Each month I select and share five disability-related articles I read the previous month. Here are the five from December 2018:

American Nightmare: How workers with disabilities are denied economic prosperity
Mark Riccobono, The Hill - November 30, 2018

This is an unusually good explanation of subminimum wage, the original rationale for it, and why it’s long past time for it to end.

Stop Asking Disabled People, “What Happened To You?”
Jessica Gimeno, Fashionably Ill - December 6, 2018

Intrusive personal questions from strangers is one of the most common everyday annoyances of having disabilities. It’s far from the worst kind of ableism, but it really does get you down. This article explains why, and offers helpful suggestions on how to engage with disabled people more appropriately.

Picture of a stack of newspapers

Speech at ASAN Gala 2018
Julia Bascom, Executive Director, Autistic Self Advocacy Network - December 10, 2018

Julia Bascom offers an exceptionally clear and comprehensive overview of the current state of disability rights in the United States. She also gives a powerful defense of the importance of inclusion and disability rights principles for people with developmental disabilities.

Disability insurance: A crisis ends, but problems persist
Henry J. Aaron, Brookings - December 12, 2018

This article offers some encouraging news about the Social Security Disability “crisis,” while noting that reform is still needed. What’s missing, however, is any ideas from the people who actually use SSDI, the disability community itself.

DVP Interview: Judith Heumann and Alice Wong
Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project - December 13, 2018

One of the pioneers of disability rights and independent living in the U.S. shares a little of her background and perspective on her life and what’s important for people with disabilities in general.

The Disability Alphabet: A Is For ...

Disability Thinking - The Disability Alphabet

This is the first installment of a blog series that should run from now until the end of 2019. It’s called “The Disability Alphabet.” Twice a month, I will examine important words used in the disability community, in alphabetical order starting with A, and continuing through Z. But first, a few procedural notes:

  • I will be using a four-part structure to explore each term: Definitions, Common Uses, Problems & Misunderstandings, and Suggestions. The last will be my own thoughts on how we can best use the term, including any suggestions for changing how and when we use it.

  • This is an exploration of words, which is not quite the same thing as the things themselves. So for instance, I will explore the word “ableism,” but I won’t discuss at length what ableism means to me, what it does to people in society, or why it’s important.

  • I will try for the most part to take on terms that have special meaning and uses within the disability community. While words like “justice,” “health,” and “freedom” certainly have particular meanings for disabled people, they are a little too generic for this project. On the other hand, I may examine some general social justice terms, like “intersectionality” and “oppression,” becaus they are frequently misunderstood, and because they are used in specific ways in disability discourse.

  • These are going to be my personal explorations, based on my own limited research, but mainly my own experiences, ideas, and feelings. I will probably not cover every possible aspect of every word.

  • Feel free to add your own ideas, or disagreements, in the comments below.

And so we begin with …

A is for …

Ableism

Definitions

Dictionary.com: “noun 1. discrimination against disabled people.”

Wikipedia: “ … discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. On this basis, people are assigned or denied certain perceived abilities, skills, or character orientations.”

Common Uses

The most obvious use of the word “ableism” is to give a name to a broad range of discriminatory experiences people with all kinds of disabilities share to some degree. But the word has other, more specific functions too:

  • It distinguishes the disability experience from the more generic experience of “discrimination” or “prejudice” that can be applied to anyone, including non-disabled people.

  • It suggests some connection or similarity with other forms of discrimination that people may be more familiar with, such as racism.

  • By giving disability discrimination a distinct name, the word “ableism” takes the experience out of the category of mere misunderstanding and social rudeness, and places it more firmly in the category of damaging and urgent social ills.

Problems and Misunderstandings

At times, “ableism” is too general a word. There are too many different kinds of ableism. Each kind is serious, but often calls for different responses. Referring to such a wide range of experiences simply as “ableism” tends to over-simplify the way we think about it and deal with it.

I have tried a few times on this blog to map out the different kinds of ableism I have noticed. There’s a good summary of my thoughts here: Disputing “Ableism”. Roughly speaking, I tend to think in terms of three main kinds of ableism:

  • Well-meaning ableism

  • Systemic ableism

  • Asshole ableism

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

I think it’s also useful to separate “systemic” ableism … the ableism embedded and laws, policies, and practices … from interpersonal ableism … which is about the way people treat each other personally in regard to disability.

