Friday, December 24, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival #72 is up now!

Dave Hingsburger has the December edition of the Disability Blog Carnival up this week at his blog, Rolling Around in my Head--he invited links about darkness and long nights and ways through them, marking the winter solstice, and he says "I applaud all who submitted and thank them for the many times I was moved, to tears, to thought and, perhaps even, to action."

The January edition will be hosted by Spaz Girl at Butterfly Dreams, and she's decided on "Let Your Freak Flag Fly" as the theme--here is her explanation/invitation/announcement. And I have Lil Watcher Girl of Through Myself and Back Again down for the February edition-- more to come on that soon I hope.

In January, I'll make a call for hosts for the rest of 2011--think about it and watch for the call in a few weeks. It's a commitment of time and organizational skills, but it can be fun and rewarding, and everyone who participates in any way--hosting, writing, submitting, commenting, linking, or reading--each of you is part of why this feature has continued for five years now. Thank you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18: Edward MacDowell (1860-1908)

[Visual description: 1940 US Postage stamp honoring Edward MacDowell, depicted as a mustachioed white man with a sweep of thick hair, wearing a stiff collar and tie.]

Today is the 150th anniversary of American composer Edward MacDowell, born on this date in 1860 in New York City (though some sources give 1861). He showed promise as a pianist from a young age; when he was 17, his family moved to Paris so he could study at the Paris Conservatoire. He also studied in Frankfurt, and played for Liszt, and taught in Darmstadt. He became a music professor at Columbia University first chairman of the Music Department there, and was a prolific composer. In 1904, he was part of the first group of honorees named to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

But also in 1904, at age 44, he was run over in a streetcar accident, and his injuries apparently accelerated a progressive neurological condition. He was unable to continue composing or teaching. "His mind became as that of a little child," said Lawrence Gilman, a friend. "He sat quietly, day after day, in a chair by a window, smiling patiently from time to time at those about him, turning the pages of a book of fairy tales that seemed to give him a definite pleasure, and greeting with a fugitive gleam of recognition certain of his more intimate friends." Composer Edvard Grieg ascribed the trouble to MacDowell's remarkable artistic temperament and an "unusually sympathetic and sensitive nervous system": "An artist so ideally endowed as MacDowell must ask himself: Why have I received from nature this delicately strung lyre, if I were better off without it?" (letter quoted in Gilman's biography, p. 35)

There was certainly an awareness of brain injuries at the time, and of dementia, but little was available in the way of medical intervention or rehabilitation, and there was no economic safety net for him or his wife, either. Friends held fundraisers and prominent authors and musicians signed calls for support. MacDowell's wife Marian, herself a musician, refused to consider an institution, and cared for him at home (assisted by a nurse, Anna Baetz) for the three years until he died.

In fulfillment of their shared vision, Marian founded an artists' retreat, the MacDowell Colony at her farm in New Hampshire in 1907. Marian MacDowell (d. 1956) led the Colony for twenty-five years, funding it with her lectures and performances, mainly for women's organizations. Nurse Anna Baetz (d. 1923) stayed on, long past Edward's passing, to help with the colony's day-to-day running. Today, the MacDowell Colony can claim dozens of award-winning works of art that were written or begun at the Edward and Marian's farm.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CFP: Disability and Native American/Indigenous Studies

Call for Papers: Disability and Native American/Indigenous Studies
Special Issue of Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability (JLCDS)

Guest Editors, Siobhan Senier and Penelope Kelsey

In Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia 1900-1950, a Nisga’a elder implores the historian Mary Ellen Kelm: “When we talk about the poor health of our people, remember it all began with the white man” (xv). This special issue of JLCDS invites scholars to consider two interrelated phenomena: on the one hand, colonialism has produced indigenous disability and illness—through the depletion of traditional sources of food and medicine, enforced containment in boarding schools and substandard reservation housing, trauma, poverty and so on.
On the other hand, colonial discourse also pathologizes Native people—construing them as genetically prone to certain illnesses, for instance. Given these colonial phenomena, scholarship is particularly welcome that considers how Native people indigenize the famous disability-rights call, “nothing about us without us”—bringing tribally situated responses, adaptations, and resistance to disability and illness.

JLCDS seeks essays that conjoin the methodologies and content of Disability Studies with Native American/Indigenous Studies. The texts under consideration can range from literature and film, in any genre, to non-print and non-alphabetic media. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

Tribally specific understandings/representations of illness and disability;
Applications of Disability Studies to indigenous texts;
Applications of indigenous methodologies to disability literature;
Colonization, medicalization, and the construction of disability;
Indigenous nationalisms, feminisms, and Two-Spirited resistance to the non-Native construction of disability;
Illnesses/disabilities more emic to the American Indian experience (i.e., tuberculosis, diabetes, PTSD, Split Feather syndrome);
Environmental degradation and racism and community health;
Representations of substance abuse and other community health concerns in colonial contexts;
Representations of indigenous disability vis-à-vis nation or community.
Proposals and queries should be sent to and Proposals are due by March 15, 2011, and proposal selections will be made by May 30, 2011. Completed essays for those selected are due October 1, 2011, and articles will be selected in December of 2011.

Dr. David Bolt
Lecturer, Disability Studies
Director, Centre for Culture & Disability Studies
Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies
Telephone 0151 291 3346
Postal address@ Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool,
L16 9JD

Sunday, November 28, 2010

RIP: Laura Hershey (1962-2010)

Another sad, sudden loss: disability rights activist and poet Laura Hershey has died after a very brief illness. The Denver Post obituary has such a lovely photograph of her, and summarizes the facts of her life and work. Laura's facebook page has become (as they do, in such times) a place for posting condolences to the family and memories and tributes. Many other blogs have been posting the news and links to some of Laura Hershey's best-known works, including FWD ("You Get Proud by Practicing"), Media dis&dat, and Victor Pineda. Visit for links to many other materials written by or about Laura Hershey. She will be terribly missed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival #71 is up NOW!

The November edition is up at Modus Dopens, and it's a good solid collection of links, around the theme of intersections. Go, fix yourself a drink (suggests the host!), and have a read.

The December edition is due to post at Rolling Around in My Head, where Dave H has invited posts around the theme "long nights and what we need to get through them," appropriate for the month with the literal longest nights (in the Northern Hemisphere), and a month with holidays that can feel like very long nights for many. Submissions are invited by December 15th for inclusion in the carnival.

ETA (12/15): f you're planning ahead, January's carnival will be hosted at Butterfly Dreams, with the theme "Let Your Freak Flag Fly!" Go over to the call for submissions for elaboration on that, and instructions for submitting links.

