Archive for August 2008
Here is a story about the next big thing in technology for paraplegics who dream of one day walking. It is called the ReWalk, a robotic system worn on the legs allowing a paraplegic to stand upright and “walk”. The only thing about it that concerns me, and in fact turns me off, is the “humming”. It seems to me that this would make me feel more like RoboCop than a human being. It seems to me that I feel much more like a human being just being in a wheelchair.
Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that science is at least headed in the right direction on this one. Or that they are headed in any direction, for that matter. There will come a day…
But I still say I wouldn’t be interested. Even less interested than if someone came to me and offered a magical cure that would allow me to walk completely unaided. I say now that I would not be interested in such a miracle cure, but somewhere deep inside me, after seeing this invention, I am starting to doubt how steadfast I would be in that, if you want to know the honest truth.
Keep working on it, ladies and gentlemen. I salute you for your effort.
An organization in my hometown, called Arc Southeastern Minnesota has recently held it’s first annual Wheelchair Accessibility Awareness event. Basically what they did was they got a large number of people in wheelchairs, and their loved ones, to converge upon the city in groups to test the public establishments for accessibility. While putting them to the test, Arc was also driving home a point by having so many people in wheelchairs dropping by these establishments at one time:
Things MUST change!
The usual list of problems were found: those door-opener buttons taking forever to open in the first place in a lot of places, if they even have them. And have you ever pressed the elevator button, and then when it comes and you try to get in, the door closes on you? Yeah, that was another one of the key findings. Other problems discovered where narrow aisles and doorways, accessibility to restaurants and other every day establishments, and of course wheelchair accessible parking at these establishments.
Now its just a wait to see if their experiment made a difference in how the owners of the places they visited choose to run their businesses.
Do they want our business?
If they do they will make the changes necessary. Unfortunately most business owners will do the bare minimum required of them by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and even then they grumble about the cost. Maybe there needs to be a government subsidy for these businesses to make these changes, but I guarantee you the dollars spent by business owners to make the changes will be paid back in full by our dollars spent as their customers. There are more of us than they may imagine. They just don’t see us around much because getting into their buildings may be more trouble than it’s worth.
If you live in a town that you feel needs a little upgrade in accessibility in general, and you have a local disabled advocacy organization, please suggest conducting a similar experiment.
I have not seen the new Ben Stiller/Jack Black comedy “Tropic Thunder” but friends have been urging me to comment on the whole hub-bub the movie is creating over the word “retard”. Though I haven’t seen it, and though I am not a “retard”, I am in fact a “cripple”, I feel that the same basic principle applies to my situation. I feel that the people behind most of the “protests” of this movie are “non-disabled” people who are just full of righteous indignation. It looks good to protest things like this.
Further, I think people take things like the use of the word “retard” in a movie way too seriously. It is not directed at a single person is it? Well it is, actually but a movie character, and from what I understand, what is being attacked in this movie is actors who try to play “mentally handicapped” characters as if they really understood what it is like to be “mentally handicapped.”
Sure, movies like this may affect the way people see “mentally disadvantaged” people, or whatever the “correct” term is these days. But if you are worried about it, then make it your goal to show people who you really are before they get the chance to make that judgment on you. That is everybody’s mission in life, so its not just disabled people or any other minority who have an extra burden. It is everybody’s goal, one way or another, to put their best face forward. Damn a movie. Let’s make sure we are remembering that we don’t live in “Movieland”. We are people with individual personalities that do not fit into the mold of a stereotype. So, unless you actually do fit these stereotypes they shouldn’t bother you.
And lastly, I’ve said it before, but if we can’t say “retard” and we can’t say “cripple” then we can’t say “four-eyes”. This is a slippery slope, this issue of words we can’t use. Near-sightedness and far-sightedness is, in fact a disability so if we can’t make jokes about the mentally and physically disabled then there are a whole long list of other people we can’t make fun of. Think about it so I don’t have to present the list.
I saw this video on another person’s blog so I just linked to it because I think it is important to people to see this. Click the link and then play the video that comes onto the screen. I think it is telling of John McCain’s attitude toward the disabled and the issues we face. Listen carefully to what the woman in the video is asking and of course to McCain’s response.
The woman is asking McCain to support a bill giving disabled people more complete freedom of choice when it comes to public housing.
