The fantastic search engine that is Google enabled me to locate Disability Scoop, a website dedicated to the collection and distribution of developmental disability news. The site covers issues relevant to the realms of Autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disability (as well as to several other areas). I found it rather easy to navigate. News stories may pertain to scientific research (read “FDA Warns Against Alternative Autism Therapy” to learn about the controversy surrounding hyperbaric oxygen therapy), heartstring-tugging, optimistic happenings (check out “With Facebook Support, Teen With Down Syndrome Lands Photo Shoot” for the uplifting tale of a young aspiring model named Karrie who, thanks to a successful Facebook campaign, is being given the chance to model for the Wet Seal clothing line), and humorous, yet meaningful endeavors (definitely give “Can Disability be Sexy?”, which introduces readers to a disabled woman who spoofs American Apparel advertisements, a shot). Take a look. Disability Scoop is worth the exploration, and may even provide some opportunities for last-minute paper research!
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/ (Disability Scoop homepage)
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/08/23/fda-warns-autism-therapy/18572/ (“FDA Warns Against Alternative Autism Therapy”)
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/08/20/with-facebook-photo-shoot/18553/ (“With Facebook Support, Teen With Down Syndrome Lands Photo Shoot”)
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/05/14/can-disability-be-sexy/8048/ (“Can Disability be Sexy?”)
Barbara Pierce, President of the National Federation of the Blind in Ohio, explains that there really is no blind culture that can be compared to the culture of the deaf. She attributes this to the fact that blind people are still able to communicate quite well verbally with other non-disabled people. This is a good point because I think that people gravitate towards those who speak similarly to themselves. When an accent is apparent, as in deaf people who are trained orally, it makes some people uncomfortable and not as willing to work together. This is not to say, however, that blind people do not face any kind of discrimination. Pierce points out that blind people have a 74% unemployment rate, though the sources of the statistics she uses are questionable.
Something that I found surprising was that she claimed that only 10% of blind children learn how to read Braille. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of teachers who are tasked with teaching blind students do not even know Braille, or don’t know it well enough to teach it. I wonder if it would be possible to create a more standardized method of schooling blind children in order for them to be properly educated in Braille.
There’s a documentary on Netflix right now called “Reel Injun” that explores how cinema has represented, or rather misrepresented, Native American peoples through the creation of the mythological “Injun.” The film juxtaposes the historical and current account of American Natives with that of Hollywood representation. I think this documentary is relevant in regards to a lot of things we’ve been studying in class; namely how groups of people are are categorized based on unquestioned and purposely created stereotypes. It’s also a pretty good case for how historical context can lead us to think more deeply about the “whys” of injustice.
Here’s the movie site, in case you don’t have the flix.
So the link above brings you to an article about Disney’s new policy change on their disability program. Based on what I’ve read, the policy used to be that those with a disability are able to bypass the lines and head straight to the front. Unfortunately, it was discovered that wealthy guests would hire people with disabilities so that they would pose as part of the family in order to avoid the lines. In another article on the same topic, there was even a comment made by someone who abused the system. A rich mother said, “My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’- the other kids had to wait two and a half hours. This is how the one percent does Disney.” It amazes me at how ridiculous people are. I have no right to tell others how they should spend their wealth, but to abuse a system and ruin it for everyone else just because you and your daughter can’t wait two hours is plain insanity. And then to brag about it on top of that is plain stupid.
Well now thanks to people like the woman quoted above, Disney’s new policy change starting in October is that those with a disability card will have a specific time stamp on the pass (based on the current wait time), and I’m guessing they have to wait until that time in order to access the ride. More details will come later once the policy is implemented, but I find it frustrating that such measures have to be taken. My friends and I had a discussion on this topic, and we question how effective such changes will be. The article brought up why doesn’t Disney require disability guests to prove that they have a disability. Well, the problem isn’t whether someone really has a disability or not. The issue is if that disabled person really is part of that family or are they hired. Obviously, Disney can’t interrogate and start accusing families left and right on whether a member with them is related to them or not, so how discouraging can these new rules be to the real liars? A friend of mine brought up the idea of Disney only allowing certain disabled people to go straight to the front of the line. Like those in wheelchairs can wait a bit longer vs those who have trouble standing in line for long periods of time. Well then that raises up more issues on where to draw the line, along with the fact that it can count as discrimination against certain types of disabled people. There is also the issue of disabilities that aren’t visible, so how do we account for that?