Another slight problem with “ableism” is that there are still people who hear the word and immediately think it’s “made up” for “political purposes.” I think what they mean is that they believe the term was coined with a specific rhetorical goal in mind. That’s probably true! But the same is true of a lot of words that are far more common and universally accepted than “ableism.”

In this run through the disability alphabet, I think we will find that people have fundamentally different beliefs about language that are distinct and separate from their political views. People seem to be hard wired one way or another. They either view language as an flexible and adaptable tool of communication and persuasion, or they cling to words as guardians of unchanging reality. And how people think about language affects how open they are to new words and new uses of language … something that has been essential in the evolution of disability culture and thought.

Finally, the way “ableism” borrows so directly on the meanings and rhetorical power of “racism” is, (to use another word we’ll need to explore at some point), problematic. Comparisons between ableism and racism do violence to the real-life experience of racism, and in any case the similarities are pretty limited. Both are systems of prejudice, but the similarities end there. On the other hand, “ableism” now has almost enough life and meaning of its own to stand alone, without needing to draw on that connection with racism or any other “ism.”

[Additional note: Squarespace underlines every time I type “ableism,” indicating that it doesn’t recognize it as a word. It may not be a new word to disabled people or the disability community, but it’s apparently new enough to be marked as a misspelling].

Suggestions

Despite all of the difficulties of “ableism,” there’s no better word available to describe and categorize the experience of disability discrimination and structural oppression. I use it. Still, whenever possible, I modify it, clarifying which kind of ableism I am talking talking about in any given situation.

Also, I try to use the word “ableism” describe, not to de-legitimize or shame. Calling someone or something “ableist” does not, to me, write them off. It’s not even a condemnation to me. At most it’s a criticism, more often an observation. I’m not suggesting shying away from the potential power of the word as a way to call out reprehensible behavior. I am suggesting that using the word with a bit of thought and nuance can make it more powerful and useful in the long run.

Advocacy

Definitions

Dictionary.com: “noun 1. the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending; active espousal.”

Wikipedia: “Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research or conducting exit poll or the filing of an amicus brief. Lobbying (often by lobby groups) is a form of advocacy where a direct approach is made to legislators on an issue which plays a significant role in modern politics.[1] Research has started to address how advocacy groups in the United States[2] and Canada[3] are using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.”

Common Uses

In the world of disability, advocacy generally refers to any effort by an individual or a group to get something they want from some kind of institution … from a service agency, government office, employer, company, cultural institution, etc. When people with disabilities speak for themselves in order to get something they need or bring about some kind of change, we call it advocacy.

Problems and Misunderstandings

Like “ableism,” “advocacy” probably covers too many different activities. In current use the term encompasses both individual efforts aimed at personal gains, and group efforts to achieve broader systemic change. It covers asking your employer for extra time off or a raised desk. It also covers campaigning for health care reform and fighting attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act. While all of these are related, they are also, obviously, quite different.

The term “advocacy” has also gradually become institutionalized. It is now sometimes used cynically to give the appearance of empowering disabled people, when in fact some activities labeled “advocacy” are really just dressed-up counseling or socializing. It’s a little too easy for an organization to say it does “advocacy” without really doing any.

Suggestions

I think we should start talking and writing about two related but separate things: advocacy and activism.

Activism

Definitions

Dictionary.com: “noun 1. the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.”

Wikipedia: “Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from writing letters to newspapers, petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage (or boycott) of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.”

Common Uses

“Activism” generally refers to organized, group activities aimed at making some kind of legal or social change. It includes everything from lobbying, letter-writing, and other “within the system” efforts to demonstrations, protests, and civil disobedience.

It seems like “activism” hasn’t been used as much in the past to describe these activities done by people with disabilities focusing on disability issues. “Advocacy” and sometimes “systems advocacy” has been the more common term. I don’t know why. Maybe because until fairly recently, most disability activism has been either run or heavily influenced by people and organizations that spoke the language of social work rather than politics. Maybe “advocacy” is a more comfortable linguistic fit for people who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with politics.

But lately it seems like “activism” is being used more often by people in the disability community. After years struggling to find a word for the thing we do when we cooperate as a group to bring about social change for disabled people, it seems like we’ve finally started to realize that “activism” describes it quite well and quite simply. We don’t need to make up a special word for it. The right word has been there all along.

