It’s been a while, two weeks in fact, since my last post for
The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.
As a refresher, my previous post for the challenge, on Memoir Monday two weeks back:
Indefinable, Undefinable? Definitely
This week I am given free rein to speak on whatever just so happens to be on my mind.
#1 Emily’s Oz
On Facebook I came across a post about a commercial that would be aired during the Academy Awards. I watched the Canadian broadcast and saw no sign of what they were talking about all evening, but that is where the internet is so wonderful.
I am including both commercials: with descriptive and without,
(Emily’s Oz, without descriptive).
I recommend watching both short commercials, paying attention to compare the difference between what it’s like to watch, with and without the descriptive track.
It reminds me of those commercials: one has a woman arriving home with a bag of groceries and being frightened by something and the other is a woman panting and yelling and being told to push.
These are to advertise the need for descriptive services for television and films.
In the former, is she being frightened by a mouse or by a child?
In the latter, is she helping to move furniture or is she having a baby?
Just this weekend I tried to watch an important documentary on a brutal attack on a woman in India. I found I was unable to watch for a lot of the hour because there were only subtitles, which caused me to miss out on more than half of what was being said.
Of course, the example I give here is much more lighthearted, but I just wish something like descriptive for watching any programming wasn’t still so hard to come by.
Anyway, I thought that Emily was pretty cute and figured today was a good time to share her and the project built around her.
For a behind the scenes for the making of…check out:
The Making of Emily’s Oz
#2 TED Talk On Why Disability Does Not Equal Inspiration
I immediately heard the term this Australian comedian used, “Disability Porn” and I was drawn in, but not for what it might seem like.
All icky jokes aside, she makes some excellent points in her talk, of which I highly recommend.
Disability Porn – Definition: The objectification of one group of people (living with a disability) for the benefit of another group of people
She believes that having a disability does not make someone exceptional, but questioning what we’ve been taught to believe about disability does.
I couldn’t agree with this more.
I have grown very uncomfortable of late with the idea of being seen as overly inspiring by others.
I know. I know. This probably makes me come off as a bit self deprecating and the rest. I don’t mean to seem like I am being bashful or unwilling to accept praise when given it. I have been called inspirational before.
I just wish, sometimes, it was not all because people are so amazed I can function at any sustainable level. Yes, I can brush my own teeth, hair, dress myself, and cook a meal. Shock of shocks.
Just because someone can’t themselves imagine how they would do these things if they could not see, does not mean I should be praised for something I am saying I have no problem doing. If I say it I mean it.
Stella says in her talk that someone wanted to present her with an achievement award as a teenager, but her parents turned it down because, in their eyes, their daughter hadn’t done all that much to deserve special attention and praise.
This could be seen as mean-spirited or unfair, but I “admire” her parents for taking a stand, when they showed others that they didn’t really think of their daughter having done anything all that spectacular.
Others might not have taken such a stance, but I applaud them for not singling her out. We hear the word inspiring and that automatically must be a positive thing, right?
I may be called ungrateful or a jerk for seeming to push away a well-meaning compliment, but just think about what Stella and myself are proposing.
It isn’t our job as people, who just so happen to be living lives others can hardly fathom, to be here solely to inspire.
I myself have been guilty of it: of saying I must be grateful when looking at someone who has it worse off than me because it could always be worse.
How do you or I think that makes that other person feel to hear that? Oh, so they think we’re inspirational or they are just glad they aren’t us.
This speaker, unfortunately, has passed away now, but this awesome and cut-to-thecore TED talk made me think and it was just the sort of radical idea I guess I had been looking for myself, although I just couldn’t vocalize it in the way she did.
DRUMSTICK FOR A BLIND MAN, PLEASE!!!
One thing I like least is hypocrisy, but I am as guilty as the next person of exhibiting it.
As I grow older, I suppose, I become more and more uncomfortable with things like my number three today.
I even recently answered a question for this very challenge about the
sometimes given to myself and others.
When I was sixteen I got a trip to California from an organization who awards wishes and dream trips to young people with disabilities. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything now, but as I look back I feel a strange discomfort.
A blind man holds up a sign, like they would have done hundreds of years ago, as beggars on a street corner. This feels wrong to me.
Don’t get me wrong…Dave Grohl was a stand-up dude for fulfilling the guy’s request, my own blind brother received a pair of drumsticks from R.E.M. once, but I just wish we didn’t have to use such a thing to get attention and gifts.
I make jokes and I share this story because it really was a nice thing to do and supposedly the Foo Fighter’s front man is known for granting such favours; there’s nothing wrong with giving a dying cancer patient something they greatly long for. I don’t mean to take it all so seriously.
Take what we can get, is the “blind bonus” motto, but I honestly don’t think, as an adult, I would want to hold up any sign.
#4 Would You Rather?
I recently came across a Facebook status on an author’s page. The game of “Would You Rather?” is played often on such FB pages.
This time the question was:
Would you rather…be unable to speak or be unable to see?
I generally do not like these kinds of questions. I have often thought would I rather be blind or deaf…and I guess that’s a question for another day’s post.
I wasn’t so bothered by the question, in this case however, as I was to read the responses and to see that nine out of ten people said they would rather be unable to speak than see.
It just sort of shocked and saddened me to realize how much fear there is out there about losing one’s sight. I thought, to be unable to communicate one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs through words might be more of a concern to those answering.
