Words I Wheel By

Exploring disability issues and making sense of my lived experiences with my disability.


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Words I Wheel By is Moving! And Having a Few Growing Pains.

Hi everyone!

I’m really excited to share that Words I Wheel By is moving to a new domain – one that I actually own! I know that anyone who subscribes may have gotten a strange e-mail saying I put a post up that doesn’t actually exist. I’m so sorry for that inconvenience, but stay tuned because big things are happening! Anyone who has subscribed will be carried over to my new website, and things should run smoothly from there. I’ll share the URL as soon as it’s ready! THANK YOU to everyone who reads and subscribes. It really means the world to me.

Tons of warm wishes,
Emily

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Finding a True Sense of Community Within a Community

A light blue circle with text that reads "A Sense of Community." The words "A Sense of" are in black font in the center of a circle made of the word "Community" written twice.I’m coming off the high of spending five days in my absolute favorite place in the country: Washington, D.C. I know – it’s not exactly everyone’s top choice of locations given the current political climate of the United States. For me though, it’s so exhilarating to be in a city full of people who release the buzz of purpose and potential into the atmosphere. It may sound silly, but being in D.C. makes me feel like I’m in the Disney World of disability rights advocacy.

I went there to go a conference hosted by the organization where I interned over the summer, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). There’s nothing quite as exciting to me as being surrounded by about 700 people connected by involvement in disability rights advocacy and making progress within the disability world. When I’m in the presence of amazing, established advocates and budding ones like myself, I see real potential to improve access and work towards eliminating social barriers for the disability community. As you can see, I want to be as positive and optimistic as possible about social change.

What I wonder, though, is what happens to the energy after meetings of the mind come to an end and conferences come to a close. I left the AUCD conference having made wonderful connections and some great new friends. I felt energized and found my passion for advocacy renewed. And from the looks of it, I was far from alone in this excitement. A conference as empowering as AUCD’s clearly generates fires within people to return to their daily lives and continue to pursue progress. However, I wonder what kind of progress could be made if the energy and passion channeled within the community of the conference halls could carry beyond that.

Essentially, what I mean to say is that I know there can’t always be huge groups of advocates in the same place at the same time, but I’d love to see what would happen if the collaborative mentality could be there 365 days a year. In the case of AUCD, collaboration is always there, even though members are spread out across all 50 states. That’s what I love about the organization – the efforts don’t stop just because everyone isn’t together under one roof.

However, I find that all too often, I meet advocates from other places, we bond over our passion, and then go right back to smaller, isolated advocacy communities.

The AUCD conference reminded me of how important a true sense of community is to successful advocacy. I found it particularly poignant that the conference theme was Promoting Inclusion in an Increasingly Diverse World, because a sense of community was fostered within the celebration of diversity. Acceptance of diversity won’t happen without understanding the common ground we occupy.

I’m sure you’ve read similar sentiments a million times before, because I know I have. But I keep waiting to see more people taking it to heart. I’m so lucky to call myself a part of some amazing disability advocacy communities, including some great people in the AUCD network, but I’d love to see this sense of community, this sense of connection, grow within the existing community. So much progress has been made since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other important disability-related legislation, but there is so much more to be done, and no one can do it alone.


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November Disability News and Blog Post Round-up

Disability News and Blog Post Round-up, Words I Wheel By, 11/16/13Not a day goes by for me where I don’t come across articles or blog posts related to disabilities that command my attention and make me stop to think. Last month, I did a round-up of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking things I read regarding disabilities. Though I had wanted to do a round-up post on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis, time got away from me a bit. However, I didn’t want to let this month go by without doing another round-up, because I had lots of fun putting it together last time! I’ll link to the article or post and include a brief explanation of why I choose to share each piece. I hope you find things that resonate with you within my lists.

