Disability 101: Understanding the Social Model of Disability

Often times, the most difficult part of solving a problem, a social problem or others, is about framing it in the right way. If you are dealing with a situation, but you misidentify the source of the conflict or barrier, then any solution becomes impossible, or at least incomplete. The same is true of discussion of disability justice and issues of equality.

Many of the conflicts that arise between abled communities and mindsets, and disabled ones step from different framings of the problem. While many different constructs and models exist, the two mainly accepted ones are the Medical Model and the Social Model.

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Disability 101: Understanding the Social Model of Disability
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Casual Ableism

CN: Ableism, Police Violence, Sexual Violence, etc.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed late at night, I came across a Jezebel article on the subject of the Fascist authoritarian in control of the US. In contrast to all of the serious articles going around this week, and especially this weekend after Trump triggered a constitutional crisis with a hateful law targeting Muslims and immigrants of color, the jokey nature of the headline and article stood out. It was mocking the newly sworn in president for an alleged fear of stairs.

To most people, the idea of a grown man being afraid of stairs seems silly and joke-worthy, but it made my stomach drop.

You see, in a sense, I am afraid of stairs.

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Casual Ableism

Hey Abled Shits: This Is How We Get State-Sanctioned Mass Murder

Every day seems to bring a new terrifying development in the Orange PEOTUS’ Cabinet of Horrors. Between white supremacists being appointed to important positions by a man calling for the registration of minority religions, climate change deniers being appointed to oversee the environment, and anti-vaxxers being put in positions to determine the safety and implementation of vaccine regiments it can be overwhelming in trying to decide which problem to address first.

Meanwhile different factions are calling for the Cheeto-in-chief’s detractors to tone down their opposition in the interest of cooperation.

I’m scared, and I’m not the only one. Even as I do my best to draw attention to the terrifying rhetoric and the distressing similarities between the events leading up to the holocaust and the current events, I hope that I’m wrong. I spend much of my time wishing for me to turn out wrong. But even as I desperately hold on to the idea that maybe it won’t be as bad as we fear, there is one area in which I am already being proven right.

The next four years are already showing themselves to be potentially fatal for one specific vulnerable population: the disabled.

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Hey Abled Shits: This Is How We Get State-Sanctioned Mass Murder

Protected: Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Complete (Patrons Only)

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Protected: Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Complete (Patrons Only)

Mother Teresa and the Ecstasy of Suffering

This is an excerpt from Young, Sick, and Invisible.

The world praised Mother Teresa for her service to humanity since well before her death. Yet we have now seen the publication of several books and studies showing that the praise she has received may have been unwarranted. Her organization raised millions, perhaps even billions, of dollars—certainly enough to build a state-of-the-art hospital that could have either cured, treated, or at least made comfortable the suffering to which she tended. Continue reading “Mother Teresa and the Ecstasy of Suffering”

Mother Teresa and the Ecstasy of Suffering

First Amazon Reviews!

Pictures of First Amazon Reviews. Text below

My Book Young, Sick, and Invisible has it’s first reviews on Amazon.com. I am so excited to hear from people who have read it, and the people who have contacted me to share their stories.

If you’ve had the chance to read the book, please let me know what you thought. I would love to hear from you!.

“I am a person with a chronic illness that has left me disabled. Ania’s book not only perfectly described the facets of living with disability, chronic pain, and chronic illness, she also touched on how it can be for friends and loved ones of such a person. She exquisitely describes in terms anyone can understand – whether they are a patient, friend or loved one of a patient, or just a regular person wanting to learn about the struggles of those of us who are ill. This book was devoured in days and something I feel everyone should read, especially if you know a person with chronic pain, a chronic illness, and/or a disability.” – Kacee L Cole

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First Amazon Reviews!

Dear Nintendo: Let My Son Play Pokemon (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post request from a mother who wants to play Pokemon Go with her child, but can’t because of some of the many ways it is inaccessible to people with disabilities. Her identity will be kept anonymous for reasons of safety and consideration. The following is an open letter to Nintendo. 