Thanks as always to hosts, contributors, readers and commenters, for making the Disability Blog Carnival happen (now heading into our fifth year--first official edition was October 2006). I'll be posting another call for hosts in the new year, so think about whether you'd like to have a turn in 2011.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Todd Reynolds DSG Student Paper Competition - 2011

Disability Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (DSG)

Todd Reynolds DSG Student Paper Competition - 2011

- Call for Papers -
Students working on topics concerned with the complex and multifaceted geographies of disability, aging and chronic illnesses are encouraged to submit a paper to the 2011 AAG Disability Specialty Group Student Paper Competition. The successful student will receive a cash prize of $100.

The award is named after Todd Reynolds, Ph.D. (1971 - 2008), a scholar with disabilities who pursued important research in human behavior and hazards geography - In Memory of Todd Reynolds blog. The goal of the award is to encourage student participation in the specialty group and to recognize outstanding emerging scholarship in geographic research on aging, chronic illnesses and disability.

Eligibility criteria: Papers prepared for publication, conference presentation, and graduate or senior undergraduate courses, as well as entries written specifically for this competition, are eligible for submission. Each student may submit only one paper. The student should be the lead contributor to the paper if it is co-authored. Students do not have to be a current member of the DSG or AAG nor must they plan to attend the 2011 AAG conference to submit a paper. International submissions are welcome.

The paper should not exceed 25 double-spaced pages (including all notes, references, and figures). 12 point font is preferred along with standard margins.

A cover letter should accompany all entries and contain:
- Current title of the paper and a brief abstract (no more than 100 words)
- Author and co-authors’ names
- Academic affiliation
- Faculty advisor for the paper
- Mailing address
- E-mail address
- Phone number
Students considering submitting are advised to contact student paper competition coordinator Ryan Parrey by e-mail in advance. He will also gladly address any questions or concerns regarding participation in this competition.

Award notification: Reviewers will be secured and their recommendations will be sent to the DSG Board for the final award decision.The award recipient will be notified shortly after the 2011 AAG annual meeting in Seattle, Washington - more information. The check will be mailed to him/her shortly thereafter. Post-conference announcements will be found on the DSG website and the GEOGABLE listserv, as well as other appropriate venues including the Disability Studies, Temple U blog.

All entries must be received by February 28th, 2011 by email to:

Ryan Parrey
Disability Studies
University of Illinois, Chicago

CFP: Disability, Humour, and Comedy

A call for papers from H-Disability today:

CFP: Disability, Humour and Comedy

A Special Issue of the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Guest Edited by
Dr. Tom Coogan (University of Leicester)
Dr. Rebecca Mallett (Sheffield Hallam University)

According to Morreall (2009), the Incongruity Theory “is today the most widely accepted theory of humour.” This theory holds that what makes a situation humorous is “that there is something odd, abnormal or out of place, which we enjoy in some way.” Add to this Mitchell and Snyder’s (2000) concept of narrative prosthesis, which identifies disability (and with it oddness, abnormality and “out of placeness”) as the crutch upon which narratives lean for their representational power, and a more fundamental relationship between disability and humour is suggested. As Moran (2003) has observed, humour is a term with a multitude of meanings. Among other things, she observes, it is a “cognitive style”; a term for a stimulus (e.g. a joke) or the response (e.g. laughter); a term for complex interactions between individuals; a “personality trait”; and an inherent characteristic.

Whatever the meaning, humour remains a multi-faceted thing. It can include as well as it excludes. It can both ease and exacerbate. What is clear is that humour creates many more questions than it answers. Who is allowed to make jokes about disability? If we are offended, should we just “get a sense of humour”? Is there a hierarchy of impairments, with some
impairments being “fair game” and others “off limits”? Is there such a thing as “disability”
humour? Does humour run the risk of attacking the seriousness, and thus the legitimacy, of disability rights? Or does it have a part to play in the struggle for such rights? How is disability playing out in the current vogues for satirical comedy and the comedy of embarrassment (e.g.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Office”)?

This special issue of JLCDS will explore the interplay between humour, impairment and disability across all forms of culture and the media. Submissions might consider representations of disability in particular texts or specific forms. Alternatively, they might examine disability theory in relation to humour theory. Submissions on all topics related to disability, humour and comedy are very welcome. Considerations of the impact of “political correctness” - the policing of what can and cannot be made funny - as well as the impact of “critical correctness” (Mallett, 2007) - the policing of what can and cannot be said about humorous/comedic representations of disability -are encouraged. We urge submissions to think the unthinkable and address the difficult questions.

Proposals should be emailed to the guest editors or by March 1st, 2011. Final submissions will be due by October 2011.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Next TWO Disability Blog Carnivals are Announced!

[Visual description: A Disability Blog Carnival logo (apologies, I forget who made this one--Blue, maybe?) with "disability blog carnival" in red, superimposed over a photograph of the Alison Lapper Pregnant statue by Marc Quinn]

Carnival edition #71 will be hosted at the blog Modus Dopens, where Irrational Point invites you to submit your own or others' recent writing on the theme "intersections." If you have a link to share, email it to Irrational Point according to the instructions over there, by November 18, and watch for the Carnival to post sometime soonish after that.

Meanwhile, for your disability-related carnival-going needs, check out the very first Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, just posted last week! It's big, and it even has a cute button.

ETA 11/8: Dave H. has posted the specifics about December's Carnival edition #72: "Rolling Around in My Head will be hosting the December issue of the Disability Blog Carnival. I've tossed around various ideas for the blog and have decided to post it on December 21st which is the winter solstice and the longest night of the year. Therefore I've chosen the theme to be 'long nights and what we need to get through them' ... I've sure we've all had seasons of darkness and despair, hours of bleak desperation, I'm hopeful that people may have stories of what it took to get them through those times. Hope? Strength? Courage? Whatever it was, there's a story there to tell.

So, tell.

Please have submission links to me by the 15th of December. Email me at with blog carnival in the re line."

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day 2010

I hope all of our readers took time out of their busy schedules today to vote in this important midterm election. Feel free to use this stem to post your observations. Who do you feel has your back? How was your experience at your local polling station? What are your hopes (or fears) for the future?

CFP: Picturing Women's Health, 1750-1910 (22 January, University of Warwick)

The deadline for submissions to this conference is Friday 5 November, so if you're interested, there's no time to lose!

