Weekly Reading List

Illustration of two shelves of multicolored books

Disability reading from last week …

Six conditions that are ‘as bad as or worse than death’
Adam Boult, The Telegraph, UK - August 6, 2016

It’s probably tempting for those of us familiar with disability to condemn this study, on the premise that even asking which disabilities are “worse than death” is, by definition, offensive and harmful. However, I think it’s useful to measure the exact shape and extent of this kind of deadly ableism. At least the study’s authors acknowledge the problem: “… researchers noted that, as none of the patients had experienced the conditions described in the survey, they may have misjudged how they would feel in such circumstances.” That’s putting it mildly. I also think it’s worth noting that “living in a nursing home” is also considered “worse than death,” which I would hope gives long term care policy-makers some appropriate pause. I wonder how that figure compares with “needing everyday paid care assistance in your own home?”

Victims of Sagamihara massacre at disabled facility are forever nameless
Philip Brasor, The Japan Times - August 6, 2016

There was quite a lot of debate last week about whether what to make of the fact that parents of the disabled people murdered by a former caregiver at a facility in Japan have decided not to let the victims’ names be released. We want to respect families’ wishes in these matters. At the same time, keeping the victims anonymous blunts the impact their deaths should have on the public consciousness, and in a way, robs them again of their inherent dignity and personhood. There’s no getting around cultural differences here, too. Is disability really that much more stigmatized in Japan than it is in “The West?” If so, should we condemn that, offer a different cultural understanding of disability, or leave it be? These are thorny issues, but either way, it hurts not to know their names or anything about them.

Scott Silveri's 'Speechless' is more than 'the disability show'
Chris Barton, LA Times - August 4, 2016

Based on this report of a Television Critics Association summer press tour panel, the creators and actors of “Speechless” know what they’re doing and are on the right track to make a really good show featuring a significantly disabled character. I’d like to know more about what Mica Fowler plans to bring to his performance as a disabled actor portraying a character with a very similar disability. I also wish Chris Barton didn’t feel it necessary to say “special needs” instead of “disability” in his article. Still, I am hopeful this new show will succeed when it premieres in the Fall.

Harry Potter and the Inaccessible Book
Karen Hitselberger, Claiming Crip - August 1, 2016

Equal access is important … essential really … irrespective of the nature of the thing that is or isn’t accessible. Karen does a great job of arguing why Harry Potter books, in particular, are so meaningful for disabled people, but there’s no need to justify the demand for an audiobook edition. If it’s offered to the public at a fair price, it should be available to the public in accessible formats, including audio, at a fair price. Banks, post offices, and schools must be accessible. So must movie theaters, fast food joints selling unhealthy food, and dive bars and strip clubs, too. It’s a pretty simple principle.

Jobs Report Offers Mixed Message On Disability Employment
Shaun Heasley, Disability Scoop - August 5, 2016

As the article crucially points out, it’s going to be awhile before we are able to track and fully understand employment / unemployment figures for Americans with disabilities. For one thing, most people I think are still confused about the difference between the “unemployment rate” and the “participation rate,” and how the two figures relate. And we’ve just not been collecting comparable data for long enough yet. Still, we should probably note and remember that at some point in 2008, someone in the U.S. Labor Department decided it was important to collect this data. Small administrative changes like that can be easily overlooked, but have a real long-term effect. I wonder if there are other, similarly useful data collection measures we should be doing that we’re not?