Illustration of a cell phone camera lens

Two Thirds Of The Planet and the Disability Visibility Project are doing a participatory photo project this year called #365dayswithdisability. The idea is for people with disabilities to take photos of their everyday lives and post them using Instagram, with the #365dayswithdisability hashtag. At some point, they will all be displayed on the Two Thirds Of A Planet website.

I’m going to try to participate throughout the year. It’ll be an interesting exercise for me, because I’ve never gotten into the habit of taking photos, even despite years of owning a succession of iPhones. As for selfies … well, I feel like it’s a generational thing, and I sit right in the gap between selfie ubiquity and selfie hate. I think I understand the deeper layers of meaning selfies have for at least some of people who do them a lot, but personally, I can’t think of anything less exciting or meaningful for myself than taking photos of my own face. I’ll probably give it a try as part of this project, but I expect most of my photos will be of things I see in my everyday life. I’ll also probably stick to photos with some relation to disability … not just pictures my morning cup of tea or noontime tuna fish sandwiches.

Here is my first installment, from January 1, 2016:

Wake up view. #365dayswithdisability

A photo posted by Andrew Pulrang (@apulrang) on

This is the ventilator I use at night. The end of that hose attaches to the tracheostomy tube in my neck, and the machine breathes for me while I sleep. I don’t use it during the day, unless I’m sick or taking a nap. However, it is basically the kind of ventilator people use who use them 24/7, and crucially, the same kind of ventilator people are talking about when they speculate that they’d never want to live life “attached to a bunch of tubes.” I try not to make pronouncements about others peoples’ lives and decisions based on my own, but since I kind of love my ventilator, I’ll probably have more to say about “living on machines,” “pulling the plug,” and related matters.

My #365dayswithdisability photos will be posted on my Facebook Page, Instagram account, and here on the blog.

Memorial Day

Black and white photo of three men with disabilities, two in wheelchairs two missing arms,
National Public Radio

Memorial Day seems like a good occasion to think about the role of disabled military veterans not only in serving our country in war, but also in shaping the history of disability.

The First World War was one of the first wars to produce massive numbers of severely wounded soldiers who did not die soon afterwards. This coincided with other aspects of modernity, such as progressivism, which legitimized government action to address social problems, the professionalization of medicine and other related fields, which started to standardize care and weed out quackery, and advances in consumer technology, which enabled industry to meet newly identified needs more quickly than at any other time in history.

As this part of the NPR series points out, disabled veterans were still treated with condescension and pity, but at the time that was an improvement over how most disabled people had been perceived. As people started to think better of disabled veterans, it must have helped get people used to the idea that disability itself wasn’t the personal tragedy or societal threat it once seemed to be.


Notable Tweets

I found these in my notes from last week. I saved them because together they explain why "Inspiration Porn" is bad. It's not just because it implies most disabled people are pathetic. The real problem is that by highlighting personal virtue, Inspiration Porn distracts from the unjust and entirely changeable situations that make such virtue necessary. Recognizing this takes nothing away from the individuals being virtuous by the way. In the absence of justice, a bit of one-on-one kindness and sacrifice is better than nothing. But let's not mistake them for solutions.