Weekly Reading List

Two shelves of multicolored books

I’ve taken some detours lately from the traditional, mixed-topic Weekly Reading List. We’re back to normal today.

No, I Will Not Agree To Disagree: The Prevalence of Platitudes in Disability Social Justice Discourse
Kim Sauder, crippledscholar - February 21, 2016

I am so glad Kim took on this subject, which is definitely something more than a linguistic pet peeve. I think she’s trying to grapple with the fact that, whether it’s a feature or a bug, there are distinct levels or degrees of difficult in disability discussions. Maybe spheres of disability discussion is a better term. I’ve said it before myself … Lots and lots of disabled people have very little experience and very low comfort discussing disability issues from a social / political perspective. I think in many cases, “Let’s agree to disagree” is a way of saying, “I don’t want to talk about his anymore. It makes me upset and I don’t want to be upset.” Respecting peoples’ upset-ness is a core value of disability culture, so I guess on one level we should respect this. On the other hand, I agree with Kim that its important to explore how to help more disabled people become more comfortable dealing with these difficult, meaty issues.

The Ruderman White Paper: Disability On Television
The Ruderman Family Foundation - July 13, 2016

Almost all disabled TV characters are played by able-bodied actors. Can we fix that?
Bethonie Butler, Washington Post - July 16, 2016

It’s great to see this issue get mainstream coverage … coverage that by and large is not treating it as a fringe topic, but something reasonable observers of popular culture really should take seriously. I also like that the report also includes recommendations on better disability storytelling and characterization. If you’re interested in disability on screen, I also recommend browsing the #FilmDis hashtag on Twitter, an ongoing discussion guided by Dominick Evans @dominickevans.

Workplaces Can Be Particularly Stressful For Disabled Americans, Poll Finds
Yukio Noguchi, National Public Radio - July 13, 2016

The word “stressful” carries a lot of stigma and skepticism these days. I think it has been trivialized enough, mostly unfairly, to make it useless in describing what it’s supposed to mean. In an article like this, about disabled people in the workplace, I take “stressful” to mean much more than the “ordinary” tension, pressure, and mental demands of having a job. What they’re talking about here is stress that’s orders of magnitude more intense, and coming from sources and in varieties that other workers simply don’t have to face. This is another disability issue that needs to be taken seriously, but sometimes isn’t. I really think that’s partly because an older orthodoxy of disability rights is that disabled people can do any work if given a chance … that we won’t have any problems, won’t be “high maintenance,” that we’re strong enough to handle any “stress.” The thing is, that is theoretically true of us as a group, but not true in the same way for every individual one of us. That’s a key distinction, but it can be hard to reconcile with “can-do” disability rhetoric.

Pokemon Go: Developers Drop the Pokeball on Accessibility
Erin Hawley, The Geekygimp - July 13, 2016

This is sort of the perfect example to explain accessibility, because I suspect there are at least a few people, like me, who recognize Pokemon only as the name of a fad from the 1990s … a fad we never did get around to figuring out at the time. So it perfectly illustrates that accessibility is important on principle, regardless of content. It doesn’t matter what thing is or isn’t accessible. To me, you could substitute “Pokemon” with “Didgeridoo” and it amounts to the same thing. The point is, it’s a thing people are doing, having fun with, but it isn’t accessible, and it probably could be. That’s really all you need to know. One more thought: How about, as you try to play Pokemon Go as best as you can, when you do run into barriers, switch apps to something like AXSmap, and enter the accessibility details of the place you are at?

20 Years On: Pride, Power, and Disability Culture
Steven Brown, Institute On Disability Culture - July 8, 2016

I used to be genuinely confused about what a thing called “Disability Culture” might possibly be. I think I thought it had something to do with amateur-written folk songs and bad poetry. Now I see it in a completely different way. It is, in fact, one of the key ideas that helps me conceptualize the way I think about disability. “Disability Community” doesn’t work for me, because I don’t think we are unified enough. But “Disability Culture,” like “Disability Activism” describes the real, identifiable communities I feel I’m a part of, that this blog is a part of, and all the blogs, vlogs, and podcasts I follow. This is a great look back at the progress of Disability Culture.