Top Ten Posts of 2016

Three D perspective illustration of big red and white letters reading Top 10

Inspired by a New Year’s Eve Top Ten post by fellow disability blogger Vilissa Thompson, here are the Top Ten posts of 2016 here at Disability Thinking:

10. Three Threats To Disabled People Today
July 6, 2016

9. Independence Day
July 4, 2016

8. What's The Problem?
September 27, 2016

7. I Used To Think ...
August 16, 2016

6. Looking Ahead To The 2016 Paralympics
July 5, 2016

5. Growth Attenuation
March 25, 2016

4. Disputing "Ableism"
January 22, 2016

3. #CripTheVote: Notes On "Crip"
March 29, 2016

2. Weekly Reading List, March 28
March 28, 2016

1. Disability Etiquette In 3 Questions
August 6, 2016

Disability Blogger Link-Up - Post Your Favorite Disability Sites

The word Blog surrounded by word cloud

I have decided to offer another Disability Blogger Linkup this weekend, even though we just had one last week and I normally post them every

two

weeks. As always, you can post anything you like, as long as its related to disability.

However, this time around I’m asking everyone to consider posting links to your favorite disability-related

websites

,

blogs

,

podcasts

, and

video blog

sites. What disability-related stuff do you read, listen to, or watch on a regular basis? Share it with the community!

Important note:

To make the links easier to identify, in the “Your name” blank, type the

title of the article or the name of website

. In the "Your URL" blank, paste the whole website address of the item you are posting.

Then click the "Enter" button. That's it!

Have fun posting and reading! This Link-Up will close at Midnight Eastern on Sunday. Look for the next regular Disability Blogger Link-Up Friday, June 12, 2015.

Friday Favorites


I like this blog, by an Australian disability blogger, because while her general orientation in the disability world is similar to mine, she is also very good at presenting thoughtful arguments for positions I don’t agree with. For instance, she made one of the most persuasive arguments I have ever read for why it might be okay to support both inclusive education and “separate schools”. Often, people who blog their “contrary” opinions do so in a deliberate attempt to be provocative, to be mavericks. “She Types Things” really believes what she says she believes, so her arguments are strong, but not aggressive or smug.


This is simply a very well-written blog that I have just recently started reading. I added it to my Disability Blogs list after reading a beautiful piece on CP Awareness Day. It made me think in a new way about some of my own disability-related quirks. Anyone who can show me an unfamiliar perspective on disability is someone I’m going to follow.


This is as close to the kind of disability website I would like to create as I have ever seen up and running. It looks great. It is updated often. It covers a wide range of disability issues and perspectives. It’s run by a small but diverse team. Its overall tone is more or less in line with my thinking about disability. It combines personal blog-type articles with more objective news and feature stories. It has an easy to locate and explicitly defined mission, so there’s no sense of mystery about what the site is actually about. And its execution and scale seem to be in line with its ambitions. In other words, the Disability Horizons team seems to have set a reasonable goal and they are achieving it. I have seen several other “full featured” disability websites, (as distinct from more narrow, personal blogs), and too many of them either fall well short of too-ambitious goals, or are a little confusing, because they seem like they are semi-secretly affiliated with some vague sort of business venture that may or may not match up with the website’s topic and tone. The only slight drawback is that Disability Horizons is based in the United Kingdom, and is generally oriented to British disability issues. Still, that’s good I suppose, since it means there’s still room for something like this here in the US.

Friday Favorites


Love That Max is the first "Special Needs Blog" focused on parents of kids with disabilities I really liked. During the week, the blogger, Ellen Seidman, generally does one post per day about her son Max, an 11 year old boy with Cerebral Palsy. Her posts are personal, funny, and refreshingly light. Even when she talks about difficult, painful, or weighty situations, she does so mostly without drama and extra layers of significance. She never sentimentalizes Max, which I like to think is an example to other parents. I can read pretty much anything Ellen writes without feeling weird as an adult with disabilities who used to be a disabled child ... something I can't say with a lot of other parent bloggers. Honestly though, the best thing about Love That Max is the "Weekend Blogger Link-Ups". Every weekend, guests can post links to any blog posts or web pages they want. This results in collections of disability-related blog posts, articles, videos, and the like. Most of them are parent-centered, but a good few are always on a broader array of disability topics. I post there pretty much every week, and some of my most interesting comments have been left by parents who read Love That Max. The Weekend Link-Ups make Love That Max a richer, more diverse blog, and a great place to visit if you have any interest in disability issues ... whether you are a parent or a person with a disability.


