Thursday, March 30, 2006

Disability Podcasts Roundup #1

"And now for something completely different" is such a cliche, and doubly so when the something involves comedy from England. But in this case, it's also dead-accurate: the brilliant BBC disability blog, Ouch!, has spawned a podcast, and its first episode hosted by Mat Fraser and Liz Carr is a blast. The mockery of cliches starts with the chipper title song...
You're so special we've made a podcast for you!
Disabled people can have fun too
They can do anything we can do
Say thank you to the BBC
Dry your eyes and listen in to people just like you!
Confined to a website....the Ouch! Podcast!
This first BBC Ouch Disability Podcast includes a discussion of the Paralympics and other disability sports (Liz is annoyed that well-publicized athletic crips make her look like a slacker); a quiz called "Vegetable, Vegetable, or Vegetable," in which the hosts have 90 seconds to guess the disability of a listener on the phone (it ends with them assuring the listener that she is "very very brave and special"); an interview with John Davidson, a Scotsman whose life with Tourette's is about to be depicted in a motion picture; not to mention underwear, public restrooms, keys, pillows, Mat's tales of the All-Thalidomide Olympics...

The Ouch! podcast is certainly "very very brave and special," but there are other disability-focused podcasts worth a listen. Blind audio bloggers are at the forefront here: David Faucheux's Blind Chance, BlindCoolTech, and the Blind Access Journal are just a few of the regularly updated podcasts with relevant and varied content. Disability411 is hosted by Beth Case, a disability counselor, and works more like an audio workshop on legal and policy topics of interest to folks in disability-related professions; a new English 'cast, Proud, Angry, and Strong, just started last month, but intends to focus on disability and arts topics (the host is an English singer-songwriter). Wish I understood French, because Handimobility looks like a killer Francophone podcast on disability topics. And David N. Wallace's Blobcast brings audio comment on disability from an Australian context.

Parenting podcasts are pretty common, and they're also represented in the universe of disability podcasts, mostly from parents raising kids with autism diagnoses, it seems: Autism Podcast is fairly new, with frequent tips and interviews with educators on communication, toilet training, getting services, etc. Autism Tales and Special Needs Stories collects "funny, strange, and heartwarming" contributions from parents across the US. The GROW podcast covers topics like child advocacy, IEPs, and family counseling. (Some readers of DS,TU may also want to look at the website for the Education Podcast Network--an effort to compile a comprehensive list of education podcasts. Could be a good model for similar efforts in other fields.)

There's an unfortunate phenomenon called podfading, where an ambitious plan for a regular podcast goes by the wayside, and we're left with just a few old episodes to enjoy. The sometimes raunchy Blind Kiss, produced by Ouch!'s Damon, posted its most recent episode a year ago (one show description includes "Sara tests Damon to see if he knows which celebrities are black and which are white")--go listen anyway, they're good; Marlaina by Ear seems to have last posted a new installment in December 2005; What Jake Thinks, a movie reviews podcast by a teenager with Angelman syndrome, seems to have been suspended for health reasons in recent months, but may yet return.

We'll check back on this rapidly growing format from time to time; if you hear (or produce!) a really great disability podcast, drop us a line.

I meant to add (3/31): For a lengthy but interesting discussion of the accessibility issues associated with iPods, check BlindConfidential and the continuation here. The author notes,
"I cringe every time I hear the term “Pod cast” on a blind person’s web site. Well before the iPod, an Apple trademark, we blinks enjoyed all kinds of streaming audio on the Microsoft platform...Why then do we insist on giving Apple a free advertisement for a product that might as well have a sign saying, 'No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish' hanging on it as far as we blinks are concerned. I’m also dubious of anything containing the word “pod” that doesn’t refer directly to food...."
Point taken. I tried to vary the nouns used in the post above, having read this, but it wasn't easy; I'm afraid that linguistic horse may already be out of the barn. See also Anna Dresner's new blog, NBP Book Updates, for discussions of iPod/iTunes accessibility.