Picturing Women's Health 1750-1910
A One-Day Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference
University of Warwick, Saturday 22 January 2011

Plenary speakers:

Prof. Hilary Marland (University of Warwick)

Dr. Claire Brock (University of Leicester)

The conference Picturing Women’s Health 1750-1910 will explore the interface of diverse discourses that constructed ideas about women’s health during the Romantic and Victorian periods. In these years, writers and artists documented extraordinary discoveries and advancements in science, anatomy, and medicine. This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary conference will examine the vicissitudes of attitudes towards women’s ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ bodies over the one-hundred-and-sixty year period. In particular, conference papers will consider representations of the female body in fictional/non-fictional literature, fine arts, and visual media and how they reflected or influenced women’s understandings and experiences of their own health and bodies.

Possible approaches could include:

How did different women’s testimonies or documentations of health relate to each other? How accurately or inaccurately did men and women artistically portray the female body in health and illness? How were scientific and artistic ideas about women’s health in dialogue? What is the relationship between the representation of woman’s body and her (in)ability to perform certain familial and social roles? How are contemporary critical debates on Romantic and Victorian public and private spheres complicated by the periods’ representations of women’s health?

Key topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • Madness and hysteria
  • Prostitution
  • Virginity
  • Sexuality
  • Motherhood and wifehood
  • Birth and breast-feeding
  • Pregnancy, birth-control, and abortion
  • Fashion (dress, cosmetics, decoration)
  • Exercise and well-being
  • Un/healthy spaces (including spa and resort towns, hospitals, slums, factories, home)
  • Age (childhood, puberty, menopause)
  • Illness and disease (venereal diseases, disabilities, disfigurations)
  • Death and grief (terminal illness, death of spouse or child, execution)
  • Medicine (diagnosis, prescription, treatment)
  • Medication and surgery
  • Health and superstition
  • Metaphors of health
  • Definitions of health
Submit an abstract of 250-300 words for a 20-minute paper either by the online form at the website, or to, with your name, affiliation, e-mail address, and title of paper.

Monday, November 01, 2010

CFP: Body in History/Body in Space (Harvard, 26 March 2011)

Posted to the H-Net this week, by Jana Cephas of the Harvard Graduate School of Design:

The Body in History / The Body in Space

Graduate Student Symposium
March 26, 2011
Barker Center for the Humanities, Harvard University

The history of the body has been a locus of prolific research in the past several decades, engaging scholars from disciplines as diverse as history of medicine, cultural history, literature, sociology, and anthropology. The body's experience of health and sickness, histories of the senses, changing standards of civility, the body as political instrument – these and other approaches have recovered the centrality of the human subject in studies of the past and present. Yet current scholarship on the body often relegates issues of space to the background, treating it as a neutral setting against which bodies interact. Conversely, treatments of the body and its history are scant in disciplines focused on space and the built environment. In fields like architectural history, geography, and urban studies, the presence of the body is taken for granted and its history rarely emerges as a critical contribution to the history of space. 

This conference aims to question such a facile body-space relationship by positing that the history of the body must also be a history of the body in space, and that the history of spatial practices must involve a history of the body. By bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines, we hope to interrogate the material specificity of architecture and the body through a range of questions linking the two:

-What role does the built environment play in our understandings of the body?
-How have past regulatory practices of the body influenced the design of spaces?
-How can we reclaim human agency while acknowledging the limits imposed on the body by spatial constructs?

The Body in History / The Body in Space Graduate Student Symposium is occurring in conjunction with Cambridge Talks V, an annual conference dedicated to the exploration of interdisciplinary topics that engage issues of space. We welcome paper proposals from graduate students in various fields and disciplines. Proposals should include an abstract (500 words) and a brief CV. Materials should be sent to by Monday November 22, 2010. Authors will be notified of acceptance by December 15.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CFP: Society for Disability Studies (15-18 June 2011, San José, CA)


Society for Disability Studies
23rd Annual Conference
San José California, Doubletree Hotel
June 15-18, 2011

Beyond Access: From Disability Rights to Disability Justice
Deadline for submissions: December 15, 2010

[Disability justice is] not self-sufficiency but self-determination, not independence but interdependence, not functional separateness but personal connection, not physical autonomy but human community.
--Paul K. Longmore

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and 2008 witnessed both the passage of the ADA Amendments Act and, on the international stage, the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). In passing the ADA Amendments Act, the U.S. Congress sought to redress nearly twenty years of rulings that severely narrowed the scope of protections afforded in the original bill. The Convention formally marks a paradigm shift towards considering people with disabilities as subjects who must be able to exercise their own rights, rather than objects of medical inquiry or charitable intervention. These developments seem to suggest gains in the history of disability rights, and yet many disability activists contend that real gains can only be made if disability is conceptualized as part of an intersecting network of historic and contemporary power structures that must be addressed holistically and systemically.

We invite conference participants to reconsider the issues of rights and access in light of local, national and global commitments and resistance to achieving disability justice. We offer the following broad questions in a variety of disciplines and encourage interdisciplinary perspectives:

* How is social justice conceptualized? What competing visions emerge within these conceptualizations?
* What tensions have hampered social justice gains for people with disabilities?
* How might disability-based conceptualizations of social justice complicate and enhance other issues of social justice?
* How have coalitional politics shaped momentum---or barriers---to achieving disability justice?
* How do various technologies---and access to them---shape coalitions and enhance or hinder progress?
* How are or how can societies address the enduring poverty that people with disabilities face throughout the world? How does poverty shape / limit access to opportunities?
* How might institutions and agencies be transformed to better ensure justice for individuals with disabilities and their communities?
* How might community engagement serve the cause of enhancing disability justice?
* How does cultural context shape a local agenda for rights and access?
* How does the intersection of disability studies with other critical scholarship (critical race studies, gender/feminist studies, queer studies, immigrant studies, post-colonial studies) promote more nuanced understandings of social justice?
* How can and how do liberatory textual and / or performative practices enact disability justice?
* What liberatory moments, paradigms, practices, and aspirations have shaped the path(s) towards disability justice?

We welcome proposals in all areas of disability studies, as well as submissions premised on this year's theme.

(See the website for the rest of the call, which is mostly logistical information about the proposal submission process.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25: Grace Padaca (b. 1963)

"I am Grace Padaca. I share my story because I know there are many who are like me, not big people, not rich, not strong. I know there are many like me whose strength is inside."

--from a campaign appearance by Grace Padaca
Above: Gracia Cielo "Grace" Magno Padaca, former Governor of Isabela Province in the Philippines, standing on a stage while a group of other people are seated in a row behind her. Padaca was elected governor in 2004, was reelected in 2007, and was defeated in another bid for reelection, earlier this year.

