No, not you political reporters - go back to your petty squabbles.
I'm talking about those reporters who write about people with disabilities. Yeah I called you dumb and ignorant. Hurts don't it?
Then maybe you should stop using such bullshit terms when writing about us, hmm? The words you use to describe people with disabilities are very patronizing and paint us in a negative light.
Let me give you a few examples:
Forget the stupid "clickbait" title. Here's some of the wording that's cringe-worthy:
I already shared my disdain about the viral post of the student helping the Deafblind man on the flight. It was great she helped, but the writing was blatantly patronizing and belittling of the Deafblind man.
Some other words I've seen used are:
When you're writing these words you're saying -
"glad it's not me"
"I wouldn't be able to do that"
"how can they live like that"
"Look at what we nice people did for them"
"Look at how special and different they are"
You get my point?
So, if you want to write about people with disabilities it's best to 1) interview them and show their story as they tell it, or 2) Learn the proper terminology - read blogs by people with disabilities, look at web pages of various agencies serving people with disabilities, or ASK that group!
Because all it comes down to is that people with disabilities are just like everyone else that do things just "a bit different".
So just stop putting us in a bad light and using us to make yourself feel better!
Now if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or contact me. I'll be happy to help!
Last day of my Deafblind Awareness Week posts and I thought I'd share some resources for you to learn more about Deafblindness.
National Center on Deafblindness - Resources for teachers, parents, individuals on various Deafblind accessible technology, webinars, information and more.
National Family Association for Deaf-Blind - Largest national nonprofit organization serving families of individuals who are deaf-blind.
Sense - Based in the UK and is the leading national charity that supports and campaigns for children and adults who are deafblind.
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) - Canadian organization with a branch specifically for Deafblind services.
There are plenty more out there but I just listed these as the best go-to sites first.
Note I didn't post any books about Helen Keller? There's so many out there it gets redundant and personally I'm not a fan.
I hope these resources help give you a little more understanding about Deafblindness. Feel free to ask me any questions anytime too.
Deafblind Awareness week is almost over and I hope you're learning new things about the Deafblind community. If you want to read more, check out the #DeafblindAwarenessWeek hashtag on social media.
Now if you have been following my website or know me - you'll know I'm always expressing that Deafblind people can be independent and live fulfilling lives on their own.
But, there are still barriers to our independence and I'll list a few:
Lack of Support Service Providers
Support Service Providers (SSPs) are trained individuals that accompany the Deafblind person and be their eyes and ears to access their environments and make informed decisions. SSPs provide them with visual and environmental information, sighted guide services, and communication accessibility.
Understand that SSPs do not do anything FOR the Deafblind person, for example - in the grocery store, the Deafblind client wants to get apples, the SSP will guide them to the apples, and the client holds up an apple and the SSP describes it (no bruises, spots, etc.) and the client bags it. SSPs are not Interpreters either - they can interpret small verbal exchanges but not for important events such as medical visits, signing a rental lease, and the like - a professional interpreter would need to be hired.
As I said in the title, there is a lack of SSPs available nationwide. A study done in 2006 estimates there are about 1.2 million people that have combined vision and hearing losses. I couldn't find any current data but in 2006 only 28% of states ahd any level of SSP services. I'm sure this number is larger (Oklahoma just passed a SSP funding law), but I doubt it's enough to cover a million Deafblind clients.
Now, SSPs are not exclusive to Deafblind people, they can be used for Senior Citizens who cannot drive anymore due to sight and hearing loss, Blind hearing clients can benefit from SSPs to guide them around unfamiliar places as well as get audio information on their environment.
So, the solution:
Barriers to Health Services
Many Deaflbind have limited access to quality Healthcare for a variety of reasons. This is a very long list so I'm going to bullet point them:
The solution? Provide better sensitivity training throughout the hospital and medical service community. Provide a Medical School course in the various disabilities and their preferred communication and interaction methods. Have more ASL interpreters and tactile interpreters on contract in hospitals. And finally - stop being stuck up jerks. (My personal opinion). Read more in my article.
General Lack of Access Everywhere Really
There's a huge lack of access for Deafblind people in every part and stage of their lives. I believe the number one cause of this is the public's view of Deafblindness.
As soon as a person finds out someone is Deafblind the majority of the time they instantly think of Helen Keller and "total deafness and total blindness" and forget that Deafblindness has a wide and varied range. The other thought that often occurs too is low expectations - they're hellpless and can't do anything for themselves. I once showed up at a doctor's appointment alone and they asked where my caretaker was. Yeah, I wasn't happy with them.
So because of this attitude, many barriers happen:
One sad fact about all this lack of access and socialization for the Deafblind is that it leads to depression and other mental health issues. It's hard staying positive when there is limited contact with the outside world, and when there is interaction - those people are treating you as if you're incapable of anything.
If you suspect a Deafblind person, or anyone with a disability, of having depression or any other mental health issues, please read these helpful articles
More awareness and training is the best solution. But this takes time, effort and monies that are usually not there. But I believe it starts with the Deafblind people themselves - they need training on empowerment, self-reliance, and how to speak for themselves. Only then can we educate one person at a time, or as a group and wake the public up.
Another solution - stop the "hero" mentality and quench the need to rush to someone's aid (and filming it) for your own self satisfaction or gain. People with disabilities are not your pawns, we are people too and deserve (and should demand) respect. If you see them, simply ask "everything alright?" and if they say it's fine - leave it alone. If they do need help, ask how and help with the one request. Do not assume because they had trouble with one thing that they'll need help with everything else.
I saw this post on Facebook the other day that sums this up perfectly:
I hope I gave everyone food for thought and a change in attitudes.