March 30: Anna Sewell (1820-1878) and Antonio de Cabezon (1510-1566)

Two disability history birthdays on this date: Anna Sewell (1820-1878) was the author of perennial bestseller Black Beauty (1877), and a classic nineteenth- century English "invalid"--she combined an indisputable mobility impairment (following a bad fall at age 14) with various other less-defined health conditions, and lived at home with her mother for her whole life, writing and painting in her "enforced idleness." She wrote Black Beauty to "induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses." And it seems to have worked: animal cruelty laws were inspired by Black Beauty or supported by its readers; the novel's first publication in the US was arranged by the American Humane Society in Boston. Sewell's one and only publication has never gone out of print.

The other birthday is that of Spanish baroque composer Antonio de Cabezón, born this day in 1510. Cabezón was blind from infancy. His uncle was an official in the diocese at Palencia, and arranged for young Antonio's musical education at the cathedral in that city. In 1526 he became Queen Isabella's own organist; he remained in royal employ after her death, and in 1548 became King Philip II's organist by exclusive arrangement. He traveled with the King for eight years, all over Europe, and played at Philip's wedding to Queen Mary of England. He produced secular and liturgical compositions for organ and clavichord, as well as a manual on teaching keyboard techniques. His son Hernando was also an organist and composer. Antonio de Cabezón's compositions are widely available on CD.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lectures and Exhibit about the Allen Sisters

There is just such a wealth of great stuff happening in April! This announcement by Darrick Nicholas has appeared on DS-HUM, H-Disability, and elsewhere, but I'll add in some links to make it a proper blog entry...--PLR

Gallaudet lectures and exhibition feature works of
famed 19th-century deaf photographers

The photographic artistry of Frances and Mary Allen takes center stage April 5-6 as part of the I. King Jordan Lecture Series. For the first program, Suzanne Flynt, author of The Allen Sisters: Pictorial Photographers 1885-1920 and curator of the traveling exhibition of that name now on view at Gallaudet University, will present the story of their extraordinary lives through their exquisite photographs.

The program takes place 11 a.m., April 5 at Swindells Auditorium, located in the Gallaudet University Kellogg Conference Center.

Working within the aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts movement, Frances and Mary Allen created exquisite photographs of New England country life, figure and child studies, and landscapes of New England, Great Britain, and California. Their photographs were included in important turn-of-the-last-century exhibitions such as the Washington Salon and Art Photographic Exhibition (1896), the Third International Congress of Photography (Paris, 1900), and the Third Philadelphia Photographic Salon (1900).

Flynt has served as Massachusetts Field Researcher for the National Portrait Gallery. Since April 1982, she has been curator responsible for the museum collections at Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, Mass. Most recently, she curated the permanent MMH installation “Poetry to the Earth: The Arts and Crafts Movement.” Her previous publications include “Hadley Chests,” with Phil Zea (1992), and “Family, Home and Place: Nineteenth Century Prints” (1990).

The second event, taking place at 1 p.m. on April 6 in Swindells Auditorium, will offer insight into how the sisters lived.

During her discussion, “Deaf Eyes: The Allen Sisters Pictorial Photography, 1885-1920,” Dr. Brenda Brueggemann will examine what life was like to be deaf, female and photographers at the turn of the last century.

Her focus will include developing a mini-autobiography of the sisters, dissecting their homelife in Deerfield, offering some background about women and photography in general during this particular period in American (and international) history, and examining specific photographs and placing them in four major (often overlapping) categories.

Dr. Brueggemann is an associate professor at the Ohio State University. She serves as coordinator of the American Sign Language Program and also of the Disability Studies Minor. She is author of Lend Me Your Ear: Rhetorical Constructions of Deafness, and essays and articles on pedagogy, qualitative research, literacy, rhetoric, deaf and disability studies.

Dr. Brueggemann is co-editor of and contributor to Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. She is series editor for Deaf Lives (autobiography and biography) for Gallaudet University Press.

Dr. Brueggemann is recipient of OSU’s Kathryn Schoen Award (2000) for Women in Academic Leadership and the OSU Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award (2001) as well as an Ohio Humanities Council grant, OSU Seed Grant, and Coca-Cola Foundation for Research on Women grant. Dr. Brueggemann serves on Gallaudet University’s Board of Trustees and is chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

Fifty of the Allen Sisters’ photographs will be on exhibit in the Linda K. Gallery at the Washburn Arts Center from March 22 to May 15.