Padaca survived polio in her early childhood, and uses crutches (seen in the photograph above). Padaca was valedictorian of her high school class and graduated with highest honors from college. Before politics, she worked as a radio journalist. In 2008, she won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. Today is her 47th birthday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Polio" by Staff Benda Bilili

There's an article about a Congolese band in the LA Times today. The band is named Staff Benda Bilili, and they're the subject of a recent documentary, because most of the men in the band are physically disabled. (The print version of the article has more groaningly cliched headlines than the online version. You can probably imagine them.)

They were a street band in Kinshasa when they were discovered. Some of their songs are about disability, including this one, "Polio":

The visuals are of members of the band singing, playing music, and being assisted by groups of children to move their wheelchairs over dirt roads. It's clear that some of their chairs are built from parts of motorcycles, wagons, carts, and bicycles. Some of the scenes also include men using crutches. Some of the daylight scenes are filmed outside a disability assistance center, according to the signage. The notes say that the performance sections of the video were made at the zoo in Kinshasa.

The lyrics aren't in English, but there are English subtitles translating them:
I was born as a strong man but polio crippled me
Look at me today, I'm screwed into my tricycle
I have become the man with the canes
The hell with those crutches!

Parents, please go to the vaccination center
Get your babies vaccinated against polio
Please save them from that curse

My parents had the good idea to register me for school
Look at me now: I'm a well-educated person
which enables me to work and support my family

Parents please don't neglect your children
The one who is disabled is no different from the others
(why should he?)
Treat all your children without discrimination
(don't throw anyone on the side)
Who among them will help you when you're in need?
God only knows who

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Play: "Journeys of Identity"

From a recent announcement on H-Connecticut and H-Disability. If you're in New England and get a chance to see this, let us know what you thought!

The National Theatre of the Deaf and Connecticut’s Old State House present
Journeys of Identity

Hartford, CT - Journeys of Identity, a new play by Garrett Zuercher, brings to life the story of Thomas Gallaudet, founder of the nation’s first school for the Deaf, Laurent Clerc, its first teacher and Alice Cogswell, its first student as they struggle to overcome the obstacles and prejudices faced by Deaf Americans in 1817. Journeys of Identity will premiere at Connecticut’s Old State House on October 14, 15 and 17. This new play chronicles the creation of American Sign Language and the American School for the Deaf - events that transformed the nation’s attitudes on Deafness and education in the U.S.

Journeys of Identity has been written to be performed in the unique award-winning style of theatre created by the National Theatre of the Deaf where every word is seen and heard by the entire audience. Thursday, October 14 has been designated American School for the Deaf Day by Governor M. Jodi Rell. The first general public performance will be on Friday, October 15 at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. Sunday matinee and 4 p.m. afternoon performance on October 17. There is a special discount ticket price of $8 for students and seniors while general admission is $15 and includes a tour of the Old State House.

Tickets can be purchased at The Bushnell box office by calling (860) 987-5900. Groups of 10 or more should call 860-236-4193. For more information visit for more information on ticket sales and prices.

Rebecca Taber-Conover
Connecticut's Old State House
Programming and Curriculum Manager
800 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
860-522-6766, ext. 11

Friday, September 24, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival #70 is up NOW!

[visual description: Disability Blog Carnival logo featuring an old patent drawing of a back brace, with "the Disability Blog Carnival: a bracing event" superimposed in blue text]

Yes, #70.

Astrid has gathered up and organized a wonderful collection of links around the theme of "identity," with tantalizing extracted quotes that will have you clicking to read more. Thank you, Astrid.

Next month's edition will be hosted by lilwatchergirl at Through Myself and Back Again. At least, that's what the schedule said back in June. I'll confirm asap and point to any further announcements about this.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stony Brook University's Center For Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, And Bioethics To Offer Masters Track Beginning Spring 2011

Program serves students from a wide range of academic disciplines and professional backgrounds

STONY BROOK, N.Y., September 14, 2010 Press Release – Stony Brook University is now accepting applications for its Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics track in the Master of Arts in Biological Sciences. Courses begin in the spring 2011 semester. Named for the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics founded in 2008, the new MA track will serve students from a wide range of disciplines and professions.

The 30-credit masters track can be completed in one to three years. The Center encourages MA applicants from a variety of backgrounds, including nursing, social work, ministry, journalism, philosophy, humanities, the social and life sciences, administration, business, the arts, law, public policy, religious studies, and others. Applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree without professional experience are welcome, as are clinicians and other professionals.

"Seasoned professionals, medical students and undergrads who just finished up and want do something for a year before marching on to law school or medical school will find this track of great interest,” said Center Director, Dr. Stephen G. Post.

Situated in the Department of Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine, the Center is equally attentive to the three thematic components in its name. It builds on a commitment to medical humanism and ethics that has defined education for Stony Brook students over three decades.

"This is a Center in which the human side of medicine is elevated, examined, and revered," said Dr. Post. "It provides students an education not just in the dilemmas of bioethics, but in medical humanities centered on the experiences of patients. We want students to see patients as more than biological puzzles. We want them to be aware of the importance of relationships and compassion in the art of healing. It’s the loss of care in this most basic sense that is currently being singled out across the United States as the most pressing concern not only of patients, but of physicians and other healthcare professionals."

More information on the Center for Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics and the masters track can be found on the program site. For more information, contact DS,TU editor Michael L. Dorn.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why I love biographical dictionaries (#3)

For earlier installments in the series, see #1 and #2.

Again, the Australian Dictionary of Biography comes through with a winning disability-related snippet:
Although she dressed 'carelessly in skirts and sweaters', Dreyer had 'a passion for ornate drop earrings and exotic perfumes'. Humorous and warm hearted, she gave an annual party for 'Annabella', her wooden leg.
That would be from the entry on writer and journalist Marien Oulton Dreyer (1911-1980), who used a prosthetic leg from her childhood. She wrote a script for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1951 called "Story of a Lame Duck" which was "largely autobiographical," and another script in 1953 about tuberculosis recovery from the patient's perspective.

"Aunt Carol" by Mista Cookie Jar

I've got kids, so I've got kid CDs, and they're not really so bad as you might think--I came late to the game, never had Barney or Raffi, straight into Ralph's World and Laurie Berkner. And there are definitely songs that make me happy from a disability perspective. But this one just came across my desk, by a friend-of-friends, and it's not like anything else I've run into:

Visual description: Mista Cookie Jar, the singer, is a young Asian-American man with long hair and a mustache; he's wearing a hat and floral shirt. The video shows a birthday party for Carol Ware, an older white woman who uses a power chair. There are a lot of children and other older folks too, and there are scenes of the singer doing Carol's nails, marveling at her sunshine tattoo, and generally having a grand time.