Articles

  • What’s the deal with the onstage sign language interpreters at music festivals? – In my Disability and Social Justice class during college, one of our assignments was to find out more about how public places and venues accommodate all kinds of disabilities. One group called concert venues to see what the response would be if they requested sign language interpreters. Unfortunately, they were sent in circles among various venue representatives and not one person they asked had any useful responses or knowledge of how to get an interpreter to their venue. This article is all about LotuSign, a company that’s working towards changing this problem.
  • Disability Studies: A New Normal – This New York Times article gives an interesting overview of the ways in which disability studies can be applied to a wide range of career paths. While I don’t think the idea that anyone can become disabled needs to be called “foreboding,” I really shouldn’t be picky about semantics here because I think this article is a great read.
  • Gas Stations Designed for Easy Fueling – Though technically a blog post, I’m counting this as an article because it’s incredibly informative about new accessible technology for gas stations. When I used to go on the road with an old friend who uses a wheelchair, he often had issues getting assistance at stations that weren’t full service. I hope this could be the future solution to that problem!
  • The Boden girl, my sons and a heartfelt message to a world that wrote them off, by Amanda Cable, whose twin boys were born with cerebral palsy – This article addresses the controversy (which shouldn’t even be a controversy) about the gorgeous little girl with cerebral palsy who is a model for the children’s clothing company Boden. This mother writes eloquently and honestly about why people need to stop assuming that the lives of disabled people aren’t worth living.

Blog Posts

  • CP Shoes post on Frida Kahlo – First of all, if you haven’t heard of CP Shoes yet, allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite blogs in the universe. I have had the pleasure of spending a bit of time with the blogger behind CP Shoes this past summer, and she is awesome. Her blog tackles disability rights advocacy by way of featuring photos of shoes affected in various ways by the walking patterns of people with disabilities. Not only did I enjoy the little history lesson about Frida Kahlo’s disability, but also I loved the quote shared at the end of the post. It hit me hard, in a good way.
  • How To Talk To A Cripple – Spashionista is a blog that covers both disability and fashion. What’s not to love? This post is about political correctness in a way that really got me thinking! The last line of the post says it all.
  • I resign my roles at Autism Speaks – If you’re unfamiliar with the major problems with Autism Speaks and their “advocacy” efforts, educate yourself! Autistic people are fighting back hard against Autism Speaks, and I couldn’t have been more proud to read this blog post from Autism Speaks’ only Autistic member on the Science and Treatment Board that revealed why he chose to resign.
  • How To Get Over Your Body Image Issues And Dance Naked – I recently shared some of my personal struggles with body image in a previous post, and this story really resonated with me. Not sure I have the courage to dance naked, but I’m definitely on a personal journey to get in touch with my “multidimensional awesomeness.”

I hope you found some interesting new reading material here and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the articles and posts I listed! If I missed anything you think is worth checking out, please don’t hesitate to share it with me!

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The Out of Step Tool

Out of Step LogoAs I mentioned in my post from a couple weeks ago on getting back in the water, I’m officially employed! It all happened so fast that I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around it, but I’m really excited about it! My dream has always been to work for an organization that contributes to the disability rights movement and through my blogging, I found my way to an opportunity that allows me to wake up every morning knowing that I’m working for a cause I believe in. I’m the new Social Media Director and Radio Show Producer for a website called Out of Step. Now, forgive me if this sounds too much like a PSA, but I really want to share more about The Out of Step Tool on my blog because I genuinely think it’s a valuable resource and I want to spread the word!

The Out of Step Tool is an online marketplace and platform that connects people with disabilities to consumers and employers. If you have a disability, you can create a free profile to help sell your product, advertise a business or service, or post a resume. There’s even an option for you to indicate if you are a disabled veteran. Then, regardless of whether or not you identify as disabled, you can visit The Out of Step Tool website to search through profiles and find just the item, service, or employee candidate you’re looking for. There’s also a section of the website for non-profit organizations who offer services to people with disabilities to create free profiles. Intrigued yet? You can read even more information here: About Out of Step.

If you’re curious about some of the resources that The Out of Step Tool has, allow me to shamelessly promote the first ever episode new radio show I produced. I’m excited about it because we tackled some awesome topics, including disclosing disabilities to potential employers and tips for starting a small business. You can check it out here: TOOST Radio, Episode 1.

It’s super easy to sign up and totally win-win! You can click here to get started: Sign up for The Out of Step Tool.

I really hope that some of you reading this can benefit from The Out of Step Tool. Put yourself out there! And if you do make a profile, let me know so I can check it out!


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New Guest Post at Handicap This!

I’m really excited to share my latest guest post that I’ve written for the Handicap This! blog on how popular media depicts disabilities. You can read it here: How Popular Media Depicts Disabilities. This is one of my absolute favorite subjects to research and write about. And though the show Push Girls, which I discuss in the post, is not on television for the fall season, I was inspired to write about it as a (mostly) positive example of a portrayal of disability in the media. After checking out my post, I hope you’ll take some time to explore the many other wonderful posts on the Handicap This! blog and to read all about the Handicap This! stage show!