Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Notes from the Field: The West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (WVSDB) in Romney, WV

The West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (WVSDB), originally uploaded by Edu-Tourist. Image note: Photograph, taken at night, of the West Virginia historical marker located at the entrance to the WVSDB campus. The marker reads: "Established, 1870. The Classical Institute was donated by the Romney Literary Society as the initial building unit. Co-educational school giving academic and vocational training to the State's deaf and blind youth."

While returning from vacation with family in the Ohio Valley, I had the opportunity to visit the Hampshire County Public Library and briefly view the grounds of this distinguished West Virginia institution. Amongst the interesting and instructive stories attached the school is the life of one of the school's most successful graduates, Ernest Hairston.

By the early twentieth century, there two institutions, for 'white' and 'colored' deaf and blind youth in the state of West Virginia. As a result of the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education, the students of the West Virginia School for Colored Deaf and Blind (located in Institute, near Charleston, WV) were transferred to WVSDB in Romney. One of the students transferred, Ernest Hairston, went on to score at the top of his class at WVSDB, receiving encouragement from his English teacher to rethink his intentions(driven by the largely vocations curriculum at WVSCDB) to become a barber. Harston went on receive his Bachelor Degree in Education from Gallaudet College (now University), his Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision is from California State University at Northridge, and a doctorate in Special Education Administration from Gallaudet University. He is currently Education Research Analyst at the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
Sources:Ernest Hairston and Linwood Smith (1983) Black and Deaf in America: Are we that different (Silver Spring, Md.: T. J. Publishers).
Glenn B. Anderson and Katrina R. Miller (2004/2005) 'Appreciating diversity through stories about the lives of Deaf people of color,' American Annals of the Deaf 149(5):375-83, profile on p. 378.

Friday, December 12, 2008


This. Yeah, just two years after Clint Eastwood was awarded as a "humanitarian" at the Oscars, we're going to have Jerry Lewis get a "humanitarian" award too? While it would be nice to see the award quietly rescinded, or the presentation streamlined out of the over-long broadcast, it's most likely going to happen... Read the Anti-Telethon blogswarm from 2007 to see why that's protest-worthy. (At least Tropic Thunder probably isn't up for any awards this season.)

So, who's coming out to Hollywood in February? It's usually a beautiful sunny day. And the Walk of Fame is quite wheelchair-friendly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Geo-Politics of Disability Speaker Series, 2009 Edition

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, has released the lineup of invited guest speakers for rest of the 2008 - 2009 academic year. And quite an intoxicating brew it appears to be.

January 28 - Nicole Markotić (photo on right), Associate Professor of English, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
February 18 - Michael Bérubé, Paterno Family Professor in Literature, The Pennsylvania State University
March 18 - James Charlton, Access Living, Chicago, IL
April 15 - Adrienne Asch of Yeshiva University, New York City, NY
All talks take place at 1810 Liacouras Walk on Temple University's main campus, beginning at 12:00 noon. Requests for accommodations should be directed to Brian Zimmerman at the Institute on Disabilities.

We hope to post a DS,TU review of Dr. Markotić's new book Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot (Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver, Canada) in advance of her visit, and distribute a video of the presentation by podcast, so stay tuned. If you live in the region, why not take the train into the city and join us?

Disability Blog Carnival #51 is up now!

[Image: Map of Area 51, in Nevada]

Shiloh at Sunny Dreamer has compiled the December edition of the Disability Blog Carnival, #51, with "Quotations, Sayings, and Songs" as the theme. This is the only December Carnival; next edition should post January 8, when Cherylberyl hosts. (More soon on that one.)

As with many blog carnivals, submissions have been down the last handful of carnival editions. I'm thinking that in 2009, we may move to a monthly format, to give each host a fair collection to choose from. Downside is, we'd have half as many chance to host. If you have feedback about this idea, I'm glad to consider it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Swing time

In the picture, my son and I at the dedication of a new accessible swing at a neighborhood park today... We like to show up for these things if we're available, because it's good for the city officials who approved the funds, and the park crew who will maintain the site, to see who will benefit. To see that it's not just window-dressing, that there are real kids who will enjoy the new equipment.

It's also the one and only day that you can assume the accessible swing will be in working order--in fact, this one had already needed a minor repair before the photo opportunities commenced. (Why do carers let kids mistreat playground equipment? It's not actually indestructible, and it's never inexpensive.)

Thanks again to the Hermosa Beach folks who worked for this swing (and who are working for further accessibility features in other parks), and to photographer Doris Beaman for the lovely picture she took.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Helen Keller's Flickring

Helen Keller and Mrs. Macy (LOC)
Originally uploaded by The Library of Congress

This week's batch of Flickr Commons uploads from the Library of Congress's G. G. Bain Collection includes a series of photos of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy, taken in some kind of conservatory or museum. In the photo I've featured here, Keller is seated in a wicker chair, and posed in profile, while Macy stands behind the chair and is seen face-on. Both women wear long dark dresses and have long hair arranged in low chignons at the nape. The Bain Collection photos are from 1910-1915.

