Affinity, Humanity and Disability.

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The other day whilst reading a feed somewhere in my hundreds, I came across a link to a video .. this video in fact :

I instantly felt a recognition and affinity and especially wth the subtleties in the kaos (yes, oh yes, there’s subtleties), so much so it sent me hunting for more. I found it’s a creation by John Callahan who has a wikipedia entry here.

If anybody really knows me they’ll see why I like this so much. Some, like the person who complained about the ‘insensitivity’ of the cartoon shown above, won’t see anything, as they really don’t wish to see the reality of humanity in all its raw openness anyway.

You see I realise the affinity I felt was with John’s humanness, not specifically his disability.

I’m not gonna say much more except this guy has insights only other quads could recognise and does a bloody fine job pointing out some of the idiocy anyone with a disability lives around and through. A true artist.

Here’s links to some of his other stuff worth a watch:

Interview snippett

Part 1 of a tv documentary shown on Dutch TV:

and his other ‘Quads’ animated cartoon series

and his songs on youtube

For many years I’ve had an image in my head of an absurd cartoon that I’ve just been waiting for opportunity to be drawn. It’s the kind of image I think someone like John would appreciate and could really do justice – If there ever was such a thing in this world.

FWIW

Dave

The Social Internet as Social Assistive Device

The social web offers a means of engagement that trascends the technology and transforms lives.

Strangely or not, I tend not to see myself as disabled. Maybe that’s why I tend to focus on sharing more about what I’m doing than who I am or what I think about disability specific things – whatever those are.

It’s possibly also why when I refer to people with a disability I use the term people ‘living’ with disability. After all, tha’s what I’m doing. It’s also the focus I put on the possibilities technology can and does offer to enrich that ‘living’.

Besides which, I’m just a practical sort of guy.

I’m not the best at conveying what I feel either about what runs deep and not most elequant expressing what I really believe.

Sure I’ve had my lucid moments on issues I’m passionate about, which you’ll find within the years of posting here, and on my other blog – like Social IsolationCo-presence and Barriers. Generally though words get in my way. Thankfully others don’t have the same problem.

Just recently I came across a post by Lauredhel titled “On ambient intimacy and assistive devices” that had me saying “yes, yes, yes; that’s what I wanted to say to so many people so many times”.

In part she writes about being social …

The internet is the virtual watercooler (or coffeehouse, or playgroup, or pub) for people like me, isolated due to disability. And I’m fed up with able-bodied folk slamming electronic community as a meaningless half-life. I’m sick of internet use being constructed as a signifier of a person as a pathetic loser worthy of mockery. And I’m over ignorant pundits reviling the rise in electronic community as The End of the World as We Know It, a one-way highway to the inevitable disengaged, apolitical fragmentation of society.

And in an analogy to be physical assistive devices… ”

People who use wheelchairs, for example, use wheelchairs. They get around in them. Wheelchairs are useful, value-neutral objects. People are not “bound” to them; they’re not “condemned” to life in a wheelchair. The use of a wheelchair doesn’t mark a person as either a sinister or pitiable caricature. And above all, people are not synonymous with their wheelchairs. They’re people who use a mobility device, a tool. (emphasis mine)

The internet may be many things, but it is also my social assistive device. And that’s not tragic, or threatening, or worthy of scorn. It just is.”

Do yourself a favour and read the whole thing on her blog “Hoyden About Town

Thanks Lauredhel. This so underlines why I have felt strongly for nearly 30 years about technology as a tool in general, why I think the connection and openness that a social web enables is important and points to why I keep persisting with the idea that is Lifekludger.

Dave

Report in – Disabled people often poor [sic]

This startling news just in from the ‘no shit, sherlock’ Department.

Disabled people often poor
Thursday, 02 April 2009
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Economic hardship can be both a cause and a result of disability, according to the study. Image: iStockphoto There is a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and severe disability in capital cities, according to a report released 1 April 2009 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Read full release here.

Virtual Worlds and Emerging Technologies for People with Disabilities

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I was awake at 3.30am to take part in the Second Life talk that’s part of this forum: (why do I do these things…)

Using Virtual Worlds and Emerging Technologies for People with Disabilities

This two-part, interactive event will take place in two locations online:

First, the live discussion in the virtual world of Second Life at 9am PST
The follow-up discussion will take place for the rest of the day, 10AM PST- 6PM PST, in TechSoup’s Accessible Technology & Public Computing forum at: <http://www.techsoup.org/go/accessibletechnology>
Event Schedule:

9 AM PST in the Nonprofit Commons Amphitheater in Second Life.

Simon Stevens (aka Simon Walsh in Second Life) <http://www.simonstevens.com> will be speaking about his work in Second Life. Simon Walsh is chief executive of Enable Enterprises which manages the Wheelies nightclub for people with disabilities in Second Life and the Second Ability Second Life simulator. In real life, Simon has cerebral palsy and lives in Coventry, UK. He is a disability consultant and trainer working with many organizations large and small.