I can’t deny the nostalgia appeal of this blog, which is by a young woman with Cerebral Palsy who has just started college away from home. Nostalgia isn’t always pleasant, and the blogger here has ups and downs. What I find particularly striking is reading about her reactions to situations that at first seem pretty simple and not so terrible to me, but then remembering how I would have felt about them when I was 20 or so. Not that she’s fragile. The flip side is that she occasionally goes through trials that would crush me even today, and while they clearly affect her, I can sense that in some regards, giving up is not only an option for her, it’s not even something that occurs to her. This is what I think non-disabled people praise as “bravery” or “perseverance”. I suppose technically it is, we disabled people don’t shrink from those praises just to be humble. We tend to think it’s inaccurate to call us “brave” when we literally did not perceive any alternative. “Stubbornness” and “denial” might be more accurate, and they aren’t always insults. These qualities can work for us in the long run, as I think they do for the Transcending CP blogger. In any case, it’s fun to follow her progress.


If you have ever complained about the lack of visibly disabled people on television, but haven’t watched “My Gimpy Life”, what’s wrong with you? Okay, so it isn’t technically a TV show … it’s a web series. But, the 9 episodes so far of this comedy series created by and starring wheelchair using actress Teal Sherer do I think provide a sort of prototype or preliminary sketch for what truly satirical, edgy, risk-taking comedy show about disabled characters might look like. I emphasize the satire, edginess, and risk-taking only to differentiate from disabled characters in a more traditional, broad-appeal sitcom, like “The Michael J. Fox Show”. I have nothing against “safe” sitcoms, but since they are an endangered species, I don’t think they make good shovels for breaking new ground in disability-themed popular culture. It is way too tempting in a series that relies on the tried-and-true to depict disability according to old, moldy narratives. “My Gimpy Life” is a bit rough, but it demonstrates that there are hundreds of legitimate disability-based story and character ideas just waiting to be employed. My favorite aspect of the show is the friend / rival relationship between Teal the wheelchair user and “Teal Too”, the little person … both aspiring actresses who subtly struggle with the fact that with disabled character parts extremely rare in Hollywood as it is, two young, blonde, disabled women named Teal can’t avoid competing with each other. I also love Teal’s roommate, introduced in the Second Season. He isn’t disabled, and his comedy has nothing to do with disability, which proves a disability show doesn’t have to be 100% about disability. If you haven’t seen “My Gimpy Life”, just go watch it. If you have seen it already, go watch it again. It won’t take you long.

Friday Favorites


The Lego Leg video got me. This wasn’t Christina’s first video, but it is the one that went viral for awhile last year and drew a lot of peoples’ attention to her YouTube Channel.



Christina, “The Amputee OT” posts one video every week. Most of them fit one of three main themes:

1. Information on amputation and how prosthetic limbs work:



2. Demonstrations of how amputees do everyday things:



3. Cool or funny videos that reflect Christina’s personality. The “Lego Leg” video is obviously one of these, but here’s another of my favorites:



Christina recently passed the one year mark from her amputation. And although she may never produce new videos as compelling as the ones she did right around the time of her amputation, most of her videos are still interesting and entertaining. Ultimately, what makes these videos stand out from the scores of “vlogs” by other disabled people is that Christina is both an amputee, and an Occupational Therapist. She can talk about disability from “both sides” so to speak. Plus, she does have a great sense of humor, and a cheerful but matter-of-fact approach to her disability. She also seems to have become a sort of mentor to other amputees, which is great to see.


Is it empowerment or titilation? Maybe it's a little of both?

For me, the photos posted at Disabled People Are Sexy are mostly empowerment … even therapy. It is one of a handful of disability sites that have finally  changed how I view disabled bodies, including my own. To put it bluntly, I have looked at photos of disabled people with bodies as oddly shaped as mine, and found beautiful. That has changed how I view myself. I’m not all fixed in that regard, but having spent most of my adult life at “square one” so to speak, any progress feels like kind of a miracle.


The genius of this recipe collection for disabled people is that in addition to the usual measures and steps, each recipe includes information on how long it takes to prepare, the kinds of physical actions required, and how much stamina it takes. It also describes the tastes and textures of the finished product, for people who have different sensory needs. I hope this Tumblr blog expands someday into a full-blown reference website, but for now, browsing the recipes is helpful and enjoyable enough.


This is a great website to visit if you want to know more about issues in the news, not about the politicians who are for or against various policies, but about the pros, cons, and probable effects of the policies themselves. Their coverage of the Affordable Care Act, (Obamacare), has been outstanding, and I have learned a whole lot about basic economic theories since I started visiting the site regularly. That, in turn, helps me understand certain aspects of disability policy.

There is one possible problem. Several of Wonkblog’s most prominent journalists, including founder and director Ezra Klein, have left the Post and are staring their own website with a mission similar to Wonkblog’s. The new site is called Vox, and it isn’t fully started yet. But if you visit, you can see some pretty nice presentations explaining what the founders hope Vox will do. So my recommendation is that if you are a policy wonk, or want to be one, bookmark Wonkblog and Vox.