Gallaudet established the I. King Jordan Lecture Series to honor President Jordan’s many years of distinguished service at the University. One of the hallmarks of Dr. Jordan’s presidency has been his commitment to academic excellence. In recognition of his leadership
in achieving excellence, speakers who have made outstanding contributions in their fields are being invited to address the Gallaudet community throughout this year. Local, national, and
international scholars and leaders*including those from Gallaudet--will be part of this series.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art (Chicago, 1 April-4 June)

How cool is this? Thanks to BlindConfidential blog for the tip...--PLR

Ground-Breaking Exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center
April 1—June 4, 2006
Highlight of the City-Wide Bodies of Work Festival

This spring, the Chicago Cultural Center will host one of the first American surveys that will take an in depth look at the issues of art and disability.

Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art is a ground-breaking exhibition that will be a cornerstone of Bodies of Work: The Chicago Festival of Disability Arts and Culture, the city’s first-ever multi-venue festival showcasing work by professional artists with disabilities.

Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art will come to the Chicago Cultural Center’s Michigan Avenue Galleries, located at 78 E. Washington St. (accessible entrance located at 77 E. Randolph St.), from April 1 through June 4, 2006. The show aims to be a complex and serious conversation about how disability is both understood and misunderstood by the culture at large.

It will include paintings, sculpture, photography, installation and samples of graphic novels by more than 20 artists—both disabled and non-disabled—and will explore issues of illness, impairment, discrimination, alienation, sexuality, community, identity and the political aspects of disability.

The exhibition is organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and co-curated by Illinois artist Riva Lehrer and Sofia Zutautas, Assistant Curator at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art has been underwritten by Maria Magnus and is made possible through generous gifts from Beatrice C. Mayer, Michael Louis Minns, Mary McFadden, Good’s of Evanston and The Compounder Pharmacy. Admission to the exhibition and related programming is free.

Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art will include work by local, national and international professional artists including David B. (Beauchard), Madison Clell, Katie Dallam, Susan Dupor, Laura Ferguson, Tabata Hideoshi, Jennifer Justice, Terry Karpowicz, Leonard Lehrer, Riva Lehrer, Tim Lowly, William Newman, Harriet Sanderson, Katherine Sherwood, Hollis Sigler, Sunaura Taylor, Frances Turner, Richard Yohnka and Jonathan Wos, among others.

“This exhibition challenges the way disability has stayed beneath the radar on the art world’s screen,” said Sofia Zutautas, Assistant Curator of Exhibitions for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

“It also gives this artists’ community its well deserved exposure while bringing to light a subject matter that is rarely addressed.”

The public is invited to learn more about the exhibition by taking part in a number of programs at the Chicago Cultural Center. A list of programs include:

Public Discussion: “The Geography of Art & Disability”
Saturday, April 1, 2 p.m., First Floor Garland Room
Katherine Sherwood, participating artist and professor of Art at UC Berkeley, discusses the history of art and disability.

Bodies of Work: A Public Forum
“Disability Culture in the U.S.: Revolutionizing Art From the Inside Out”
Friday, April 21, 6 p.m., First Floor Garland Room
Moderated by Carrie Sandahl, disability rights activist, cultural critic, historian and theatre artist, and Associate Professor at Florida State University’s School of Theatre.

Audio Described Tours
Saturday, April 22, 12-2 p.m., Michigan Avenue Galleries
Thursday, April 27, 12-2 p.m., Michigan Avenue Galleries
Audio described tours will be available for the visually impaired.

Gallery Talk
Thursday, April 27, 12:15 p.m., Michigan Avenue Galleries
Co-curators Riva Lehrer and Sofia Zutautas discuss the exhibition.

Public Discussion: “Imagining and Imaging the Disabled Self”
Saturday, April 29, 2:30 p.m., First Floor Garland Room
Moderated by Alice Dreger, PhD., of the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program at Northwestern University, and including a panel of artists whose works are included in the exhibition.

Expanded hours for summer at the Chicago Cultural Center begin on April 1 and run through October 31.

Viewing hours for Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art at the Chicago Cultural Center are Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Chicago Cultural Center is closed on holidays.