Problems and Misunderstandings

I don’t really see any problem with using the word “activism” in the disability context. I haven’t heard anyone complain that it mislabels what they are doing. Nor have I heard anyone assert that “advocacy” is a better term.

The only possible drawback to “activism” is that it might turn people off if they have a strong aversion to any kind of social or political activity. There certainly are lots of people in the disability community who don’t enjoy or appreciate “activism.” Yet, I’ve never noticed any aversion to the word itself.

Suggestions

So how about it? Let’s use “advocacy” when we talk about individual efforts, and “activism” when we talk about working together on broader goals. Who’s with me?

Next in The Disability Alphabet: B is for … Barrers and Benefits.

Starting Again

Yellow post-it note reading “Back Soon!”

Starting in January, 2019, Disability Thinking will return with a new format and a new look. The new look you can see right now. It’s mostly a cosmetic makeover, but it’s also a simplification. I deleted the Podcast and Links pages. I haven’t done the audio podcast for a couple of years, and I don’t intend to go back to it anytime soon. Plus, the links page is too much hassle to keep up to date. For the time being, Disability Thinking is going to be all about the Blog.

I’m not going back to daily or even weekly blogging. I’ve also decided not to attempt a YouTube vlog. Instead I’m going to focus on three blogging projects.

First, I’m going to take the Vlogging idea I was toying with and make it a biweekly blog entry. I’m calling it The Disability Alphabet. The idea is to explore the meanings and uses of disability terminology, starting with A and covering a new letter every other week until Z, which should come at just about the end of 2019. Here is the tentative, incomplete list of terms I have in mind:

A Ableism, Accessibility, Advocacy

B Barrier-Free

C Crip, Chronic Pain, Chronic Illness

D Disabled, Differently-Abled, Discrimination

E Erasure, Eugenics, Emotional Labor

F Functioning Labels

G Guide Dog

H Handicapped

I Inspiration Porn, Independent Living, Intersectional

J _________________________

K _________________________

L Long Term Care

M Medical Model, Marginalized

N Neurodiversity

O Oppression, Opioids, Outcomes

P Prejudice, Privilege

Q Quad Rugby

R Representation

S Self Advocate, Social Model, Special Needs

T Transition, Transportation, Trauma

U Undue Burden, Universal Design

V Vocational Rehabilitation, Venn Diagrams

W Wheelchairs, White Cane

X Xenophobia

Y _________________________

Z _________________________

Feel free to help me fill in the gaps and suggest other terms I should cover.

The other two features are continuations of existing features at Disability Thinking … the Monthly Reading List and Disability Blogger Linkup. And of course I will probably put up some stand-alone posts now and then, for notable events or when I just have to say something that I can’t cover properly in tweets.

At this point, I plan on the monthly blogging schedule looking like this:

  • The Disability Alphabet … Every other Friday.

  • Monthly Reading List … First Monday of each month.

  • Disability Blogger Linkup … Second weekend of each month.

That’s about all for now. Expect the first “Disability Alphabet” post on January 4, 2019.

Why The Disability Community Needs To Vote on November 6th

Logos promoting voting by people with disabilities

It’s just a couple of weeks since I said I was more or less quitting blogging, but I feel compelled to write a blog post about the upcoming U.S. Midterm Elections. In the work I do with #CripTheVote, I try to be balanced and “nonpartisan,” but this time I’m going to go ahead and say what I think needs to happen in the 2018 Midterms, and why it’s especially important for the disability community.

At minimum, we need to flip at least one house of Congress to Democratic control. I personally would prefer both the House and Senate, but we need to flip at least one. If you generally vote for Democrats, as I do, this is obvious. If you usually vote for Republicans, you may think I'm being excessively partisan. But hear me out. There are four big reasons why people with disabilities, in particular, need to make this happen this year, and vote in noticeable numbers while doing it.

1. To act as a check on President Trump

Despite endless debate over President Trump's exact political significance, he is, if nothing else, a wild card. Nobody really knows for sure what he will do. So it is clearly a mistake to think he would never actually do anything to hurt "your" people, however you define that. And nothing in Trump’s history or rhetoric indicates that he has any special sympathy or interest in people with disabilities.