The singer has posted all his lyrics online at his website (yeah!); find "Aunt Carol" in the lyrics menu (I can't seem to link to them directly, but they're there). (UPDATE: Katja put the direct link in comments.)

What I like here: Carol Ware is a real person, and the YouTube video label explains this. The singer has known her for years and this song is a genuine, specific tribute. He shares in the lyrics that she was a kindergarten teacher, that she likes Elvis, that she likes her coffee with Splenda, that she smokes (deal with it, she's an adult), that "we call her Aunt Carol, you can call her Ms. Ware," and that "she's a masterpiece from head to toe." All with a fun celebratory tone, and with Carol's participation and the participation of her fellow nursing-home residents. When so many kids live far from their older relatives and may not feel drawn to seniors, this song has a chance to change minds, and will definitely spark some smiles.

ETA: There's also a "making of the video" slideshow.

Monday, August 30, 2010

RIP: Howard Leland Rice (1932-2010)

[visual description: Howard L. Rice in a wheelchair, holding a microphone; he's an older white man wearing glasses and a grey suit]

It's been a rough month for disability obituaries. We lost historian Paul Longmore (1946-2010), of course, and activist Barbara Knowlen (1941-2010), and I've recently learned of another: Rev. Howard L. Rice (1932-2010), former chaplain and Professor of Ministry at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, and once the moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA (the annually elected head for the whole denomination). Rice died August 8.

Rice (pictured at left) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a young man, and used a wheelchair or crutches much of his adult life. (Later in life, the MS diagnosis was changed to spinal cord damage.) As a minister, he experienced first-hand the barriers that church buildings and their congregations present to disabled people, especially to disabled worship leaders. I heard him speak at a conference once, about deciding that he wasn't going to accept speaking invitations at inaccessible churches anymore--it wasn't practical ("If we can't go, we can't come," he noted, on the problem of accessible restrooms), and it wasn't tolerable on any other grounds either. When he did speak from an accessible pulpit once, he declared, "I don’t believe you have to preach from a pulpit. But it’s nice to have the choice."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Woods Services fills NY's need for suitable facilities

Originally published: August 20, 2010 6:45 PM
Updated: August 20, 2010 10:01 PM

Pennsylvania-based Woods Services is 100 miles from Long Island but it is one of nearly 20 residential facilities where Nassau and Suffolk send their children, men and women with emotional problems or developmental disabilities - mainly because not enough suitable beds exist in New York State.

The counties' departments of social services have adults and children spread among about 20 facilities in nearby states. Woods serves 830 children and adults alone hailing from 20 states, said Woods spokeswoman Cheryl Kauffman.

Nassau and Suffolk officials say that they try to place their charges in locations that are close to home, but the shortage of beds and appropriate expertise in New York makes it all but impossible.

"It should also be noted that there is a scarcity in New York State of the types of residential programs required for those children afflicted with developmental disabilities and severe emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems," said Karen Garber, a spokeswoman for Nassau's Department of Social Services. "Regretfully, often times the only placements available for such children are located out of state."

Nassau and Suffolk officials said they verify whether a facility has a license and clean safety record before placing children or adults there. They also try to place people in the "least restrictive environment" that also fulfills the client's needs.

Nassau, Suffolk removing disabled from Pa. facility

Originally published: August 20, 2010 7:13 PM
Updated: August 20, 2010 10:43 PM

Quick Summary: Nassau and Suffolk officials are removing their residents with special needs from a Pennsylvania care facility that has been the site of the deaths of two autistic Long Island men.

Nassau and Suffolk officials are removing their residents with special needs from a Pennsylvania care facility that has been the site of the deaths of two autistic Long Island men.

The Nassau Department of Social Services confirmed that it is searching for new homes for two of the people whom the agency placed at Woods Services in Langhorne, Pa.

A third Nassau resident was removed from the facility Wednesday night, county officials said.

Nassau has been using the company's services since 2000 and Suffolk has used it since 1996, officials said.

Suffolk officials said they are also trying to find new homes for the eight Suffolk children in Woods' custody.

"Nassau County Department of Social Services takes all allegations of abuse and neglect very seriously," said DSS Commissioner John Imhof. "Upon receiving information from New York State Office of Children and Family Services regarding Woods Services, DSS immediately stopped placing additional children in that facility."

Suffolk DSS Commissioner Gregory Blass said, "In light of recent tragic events, the department is taking immediate action to remove all children within our care from Woods Services."

Citing "gross incompetence, negligence and misconduct," the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare revoked Woods Services' license to operate a residential facility and prevented it from admitting any new people after the July 24 death of Bryan Nevins, 20, of Oceanside. The autistic man died after being left inside a hot van for several hours.

A Woods Services employee faces involuntary manslaughter charges in that case.

Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare spokesman Michael Race said his office is investigating the death of Nevins.

"We are working with other agencies to move the eight remaining residents to other facilities that can meet their needs," Race said.

Woods Services operates several facilities in suburban Philadelphia that provide services to about 830 clients.

Last October, Robert Percaro of Coram was killed when he ran out of the facility and was struck by several vehicles on a highway after he climbed onto an overpass and fell into traffic.

"We conducted an investigation and found no wrongdoing," Race said. "We have no evidence that would warrant reinvestigating the situation."

Woods Services spokeswoman Cheryl Kauffman said, "The Middletown Township Police Department conducted a thorough investigation of Mr. Percaro's death when it happened. Woods Services is unaware of any information which would lead the attorney to request an investigation by the Office of the District Attorney now, over nine months after the incident."

In addition, the mother of an 18-year-old Freeport woman said that an employee of Woods Services called her on May 17 to report that her daughter - who she says has the mentality of an 11-year-old and is supposed to be under constant supervision - had been found having sex with a male in a bathroom. The mother said she has not been informed of the result of any investigation into the incident.

Kauffman said the mother never was told that the 18-year-old was found having sex. In addition, she said, "Woods Services investigated the alleged incident and determined that no unusual incident or contact occurred."

With Yamiche Alcindor

Nassau and Suffolk's placement options

Nassau and Suffolk rely on several out-of-state facilities to take care of people with special needs when they cannot receive appropriate care in New York.
Nassau's Department of Social Services has placed 14 people in out-of-state programs.
Suffolk's Department of Social Services has placed 39 people in out-of-state programs.
In addition, committees on special education in Nassau have placed 41 children in out-of-state programs.
Suffolk officials could not provide information on children placed out of state by committees on special education in the county.