This program is presented as part of Bodies of Work: The Chicago Festival of Disability Arts and Culture, held in venues across the city from April 20-30, 2006.
Bodies of Work features artwork and performances that address disability issues and highlights the work of artists with disabilities in a variety of disciplines including the visual and literary arts, dance, film and theater. Lectures, tours and workshops are also featured.

The Michigan Avenue Galleries are supported by Chase. Exhibitions and related educational programming presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs at the Chicago Cultural Center are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Also on view in the Chicago Cultural Center from April 1 through May 14 is the exhibition, “Thinking Out Loud: Studio Programs for Artists with Disabilities,” which features the work of artists with developmental, cognitive, and mental disabilities. A part of the Bodies of Work festival, “Thinking Out Loud” includes work by artists who participate in studio programs operated by community-based organizations in Chicago, including Project Onward, Esperanza Community Services, and Thresholds South.


Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art
(or call 312.744.6630 (TTY: 312.744.2947))

Bodies of Work: The Chicago Festival of Disability Arts and Culture
(or call 312.744.6630 (TTY: 312.744.2947))

Sunday, March 26, 2006


It's too, too typical to find newspapers using highly presumptive language in relation to disability. Even if the subject of a photo is smiling, clearly enjoying life, the caption will say "Jane, who suffers from cerebral palsy," while the headline reminds you of her "affliction," just in case you were thinking she looked happy, comfortable, or even lucky. The print edition of the LA Times today has another instance of this presumption: on page E44, in the Calendar section, we find a photograph of the Australian rock band The Vines, with the caption, "Off the Road: The Vines' ailing singer Craig Nicholls, left, with bandmates Ryan Griffiths, Patrick Matthews, and Hamish Rosser." Ailing? Wow, that sounds awful... even life-threatening... but wait, look, in the text of the article by Chris Lee, we learn that Nicholls (at the center of the photo here) was recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.


The Guardian has a better and more extensive treatment of the story, maybe because reporter Craig McLean actually asks Nicholls what he thinks of his own diagnosis (for the record, he says, "it made a lot of sense to me....It was kind of a relief. It was more like an explanation").

Friday, March 24, 2006

This IS the plan

NPR picked up the story of Carol Reyes, an elderly homeless woman from Gardena, CA. When she was released from the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Bellflower, CA, she was put in a taxi, which drove sixteen miles to downtown Los Angeles. There, the taxi was instructed to drop her off on Skid Row--and it did. The security cameras at the Union Rescue Mission caught the whole sequence: taxi makes U-turn, woman in hospital gown and socks walking down sidewalk, disoriented. It's not the first time this has happened; it's just the first time they've got such clear video of a patient dumping in progress. This is, apparently, a fairly regular occurrence -- hospitals and jails in surrounding cities discharge folks (often PWDs) with no place to go directly to Los Angeles's Skid Row (the photo at lower right is from today's LA Times coverage of the story--the caption doesn't bother to point out that two of the homeless men here are in wheelchairs--see also columnist Steve Lopez's series about a week on Skid Row--most of the photos include wheelchair users).

What happens when city planners and health policy folks don't take disability into consideration? Or worse, when they decide that some people are not worth bothering to plan around at all? Sometimes, Katrina happens, and there are people dying in their wheelchairs at the Superdome; sometimes, it's a quieter abandonment, and a woman is left padding along an unfamiliar street in cheap hospital socks, in a city that should know better.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

March 24: Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)

It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

Prolific American hymn writer Fanny Crosby was born on 24 March 1820, on a farm in Putnam County, New York. Her blindness was attributed to an illness in infancy. She is said to have written over 8000 hymns, many of them published under pseudonyms both masculine and feminine. Highly sentimental verses by Crosby, with titles like "The Blind Girl's Lament" (1842), appeared in the annual reports of the New York Institute for the Blind, where she began as a student at age 15 and stayed for thirty-five years, as a teacher of rhetoric and history. In 1858, she resigned her teaching position because she had married Alexander Van Alstyne, a fellow NYIB alumnus and church-music composer. In 1885, she played one of her own compositions at the funeral of President Ulysses S. Grant. Fanny Crosby died shortly before her 95th birthday, in 1915.

The complete text of her 1906 autobiography, Memories of Eighty Years, is available online at the Disability History Museum.