If you have more information about the occasion or location of these photos, you can add that to the photos at Flickr. (The photos can also be tagged by visitors.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sensory Friendly Film Screenings

Got this email through a local group:
Subject: Autism Society of America and AMC Entertainment to Host Films

AMC Entertainment (AMC) and ASA have teamed up to begin testing a pilot program to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis.

"Sensory Friendly Films" premiered across the country last August, and are continuing with a special showing of the new film Bolt for December.

For these movies the lights are up a little, the sound is down, there is no "silence is golden" rule, and people can bring in special dietary snacks.
An interesting experiment, similar to Parent Movie Mornings at some theatres on weekday mornings, where babies are welcome instead of frowned upon, secure stroller parking is offered, and the volume is down. And no doubt any such realistic accommodations are a godsend for many families.

But once again, the sensory-friendly screenings are targeting families and showing kid movies at this pilot stage, rather than imagining there are adults who might also like to "enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment" that includes lower volume and BYO snacks. These conditions don't have to be "special" or just for children--they might be appreciated by a much wider audience if the option were offered.

Monday, December 01, 2008

CFP: Society for Disability Studies (Tucson, June 2009)



The Society for Disability Studies is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its annual convention, to be held June 18-21, 2009, in Tucson, Arizona, at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort. The theme for this convention is “It’s ‘Our’ Time: Pathways to and From Disability Studies—Past, Present, Future.” Time, in all its forms, conceptualizations, and manifestations, will be the central focus of the conference, though proposals on any topic relevant to Disability Studies are welcomed. We imagine a number of different ways of approaching the issue of time, a concept critical to all aspects of disability experience and culture:

Cultural: Is there such a thing as“disability time”? How do different cultural constructions and experiences of time affect people with disabilities?

Economic: How is time a form of “capital,” both for people with disabilities and those involved in the “disability industry?” For people with disabilities who must interact with ableist norms of time in the labor force?

Political: What is disability’s “moment in 2009, a time when, whatever the outcome of elections in the U.S. and elsewhere, “change,” a temporal and political idea, is declaimed and echoed in much rhetoric. What current issues are particularly “timely” for disability studies—and how are such issues tied to past and future?

Educational: How do issues of time, including controversies around and resistance to accommodations around time for people with disabilities, play themselves out in educational environments?

Psychological/Philosophical: What does phenomenology’s enduring interest in internal time consciousness have to offer to understanding the intersection of disability experience and cross-ability inter-subjectivity? How is individual experience of time related to such realms as social and community psychology? Do different disabilities lead to different psychologies and/or philosophies of time?

Historical: History is, in a sense, the “biggest” unit of time. How do different eras view the role of time in disability experience? What is the relationship between disability history and temporality? Both studies of specific historical moments of disability and cross-historical studies are welcome.

The Arts: How is time represented in literary, visual, musical, performing, and mediated forms of art? How are questions of duration and endurance crucial to the roles of artists with disabilities in the social and cultural domains of the arts?

Medicine/Science: How do issues of longevity, physical and psychological capability,and social regulation of the lives of people with disabilities affect access and opportunities? How are medicine and science reconfiguring time and creating new conceptions of futures?

These are only suggestions of possible directions proposals around the convention theme might take—we imagine members will go off in many more directions as well. After all, it’s “our” time.

PROPOSALS ARE DUE NO LATER THAN JANUARY 15, 2009. For specifics about formats and submission guidelines, see the SDS conference website.

Conference co-chairs for the 2009 convention are: Christine McCohnell, Ramapo College of
New Jersey, Joan Ostrove, Macalester College, and Bruce Henderson, Ithaca College. Questions may be directed to the co-chairs at sdsconference2009@yahoo.com

Proposals will be reviewed by the conference Program Committee: Christine Komoroski-McCohnell, Bruce Henderson, Joan Ostrove (co-chairs); Shilpaa Anand, Susan Baglieri, Christopher Bell, Allison Carey, Michael Chemers, Jim Ferris, Deborah Little, Carol Marfisi, Akemi Nishida, Michael Rembis, and Cindy Wu.

Manet's "Rue Mosnier with Flags" (1878)

[Visual description: painting by Edouard Manet, a street scene in daylight, with French flags flying from every building; in the foreground, a figure with one leg uses crutches, back to the viewer, wearing a large blue coat and a black hat]

We went to the Getty today, a gorgeous day here in Los Angeles. The Getty is a wheel-friendly place with free admission and amazing views, so it's a low-stress place for us to go be a tourist family in our own town, and we go a few times a year. This time I spotted the Manet above--hadn't noticed it before, somehow, but it's in the permanent collection there. Tyler Green's blog Modern Art Notes had a good discussion of this painting's historical context earlier this year; an excerpt:
You can't miss the one-legged man--likely a war vet--at the left of the painting. The scene is apparently set on that national holiday and Manet juxtaposes the man against one of Baron Haussmann's famously straight Parisian streets. On the right -- on the other side of the street -- are Haussmann's new streetlights and a prosperous family. They all ignore the one-legged man. Manet is reminding us of the cost of war and of France's willful negligence of its warriors.