World Deaf Information Resource Project Launches
A new initiative enables users to find deaf organizations and schools in 149 countries around the world. Launched by the Gallaudet University Center for International Programs and Services (CIPS) in October 2009, the World Deaf Information Resource Project provides contact information for hundreds of international-, national-, and local-level organizations and schools globally. The website also links to on-line reports about the human rights conditions and living situation of deaf people around the world and other information resources for deaf individuals and organizations.
“Deaf people always benefit when deaf organizations, schools, and individuals are able to exchange ideas and information,” says Dr. Asiah Mason, director of CIPS. “But before organizations can communicate with each other, they need a way to find each other. The new World Deaf Information Resource Project lets them do that. It is our hope this can be a powerful information resource for the global deaf community.”
In addition to browsing the website, users also may download most of the same information in either Word or PDF format. The file enables users to produce a 104-page hard copy document for dissemination to contacts who might not have Internet access.
The new website can be accessed at http://cips.gallaudet.edu/wdi.xml. CIPS intends to continue expanding the website and file over time. People are invited to submit information about deaf organizations, schools, and deaf-related information resources not already included in the project to World.Deaf.Info@gallaudet.edu.
CIPS is a unit within the Gallaudet University College of Professional Studies and Outreach and is the university’s one-stop office for all things international. Gallaudet University is the only liberal arts university for deaf students in the world.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
See the following message in American Sign Language (13 min.): http://www.coataccess.org/node/51
Many federal laws have been enacted to require greater access to telecommunications for deaf people and also blind people. There is only one problem – the federal laws that we worked so hard to enact over the past 20 years have not kept pace with many new technologies. For instance, television shows that are re-shown over the Internet are under no requirement to be captioned — even if they had captions when they were shown on TV! Also, small TVs, cell phones, PDAs, and other mobile devices are not required to display captions, even though they are now capable of showing TV shows. Also, for now, 9-1-1 emergency call centers cannot accept calls from people who need to communicate in video or via pagers.
During the spring of 2007, a new coalition, the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), was established to try to fix these problems, as well as problems affecting blind people (for example the need for video description). Founding organizations include Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). As of November 2007, at least 167 national, regional, state or local organizations are members of the COAT.
COAT now has an online petition to support passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act so that EVERYONE can access technology. Sign it now and spread the word!
President Barack Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov page is now up and running. They have an Office of Public Liaison whose intent is to facilitate communication and engagement between Obama’s administration and the American public. I’ve already been making use of their form for emailing comments to the Obama administration Office of Public Liaison. (Note that each message is limited to 500 characters, including spaces and punctuation.)
These are some messages I have sent to them just this afternoon:
“Please designate one specific individual to be the liaison between Obama’s administration and Americans with disabilities. I voted for Obama because he was the only candidate to offer a truly comprehensive disability platform, including a pledge to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As a woman with multiple disabilities, I want to continue to feel engaged with the political process. Having a direct contact on disability issues is essential to this engagement.”
“One of Obama’s most important campaign promises to people with disabilities was to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and encourage the US Senate to ratify it. The ratification and implementation of the CRPD is important to strengthening the protection of some key human rights not currently covered in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please ask Obama to start this process as swiftly as humanly possible.”
“Half of US jobs are provided by SMALL businesses and non-profits (fewer than 15 employees) not covered by the ADA. As a deaf person, I need expensive s.l. interpreters in order to do certain functions such as attending office meetings or training. This excludes me from half of the potential employment opportunities, even in cases where most of my work would not require accommodation. How does Obama plan to expand employment opportunities in SMALL offices for employees with disabilities?”
“I look to Obama to take a clear stand against torture as a profound violation of American ideals. Americans committing torture should be persecuted with rigor. Key decision makers who encouraged it or looked the other way MUST NOT escape accountability. Steps should also be taken to stop the perpetuation of conditions that encourage torture in the first place. Consult with Philip Zimbardo in planning this preventative process http://www.lucifereffect.com”
“Obama has pledged to improve the quality of education for children with disabilities. For Deaf children, this cannot happen without FULL communication access through American Sign Language. Yet many Deaf children are either in deaf schools where teachers are incompetent signers, or else they are integrated with incompetent sign language interpreters. Americans would not tolerate a majority of public education being conducted in ungrammatical, incomprehensible English. Why tolerate it for Deaf?”
“Please be sure that President Obama understands how much profound meaning it has to Americans with disabilities that he does sometimes remember to mention us, even if only in passing, in some of his speeches, including his election night speech and his speech on the steps of the Lincoln memorial this weekend. I posted a letter about how I felt at tinyurl.com/5cfhc6 — since then, many people with disabilities from across the US and around the world have told me they shared my sentiments.”
“The US and other OECD countries pledged 0.7% of its GNI to foreign assistance for fighting poverty, disease, & ignorance. The US has miserably failed to meet this promise. The current global economic crisis demonstrates that the fate of all nations are closely intertwined: we simply cannot separate ourselves from developing countries. Increased stability in Africa could ultimately help us as well. This makes foreign assistance more important, not less, in the current economic crisis.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I originally posted this letter on November 5, when President Barack Obama had been elected fewer than 24 hours earlier. Now that he has been inaugurated, I thought it would be appropriate to post it again.
Dear President Elect Barack Obama:
I wanted to convey a heartfelt THANK YOU to President elect Obama for making an entire class of excluded citizens visible in his acceptance speech last night: people with disabilities. THANK YOU for including the word “disabled” in your acceptance speech last night.