For further reading:

Edith L. Blumhofer, Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby (William B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005).

June Hadden Hobbs, "I Sing for I Cannot Be Silent": The Feminization of American Hymnody, 1870-1920 (University of Pittsburgh Press 1997).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Neighborhood (In)accessibility Mapping

In her introduction to Simi Linton's Mini Course presentation "Reframing Disability Through the Arts" last Wednesday, March 15, Carol Marfisi spoke of the dream that that she has cherished as long as she has been employed with the Institute on Disabilities. She had always felt the urge to move out to Berkeley, California where a robust disability community has been in existence for since the early 1970s. What was it about Berkeley that made it so attractive. Was it the countercultural ethos? Was it the climate? Was it the progressive mentality? Or was it simply the prospect of being able to explore an urban landscape without having to face physical and attitudinal barriers on a regular basis?

Carol interviewed for a position at Temple University's Institute on Disabilities back in 1994. In response to her expressed desire to move to Berkeley, the Institute on Disabilities' Executive Director, Diane Bryen, responded, "Why can't we make our own Berkeley here." Make Philadelphia into a Berkeley? What could that possibly mean? Philadelphia has a very distictive urban gritty flair, one well-captured by its blogging community, including some very creative photojournalists. Here is just a small sample of their work.
When I think of bringing Berkeley to Philadelphia, I think about the finding an activist focus for the energy of our substantial population of high school and college students. I think about turning the 'camera phone' generation into documentarians, joining the fight for to create a Barrier-Free Philadelphia.

Where to begin? How about an inaccessibility tour of the city? This isn't a new idea of mine; it emerges from my background and contacts as an urban social geographer, as well as my current employment at the Institute on Disabilities. I collected my first inaccessibility photoset back in 1992 while I was a masters student at Penn State University, inspired by access maps that were being produced at a number of different universities. Penn State's access map at the time, printed just after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, was very colorful, but was not presented in such a way that it could be used as a practical guide for students on campus. Instead, we found that it was being distributed as a recruiting tool! Local disability activists were particularly perplexed by a key that designated buildings 'accessible,' 'inaccessible' and 'partially accessible.' What is 'partially accessible' about buildings with step at the front entrance?

Strategies for accessibility photojournalism have shifted with the expanded capabilities of the web. In Barcelona, Spain, people with disabilities take pictures of unaccessible places and then post them to a site where they are linked to a map of the city. The 'treehugger' blog offers a brief description of the site, linked to a gallery exhibit at the Centre d'Art Santa Mónica, la Rambla 7, 08002 Barcelona until the 5th March 06.
Of course, it is one thing to document barriers and another thing to undertake a public campaign for their removal. John Kelly shares an apparent successs story on his blog called, aptly enough 'NAG: Neighborhood Access Group'. Or at least we hope that this is the case, since posting on the site stopped after they were successful in getting the City of Boston to agree to remove and replace a bricked stretch of Huntington Avenue near Massachusetts Avenue.

Tempted to dart into that handicap parking space?
Just when you convinced yourself that "I'll only be here a minute" and besides "Nobody will even notice" ... Click!
You've been outed from the driver's seat by the driver whose spot you're in! Pictures are posted on a 'moblog' called 'Gimp Eye for the Clueless Guy'.

Similar photodocumentary and accessiblity projects have been been pursued for many years by in the fields of urban planning, geography and urban studies scholars. I have collected numerous examples from the United States and Great Britain, and would love to learn more about yours!

-- Many thanks to Scott Rains, Jim Marston, Ph.D., and Mary Johnson sharing the sites listed above.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the office tower... comes "fitness architecture"--buildings designed to make you climb stairs and walk long distances between the front door and your destination. The Wall Street Journal raved in November about a building under construction at Virginia Commonwealth University:

the elevators will be especially slow-moving. They will also be tucked away at the rear, while the atrium will feature a prominent set of stairs -- 28 to get to the second floor, and a total of 76 to get all the way up to the fourth floor.