On the contrary, President Trump is notable for how openly he evaluates people based on how conventionally attractive they are, and whether or not they are “normal” in his view. He clearly despises anyone he regards as weak or alien in any way. Many of us disabled people feel should comparatively accepted by our families and communities. However, all of us who have disabilities also know that in fundamental ways we are still easily singled out as needy, abnormal, and unfamiliar. These are not qualities that President Trump is ever likely to embrace. If it ever looks to him like scapegoating people with disabilities would help him, it’s hard to imagine him hesitating to do it. It’s already happened in the United Kingdom, which is just barely emerging now from a period of years when both public sentiment and public policy directly targeted disabled people as unworthy financial drains on society. A strong opposition in Congress would at least help prevent a characteristic Trump tirade or delusion about disabled people from becoming actual public policy.

(Note … His administration is already targeting disabled immigrants very specifically, by proposing to ban aspiring immigrants and asylum seekers if they are deemed likely to be a “public charge” … that is, if they may need human services, due to, among other things, disabilities. It’s cruel on its own, and think of the precedent it sets even for disabled citizens.)

2. To act as a check on primarily Republican plans that would hurt disabled people

These include:

- Allowing health insurance companies to once again refuse coverage or charge more for “pre-existing conditions.”

- Limiting or cutting Medicaid, or narrowing Medicaid eligibility

- Cutting Social Security Disability, or narrowing eligibility

- Weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act

All of these steps can be prevented if just a single house of Congress switches to Democratic control for at least the next four years. There are no guarantees, but the likelihood of any of these things happening in the near term go way down if just one house of Congress is controlled by Democrats.

3. We need to demonstrate the growing power and political relevance of the "disability vote," so politicians of all parties and beliefs will feel they have to take disability issues and disabled voters seriously.

This is should be important to you whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. At some point, sooner or later, Democrats will be in a position to make major policy again. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to assume that Democrats will get disability policy right all on their own, instinctively. It really isn’t enough to for the disability community to help bring about a “Blue Wave” on November 6th. Democrats, too, need to recognize people with disabilities and their families as a factor in their future vision, policies, and tactics, and we will still have to be vigilant and hold elected officials accountable, no matter who is in Congress, the Supreme Court, or The White House.

4. We need to vote for state and local officials who actually make and implement most of the everyday decisions that affect disabled people's lives. And we need to be noticed as we do it so even state, city, county, and town officials will take our needs into account.

- Town and city councils decide on accessibility and good repair of streets and sidewalks, and in colder climates, what is and isn't done to clear snow and ice from pedestrian areas.

- County legislatures set the tone and budgetary parameters for how social and human services are delivered, including those for people with disabilities and their families.

- States have a lot of control over the scope and eligibility of Medicaid, including programs that provide long-term care and supports for disabled people.

You don’t have to be “into politics” or commit to full-time disability activism to recognize that elections do matter for people with disabilities and their families. And this year there are specific stakes and reasons for all of us to vote, and do so consciously and thoughtfully as disability voters.

Here are some online resources on voting … some general, some specific to concerns of the disability community:

1. Online Voter Registration - Vote.org

2. Find Your Polling Place - National Association of Secretaries of State

3. Polling Site Accessibility Checklist - U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

4. Find Out What Is On Your Ballot - Ballotready

5. Voting Rights Subcommittee - National Council on Independent Living

6. Disability Issues Guide - American Association of People with Disabilities

7. Disability Issues Surveys, 2016 & 2018 - #CripTheVote

8. Voting Resources - Autistic Self Advocacy Network

9. Plain Language 2018 Voter Guide - Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

10. Information On All Public Offices and Elections - Ballotpedia

11. Election Polling and Forecasts - FiveThirtyEight.com

12, The 2018 Midterm Elections, explained - Vox.com

Shifting Away From Blogging

I have decided to stop regular blogging here at Disability Thinking. I will, however, keep the site going, and use it from time to time to post things I want to share that can’t be shared properly on Twitter or Facebook.

Word cloud of most used words on this blog, inside a thought balloon

Disability blogging played a major part in my transition from 9 to 5 work at a Center for Independent Living, to a more freelance and introspective approach to disability. I started out with the goal of posting something every day. That worked out well for me for a few years. It got me into the rhythm of regular blogging. It gave me some daily discipline during a time when I could have very easily slipped into pure laziness and probably depression. Most importantly, daily blogging on disability was a terrific outlet for a lot of pent-up thought, ideas, and questions swirling about my head about disability that I had not previously been able to articulate.