What are your thoughts and ideas on this issue?
Within this article is an interview with Jack Huston, who plays Richard Harrow in HBO’s hit series Boardwalk Empire. Richard, a veteran of World War I, experienced a traumatic injury in the war which left the left half of his face severely disfigured. In addition, his speech is affected and he develops a characteristic “tick.” Richard wears a tin half-mask to conceal his face. He is arguably the most complex character within the series.
Huston discusses various aspects of his role, notably the difficulty of playing a character with such an affliction. Huston explains, ” I imagined the pain and suffering that someone like that would go through… You sort of act like how people treat you, or you hide away…”
He continues, “All he wants is a normal life…He can’t connect with anyone, even his sister, because now, externally, he sees himself as a monster.”
I recall Longmore’s discussion regarding appropriate portrayals of disabled individuals in film. He provides us with Daniel Day-Lewis as an example, due in large part to his style as a character actor, one who encompasses himself in the character’s circumstance in order to provide an accurate portrayal. Huston, too, is a character actor of similar style. His portrayal of the sad, lonely, physically disfigured Harrow is truly a moving one.
I want to introduce you to the German critic and playwright Gotthold Lessing, an important voice of the Enlightenment and a pretty forward-looking guy: in 1779, he wrote a play arguing that Jews, Christians, and Muslims could all get along, a thesis that is still pretty radical in many places. But his great critical work, and a landmark piece of aesthetic theory, was his 1766 book Laocoön, Or, the Limits of Painting and Poetry. And in it he takes on Adam Smith (whom he misidentifies as English) directly. Remember Smith’s contempt for Greek heroes who cry out in pain? Here’s Lessing:
[Philoctetes] whimpers, he cries aloud, he goes through the most frightful convulsions. To this behaviour it is that the reproach of offended propriety is particularly addressed. It is an Englishman who utters this reproach; a man, therefore, whom we should not easily suspect of a false delicacy. . . . All feelings and passions, he says, with which others can only slightly sympathize, are offensive when they are expressed too violently. “For this reason there is nothing more becoming and more unworthy of a man than when he cannot bear pain, even the most violent, with patience; but weeps and cries aloud. Of course we may feel sympathy with bodily pain. When we see that any one is about to get a blow on the arm or the shin-bone, and when the blow actually falls, in a certain measure we feel it as truly as he whom it strikes. At the same time, however, it it certain that the trouble we experience amounts to very little; if the person struck, therefore, sets up a violent outcry, we do not fail to despise him, because we are not at all in the mind to cry out with so much violence.” . . . Nothing is more fallacious than general laws for human feelings. The web of them is so fine-spun and so intricate that it is hardly possible for the most careful speculation to take up a single thread by itself and follow it through all the threads that cross it. And supposing it possible, what is the use of it? There does not exist in Nature a single unmixed feeling; along with every one of there there arise a thousand others simultaneously, the very smallest of which completely alters the first, so that exceptions on exceptions spring up which reduce at last the supposed general law itself to the mere experience of a few individual cases. We despise him, says the Englishman, whom we hear shriek aloud under bodily pain. No; not always; nor at first; not when we see that the sufferer makes every effort to suppress it; not when we know him otherwise as a man of fortitude; still less when we see him even in his suffering give proof of his fortitude, when we see that the pain can indeed force cries from him, but can compel him to nothing further — that he will rather submit to the longer endurance of this pain than change his opinions or his resolve in the slightest, even if he might hope by such a change to end his agony. And all this we find in Philoctetes. With the ancient Greeks moral greatness consisted in just as unchanging a love to friends as an unalterable hatred to enemies. This greatness Philoctetes maintains in all his torments. His pain has not so dried his eyes that they can spare no tears for the fate of his old friends. His pain has not made him so pliable that, to be rid of it, he will forgive his enemies and allow himself willingly to be used for their selfish purposes. And this rock of a man ought the Athenians to have despised because the surges that could not shake him made him give forth a cry?
This is a video of an autistic woman who claims that she speaks in the language of the autistic population. I think it’s very different from ASL and deaf culture. If her buzzy song seems to go on forever, then skip to 3:15 and hear the explanation from a computerized voice!