Fear not--a "slimming mirror" will greet stairclimbers, to encourage them in their efforts to get fit. (Will they also put "fattening mirrors" in the elevators? Or just stamp "lazy" on the foreheads of elevator users?) It's probably a dream come true if you're a corporation trying to save money on construction--but look, it's also a benevolent idea, to improve the environment and public health: "in buildings that aren't hospitals, hide the lifts," recommends blogger Natalie Bennett. Oh, I see, it's progressive, and for public health--haven't people with disabilities paid disproportionately into that cause already (with institutionalization, dubious medical treatments, immigration restrictions, marriage restrictions, sterilization, etc. etc. etc. for the "greater good")?

So, if you're going to meet your lawyer, buy some shoes, vote, eat in a restaurant---plan to be fit, or get fit. But if you're on wheels....or have any other condition that make stairs impossible or risky....well, there's those "special" elevators way back there, behind the atrium--but give yourself an extra ten or fifteen minutes, they're really slow.

[T-shirt from Dan Wilkins' The Nth Degree.]

UPDATE 3/19: Bennett has this further clarification in her comments space: "I accept for some people with disabilities that would be inconvenient - those for whom walking a very short distance is possible but longer distances aren't - but that would, I think, be a not unreasonable price to pay for better overall societal and environmental health." It is an unreasonable price (and she seems to be under the mistaken impression that once you're on wheels, all distances are equal), but more to the point, does Bennett have the right to accept that price on behalf of the people who will pay it? People with disabilities and their allies should be very concerned when both the Wall Street Journal and a Green Party member can agree to accept their exclusion from any public spaces.

UPDATE 1/3/07: She's still at it. Some folks will never see the problem with building exclusion into the architecture of everyday life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Disability Studies, like analogous diversity studies (i.e., Women’s Studies and African American Studies), always refers ‘disability’ back to the historical and social contexts that condition its significance. Our curriculum at Temple University consistently challenges the still widespread that notion that the statuses and roles of individuals with disability are the inevitable product of physical or psychological limitations.

We can think of no better ambassador for this view, and for our program, than Dr. Simi Linton, a consistent champion for an academic field where the collective voices of persons with disabilities and their allies inform the content and become vehicles of instruction.
She is the author of My Body Politic, and Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, as well as numerous articles on disability studies, and disability and the arts.

Simi Linton is co-director of the University Seminar in Disability Studies at Columbia University, and the Spring 2006 Visiting Presidential Scholar at Hofstra University. In 1998 Dr. Linton founded Disability/Arts, a consulting practice that provides services to arts organizations, museums, theater companies, and film and television producers.

In 1998 Dr. Linton founded Disability/Arts, a consulting practice that provides services to arts organizations, museums, theater companies, and film and television producers. Projects include consultation with the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, The Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, The Non-Traditional Casting Project, state and regional arts councils, and documentary filmmakers. In 2005, Disability/Arts co-produced three events on disability and theatre at the Public Theater and at Columbia University, and have several more planned for 2006.

Dr. Linton left her faculty position in 1998 as Associate Professor of Psychology in the Division of Education at Hunter College, after fourteen years of teaching. Over the past several years, she has delivered numerous lectures at colleges, universities and cultural institutions on disability studies as a field, and disability and the arts. She conducts faculty development seminars on disability studies, consults on the development of curricula and academic programs, and produces cultural events.

I wish to thank everyone who attended the Mini Course presentation by Simi Linton, entitled "Approaching Disability Through the Arts"!

Featured Artists and their Works:

Simi Linton, My Body Politic (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Click here for a 30% off coupon.
In her new book, Simi Linton, a widely recognized New York disability activist and scholar offers a kaleidoscopic overview of the experiences and friends who shaped her life since experiencing impairments at the age of 23. She writes in poignant, colorful details about how gradually became aware of the social and political, as well as personal, challenges faced by people who are marginalized in society for reasons tied to 'disability.'