Simon will give a virtual talk via text chat in the Nonprofit Commons amphitheater, in the virtual world of Second Life

10AM PST- 6PM PST –the follow-on discussion will continue in an all-day, asynchronous (not-live) forum on TechSoup. This event will occur in a question and answer format in the TechSoup Accessible Technology & Public Computing forum <http://www.techsoup.org/go/accessibletechnology>

Online Event: Using Virtual Worlds and Emerging Technologies for People with Disabilities in this forum, Feb. 29th, all-day, asynchronous (not-live). No registration is needed; just show up here and post your questions!

Accessible Technology and Public Computing message board, TechSoup

Dave

David Weinberger’s boat and archaic language

While I wait for my copy of Everything is Miscellaneous to wend its way across the oceans to Australia; after ordering it via Amazon, as the local book stores tell me it’s not released here in Australia yet (cough); I while away my miscellaneous time reading about the book in Mr Weinberger’s blog.

While deeply immersed in an excellent story of registering his recently purchased boat, I nearly fell out my wheelchair when I read his recounting what was on the registration form.

‘One of the checkboxes on the registration form asks if I’m “retarded.” I thought we were done lumping the various ways our intelligences fail us into that particular bucket…’

Like him, I too assumed we were done with that use of classification (ie: labelling). I’m surprised that they just don’t be done with it and ask another question using that other archaic label that the US seems to have forgotten to leave behind (along with inches, pounds, miles and gallons) – “are you handicapped?”.

As one definition of retarded is conveyed as “to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment”, I was left wondering if it was referring to the 90 horsepower motor that Mr Weinberger’s poor boat was afflicted with.

But alas, that’d be wishful thinking. I am unfortunately left with the conclusion it’s the actual people who made the registration form itself.

I mean really, if you were ‘retarded’ and wanting to register for a hunting permit or register a boat, would you answer yes to that question?

Mr Weinberger’s point is that “Requests for metadata are expressive”. Well, he’s dead right. That request certainly expresses some attitudes held by the ‘authorities’ behind the form.

I was impressed by Mr Weinberger’s awareness and the deft expression he uses. I’m looking forward to “Everything is Miscellaneous” even more now!

Dave

occupational therapy lecture

OTStudentsFirstYear2006Just like last year, I gave my lecture about my life with disability and the things I’ve learnt along the way to a class of OT students at UNISA a couple weeks ago.

Another big group and two hours trying talk loud as I could meant I was buggered aftewards
but very fulfilled.

I changed a few slides and added some more things to the stack this year, with a renewed focus about what therapy, occupational or otherwise, should really be all about – enabling people to connect.

The revised slidestack can be seen here or from under the Lifekludger Popular page. This only serves as a guide and to give direction for me on the day – a lot more is said than appears on the preso. So if anyone wants more details please contact me.

Dave

Down and out in paradise

Being the IT guy, at work I’m usually kept in the back corner office beavering away keeping the electrons zooming for the rest of the plebs sitting at the ends of the 10Base100.

Meanwhile I know we have many any varied public come off the streets and into our building to use our free public access computers.

Today the two worlds collided when I was asked to help when a user couldn’t get to a geocities site. I quickly resolved the issue as something to do with cache refreshing, but not before listening briefly to what this quiet spoken, well mannered, clean yet somewhat shabbily dressed person was using the geocities site and our public access computers for.

He’s quietly waging a war on social inclusion. Putting the plight of the homeless and disenfranchised of Adelaide out there for public attention. Even told me there’s a homeless person who checks out the free food places and reports what they are like to him for putting up on the site – almost like a homeless restaurant review – though that’s doing these guys a disservice in merely terming it that.

So, if you want an insight into the life of the backlife in Adelaide, and a taste of the kind of wonderful people who make up life in the city, as they embody the spirit of self-empowerment – check out the Social Inclusion War site.

Just sayin.

Dave

The bricks came down

Mohandas Gandi is quoted as saying: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win” when describing the stages of establishment resistence to a winning strategy of nonviolent activism.

If you’ve been reading, or better still, listening to the Extraordinary Everyday Lives podcast, you’ll know I’ve been battling with some Government bureaucratic nonsense around my work place support. Things got real stupid real quick and for no good reason except trying to ‘handle‘ people living with a disability rather than work with them. Let’s all say together ‘c o l l a b o r a t i o n’.

Anyway, I wasn’t taking it. I was sick of rolling of one more time to have them see their version of ‘help’ imposed upon me. I took up the issue on the grounds of their own policy inadequecies. Funy how “everybody likes to see justice done…on somebody else“.

Well I heard yesterday that they had decided to allow me to keep doing what I had been successfully doing for 13 years anyway.

Chalk one up for the little guy.

Keep kicking against the bricks!

Dave