Archive for March 2008
If anyone reading this is in a wheelchair and grew up on a farm, I’d like to read your thoughts on the subject. Please comment.
Recently my wife and I visited my parents and somehow my parents got talking about how when they were first starting out as man and wife, my dad was thinking of becoming a farmer. He and my mom both grew up on farms. My dad did not however, become a farmer himself, so I grew up a smalltown boy, and I am thankful.
Because I am in a wheelchair, I couldn’t help but try to imagine what my life would have been like, had I grown up on a farm. All of the farm kids I ever met were out in the field or the barn with their parents doing chores from the time they were in diapers practically. For me, I am sure my dad could have found some job for me in the barn, but the field, I don’t know.
I know that I could have contributed a lot to the work that needed to be done in the house, just as I did as a town kid. But I feel like it would have felt wrong, as a boy, staying in the house while my brother went out to the field with my dad to do what is often considered to be the “men’s work” on the farm. I never felt that kind of disconnection as a townie.
As a townie, my siblings and I always had options on how we wanted to spend our time, after our small house chores were done, and our parents encouraged us to go into a career of our choice. But the farm kids we knew seemed to have been expected to do a larger share of the manual labor, and many took up a plot of land themselves when they left school. I don’t think it is forced upon them by any means, but it is a way of life that becomes so ingrained, I would imagine for some it is just the logical path.
My main question is “would I have felt as useful, would I have grown up feeling like a contributing member of my family and society had I grown up on a farm?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am sure that farmers are every bit as nurturing of their children’s dreams and talents. And I am sure, had my parents gone into farming, it wouldn’t have changed them as parents. But I am sure the atmosphere would have affected my personality drastically. That is why I am thankful I grew up a small town boy.
I have said before that I am in a wheelchair and I am capable of driving but I do not have a license. I have to consider that my own choice. Therefore, I know the options I have if I am unhappy with public accesible transportation. However, I do pay for this service, and as such I feel I have every right to complain when the service is not up to par.
The service I use is a city-funded company. What this means is that the company is going to get funding no matter how they perform. No matter how many people abandon them because of poor service, they will get funding.
Most cities have a mixture of city funded and independent accessible transport companies, and my city is no exception. The problem is that the independent companies can charge a much higher price. True, they will work harder to do right by their clientele, but they will charge up to $50 for a ride (literally). Meanwhile the city-funded companies will hire anyone who can answer a phone to take down reservations, and when they get it wrong and you call in to complain, the answer you recieve is something like “What do you want for a $2 ride?”
Granted, this is about the same price as the regular city bus, so that’s great when they get it right, but if you miss work because of the inadequate employees they hire, it would not matter if it cost 2 cents!
Is this a nationwide problem with handi-transit? I would like to hear other people’s opinions on the problem and how it could be fixed.
David Paterson will take office Monday as the Governor of New York after the resignation of Eliot Spitzer. Legally blind since infancy, Paterson will be the first disabled Governor in New York since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the History of the U.S., there have only been two blind senators, and one blind congressman.
It is noteworthy that in this story, the author contends that Paterson’s becoming Governor is an inspiration to the blind, an example of what they can accomplish, and then he goes on to say of Maricar Marquez, a Helen Keller Center employee, that Marquez “is deaf and blind and communicates with the aid of two interpreters, but still manages to work as an instructor at the Helen Keller center.” The bold italics was added by me, for emphasis. Even in a story about a great moments for a disabled person, there has to be a patronizing statement like that. Unbelievable.
Paterson may not prove to be the greatest governor in U.S. history, and he should not be expected to perform twice as well to prove his equality to others. Nor should it be deemed “good enough” if he performs almost as well, just because he is blind. I would urge the people of New York to judge him on the same standards as you judged past governors.
Sorry to burst the bubble, people, but “People With Disabilities” is the same as saying “Disabled People”. The only difference is that it takes longer to say. And saying “PWD” doesn’t help. We are still disabled. All we did was take the long version of a phrase, and re-shorten it. And all people on the planet are disabled in some way, obvious or not.
I am disabled, and I have been on the Disaboom.com forums a lot lately, and it took me days to figure out what people meant when they said PWD. Does that just mean I am disconnected from other PWDs? True, I don’t know too many other people in wheelchairs (PIW). So, maybe.
And while I am here, it is “disabled”, not “disABLED.” Come on people. You don’t see people running around saying they are “nearSIGHTED” do you? No.
The “second step” in the title of this posting refers back to my posting from yesterday. And I just want to say again, “This is what I have been looking for!” Sort of… Let me explain.
I don’t really like reality shows, or real-life-situation game shows, or whatever you want to call them. But one caught my eye because I thought it was about giving rather than winning. It even has “Give” in the title. “Oprah’s Big Give.” Sounded like a nice idea. I will not incur the wrath of Opraholics by repeating the usual criticisms of the show, which you can easily find by typing it’s title into Google.
But I am already put off to find out that it is, or will be, in the end, just like any other “Amazing Race” knockoff, in that the winner will recieve $10,000. The contestants don’t know that, but I have a feeling that they have a hunch that there is some prize involved. Ruins it for me. But I decided to keep watching.
Carlana Stone may not have come up with the greatest, most inventive ideas on the program, but she has worked hard, and she is one of the most exuberant people on the show. And I like to see someone in a wheelchair being recognized as a giver, and not the recipient of a charity. Often you’ll see able-bodied people playing for money to go to some charity like the Courage Center to benefit the “less fortunate” people in a wheelchair.
Carlana Stone is clearly not one of those “less fortunate” people. I don’t see any talk about how “this is going to be hard because I am in a wheelchair.”