Hey Nintendo, some people have disabled children who would like to play Pokemon Go.

Even though the premise of your game is awesome, it could be improved upon with more accessibility.

As the parent of an autistic child (who is intentionally keeping things vague for the sake of this post because I’d rather my son disclose information about himself publicly whenever he personally feels it is appropriate to do so and can consent to it) who enjoys playing Pokemon with his mother, and as a mother who grew up playing Pokemon games of her own, the Pokemon franchise has always been one that has allowed us to bond and spend quality time together. I man the controls, and when my son indicates a preference in one or more Pokemon, I try to incorporate those into our team. (Once we attempted to bring the three legendary birds to the Elite Four in LeafGreen because he liked them a lot. That might have been when type disadvantage was best illustrated, bringing three Flying when the first Trainer specializes in Ice. Moving along…) Based on what I’d read about Go, I thought it would be one of the most awesome games ever to play with him when it came out.

And then it came out.

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Dear Nintendo: Let My Son Play Pokemon (Guest Post)

An Inclusive Humanist Manifesto

Humanism is shorthand. It’s a start, a summary, and a statement. In a world of ideologies that refuse to recognize my humanity or that assert that it has no value, it is a bold and clear assertion:

I matter.

I matter, because I am a person.

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An Inclusive Humanist Manifesto

That Doggy in the Window

Over the last week, I’ve been taking my girls Tsuki, my 11 year old Schnoodle, and CJ, my 8 month of Chihuahua to the dog park on a daily basis. They love it, they get great exercise, and CJ gets to work on being well socialized with other dogs. Today’s trip was planned to coincide around a tutoring appointment Alyssa had. I would drive her to her appointment, go pick up a free drink from Starbucks, hang out for a bit, before picking her back up again and heading to the park.

CJ the Chihuahua

Grey Schnoodle Looking skeptical
Everything was going as planned until Crohn’s once again got in the way. I had to go to the bathroom, but had both my dogs in the car. Stuck and desperate, I blasted the air conditioning until I parked, then wrote out a quick note for any worried passersby: “Bathroom Emergency. Dogs have fan. Back in < 2 min”. I cracked the two front windows about an inch, enough to let some air flow, but not enough to let my small dogs escape into traffic. In addition, I left the doors unlocked, just in case.

I ran for the bathroom and did my business. From where I was, I could hear it when Tsuki, and then CJ started barking loudly. I finished up as quick as I could, all told about a minute, maybe a minute and a half. As soon as I got out of the bathroom I was accosted by an older woman, who asks me if those are my dogs.

I could already sense that this was about to be trouble, but I answered yes.

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That Doggy in the Window

How to write a disabled character.

As I work on expanding the diversity of my characters, one idea keeps popping out. How do I write good disabled characters? How do I create something that isn’t a stereotype or falls into a lot of the traps that most media do when depicting characters with disabilities. Even as someone with a disability myself, I struggle with not falling into the same tropes as other people.

With that in mind, I decided to try and put together a guideline of sorts on how to write disabled characters.

Don’t Make Their Super Power Negate their Disability

This is one that I see happen pretty often. A character reveals that they have a disability but it’s ok because their super-power is an enhanced version of the part of them that is “impaired”. For example, bling characters who have their super power be an enhanced version of super-sight. They can use vibrations caused by sounds, or have a connection to the earth, in some way that lets them see what others can’t. In this way their disability becomes an “asset” rather than a burden the way mainstream society expects all disability to be.

The only time the disability is otherwise mentioned is for comedic effect: when they are asked for specifics that their ‘enhanced sight’ wouldn’t let them see. This might be words on a page, pictures on a poster, etc.

The problem with this is that it creates the perception that the only way that disabled characters can be useful is if their disability is completely negated. It plays into the idea that disabled people are on their own useless and burdens.

Continue reading “How to write a disabled character.”

How to write a disabled character.