Disability Thinking has evolved quite a bit, and I've had some valuable experiences along the way ...

Exploring in-depth topics ... like the nature of ableism, what disability identity and culture mean, what "inspiration porn" actually is, and what exactly we want to say to the non-disabled people we deal with every day. In all of these and other topics I tried to explore beyond the buzzwords, and demystify concepts for non-disabled readers, as well as disabled readers just beginning to explore disability issues in-depth. But really, I was exploring for myself, and inviting others to tag along with me.

Images and videos ... At some point I stopped being quite so impressed with social media photos and videos of “cool people in wheelchairs being cool," especially when they are just images, without any context or commentary. But it’s good to remember that for a lot of people, including a lot of disabled people, seeing images of disability that are cool and empowering, rather than sentimental or pitiful, is still quite new and revolutionary.

The Disability.TV Podcast ... I started out wanting to talk about disabled characters, disability tropes, and what disability on TV says to the world about disability. I discovered that discussion about disability on TV among disability activists is almost entirely focused on representation, that is, whether or not disabled characters are played by disabled actors ... something I had literally never though about before. I also discovered, not for the first time, that I am not good at extemporaneous speaking. On the other hand, I did learn how to make a podcast, including basic audio editing and promotion.

If I'm not going to do regular disability blogging, what am I going to do?

Disability Blogger Linkups ... This has been one of my favorite features of Disability Thinking, using Mr. Linky to create weekly or monthly "linkups" where people can share their disability-related work. I modeled it initially after the LoveThatMax weekend linkups, but it was exciting to see a rather different kind of writing accumulate on my linkups. I feel a little ambivalent about it because it sometimes feels too close to me benefiting from free labor from other disabled writers, at least some of whom should be getting paid. On the other hand, I don't benefit financially in any way, and people post there because they want to, not because I asked them to personally. I will probably continue hosting monthly linkups.

Weekly / Monthly Reading Lists ... In May 2015 I started posting a weekly selection of 5 disability-related articles, eventually switching to monthly. I will probably keep posting these too.

#CripTheVote ... In a way, my involvement in this project evolved out of my blogging. I "met" Alice Wong and Gregg Beratan mainly on Facebook and Twitter, but I wouldn't have been looking for disabled activists on Facebook and Twitter if I hadn't been promoting my blog on these platforms and looking for things to write about. Anyway, we got talking about the then upcoming 2016 elections and whether anyone would be talking about disability issues, and we decided we would see if we could start the conversation ourselves. Nearly three years later, #CripTheVote is easily the most consistently satisfying and meaningful thing I have done since I left my CIL work. It will continue!

Twitter ... I will try to condense my future observations on disability and share them on Twitter. A few years ago I would have thought that was a terrible idea. But I really like how Twitter disciplines me to keep my writing brief and packed with meaning. Plus, you can actually say quite a lot with a reasonably sized Twitter thread.

YouTube Vlogging, maybe ... I still haven't given up the idea of a disability-centered vlog of some kind.

Meanwhile, the blog will stay open, and now and then I may decide to post something. I would also welcome any comments on what people look for in disability-related online media. Maybe an idea I haven’t thought of before will spur the next phase of Disability Thinking.

Disability Blogger Linkup - September, 2018

Closeup photo of a grey computer keyboard, with a red wheelchair symbol on the center key

Welcome to the Disability Blogger Linkup! If you are new to this, click here to see previous Disability Blogger Link-Ups.

The idea is to share something you have written that's about disability in some way. Please be sure to link to the specific article or post, not just the main page of the website it's on. Also, to make the links easier for visitors to identify, in the “Your name” blank, type the title of the article you are posting. In the "Your URL" blank, paste the URL address of the item. Like this:

Name = Title of your article.
Your URL = Link to your article.

Then click the "Enter" button. That's it! If you have any trouble making it work, or have any questions, feel free to email me at: apulrang@icloud.com.

Note: Please don’t post pieces that are basically advertising or endorsing a product or service for sale. I have never made this explicit before, but I have been getting a lot of emails from bloggers and website proprietors who may or may not be semi-disguised marketers, wanting to post “guest blogs” to this site. No disrespect to what they are doing, but that’s not the kind of content I want.

