It has been a pretty good month for disability reading ...
‘I am a hard worker’
Terrence McCoy, Washington Post - August 27, 2017
The Washington Post has done a series of articles about "disability" recently ... focused on disability as it relates to employment and Social Security benefits. Most of the articles have been awful, full of vile stereotypes about disabled people, low income people, and people in certain regions of the U.S. They have also perpetuated politicized and easily debunked myths about SSDI and similar benefits. However, this latest article at least, and at last, tries to convey the web of barriers many disabled people encounter when they try to get jobs ... from the classic "work disincentives" built into benefits systems, to intersecting factors like poverty, poor education, and simply the way today's economy and job markets are structured. More pieces like this would be ... better.
Florida Demands Parents Call Their Kids 'Limited' or Lose Health Care
David Perry, Pacific Standard - August 28, 2017
This article highlights some pretty profound contraditions in thinking about disability ... so many and so hard to discuss that I will probably have to blog about it separately. On one level, it is about straight up dishonesty and corruption in Florida disability services. On another level, it's about the unnecessary insensitivity and cruelty that creeps into disability service bureaucracies. On a third level though, I think it also calls on all of us to revisit our fundamental understanding of disability, maybe for a third or even fourth time. I'll try to explain what I mean at some future date.
My IEP Gave Me PTSD: A Student's Perspective
Mandy Ree, Ravishly - August 18, 2017
This piece gave me some of the same feelings as the first one. There is a straightforward story about services that are supposed to help disabled kids being dispiriting and traumatic for them. At the same time, there is probably a deeper story to be picked apart about how Special Education got to this point. My take is that the increasingly pedantic coldness of IEPs is at least partly a result of two praiseworthy efforts: 1. Expecting Special Education to include more 'education,' as traditionally understood, and 2. holding Special Education accountable for educating disabled kids. But we haven't figured out how to get tough in these good ways without making the whole process mean and scarring for actual disabled kids.
What Is Identity-First Language, & Should You Use It?
J.R. Thorpe, Bustle - August 9, 2017
This goes into my growing collection of especially good explanations about the differences between Person-First and Identity-First language. This one does three things I always look for in this kind of discussion. 1. It gives a fair hearing to Person-First langauge, and doesn't simply label it as an ableist plot of non-disabled meanies. 2. It addresses head on the idea that even having these discussions about language might be a bit trivial. And 3. It reinforces the call to let disabled people ... meaning each disabled individual ... choose the language they prefer at any given moment in their lives.
'You don't break a promise you give to yourself'
Cara Chapman, Plattsburgh Press-Republican - August 9, 2017
I added this article from my hometown paper because it both is and isn't a "disability story." On the surface, it's about a police officer's perseverance and grit in the face of a bit of bureaucratic absurdity. It's also about a good boss, the Police Chief, who does seemingly all he can to help someone return to work after a period of medical leave. He's even willing to go on record saying he objects to the barriers the officer faced. At the same time, underneath the surface, it could and maybe should have been a story about employment and people with disabilities, the ADA and reasonable accommodation, and about how disability discrimination often hides in fine print and procedures rarely questioned.