A common response I saw was: “I could still write down what I wanted to say. At least if I couldn’t speak I could still read. I need to be able to read books.”
Coming from those on an author’s FB page I wasn’t so surprised to hear that, but I did reply with the solution that I assumed might be more well-known. There is always the technology to read without sight. Audio books are becoming more and more common. These things don’t immediately occur to most people and I get that.
I just know that people take for granted being able to relay to someone else what they want. I know of people who can not do this and I have seen how hard that is, for everyone involved.
The fear of blindness is just so common and I am left feeling like the monster everyone is afraid of. I realize it is the blindness not the person they are referring to, but here I share my biggest fears with disability. That is what this challenge is all about.
I will tackle the question of how I feel about my own blindness and whether I would choose to see if I could, in a few weeks time here.
#5 Disability Confident: Rethinking Disabilities
“Would you like to have higher employee retention, lower absenteeism, greater innovation, and profitability? It’s possible…if you change your thinking.”
Who wouldn’t want this, right?
This was the pitch by the Ontario Disability Employment Network to attract businesses to attend their one-day conference on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.
At the start of February I was watching a program on my local television channel here in Ontario:
TVO.org – Creating a Barrier Free Ontario – On The Agenda with Steve Paikin
On their nightly program they focused on a conference being held the day after my birthday, at a hotel in Toronto, and I immediately perked up. It definitely sounded like something I would like to attend.
Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) – Rethinking Disabilities Conference, Toronto
It goes on to say the benefits already found are that companies who hire those with disabilities are found to:
**revolutionize their workforces and delivering bottom line results.
And at the conference attendees would be:
**Learning how to leverage the latest in progressive employment practices to put your organization at the forefront of a new movement.
**You’ll hear from business leaders from across North America who have embraced this new approach to hiring and are now disability confident.
**Build your knowledge and learn about a whole new way to create an inclusive workplace and gain a strong competitive advantage through improved culture, loyalty and employee innovation.
I was intrigued to listen to the program and maybe even attend the conference. I knew it was for employers more than myself, and was happy to hear about the fact that these conferences were happening, but maybe if I were there I could represent more of those who are in need of the chances to prove our skills and worth.
I didn’t want to look at it like that.
I guess though everyone must prove their worth and skill to an employer and I have always wanted equal treatment and consideration.
The term “disability confident” was an interesting one to me, but I couldn’t quite figure out why.
I looked into the specifics of attending and emailed someone in charge. I received a reply very quickly, which was most appreciated.
It looked like they were happy to have me there, if I were willing to pay the price of admission.
I suppose businesses are able to afford hundreds of dollars for a one-day conference which might help them achieve everything I listed above, but I certainly could not afford it. I was not one of the people on Steve Paikin’s program: a lawyer or a politician. I was on fixed government income and assistance and one of those hoping to get off those one day.
This is not to complain because they gave me a discount, but unfortunately it was still more than I could spend, even on a worthy cause.
It was too last minute and they informed me:
So sorry I didn’t respond to your email sooner. I was out of town at the end of the week and it slipped by me while I was trying to catch up.
Unfortunately there’s not much else I can do this time. Typically we try to keep 2 or 3 complementary passes for situations like this but we are running very close to the wire and may even lose money on this particular event. As a not-for-profit without any financial resources, we just can’t afford to do that. Our food costs for the day are running almost $200 alone, plus there’s all the other expenses.
I hope you understand our situation and perhaps we can accommodate you at a future event.
From: Kerry Kijewski [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: February-05-15 9:35 AM
To: Joe Dale
Subject: Re: Inquiry
Thank you again for looking into this for me and for offering me the discount.
Unfortunately I am unable to come, due to the cost.
This is really a shame because I saw the program on TV the other night and I am very passionate on the subject of it and this conference.
It’s unfortunate, again, because I am not one of the lucky and hardworking few, like on that program the other night, with a well paying career. I am one of the majority of people with disabilities who hasn’t had so much luck finding jobs and thus I am on government assistance and am unable to afford this conference.
I just figured that it might be a positive thing for me to be there, as I am one of those for whom the speakers are going to be speaking about.. I am not happy with the current situation and would love to see improvements on employment opportunities for myself and others with visual impairments.
I am saying this just to explain why I seemed so interested in attending your conference and why I now have to decline.
Is there any other conferences or public forums you could recommend that I could afford, that are about these issues?
Thanks for your time.
I included the above email exchange to show that I did my best to inquire and explain my situation and they seemed to do their best to accommodate, however it was not enough and did not work out in the end.
“Join the movement that is changing the face of Canadian businesses and building a powerful new economy.”
I hope to find a conference of some kind, relating to these issues most important to me, sometime in the future. I would like to get involved somehow and am passionate on these issues and thought this would be a good topic to end with for this week’s free posting.
Hope you enjoyed my Free Five today. I borrowed the framework and idea from something new I am trying and of which I started a few weeks back, with the following:
In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition
I hope to continue, on Wednesdays mostly, but have already veered from the plan I had for it when I posted it.
I don’t know what the future of Redefining Disability is, as these things rarely go as planned when the bloggers who come up with them start out. Like #1000Speak, this one took off and Rose of
had no clue anyone would even want to take part in the beginning.
I will go on because I like devoting my Memoir Monday to this topic and because Rose came up with a set of questions such as this one:
What would you tell someone who has recently been diagnosed with your disabilities or disabilities that you are familiar with?
I will answer that one in one week’s time.