Shelley Barry, "Whole: A Trinity of Being"; we viewed the third segment, called "Entry." Shelley is a Temple University MFA student. Her work has been a favorite at disability film festivals last year, and has recently received its 4th international award (Jury Citation, at the 25th Black Maria Film and Video Festival, New Jersey City University, 2039 Kennedy Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305). Copies of the work are available from the artist. Email: twospinningwheels AT

Sharon Snyder, "Self-Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer", featuring the commentary of Disability Studies scholars Tobin Seibers, Rosemarie Garland Thomson and Carrie Sandahl. The portraits were part of Riva's 'Circle Series': #1, Jeff Carpenter; #2, Bill Shannon; #3, Susan Nussbaum, #5, Mike Ervine and Anna Stonum, #6, Tekki Lomnicki; and #10, Eli Claire, amongst others. Contact the directors directly to secure copies of the DVD, ssnyder AT & dmitchel AT

Homer Avila, a world renowned dancer and choreographer who continued performing even after doctors amputated his cancerous right leg and hip. We viewed rough videos of his practices and live performances, shot before his death on May 06, 2004.

To learn more about the academic field of Disability Studies, Simi Linton recommends that you visit the website of the Society for Disability Studies. We also hope to see some of you at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the society, from June 14 - 17, 2006 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Further Artist Information:

We extend thanks to the following Temple University organizations and individuals who offered financial support for today's event:

+ the following local arts organizations for their support:

In Fall 2006, the Temple University's Graduate Certificate Program will once again offering our course DS 400: Disability Rights and Culture, where we explore the issues raised in the Mini Course in far greater depth. Please consider enrolling in this class, and get in touch with Mike Dorn and Carol Marfisi if you would like more information on the curriculum.

Monday, March 13, 2006

More new disability-related film news

The Florida Film Festival, to be held March 24-April 2 in Orlando, will include a screening of the award-winning 24/7, a film about Florida's underfunded in-home support services for families with developmentally-disabled members (the photo at left is a still from the film). The filmmakers, Mary Fallon and Daniel Priest, made this as their master's project at the University of Florida's Documentary Institute. Other very recent documentary films of interest on the schedule include 81-Year-Old Sweethearts, a short (the sweethearts in the title are both wheelchair users); and four films about individual men's experiences with disability: So Much So Fast, about a thirtysomething man getting an ALS diagnosis; Black Sun, about Hugues de Montalembert, a seasoned traveler who plans a trip to Indonesia after becoming blind; The Devil and Daniel Johnston, about the noted songwriter who has experienced mental illness; and You're Gonna Miss Me, about Roky Erikson (a rock vocalist who was institutionalized in 1969, and diagnosed as schizophrenic).

If you can't get to Orlando, watch for these films at your nearest film festival--they're all currently making the rounds (check the linked websites for each film's schedule).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Disability Film Premier at Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Queen of the Mountain
A Documentary Film

For Release: March 1, 2006
Contact: Martha Goell
Telephone 610 642-9112

Philly Fun Guide Announces Premiere with Open Captioning
Bryn Mawr Film Institute, Wednesday, March 22, 7:00 P.M.

Born in 1901, Theresa Goell started her career as an archaeologist with four strikes against her: she was female, divorced, a Jew working with Muslims and hearing impaired. But with unshakable determination, Goell abandoned the comfortable life of a middle-class housewife in Brooklyn and pursued her passion for archaeology at Nemrud Dagh, a gigantic monument to King Antiochus, who lived in a Kurdish region of Turkey in the century before the birth of Christ.
At age 50, struggling with increasing hearing loss, she and her excavation team of 50 Kurdish men cleared the burial site of Antiochus and uprighted heads of ten 30-foot-high sculptures dedicated to the Greek and Persian gods Antiochus worshipped. Goell’s adventures are documented in Queen of the Mountain, a film produced and directed by her niece, Martha Goell Lubell.

Additional options for viewing the film:
Scheduled to be broadcast on local public television stations WHYY, Thursday, March 23, 10:00 P.M. and WNET in New York on Sunday, March 26, 2:00 P.M.
Copies also available for sale through Women Making Movies - check out their press kit in pdf.

