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Access: What disability is

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  • Russell Brown,

    Kia ora, Sacha, and congratulations for kicking off Access, Public Address's new disability blog.

    Access is conceived as a place to speak about disability issues with a receptive mainstream audience. Public Address readers (and bloggers) have shared their experiences of disability many times over the years and I felt there should be a dedicated place for that on the site.

    As you can see from Sacha's post, we're deliberately starting with the basics, from "What disability is" on up to philosophical and political issues and the sharing of personal experiences, which is at the heart of what the Public Address community is about.

    Later this week, we'll have a post from Chelle Hope (who some of you will know as Michelle Walmsley) on her experience with the internet as a woman living with disability.

    I'm also pleased to say we'll have contributions from Jonathan Mosen and Hilary Stace and I'm talking to a couple more writers. I'll also chip in occasionally from a parental perspective.

    Some of you will know that Hilary and I have been writing for humans.org.nz, a blog specifically about autism. Humans has fallen into some disrepair in recent years, and I don't have the resources to upgrade and maintain a site on a separate platform, so we'll merge Humans into Access and I'll work out how best to migrate the existing Humans archive over here.

    I'm launching the blog with an empty "Links" column, and you are all invited to suggest good sites with which to populate that part of the page.

    Those of you new to contributing here will find some basic wiki-code displayed under the commenting box which lets you format text and create links (we don't allow full HTML for safety reasons). If you want to correct something you've written, there's a 10-minute edit window for you to do so, otherwise you'll need to ask a moderator (ie: me). For the time being, the email link under posts will go through to me.

    We also have some special features:

    - If you want to quote someone else's words in responding to them, just select the text and click "reply" and the comment box will be populated with that text inside quote tags.

    - You can upload an image to appear with your comment by clicking the "Choose file" button.

    - If you want to embed a video clip from YouTube or Vimeo, just paste in the URL of the clip (NOT the full embed code) and it will automagically embed.

    Righto, thanks. Let's do this thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Thanks so much for this new initiative, Russell. Also for starting and supporting humans for so many years. A significant chunk of our recent autism (and some more general disability) history is documented there so I hope it can be archived safely. The post by Giovanni on his daughter's diagnosis with autism (reposted from his Bat Bean Beam blog) is one that has been widely quoted. She was three then. She is now eight and thriving at school and a valued member of her local community.
    Anyhow let the new conversations begin. Thanks, friend Sacha, for starting it off.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3227 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Great initiative.

    And thanks for the message that society is about adjusting, Sasha. For everyone.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Blair,

    Great new space, it's awesome to have more people having this conversation.

    The view that it's deficits in our built digital and physical environments that causes disability not an individuals impairments is an important one that more people need to understand. Thanks for bringing it to the fore here. I look forward to reading more.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Angus Blair,

    The view that it’s deficits in our built digital and physical environments that causes disability not an individuals impairments is an important one that more people need to understand.

    That’s been very important for me in understanding where my sons are at. They’re not broken, they’re just living in a world that doesn’t work like they do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    There are some theory developments about that relationship between the individual and our broader context. We'll have time to delve in later posts (and plenty of different angles on it). A privilege to start the conversation here.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Adrian Coysh,

    Our world faces some great challenges that require cunning, cooperation and tenacity to overcome. Disabled people offer all of that, hard-won from daily experience. We are also your neighbours, your family, your future. Fellow citizens. Fellow humans.

    Well put Sacha. The principal reason given for the appalling rate of unemployed disabled people is always Health and Safety. You have provided some lovely words to now counter that argument...cunning, tenacity, and hard won experience.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2012 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    We have the right words in the 2001 New Zealand Disability Strategy

    'Disability is not something individuals have. What individuals have are impairments. They may be physical, sensory, neurological, psychiatric, intellectual or other impairments.

    Disability is the process which happens when one group of people create barriers by designing a world only for their way of living, taking no account of the impairments other people have.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3227 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    A note on quotes - as Russell says above, this site uses its own way to mark them in the text: you just type pointy brackets like this (minus the gaps) < q > words < /q >

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Harvey,

    Apropos and coincidentally, here's a link:
    https://medium.com/matter/22979c8ec9d6
    "The silencing of the Deaf : How high-tech implants are being blamed for killing an entire subculture."
    Best wishes, Bob.