Now if we could only get someone in a chair out there on Survivor. I’ve been working out a little, so maybe…
I think I can speak for most people in wheelchairs by saying that it is a bit bothersome when, in a social situation, when you are trying to have an intelligent exchange with other adults, and a kid comes up and asks “Can you pop a wheelie?” But sometimes you’ve just gotta play the game, so you do it. The kid thinks you are the coolest thing since freezer burn. It makes the kid happy. You gain a desciple. No big deal.
But then they want to push you. And when they do, they sometimes insist on making vroom-VROOM! noises. It’s worse when it is an adult instead of a kid.
I am NOT a toy.
I am speaking for myself now. The only time, for me, that it is acceptable for someone to come and push me around is when it is a baby. A baby who hasn’t even learned how to talk yet – doesn’t know anything about the world except “I cry, I get food” or “I cry, I get my diaper changed.” All they have to work with is empirical knowledge, and they don’t know what you are and they are curious. I don’t intend to get wishy-washy here, but there is nothing more beautiful than the curiosity of a baby.
So if a baby wants to come up to my chair, grab a fistful of foot-rest, lick the tires, whatever, it’s cool. They are learning. They’ll learn a lot, depending on what I just rolled through before they lick the tires! (Just kidding, parents, I am careful about that kind of stuff).
It is different though, when the kid gets to be a certain age, when they can understand perfectly well when I, or their parents, ask them not to push me (hopefully their parents will know enough to intercede.)
Let me be perfectly clear on something though. As I have said before, questions are fine! Again I am just speaking for myself here, but to anyone in a wheelchair who might get offended or frustrated at a child’s questions, let me remind you that they are learning from this!
But please. No more vroom-VROOM!
(I am very interested to hear from anyone in a wheelchair who agrees or disagrees with any part of this, or from anyone who is not in a chair who is curious about why I feel this way)
I struggled with whether I should even point this out, but this ad for Liberty Mutual Insurance is exactly what I was talking about in this posting when I talked about how I wanted to see disabled people on TV but that I wanted them to “just be there”.
It’s not that I demand equal representation for people in wheelchairs because I realize that people in chairs do not make up the same percentage of the population as non-wheelchair users. It’s just that when a person in a wheelchair shows up in a TV show or ad, I would like to see them just being…just living. Not being made an inspirational example of overcoming great odds. And that is why I struggled with whether to post this, because this should be an every-day TV ad, and it will be soon, I am sure.
True, this ad does show the woman getting out regardless of her disability, despite barriers that might otherwise get in her way, and that is fine. But even better, the ad is not about her disability at all. It is just pointing out how some people “make the right decision”, in this case buying Liberty’s insurance, but also making the decision to vote, which is the best part about the ad.
I hope we Americans go to the polls in record numbers this year, but I am happy to see that Liberty Mutual has taken the time to implore the disabled to do so, in a roundabout way. Because I have read that Democratic candidates know that the disabled statistically vote Democrat so they don’t bother reaching out to them, and I have read that Republicans know that so they don’t bother reaching out to them either. This is a generalization, I know, but it is enough reason for me to make sure my voice is heard.
Did you know there is a Patron Saint of the disabled? There is. In fact there are several. The BBC “Ouch!” weblog has just today posted a story about the Disabled Patron Saints, however, it fails to mention Seraphina.
The feast of St. Seraphina is coming up next week, March 12. So I wanted to post this so you would all have ample time to plan your feast, and go out shopping to get everything you’ll need for your big Patron Saint of the Disabled Day Party!
How would one celebrate such a day? I mean St.Valentine’s Day is celebrated with sincere expressions of our undying love for our significant others, as Valentine is the saint of romance. But St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by reinforcing an Irish stereotype, drinking! So how do we celebrate on March 12th? Any ideas?
But going back to St. Valentine briefly, did you know that he is also the Patron Saint of Epilepsy? He is. That makes a lot of sense, when you think about it.
Fun Facts: There is a Patron Saint of the fear of mice, and a Patron Saint of mad dogs. (Source: The List Universe). There is also a Patron Saint for “Those Wrongly Accused of Cannibalism” as you will see if you follow the “OUCH!” link at the top of this story.
Lame is another word that was perfectly acceptable a while back in reference to the physically handicapped. If your legs didn’t work, you were lame. This one is not as good as another word that I blogged about, “Cripple“, because the word “lame” is so universally abused at present time to refer to anything that is impotent, uncool, out of style. Music from a bygone generation is lame. A movie that does not provide the action, explosions and excitement that the preview promised is lame. And, many subcultures that you will find within the hallowed halls of many high schools…the nerds, the trekkies…etc…all lame.
Why? Because their substance foregoes aesthetics?
Maybe, but remember, it used to be that the kids that messed around with computers during the summer while all the cool people were out being cool, were lame. Now they are cutting edge. What once was lame is now the upper crust.
That is the way I see things for the disabled community. Years ago, long before my time, disabled people were cast aside without a second look. But we are the 21st Century Lame, and the world is ours. All we have to do is stake our claim in it.
Here is a long-lost snapshot of Helen Keller, with her teacher Anne Sullivan, discovered earlier this week. The photo has rarely been seen by the general public since it was taken in 1888. It has only been published twice since.
Not only does this photo depict the beginning stages of a 50-year friendship between Keller and Sullivan, it shows Keller holding the object with which Sullivan would teach the blind and deaf girl to spell out her first word, “doll”. This could very well be considered Keller’s first step toward becoming an author, humanitarian, and advocate for the blind and deaf.