Weekly Reading List

Picture of a multicolored stack of books
Ari Ne’eman, Sometimes a Lion - November 30, 2015

What can I say? When Ari Ne’eman explains something it is explained, in crystal clear, easy to understand language. Here, he describes and explains the difference between “disparate treatment” discrimination and “disparate impact” discrimination, walks the reader through some sticky conflicts of accessibility and accommodation, and provides a balanced perspective on “reasonable accommodation” and “undue burden.” Along the way he manages to be very sensible about the difficult balance in disability advocacy between assertiveness and flexibility. This kind of thing is essential for newcomers to disability rights, and invaluable as a refresher for old-timers.

Lydia DePillis, Washington Post Wonkblog - October 23, 2015

This article is a little out of date, since the immediate solvency problem for Social Security Disability has been remedied, and a few reforms are on their way. However, the fundamental problems cited in the article remain. Overall, it’s a very detailed, balanced view of what’s wrong with income support for disabled people in the United States. That said, there are two issues I still feel are not sufficiently dealt with by advocates on any side. First, I don’t think there’s enough recognition that different disabilities do tend to suggest different kinds of employment outcomes for the people who have them. No disability is an absolute impediment to employment, but some disabilities make full self-sufficiency and consistent employment more difficult than others. Second, reform advocates are naturally reluctant to say what may need to be said. Any meaningful reform to encourage employment will probably cost the government more, not less, at least for awhile. I think it’s a fantasy for anyone to think that we can put massive numbers of disabled people back to work and thus enjoy instantly massive savings.

Shaimaa Khalil, BBC - November 27, 2015

Here’s a perfect example of a bona fide inspiring story that isn’t “Inspiration Porn.” I am really coming to think that the key difference is who’s doing the talking. When the narrator, writer, social media poster, etc. is talking admiringly about a third-party disabled person, or about other people being nice to a disabled person, it tends to veer into “Inspiration Porn.” When the disabled person speaks for him or herself, it feels different, less sentimental, more empowering and real. The content here is a bit sappy, and if someone else was saying them about her, I’d probably resent it. But hearing it from her directly makes all the difference.