    Westmere • Since Nov 2006 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    A great start Sacha. Thanks for that talk at our 2010 wordcamp on disabilities and what that means for web accessibility - it opened up a range of perspectives for developers and other web users to build into their projects.

    On a more personal note - have since discovered that the real "impairments" out there often belong to people who don't know they have the equivalent of giant blind spots in their thinking or activities.

    A little self awareness can go a very long way and I trust that this blog will provide a thoughtful space to expand an informed discussion on this topic.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jason Kemp,

    Cheers, Jason. I'll put that presentation up over at my own blog soon.

    And yes, impaired empathy appears to be a widespread problem in our world. Hopefully we can help with that. Looking forward to some of the other voices on Access.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    ...understanding where my sons are at. They’re not broken, they’re just living in a world that doesn’t work like they do.

    Yes.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Verica Rupar, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thanks Russell for opening this space and thanks Sacha for the thoughtful first post. True, the content is missing from educational and media coverage. That’s why AUT and Canterbury, along with two European universities, started the Inclusive Journalism Initiative project. Details can be found here: http://inclusivejournalisminitiative.com.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Verica Rupar,

    Thank you Verica. Can you tell us more about the disability-specific aspects of your programme please. I couldn’t see anything.

    I was appalled when the NZ Human Rights Commission snubbed disability from its own 'diversity in journalism' work some years back.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Here's an ideal reality TV pitch, much as I hate the idea of reality TV, period.

    It'll be called something like "A Mile In My Shoes", and features a selection of ableists who are forced to spend a week in a special suit that prevents movement of the legs and/or arms, and hence simulate the real experiences of the disabled.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5442 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    One of my sons has significantly reduced hearing. This year, going to a new school, he decided to study NZ Sign Language. Then he thought to take it as an NCEA subject, assuming that – like another official New Zealand language, Maori – it would be an approved course.

    He discovered that Sign Language is not an NCEA subject.

    So, one of the three official NZ languages is no longer deemed important or worthy enough to be an NCEA subject. Appalling.

    This from the NZQA website:

    “As part of the normal review cycle NQS scheduled a review of unit standards in the domain New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). During the scoping and consultation for this review, it was identified that the standards:
    · have had little or no recent use (6 reported results for 3 standards in 2005, no reported results in 2006-2008, and 12 reported results for 2 standards in 2009)
    · do not align with the learning languages objectives of The New Zealand Curriculum
    · do not align with teaching and learning guides for NZSL.

    “Although NZSL is an official language of New Zealand it was difficult to justify keeping the unit standards for the reasons above. Therefore, NQS planned to designate the standards as expiring and to exit from standard setting responsibility for New Zealand Sign Language domain.

    “In accordance with NZQA’s obligations under the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006, the Chief Executive consulted with accredited providers and organisations with interest in NZSL on the proposed expiry and no objections were received.”

    An official language of NZ, essential for some people to communicate with, doesn’t align with the NZ curriculum! Change the curriculum I suggest.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    simulate the real experiences of the disabled.

    I may be misremembering, but wasn’t that one of the episodes of The Big Experiment (after the ones on gender and race)?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1943 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Hebe,

    Bloody hell. What does that status "official language" mean if it doesn't include status as an accreditable subject in the state education system!?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1943 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    Yes, and simulation has big problems replicating the actual experience.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Verica Rupar, in reply to Sacha,

    Hi Sacha, four universities involved in IJI project want to revitalize journalism curriculum around the idea of inclusive society. We encourage students to rethink their relationship with sources (research after research confirms that sources are usually officials and white, male, upper middle class, not in a wheelchair...) IJI project started this year, deals with all diversity reporting issues, and hopefully will expand (web site content included!) in the upcoming months.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • WaterDragon,

    I put up a post of response/congratulation/comment yesterday following Verica's post and it has been disappeared. What happened?

    Behind you • Since Jul 2011 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to WaterDragon,

    Sorry to hear that. I did not see anything.
    Russell?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Sorry to hear that. I did not see anything.
    Russell?

    Yes, I saw that comment -- and no, it's clearly not there now.

    Sorry about that, WaterDragon -- that's really unusual.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's an impaired thread :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

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