Now that we got the dirty business out of the way, let's look at the successes of various Deafblind people:
Everyone thinks of this woman first when they hear "Deafblind". She's the first Deafblind woman to graduate with a Bachelor's degree (Radcliffe, 1904) and has written numerous books and many public appearances. The drawback from her success though is that every deafblind person since is compared to her.
He was a Deafblind poet, writer, teacher, and Director of Services for the Deafblind at the "Industrial Home for the Blind" in New York. He got his Bachelor's Degree cum laude from Saint John's University in New York and became the first Deafblind to receive a Master's degree from New York University. He was also Barbara Walter's "most memorable" interview.
Everyone is pretty much online these days and know how to get around on cyberspace - thanks to Georgia Griffith. She graduated cum laude from Capital University, was a music teacher - could play 12 instruments, and she knew at least 7 languages. She single-handedly designed the IBM Special Needs Data Base and pretty much help create CompuServe. For eighteen years she managed some of the busiest and most volatile forums on CompuServe with a membership of thousands. She has been blind since birth and deaf for most of her adult life.
Deafblind from birth she is the first deafblind woman to graduate Harvard Law School. She previously worked as a staff attorney for Disability Rights Advocates and won a few accessibility cases. She currently works as a speaker and consultant.
That's just a few in a long list. Do your own research and you'll find many more.
Hope this helps dissipate the thoughts that Deafblind are helpless and need constant care.
Following up to yesterday's post about the bad wording and treating the deafblind man as a prop, I came across this article from The Mighty that is really helpful to remember for the Deafblind as well.
And if you notice #10 - I do not exist to make you look awesome.
- Don't make a big show out of helping me to look like a hero.
- Don't talk about me patronizingly - Look at what she can do.
- Don't treat me like a trained seal - Show everyone what you can do.
One more thing that's the bane of many people with disabilities - condescending praise or "false praises" - "good job on (mundane task)", "Woooow that's great you can do that!", "- it's the tone behind the message, you get the idea?
This happens so many times (I've lost count myself) that many are veryal and leery of compliments as we're not sure you're being genuine or not. As one online friend said "I've been patted on the head so many times that one of these days I'm going to bark 'Woof'."
So, next time you meet a Blind, Deaafblind, Deaf, or Disabled person - treat us like everyone else - it's that simple.
This week in June marks Deafblind Awareness Week and a Facebook post that spread all over social media last Friday has me upset and irritated.
Here's the Facebook post:
The wording throughout is very patronizing and "ableist" and painted the deafblind man as totally helpless.
"The gentleman next to him did his best to assist him with things like opening coffee creamer and putting it in his coffee" - I'm sure Tim could handle his own coffee - many Deafblind can do many things independently - cook, clean, and even hold jobs.
"When Tim (the deafblind man) made the attempt to stand up and feel his way to the restroom, his seatmate immediately was up to help him" - I've traveled alone on airlines thousands of times, common sense dictates the bathrooms are at the back or the front, walk to the where the seats run out (or for some people - follow the smell). If the door is locked, wait til ya feel a burst of air from the door opening and then go in. The wording "attempt to" paints helplessness.
"someone suggested paging to see if anyone on board knew sign language. That's when this lovely young woman came into the picture....For the rest of the flight, she attended to Tim and made sure his needs were met" - IF the wording was along the lines of "an ASL student kept Tim company and chatted with him for the rest of the flight" GREAT! I wish more people learned ASL and attempted to communicate more, BUT - "attended to Tim and made sure his needs were met" - Is she his nursemaid now? See how patronizing that sounds now?
"I don't know when I've ever seen so many people rally to take care of another human being" - so ableist - look at what WE did for the poor man.
I'm not saying never help someone with a disability, but don't you think if they got there on their own they can manage to go on their own? Just assume they're alright until you actually see them look confused or like they actually need help.
the oooohs and awwws of this post was just over the top.
Here are some quotes from other Deaf and Deafblind in response to this as well:
"A large portion of the Deafblind community is annoyed by this classic example of inspiration porn. DB people fly independently all the time and have various ways to manage themselves. This was hard-fought when for years (and sometimes still) we were not permitted to fly alone."
"So often, help is forced upon us that we didn’t ask for or need so that people may congratulate themselves, but it perpetuates ideas of low expectations and ablism that affects other aspects of our lives, such as employment, independent travel or housing."
"She took a story that was not hers to tell and made it viral. If she simply posted something about being frustrated about lack of accommodations, might be different. If HE posted about how people were cool about helping, very different."
"These words seem nice but actually disenfranchise people. We should be angry that a grown man was infantilized. Furthermore, this story is written like he is a prop not an active participant in this story. It’s not that kindness and help are bad things but the interaction should be a reciprocal interaction where power is shared equally."
Of course I received negative responses from people for my comments such as:
"Your awful!! My mom is DEAF BLIND and there is "NO ONE" to help her but her children. I have not read the story but I believe more people need to be aware of this type of situation. It was very kind of the young lady to help with the communication barrier." - I was commenting on the wording used and not about the help offered.
"I loved the story and I'll remember next time I ever meet you not to help you or give you company. You're on your own." - *hat tip* that's fine 'cuz you missed the point.
"I doubt you'll read this or hear it....but I hope someone rearranges your furniture when you're having a bad day." - LOL!! My favorite Helen Keller joke, thanks for the laugh.
So, it was not the acts of the people on the airplane or the wonderful ASL student helping out and chatting, it was the wording and "inspirational porn" feel of the post that got me upset.
When will the world learn that people who are Deafblind are fully capable of leading their own fulfilling lives and we don't need your pity, patronizing attitudes and be objects for your "good deed" checklist.
If we ask for help, just help us with what we asked for without the assumption that we're incompetent in everything else.