Disability Blog Carnival #69 is up NOW!

And has been up for a while--but I was away from the internet on a family vacation and couldn't post about it until now. Thanks to Kali at Brilliant Mind, Broken Body, who has gathered a nice collection of links around the theme of "distance." Go have a read, link away, and leave a comment too.

Next month's edition will be hosted by Astrid at Astrid's Journal, who writes to me that the "theme will be identity, and the deadline for submissions will be Sept 21." Watch for that carnival on Sept 24. And submit a great link! A community of contributors makes the hosting job more enjoyable.

Vacation pictures? Sure! An accessible self-catering lodge in rural Scotland, ours for a few days of a family trip--worked for us, anyway:

[Visual description: exterior of a stone one-story building with a long ramp to the door; a picnic table and a patch of green grass are nearby.]

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 10: Hugh Morriston Davies (1879-1965)

I wrote this post last weekend, planning to put it up on Tuesday the 10th. Obviously other matters became more urgent. So I'm going to put this up now. --Ed.

You know the plotline if you've seen any medical dramas on TV: A gifted surgeon is in an accident, or maybe the victim of a crime, or perhaps falls very ill. He (it's usually a "he") survives, but....gasp! his hand! Injured beyond repair. He can never do surgery again. Might as well forget medicine as a career.

Or not.

Welshman Hugh Morriston Davies (1879-1965) lived this drama, but with a very different outcome. He was, certainly, a gifted and pioneering thoracic surgeon in London in the 1910s. By age 27 he was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. He was the first surgeon to detect lung cancer by x-ray. He "performed the first anatomical dissection lobectomy for a tumor of the lung in 1912... decades ahead of his time," according to medical historian AP Naef. But in 1916, during an operation, his right hand was cut by a stray sliver of glass. It became seriously infected, and amputation was urged (but not undertaken). He lost all effective use of his right hand.

For a time, he ran a sanatorium in Wales, and worked on a book about thoracic surgery, and wrote journal articles. But in 1921 he returned to surgery, using his left hand. His sanatorium became a destination for thoracic surgical training, and Morriston Davies a respected expert on tuberculosis. During the second world war he ran a "chest unit," treating the military and civilian chest injuries. Even after his retirement at 80, he sought adaptive innovation: he set up a series of pullies to allow him to garden when his legs wouldn't carry him.

His obituary from the British Medical Journal is long and informative.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

RIP: Paul Longmore (1946-2010)

"The truth is that the major obstacles we must overcome are pervasive social prejudice, systematic segregation, and institutionalized discrimination."

--Paul Longmore, "Why I Burned my Book"

Sad news today. Paul Longmore, professor of history and director of the Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University, has died suddenly. There will surely be many, many remembrances and obituaries; Stephen Drake's was the first I saw, at the Not Dead Yet blog. And Wesley J. Smith has something up (mostly the press release from Californians Against Assisted Suicide) at Secondhand Smoke.

Paul's facebook page is becoming an impromptu wall of condolences and memories. Here's what scattered items I'll add.

*When historians of disability submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Garrett case in 2000, Paul was the one who invited the signatures of over 100 scholars, because he knew exactly who to tap.

*I've been co-editing H-Disability since it launched in March 2001. But I had nothing to do with its founding--that's credited to Paul Longmore and the summer institute where the idea was hatched, long before my involvement.

*I'm president of the Disability History Association right now--but in many ways, the organization exists and thrives because Paul Longmore was very, very persistent when he saw an opportunity to support scholarship on disability.

*And when Paul organized a conference for disability historians in summer 2008, you know it was seriously accessible, not only to the participants but to our families.

Paul Longmore was a historian, with a PhD in history from Claremont Graduate School. It was important to him to know what your degree was in, and he worried about non-historians doing disability history without proper training or rigor. Now, none of my degrees are in history, even if I do historical projects. So it was a real and happy surprise to get a brief email from Paul, one day in 2004, just saying "I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your essay in the volume edited by Noll and Trent. It's really good history. Thank you." I kept that email window open for a very long time on my desktop. Thank you, Paul.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

CFP: Disability in America: Voices of a New Generation

Call for Proposals: Disability in America: Voices of a New Generation

Ari Ne’eman and Stacey Milbern, Co-Editors

Deadline: January 15, 2011

This year, the disability community is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), civil rights law that protects the rights of disabled people.
Growing up in a post-ADA America has meant that many of us have had access to more opportunities than previous generations. We know if we had been born in 1967 instead of 1987 our lives would look completely different. We know the history of our people is tainted by eugenics, ableism, lack of access and the sting of low expectations. We recognize the work that has been done by disability movements over the last century to make the current lives we live possible. We are proud to be members of this vibrant, breathing, community.

Although the struggle continues, we recognize that the realities of disabled people look vastly different in many ways. With this in mind, we are requesting proposals for chapters in a book-length anthology to document this legacy and record the stories of disabled young people
talking about what it is to grow up with a disability in this day and age.

Part One of our anthology will attempt to explore how a new generation experiences these age old challenges, affording a chance to assess how far we have really come. Part Two of our anthology asks disabled young people to identify what our struggle looks like now.

We’re seeking a diversity of perspectives and topics. A few questions we pose as food for thought:
What does it look like to navigate the medical system?
What is it like trying to find and keep a job as a young person with a disability today?
How are mental health challenges and psychiatric impairments approached by family members?
Do students still have to choose between support and inclusion?
What is the impact of pity and charity?
How do we survive the traumas we experience by people who say they are helping us, whether this is in schools, in doctor’s offices, our places of worship, or within our support systems?
How do people with less visible disabilities choose whether or not to disclose?
How has the nature of “passing” changed or not changed?
How do we fight eugenics, with its many faces?
How do we work with personal assistant services and our support systems?
How is disability portrayed differently in American society?
How are media, and pop culture representations of disability viewed by the new generation of young people with disabilities?
What do our relationships and sex lives look like?
How do we find community?

We are seeking creative non-fiction essays from young people with disabilities ages 13-30 (some flexibility will be available for compelling submissions from individuals slightly outside our preferred age range). People with all types of disabilities are welcome to submit. Speaking from personal experience is strongly encouraged. The intent of this project is to use personal voices to capture the experience of the new generation of young people with disabilities.

Submissions should range from 2,000 to 5,000 words. Please include your address, phone number, e-mail address and a short bio on the manuscript.

Proposals are due by e-mail to to January 15, 2011 but we encourage and will consider for approval early submissions. Please e-mail co-editors Stacey Milbern and Ari Ne’eman at with questions.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival #68 is up NOW!