Surely I don’t expect him to say yes to everything he is asked, just so he looks good to as many people as possible, so I respect him for being honest. But he shot down the legislation the woman referred to, and then was not very specific about alternatives. Did not give the issue a lot of time. By “continue to upgrade the Americans with Disabilities Act” I just wonder, for whose benefit will these “upgrades” come?
I’ve been away from my blog for a little while. I’d like to say that the reason is that I am training for the paralympics, but alas, I have just been whiling away the dog days of summer. My wife works days and I work afternoon-night. So I find things to do, and I have put on a lot of miles doing it. It usually revolves around going to get lunch or snacks or drinks. I may not be training for the paralympics, but I know I’ve put on at least 28 miles in the last several weeks, the equivalent of a good old fashioned Olympic marathon.
So you’re probably thinking “What do you want, a medal?” and my answer is…well…yes.
Hey everybody, it’s me again, the backwards traveler, four-wheeled time-space rambler, back for another adventure. This time, the machine takes me to Australia, smack in the middle of the 19th century, smack in the middle of the colonization of “the land down under.”
It is a common misconception that the British colony of Australia was conceived as a prison farm for mentally unstable criminals. The fact is that when Australia was first colonized toward the end of 1836, the Crown asked for able bodied young people intended to build the colony. Though they got a fairly good crop of laborers, they also got the elderly, the ill and the mentally and physically disabled. And the government would not take responsibility of them.
By the time of this adventure, accommodation for all of these people was a disaster. The handicapped were crammed into huts all over the colony center. As soon as I got my chair out of the time machine, and began my stroll through the village, I was arrested and taken to the “ward” where I was greeted by about 200 other disabled people. No windows, hidden away from society proper. Living in squalor, in close quarters. Disease was rampant. Mentally ill people were intermixed with the elderly and the physically handicapped, and the deaf and the blind, adults and children.
I stayed there for several weeks, trying to devise a way to “escape”. During this time we were visited by clergymen, political figures and other people of good intentions. This was the only time I got a decent meal. It was then that I met a family that offered to take me in. As soon as they got me out of there, I told them I had family that should be taking care of me, as was the official colonial policy on disabled people. No public assistance here. I asked my saviors to provide me with transportation to where I knew I’d left the time machine with hand controls, and as soon as they left me there, I bolted back to good ol’ 2008.
“a blog about nothing”
“rambling, incoherent fluff”
We’ve all seen them. They are taking over the blogosphere. Self-deprecating blogs written by bloggers who attempt to set themselves apart from the pack by insisting, right out in the open, in the title of their blog that they have nothing to say.
Unfortunately I think the whole mad cycle begins with WordPress itself. If you are a WordPress blogger you will remember that when you started your blog, before you gave it a proper title, the subtitle read “Just Another WordPress Weblog”, something like that. Some people have chosen to keep that sub-heading. Generic, lifeless, non-committal. Bloggers may start their blog with high hopes of putting on display their original opinions, concepts, and points of view, only to quickly find that they are just one of millions. And it quickly turns them negative. Why?
I mean, sure, we aren’t necessarily aspiring toward professional journalism here, but at least the goal should be credibility. Or at least to have a concrete point. This is not to say that these people actually are without a point or lack “something to say”. But these titles do not help convey that. Not at all.
God knows I am as self-defacing as the next guy in my everyday dealings with family, friends, etc. But this… I’ll give you an even better example. I saw a blog posting one time with the title “Don’t Even Bother Reading This.” You know what I did? I didn’t read it.
It reminds me of the “negative campaigns” that U.S. Presidential candidates are often accused of running against each other. Only in this case, bloggers are using these smear tactics against themselves. If you are going to do it, I say why not do it to smear your competition? To bring into question the credibility of a blogger who runs a blog similar to yours?
For example, on this blog, I usually discuss a wide variety of disabilities, usually focusing on issues regarding those of us in wheelchairs. So, suppose I decided to run my smear campaign against “Disabilities Blog X”. In that case, I might say “Disabilities Blog X: They haven’t got a leg to stand on.”
It would take something much better than that, I am sure, but you get the idea. And, no, that slogan would not be self-deprecating just because I am in a wheelchair myself. I am merely using what I know about my competition and spinning it to my advantage.
How about “Disabilities Blog Y: At Least It’s Not Mindless Rambling Rubbish Like Disabilities Blog X.”
Well now that I’ve shown you the way, stop smearing yourselves, and get out there in the blogosphere and play to win! And, you know, don’t go making any enemies, for God’s sake, but set yourself apart from the rest