March 6: Maria Gutierrez-Cueto y Blanchard (1881-1932)

Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Maria Gutierrez-Cueto y Blanchard, a Spanish Cubist painter who was born this date in 1881 in Santander. Blanchard was called "jorobada," or hunchbacked, from birth. She trained as an artist in Madrid, and found some success as a painter in Paris, before her early death in 1932, from tuberculosis. Federico Garcia Lorca wrote an elegy to Blanchard. Most of the websites I found about her were in Spanish (as might be expected), but I also found this bio, in Dutch. The late painting at right, "La Convaleciente" (1930-32, found here), indicates that Blanchard's disability experience was reflected her work. Has anyone looked at Blanchard's life and work from a disability history perspective, in any language? I'd love to know.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Disability blogs roundup, #8

February was short, but the supply of recent blog roundup items on disability is not. As always, there are several new-to-me disability blogs worth a peek: Carrie Ann Lucas had a lovely post about talking to her daughter about Rosa Parks and accessible buses; in another civil rights intersection, Joseph Rainmound at Deaf in the City notes that "Deaf people and gays both get kicked in the ass for much of the same reasons," so he's calling for some unity there.

Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan's flag-waving at the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics (pictured above) caught a lot of mainstream interest (and multiple appearances of the words "inspiring," "overcoming," "wheelchair-bound" *sigh*)--but the real sports action is at Rollingpix, where you'll find coverage of wheelchair tennis right now, but all wheelchair sports (and a few others) are linked in the sidebar. Also, Gimpy Mumpy and Ruth (at In the Name of Quad) pass along the good news that the Paralympics will be available as a webcast--they start next week.

Vancouver, then Valentine's--well, V-Day, anyway. And V is for vocabulary: How do you sign orgasm? There was a long discussion about this at Quiescent Voices. And more interpretation challenges came up at Short Bus Queen--it seems all her students have an "Emergency Tossing List," or so she wrote in a Spanish letter to parents. (Lesson learned: Beware the online translators.) And speaking of special education teachers, Square Girl tells of her New Agenda: to spend "a lot more time and energy noticing the people who... are already compassionate, inclusive and simply kind."

The ADA and similar laws mean that people with disabilities can go anywhere now without a big unnecessary hassle...right? Well, sure, except shopping, airports, airplanes, health clubs, buses, more airplanes, more buses, South African airplanes, trains, MacDonalds, why, again, don't people with disabilities travel more? "Not because they aren't able. Not because they don't want to. Not because they don't have the means. But because transportation is inaccessible," says DarrenH in one of many fine posts at his Get Around Guide last month.

Kestrel's posted the ever-circulating (but still good) "What to do when you meet someone who is differently-abled," in which she passes along the advice that "Sighted people tend to be very proud and will not ask directly for assistance." But then, the world is full of dubious and uninvited advice to people with disabilities, notes Gimpy Mumpy. And dubious labels too: Eeka at One Smoot Short of a Bridge explains that there's a difference between ADA compliant and fully accessible, a difference which has escaped at least one agency's pamphlet writer. Luckily, there are also plenty of apologies to be had--probably too many, to Mary Johnson's thinking, because "apologies aren't enough."

Cool stuff: monster tires at the beach, comfortable beer mugs, tactile Rubik's Cubes, temperature-coded shower heads, large-print keyboards. Students who are interested in disability rights and disability studies are pretty cool too: Sarah at Musings from a Very Small Suitcase had a great visit with the Backus Street ADAPT folks in Rochester NY (check her schedule, she may be coming to your town next); while Franny at So, So Silver Age is writing about disability and comic-book superheroes--yes, "enfreakment is a real word."

And on that note, I'll close the March, blog roundup (forgive the slip--I'm a UNC alum, married to a Duke alum--that's a mixed marriage this time of year). Watch in early April for the next installment, and suggestions are always most welcome.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mardi Gras humor, 2006

A team of "blind levee inspectors" at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans this week.

Were levees really maintained entirely by human visual inspection? I'd think there would be other technologies involved--equipment detecting disturbances in the surface and flow of the water behind the levee, for example. Such equipment might easily be monitored by blind engineers. Hardhats or no.

But beyond that quibble--disabled people, including blind people, were disproportionately affected by the disaster that followed Hurricane Katrina. (Too many commentators asked, "Why didn't they get in their cars and drive out of there at the first warning?" Well, being blind might be one reason not to drive yourself to safety, huh?) Why add to the pain with this kind of cheap shot? I know, I know, the costumes at Mardi Gras parades are often transgressive, tasteless, etc. Other costumes spotted at this year's parades were maggots, sandbags, toxic waste, Michael Brown, blue tarps, and such. But this photo (found at Pam's House Blend) captures so much of the continued cluelessness about disability and disasters.