[visual description: photo used by RMJ in her edition of the Carnival; features a man making cotton candy; only his arms and torso are visible; a pinwheel and some heartshaped objects occupy the foreground]

RMJ at Deeply Problematic has just posted the July edition of the Disability Blog Carnival, with the theme "evidence." Go check it out for the usual remarkable range of voices and topics and tones--there really is something for everyone in the Carnival.

The next edition will be hosted at brilliantmindbrokenbody, with the invited theme of "distance." Here's the announcement. Submissions are due August 18th; you can leave a comment there or here, or if your post has the phrase "disability blog carnival" in it, I should be alerted about that too.

Friday, July 09, 2010

CFP: Disability & the Victorians

[From H-Disability and DS-Hum listservs.]

First Call for Papers:

Disability & the Victorians: Confronting Legacies

30th July-1st August 2012
Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, Leeds Trinity University College, UK

The nineteenth century was the period during which disability was conceptualised, categorised, and defined. The industrial evolution, advances in medicine, the emergence of philanthropy and the growth of asylums all played their part in creating what today's society describes as the medical model of disability.

Disability can be traced through many forms: in material culture and literary genres; scientific, medical and official inquiries; art; architecture; the history of disabled charities; disabled people's experiences; the legacy inherited by disabled people today of phrenology and physiognomy; events such as the 1880 Milan Conference, and the taxonomies and categories of disability - the handicapped; the deaf and dumb; the feeble minded; the blind; the imbecile and the cretin. The legacy of the relationship between the body, the scientific and the literary text; the intersection of disability, theories of evolution and anthropology, gender and degeneration. How can we draw disabled voices and testimonies together to construct 'the long view'? What are the advantages and the challenges of teaching about disability and the disabled in the Victorian period?

Proposals for papers, panels, posters and other forms of presentation (e.g. creative writing) are invited that open up new lines of research and inquiry relating to any aspect of Disability in the Victorian period. Possible themes might include:
* Resistance, conformity, subversion, transgression.
* Freak shows and circuses.
* The visibility and invisibility of disability: beggars, street sellers, hawkers; Victorian institutions, charities, asylums, schools and clubs.
* Taxonomic practices.
* Disabled heroes and villains; male vs. female invalidism; the school of pain.
* Victorian technologies, prostheses, the emergence of audiology, the development and spread of Braille.
* The revival of folkloric changelings.
* Portrayals of children and childhood.
* Disability as a moral force for improvement, theology and spiritual enlightenment/development.
* The formation of Victorian national identity and national efficiency, empire, 'race' and colonialism.
* Disability and the fear of loss, eugenics and degeneration.
* The medical and scientific text.
* Victorian social policy and legal frameworks.

Those with an involvement in disability, either through work, teaching or direct experience, and papers that adopt a comparative frame, shifting across the normal boundaries of history, literary studies, the history of medicine, the history and philosophy of science, art history, the history of childhood etc. are especially sought, but studies with a narrower focus seeking to challenge Victorian legacies in this field are also welcome.

The deadline for the submission of proposals for panel sessions (no longer than 500 words) and proposals for individual 20-minute papers and presentations (200-250 words) is October 4, 2010. At this stage your proposal/enquiry may be exploratory. A second and final call for papers will be issued in June 2011.

Please send a short biographical note together with your proposal. Prospective panel organisers should also send the panelists' names, paper titles, and a short biographical note for each panelist and their contact details.

Support workers and carers are exempted from the conference registration fees. Papers will be circulated in advance of the conference. Please indicate by July 2011 if you would like LCVS to supply a sign language interpreter. Please indicate by April 2012 if you would like LCVS to supply an escort or support worker. All assistance dogs are welcome. If you have any enquiries regarding facilities and services for disabled people, or would like this Call for Papers in large print, please contact Joy Hamblin.

Proposals, or enquiries relating to these, should be sent to Karen Sayer

General enquiries to:
Joy Hamblin, Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, Leeds Trinity University College, Brownberrie Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 5HD, UK; email; tel. +44 (0)113 2837305

Monday, July 05, 2010

CFP:International Interdisciplinary Conference “We and the others” XVII Semana de Ética y Filosofía Política. Donostia-San Sebastián; 1, 2,3 of June 2011

CALL FOR PAPERS: International Interdisciplinary Conference “We and the others” XVII Semana de Ética y Filosofía Política. Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain); 1, 2,3 of June 2011

The Spanish Association of Political Philosophy &Ethics is celebrating its 38th meeting in Donostia-San Sebastián this coming June, 2011. Thought as a meeting point for academic philosophy, European and Latin-American universities, and the general public, it has covered topics from theoretical approaches to current problems concerning contemporary democracy: such as new political movements in neo-colonial states (specially Latin America) stressing identity concerns. This year topic is “We and the Others” and focuses on minority issues, with topics ranging from History of moral and politic ideas to political imaginary in contemporary latin America. This year edition include Disability as a main topic in the minority issues. We welcome papers in Spanish, English & Basque. Deadline for proposals ends October 10th, 2010. More about the Conference can be found at:
Disability : La construcción del sujeto político en el colectivo de personas con discapacidad / Political Agency in the
Disability Rights Movement
Coordinator: Melania Moscoso (
Over the last two decades, the Disability Rights Movement has joined the public debate about Human Rights and minority
issues. Compulsory institutionalization and segregated education have prevented the full participation of people with disabilities in
the public arena. The politic and civic agency of the Disability Rights Movement, in its theoretical contributions and field experiences
to public life, will be discussed in this Round Table.

Melania Moscoso, Phd.
Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Spanish Research Council.
C/Albasanz, 26-28. Madrid 28037 (España)
Tlf: 0034916022499

Monday, June 28, 2010

CFP: Disability in an Intersectional Lens (Syracuse, 9 October 2010)

From DS-Hum and H-Disability listservs (links added):

Disability in an Intersectional Lens:
A Conference of Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies

Call for Proposals

The Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee, the SU Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies and the SU Disability Cultural Center Initiative are jointly seeking proposals for our second Disability Studies Conference to be held at Syracuse University on October 9, 2010.

This conference seeks to explore all aspects of disability studies as generated by emerging scholars. We are particularly interested in papers that promote the understanding of social models of disability which emphasize cultures, histories, discursivity, philosophy, art, politics, geographies, & identities of diverse people & communities. We encourage submissions from a variety of disciplines and methodologies.