This Link-Up will close at Midnight Eastern on Sunday. The next Disability Blogger Link-Up will start Friday, October 12, 2018.

Disability Thought Of The Week: What's Your Major?

Disability Thought Of The Week on a yellow legal pad background

I don’t know how new this idea really is, but it feels new and kind of fresh to me. Another way to describe the different ways people approach disability is to use a college major analogy. The way I see it, the main approaches to disability break down like this:

Biology

Disability is about physical and mental conditions, symptoms, diagnoses, treatment, rehabilitation, adaptation, prevention, and cures. It’s about how our bodies and / or our minds are different, and how we can cope with that, or make them less different. It's about fixing what's wrong.

Psychology

Disability is about self image, education, social skills, internalized ableism, empowerment, and disability prejudice. It’s about how each of us processes our disabilities, the way people treat us, and how we present ourselves and deal with the people around us in relation to our disabilities. It's about understanding ourselves and what disability means to us as individuals.

Sociology

Disability is about institutional ableism, accessibility, disability culture and identity, and disability history. It’s about how society and culture creates, uses and modifies the category of disability, and how we can deal with that and redefine disability on our own terms, together, as a group. It's about understanding disability as a social phenomenon.

Political Science

Disability is about activism, coalition-building, and disability policy. It’s about making everyday life better … maybe a lot better … for disabled people through deliberate and specific policies, through concrete things we know how to do, if we can muster enough political will. It's about using political action to make things better.

Everybody with disabilities, and everyone with any reason to think about disability, “majors” in one of these approaches, sometimes with a minor to go with it. The thing is, having disabilities is about ALL of these things. The differences among us are about which aspects of disabilities we understand best, which affect us most day to day, and which we are most interested in thinking and talking about.

And, like so many college students, sometimes we switch majors over time. What’s your major? What was it when you were young, or when you first experienced disability? Has your disability major changed?

Monthly Reading List: September, 2018

Monthly Reading List in large print on a background photo of stacks of books

Five selected disability-themed articles from August, 2018. It turns out my choices this month are about fundamentals of understanding the disability experience. Taken together, they form a pretty good introduction for anyone who might be exploring disability thinking for the first time.

It isn’t a wheelchair that makes my life disabled, it’s buildings without ramps
Frances Ryan, The Guardian - August 23, 2018

Accessibility is the purest, simplest example of how in real life, disability is about your surroundings, living conditions, and the restrictions they impose as much ... if not more ... as it is about any medical conditions or impairments you have. This is the point where the Social Model and Medical Model of disability diverge.

My Disabilities Make Me Both Broken and Whole
Kate Ryan, Rooted In Rights - August 24, 2018

There is a lot of debate inside the disability community about whether accepting the Social Model of disability, and having a positive view of disability in general, means you have to gloss over the frequent pain and medical complications of actual disabilities. This article deftly threads the needle between the two main ways we experience disability. The bonus is that it is beautifully expressed.

Cripple Perks: The Unreasonable Luxury of Living While Disabled
s.e. smith, Catapult - August 15, 2018

One of the most common types of discrimination disabled people face is the dirty looks, eye rolls, and other forms of passive and sometimes not so passive disapproval we get when we use "special" accommodations and shortcuts to make our lives a little more bearable. It's important for both non-disabled and disabled people to understand the difference between unearned privilege and necessary, equalizing accommodations. As long as we aspire to a "no help" standard of independence, and tacitly agree to the judgements of onlookers, we hold ourselves back from achieving real independence and equality.

Report shows LGBTI people with disability experience higher rates of discrimination
Nicole Pope, Disability Support Guide - August 10, 2018

The fact that many disabled people experience multiple overlapping layers of discrimination is often expressed so abstractly that people who don't experience it firsthand have trouble understanding it. Real data like this is valuable in demonstrating how being disabled and also LGBTQ mix to produce additional and distinct forms of discrimination. This is intersectionality ... a somewhat intimidating word for a pretty basic reality that still isn't recognized enough, even within the disability community.

Q&A With The Money Diarist Living On Disability
Anabel Pasarow, Refinery - August 9, 2018

You can't get more concrete than asking an actual disabled person on Social Security Disability how they manage their day to day finances. There is a lot of moral posturing about "Disability" benefits, but ultimately it comes down to real people doing real math.