Friday Favorites

I’m starting a new thing. Every Friday I will highlight three of my favorite disability-related websites. Occasionally, like today, I will add a bonus site that isn't about disabilities, but that might be useful to disabled people.


I first read columns by Mike Ervin in New Mobility Magazine, back in the early ‘90s, when I was a shiny new employee at a Center for Independent Living. I had always admired columnists, especially funny ones, and it meant a lot to me then to see a columnist with a disability who took disability as his main topic. I lost track of him after a few years, and then I read a blog post by Roger Ebert, in which he raved about this hilarious disability blogger calling himself “Smart Ass Cripple”. I visited the blog right away, and read several posts, one after the other. I laughed a lot, and also thought I noticed a familiar theme or two. What finally really tipped me off was his reference to his Alma Mater, the “Sam Houston Institute for Technology”, (SHIT), which is what he called the institutional care facility he lived in during his youth. After exploring the nooks and crannies of the blog, I finally discovered that yes, Smart Ass Cripple = Mike Ervin. Nice to see you again!

Smart Ass Cripple isn’t the only disability blogger with my kind of dark sense of humor. What makes him better than most is that most of his posts have not one, not two, but at least THREE layers of meaning. His stories are deceptively simple, his jokes sometimes corny. But soon you notice the meaning under the surface. Then, after maybe reading it again, or perhaps a half hour afterwards, you realize that he’s made a third, quite radical and often serious point. We all should be reading Smart Ass Cripple, and remember … think about it while you laugh, and let the deeper meanings sink in.


This is one of the very first Tumblr blogs I subscribed to, mainly on the strength of a series of ultra-short, Twitter-style statements about the perils and pitfalls of life in a wheelchair … “Wheelchair Problems”. These were presented with large, plain font lettering, centered in solid color boxes in a variety of primary colors. It was a very simple, very effective series and a great way to structure a disability blog. After awhile I started seeing fewer of these “Wheelchair Problems” boxes, and more diary-type blogging … still very short and sweet … about the blogger’s everyday life comings and goings. She started posting photos of herself, confirming that she is a fairly young woman who uses a manual wheelchair. I had guessed that, due to the tone and style of her writing. It’s not that her writing was poor or immature … far from it. It's just that she sounded like a smart, observant teenager, perceptive in some ways, but inexperienced in life. Soon, she started a lot about getting ready to leave home for college. Since then, most of her posts have been about this new adventure, told in little snippets of her daily life, with stories about her small victories and frustrations not just wheelchair-related, but of all kinds. She’s also got a great Twitter feed that you need to follow as well (@forrestgimpp).

I read Wheelchair Problems because for her casual, personal writing style, which says a whole hell of a lot while only rarely saying anything “important” in and of itself. I also read her because it reminds me of when I was first going to college, so her writing makes me feel a bit old and a bit young at the same time.


Think Inclusive is my newest favorite disability website. It isn’t an individual blog, but more like a news or magazine type website. It is run by a Tim Villegas, a Special Education teacher who is committed to “Inclusive” education. I have only sampled a small portion of the articles on this website, but it is crystal clear that it has a very progressive, student-centered, and disability-positive point of view. While there are certainly pros and cons to how divisive the disability world is becoming, especially concerning kids with disabilities and their education, the divisions are real and have meaning, and it is great to see a site geared towards other “professionals” that clearly takes sides … and the side I would choose. At the same time, there’s no “anti” flavor to the site. There are ideas and even groups the site’s contributors oppose, but what we read about most is what they believe in, and take the time to back up with real-life evidence and perceptive, compassionate writing.

I am interested in all sorts of disability issues, but I have a particular passion for how children and youth with disabilities fare in school and in their families. I feel like in “Think Inclusive” I have found a place where I can trust the motives, and learn more about a disability topic I care about.

Bonus: How To Adult

This is a fairly new YouTube series, with only 3 episodes so far, but I think it’s going to be a winner. The title is pretty much all you need to understand the premise. It is an informational series for young adults, soon-to-be adults, and anyone who missed out on any the stuff adults are supposed learn about. It is for people of any age, but from the tone and style, I’d say the main audience is supposed to be “young people”. In fact, if the presenters aren’t careful, they could overdo the slang, quick cutting, and pop culture references. I’m pretty far removed from youth culture myself, but several times I wondered if the presenters might even be a few years out of date in their style. Still, it’s a great idea, and I look forward to seeing more videos.

How To Adult isn’t about disability, but I think disabled people need this kind of thing more often than most. Many of us, particularly those of us who grew up with disabilities from childhood, overlooked these practical little skills while we struggled with “more important things”. We might have done wonders to graduate from high school or college, assemble a support network, and piece together resources to achieve independence, but then find that we don’t know how to wash our clothes properly, or how to introduce ourselves to a neighbor. How To Adult may offer us another painless way to learn the stuff we should already know.

More favorites next Friday!