Keynote by Nirmala Erevelles, Ph.D., “The Color of Violence: Towards a Transnational Feminist Disability Studies Perspective”
This conference is dedicated to the memory and work of Chris Bell

Potential paper topics might include, but are not limited to:
• histories & archives
• linked oppressions
• cultures & communities
• effects of global capitalism
• literature, film, & the arts
• inclusion & education
• queerness & intersectional identity
• space & place
• activism & liberation politics
• transnational, colonial issues
• changing notions of identity & identity politics
• access & universal design
• race & intersectional identity

The conference is free and open to the public; everyone—students, faculty, staff, and community members are encouraged to attend.

Conference submissions: all proposals should be no more than 500 words. In addition, please include title of paper or panel, authors’ names, affiliations, and contact information. Submissions should be sent electronically to Ashley Taylor at by August 1, 2010.
Please inform the organizing committee of any accommodation needs at the address above.

Conference date: Saturday, October 9, 2010
(Welcome reception Friday October 8, 2010)
Deadline for submission: Sunday, August 1, 2010
Notification: Sunday, August 21, 2010

Liat Ben-Moshe
SU Disability Cultural Center Initiative

Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies
805 South Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13210-1714

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival #67 is up NOW!

[visual description: Disability Blog Carnival logo, featuring an old photograph of a hospital with the words "Disability Blog Carnival: Can't Shut Us Up Now" superimposed in yellow scrawly lettering]

It's a big busy summer carnival this time, so settle in with a beverage and plan to spend a while. Dave Hingsburger has assembled more than two dozen links, most of them in response to his call for bloggers to submit their OWN best post (not the most popular, not the most commented, but the one that they're most proud of). Thanks again to all who host, contribute to, read, link, and comment around the Disability Blog Carnival each month. It's gotta be a community effort, or there's no carnival.

And speaking of thanks and the carnival--we have a FULL slate of hosts for the next six months! See the post before this one for ALL the details so far. I'll periodically be updating the schedule and alerting DSTU readers to any changes, so stay tuned and plan to be a part of some fine carnivals in the second half of 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival Hosts: Check in!

[visual description: Disability Blog Carnival logo, featuring an old patent drawing of a torso bracing device]

So I think this will be the lineup of hosts for the upcoming Disability Blog Carnivals. I'm working from the comments stream in my last post about the Carnival. People often volunteer to host without giving me any way to contact them by email, so it could take a while to confirm everyone here, and of course things can always change, no matter how much we all try to stick to a plan. But I think this might be close to how things play out:

July: RMJ [confirmed!]

August: Kali [confirmed!] THEME: Distance [announced here]

September: Astrid [confirmed!]

November: IrrationalPoint [confirmed!]

December: Dave [confirmed!]

January 2011: Spaz Girl [confirmed!]

February 2011: Lilwatchergirl [confirmed!]

If you're listed above, please confirm to me that your assigned month will work, and email me an address that I can use to communicate with you. If you're not listed above, and you like the Disability Blog Carnival, join me in thanking those who have volunteered to carry the next five months' editions, and think about whether you might like to take a month in 2011.

Friday, June 18, 2010

HKMB: Seven Blind Women in History who were not HK

[Visual description: Photograph of a Rose Parade float in Pasadena, 2009, sponsored by the Lions Club, featuring a large framed image of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, with many many flowers below and "The Miracle Workers" as the caption; taken by me]

As I said when we announced we'd be participating in the Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm, we've already done some mythbusting posts about Helen Keller here at DSTU. But another invitation in the blogswarm call suggests bloggers write about other historical women with disabilities, so that the Helen Keller story has more context. Helen Keller was unique, like any individual is, but she was obviously not the only blind woman to do anything interesting, ever, anywhere.

So here are seven more historical names for starters, all but one of them born before Helen Keller. No living women included, just to keep it historical. And I know other people will write about Anne Sullivan and Laura Bridgman for this event, so I skipped them too. I wish the list was more diverse--mostly English speakers here, and a cluster of musicians--but it's a start and I hope others will add to it.

Let the parade begin!

1. Matilda Ann "Tilly" Aston (1873-1947) was a blind writer and teacher in Australia, founder of the Victorian Association of Braille Writers, and of the Association for the Advancement of the Blind. She is considered the first blind student enrolled at an Australian university. In addition to her writing and literacy work, she campaigned successfully for voting rights and public transit access for blind Australians. Aston edited a Braille magazine for many years, and was an enthusiastic correspondent in Esperanto.

2. Elizabeth M. M. Gilbert (1826-1885) was an Englishwoman who campaigned for blind education and employment. Her father was a college principal and bishop, and Elizabeth (blind from age 3) was educated in languages along with her seven sisters. With an inheritance to support herself, she founded the Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind, and helped to found the Royal National College for the Blind. She also lobbied for the 1870 Education Act.

3. Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) was an American hymn writer, credited with writing over 8000 hymns (many under pseudonyms). She started as a student at the New York Institute for the Blind, and stayed on as a teacher of rhetoric and history. She had to resign at 38 when she married a fellow NYIB alumnus. Crosby played one of her own compositions at the funeral of President Grant in 1885. Said Crosby, "If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it."

4. Frances Browne (1816-1879) was an Irish writer, blind from infancy. She began publishing poetry in her twenties, and succeeded well enough to move to London by 1852. She is best known for her children's book, Granny's Wonderful Chair and Its Tales of Fairy Times, but she also wrote three novels in the 1860s.

5. Charlotta Seuerling (1782?-1828) was a Swedish composer, writer, and musician. Charlotta's parents were both theatre professionals, so Charlotta had plenty of access to music as a child, and plenty of travel experiences too. When Per Aron Borg opened his Stockholm school for blind and deaf students in 1808, Charlotta was his first student, and her musical exhibitions were popular fundraisers. Charlotta Seuerling went on to help found the Institute for the Blind in St. Petersburg.

6. Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824) was an Austrian composer and musician, a contemporary of Mozart's. She began performing as a teenager, singing and playing organ and piano. She commissioned works by Salieri, Mozart, and Haydn, and gave concerts in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Prague, and other major European cities. Maria Theresia von Paradis is credited with helping Valentine Haüy establish the first school for the blind in Paris in 1785. She also taught singing, piano and theory at her own music school for girls in Vienna.

7. Mary Mitchell (1893-1973) was a successful Australian writer who became blind in midlife. Faced with rapidly diminishing vision, she learned to type on a typewriter and use a dictaphone, and wrote eight more novels with them. Mitchell was vice-president of the Braille Library of Victoria. She also wrote Uncharted Country (1963), about the practical aspects of living with blindness.