May 4th, 2006

Cut cuddle and be Cute

Google Listened! How Cool Is That!

Some of you may remember that I wrote a while back asking you to sign a petition about
using Captcha which is where you to have to "Type the letters you see into the box below" or something similar. Well, as reported by
Blind Access Journal,
DC Night Out,
Blogger Buzz,
and many others (I thought I saw others, but I can't find them yet.),
All of Google's services now have an audio eequivelent available! How cool is that?

I'll tell you how cool; I just made a comment on a blog I never would have been able to comment on before! Thank you Google, thank you everyone who worked sso hard to get this to happen, and thank you to readers who signed the petition!

Cut cuddle and be Cute

Who's the president?

There's another controversy going on at Galaudet University, the only university designed completely for students who are deaf. It's an interesting discussion.

First, a little bit of background: In 1988, the board chose a president who was not deaf. The students protested and won and a deaf president was selected. In this case, I think the students were absolutely right; how can a college or university say "we believe in the power of (fill in your favorite minority here), but we still haven't had a president who fits that category."?

Now, I don't feel like I have the power to judge. I'm not there. I don't know the candidate. I only have a short news article. But a few questions are lingering in my mind this morning, so I'll reflect a bit.

First, I'm at a women's college. I wonder what had to happen for us to have a woman president? I should know this, but did we have one from the first day? If not, why not? Did students here have to organize or did it happen subtley? What would we do if we didn't like the president who was selected? How much of a right do we have to protest? When it's no longer a matter of discrimination, do we suck it up and deal with it? The following quote struck me, and I'm not sure how I feel about it:

Jordan told them this is not another Deaf President Now movement -- it's not a civil rights issue. A student said, "No, they didn't listen to us," just
as the board ignored student demands in 1988.

Jordan said: "Students were heard. They just didn't agree with you."

Like I said, i don't really have an opinion, just a lot of questions. Read the article, then, if you're willing, tell me what you think.
Ideas Exchanged as Protest Continues at Gallaudet (printer friendly, easier with a screen reader)
Cut cuddle and be Cute

More thoughts on Dis/Ablism in healthcare

I've already written about what can go wrong when a person with a disability sets foot in a medical establishment. When I wrote that, I mentioned that many other things can go wrong. I want to talk about why ablism doesn't get addressed in healthcare and show the ways in which it can be addressed.

I can't really speak for doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, but that's basically what I'm going to try to do. I read an article once that talked about more medical students with disabilities and the questions that have to be addressed such as reasonable accommodations etc. In that article, someone said something that eluded to the difficulties doctors sometimes have with "problems" they can't cure. Let's face it, our bodies aren't perfect. A doctor who can't stop the progress of an illness or who can't fix some type of "abnormality", is probably going to struggle with that. I think this can cause ablism, especially when many of us don't necessarily want to be cured of our disabilities. I can honestly say that I'm okay with blindness. I don't know if I would take an operation that could cure me. That's just me, though. If it's hard for the general population to accept this, why should it be any different? Why do we automatically assume that doctors are not humans? In short, one reason ablism exists in the medical community is that it exists in every other community.

So why don't we address ablism in healthcare? I know for myself, I am not the best self advocate when I have a pain level of nine out of ten. Quite frankly, I'm not going to start a constructive dialogue about anything, much less about ablism. At this point, I want either something to make me feel better or a chain saw. It's also not easy to address everything you need to in the time allotted for the appointment. Given the choice between, say, addressing pain issues and offering the doctor tips for improving access, I usually choose the former. That may not always be productive, but I have to address the main issue or I won't be good for anything later.

Finally, there's also the vast amount of information doctors, nurses and other professionals are bombarded with. Medical school/nursing school is very intense but I don't think it's possible to cover what a doctor will need to know for 40 years of practice in the period of eight years. If a doctor went to medical school in the 1970s, ablism wasn't even addressed then. It was addressed in movements such as that needed to get section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act signed and put into action, but I don't think access for those with disabilities was even on most people's radars. Combine that with the medical discomfort around disability, and I doubt many doctors got much information on barriers facing people with disabilities. This is all speculation, of course, because I'm not even smart enough to get into medical school.

There are definitely solutions available to help deal with ablism. I, as a patient, can respectfully make suggestions. This might take the form of telling the nurse who guides me back to the lobby about an unpleasant experience or even more important, a pleasant one. It's easy to complain, and constructive criticism is a very good thing. But if a doctor or nurse does something right and hears about it, that's even better. The receptionist may know who I should talk to to give feedback about my experience, or I can write a letter expressing my thoughts.

Consumer organizations and people who either have disabilities or work with those who do can also help. Some ideas that come to mind are collaborating with medical schools to help present guest lectures on the subject of disability, creating brochures or other materials to distribute to hospitals and doctors' offices. We can start dialogues. Patients with disabilities can start sharing their experiences and inviting medical professionals to learn from them, discuss and ask questions. Dialogue will be the most important part of this.

If we can start thinking about areas where disablism is present, bring them to the table for discussion and come up with solutions, we'll be in a much better place. It will help us now and more in the future as the baby boomer generation ages and deals with disability for the first time. I hope these two posts are not the last word of a conversation, but a springboard to start talking.
Read the first commentary on Ablism and healthcare