Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Keep dying hard -- we're Not Dead Yet.

UPDATE: Well, I wrote too presumptively. In fact, this symposium does include at least one voice from the disability community. Adrienne Asch, a formidible scholar and student of disability issues, is included in the lineup. Still, it is difficult to see this event as negative from a disability perspective.

Talk about a stacked deck. Let’s get together to figure out ways to make it easier for people in America to die (read: kill off burdensome people, especially relatives who complicate our lives). So the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, run by the notorious and disability-phobic Dr. Arthur Caplan, having a symposium, oops, I mean a special symposium: The Legacy of the Terri Schiavo Case: Why is it so hard to die in America? From the Press Release: “The two-day symposium is designed to encourage a national dialogue about the future of end-of-life issues -- including lessons learned, challenges that remain, and ways these types of issues should be handled moving forward. Hosted by Dr. Arthur Caplan, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and director of the Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania. Symposium speakers include: Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo's former husband; Circuit Judge George W. Greer, Schiavo case judge; Julia Duane Quinlan, mother of Karen Ann Quinlan; Mary J. Labyak, program director, The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, hospice where Terri Schiavo died; Jay Wolfson, Dr.P.H., J.D., Terri Schiavo's court-appointed guardian; Robert Bazell, chief science and health Correspondent, NBC News.” Not surprisingly, nobody from the disability rights side is included to present other perspectives.
The death-fest will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this coming Sunday, April 30 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Auditorium and Lobby, Biomedical Research Building II/III, 421 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
The gig is to mark the 10th anniversary of the Center for Bioethics. I think I’d rather attend Not Dead Yet’s 10th anniversary fete (see item below).

Will 'Robotic Legs' knock the wheels off your chair?

Uh-oh! Better watch out Ibot. “Robotic legs” may be marching this way from Japan. Atsuo Takanishi, a researcher in Tokyo has created a two-legged robot that “can fully operate in a human environment – specifically, one with features such as stairs that they can climb as homo sapiens do.” See a photo here. The geeky-named WL-16RIII is operated using a pair of joysticks (maybe not the best for a lot of crips). But Takanishi says he hopes to develop models that more severely disabled folks can use. Look for one in a showroom near you in, maybe, five years. Well, I guess the Ibot has a bit of breathing room. Thanks to Rory at RH Online for the lead and to Slashdot for the links.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rogue Garage Devours Party

It's seems like leading a horse to water...

When we see anything in the newspapers (or TV, or …) that purports to touch or reflect our lives, people with disabilities mostly see cartoonish stories of vapid inspiration or overcoming. This isn’t news. Today on a media center site, Susan LoTempio, assistant managing editor for readership at the Buffalo News and a person with a disability, writes about the lack of coverage of real life disability. And she offers some tips for reporters and editors to do it right.
“I'm a wheelchair user who has worked in newsrooms for 30 years,” LoTempio
writes. “And, not for lack of trying, I haven't had much success getting stories
written about the things that affect me -- and people like me -- every single
day. Things like:
Access to public places;
Subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination;
Poor medical care; and
Lack of recreational opportunities.”
I share LoTempio’s frustration. I too worked in big newspaper editorial departments and struggled not only to get good, solid coverage of disability issues, but to avoid those awful forays into sappy, patronizing stories that regularly bring groans of complaint from the disability community. It was a never-ending and largely unsuccessful effort.
If you know any reporters or editors, pass LoTempio’s column on to them. Hell, send it to your local newspapers editors and TV news editors even if you don’t know them.
“In-depth coverage of disability issues requires no more effort or skill than any other story. First, do your homework. Then report, ask, research and report some more.,” LoTempio writes. “One of the most degrading stereotypes is that we can't speak for ourselves. Journalists can certainly help change that misperception.”

Not Dead Yet -- 10 years and fighting on

Not Dead Yet is a national disability rights group that was founded on April 27th, 1996. A national leader in the fight against legalization of euthanasia, assisted suicide and other forms of medical killing, Not Dead Yet was founded on April 27, 1996.
Not Dead Yet (NDY) was a leader in the battle against the starvation and dehydration of Terri Schiavo, and for the protest and criticism of Clint Eastwood’s film "Million Dollar Baby." We’re admirers and supporters of NDY and its leaders, Diane Coleman and Steve Drake. They are true heroes.
To mark the anniversary Not Dead Yet has mounted a Disability History Exhibit in Chicago, its home base. If you’re anywhere near Chicago, check it out:Thursday, April 27, 2006, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum1801 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago, IL 60616

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blogging Against Disablism Day

In the U.S. it is usually called “ableism”. Elsewhere, it’s “disablism”. The meaning is the same: discrimination against people with disabilities. In the expanding blogiverse, many crips regularly tackle living the life with disability. Now, Diary of a Goldfish has launched an intriguing notion: “the idea is to see how powerful disabled people and the supporters of equality can be as a combined voice in the blogosphere. Are there as many people prepared to put their two pennies’ worth in on this subject as there are on sexier subjects such as Race and Gender?” Blogging Against Disablism Day is May 1, 2006 . You can sign up at Goldfish's site.

I wonder how we could do something creative around the anniversary of the ADA this July 26. Maybe a blogfest on A Day in the Life...... Any ideas?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tiger, Tiger burning

Not only did Tiger Woods not win the Masters Golf Championship last weekend, he lost a bit of personal luster as well.
Interviewed at the end of his round, Tiger said he played the greens "like a spaz". That prompted outrage among many in Britain, and the media over there picked it up. Not so in the U.S. The Los Angeles Times in fact changed the word "spaz" to "wreck". How nice of them.
Anyway, it didn't take long for Tiger to sort of get out of this sand trap. His official website has a statement now that says Tiger meant no offense. Tiger's competitve, very competitive. He obviously used the term to denigrate, to put down, his play that day. So he knew it was a negative term. You'd think he would know better. But then, back when Casey Martin was fighting for accommodations to play on the PGA Tour, Tiger was not supportive, even though he knew Casey well (they had been roommates at Stanford). I guess when you're at the top of your game it's easy to look down on the rest of the world.