I am a Deaf US citizen who also has attention deficit disorder and a mild foot problem. So I, too, am an American with disabilities. This is the first time I can recall feeling included in a political campaign as a person with disabilities.
Historically, people with disabilities have been pushed to the margins, confined to our homes–or worse, to institutions. This was partly because of who we are and partly because people simply did not prioritize our inclusion, even when it would be simple to do so. Then, because we were not allowed to be in the mainstream of society, people didn’t see us–and thus assumed we do not exist. So the issues and concerns with the most profound impact on our lives, our most basic freedoms, and even our day to day survival have been historically assumed to not matter.
We are among the largest minority groups in this country–the World Health Organization estimates we comprise about 10% of the population. Yet people don’t see us in their streets, in their homes, in their offices, in the policies that they draft, in the programs they run, or in their lives. In American society, and around the world, we are consistently “invisibilized.” Most politicians, most of the time, don’t even mention us the way Obama did last night. We are so consistently excluded that even tokenism would be a step forward for us.
I voted for Obama yesterday morning for many reasons. But one important motivation for me was that he was the only candidate to provide a truly comprehensive disability rights platform (PDF format, 62 Kb, 8 pages). It is particularly unique and impressive in that it is one of the few acknowledgments by a politician that disability issues are not confined to social protection programs, or to services for veterans disabled in war, or to education services for so-called “special needs” children.
All of these are important concerns also, but Obama’s platform is a rare recognition that people with disabilities are not a monolithic group. Social protection programs are not the start and end of our needs; we are not all veterans; and we are not all children. We are mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, friends and confidantes, co-workers and professional colleagues, spouses and partners, neighbors, and even professional and athletic rivals. We are everyone. And our needs are, correspondingly, as complex as the needs of everyone else.
Above all, as with any other marginalized minority group, our needs include the need for human rights protections. This makes it particularly noteworthy that Obama was the only candidate to pledge to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and encourage the Senate to ratify it.
Yet: when Obama referred to “disabled” (and non-disabled) people in his speech last night, I stopped breathing. Even with his disability platform in mind, I had not been prepared for this moment. Suddenly, one of the most overlooked group of Americans was acknowledged as a force in our own right. Suddenly, I felt visible.
I had to stop writing this letter twice because I kept stopping to weep. How powerful a thing it is, simply to be validated. Simply to have a president elect of the country acknowledge that we exist. How powerful a thing it is, to have a president elect of the country acknowledge us, not as a special class apart, but as a part of the mainstream of society. Exactly as we should be. Exactly where we belong.
Mr. Obama, you can expect more letters from me in the years to come. I am a person with many opinions and am not afraid to express them. In particular, I will be calling upon you to follow through on your pledge to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). You can bet I will be calling you to account on your promises to Americans with disabilities!
But for now, just for today–thank you. Thank you for referring to Americans with disabilities in your acceptance speech on the evening of November 4, 2008. Just, thank you–for acknowledging us and for including us. Thank you.
Ms. Andrea Shettle, MSW
This is an open letter to Barack Obama. I hope other Deaf people, and people with disabilities in general, will join me in reaching out to Obama from across the US and around the world. Thank him for including us in his remarks on election night. And remind him of his campaign promises to Americans with disabilities (Follow the link to download the 8-page, 62 Kb PDF file.
Even if you didn’t vote for Obama–if you are in the US, he will be your president too. Democrats and Republicans may disagree with each other on a great many things, including who would have been a better president for Americans with disabilities. But I think we also have many concerns in common that are well worth crossing the ideological divide. No matter who we voted for, let’s work together to ensure that we are increasingly included, and increasingly visible, in the mainstream of American politics and policies and public life. Let’s work together to ensure that we are included in the mainstream of society, full stop.
If you’re interested specifically in the CRPD–the first international, legally-binding human rights treaty to protect a wide range of human rights for people with disabilities around the world–check out RatifyNow.org. Ratification of the CRPD is very much consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with the bonus that it could help expand human rights protections into areas not currently covered in the ADA.
Obama’s administration can be contacted via his new Office of Public Liaison.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
An increasing number of bloggers are encouraging their readers to sign the petition protesting Jerry Lewis’ humanitarian award, and also to join the Facebook group coordinating protests against a man who has helped entrench negative stereotypes of all people with disabilities–and Deaf people. Here are a few of the most recent examples below. Or, read the full list of links by clicking on the page Bloggers Protesting Pity in the top navigation bar.
Confused what this is all about? Jerry Lewis, the man who runs the annual telethon raising money for research into Muscular Dystrophy is about to receive a humanitarian award. Many Deaf people, Autistic people, people with Muscular Dystrophy, and people with all disabilities strongly object to this decision. Has Jerry raised money for charity? Yes, lots of it. But these funds come with a heavy price tag: the manner in which Jerry raises these funds generate pity for people with disabilities in ways that reinforce outdated stereotypes. These stereotypes make it harder, among other things, for job applicants to be judged on their genuine qualifications for the job instead of on mistaken beliefs about what people with disabilities can and cannot do. Read on to learn more …
Petition regarding disabilities and their perceptions…
Has a few links to web pages and blog posts that explain why some people with disabilities dislike Jerry’s annual telethon and quotes some of the negative things Jerry has said (such as referring to wheelchair users as “half a person,” etc.)
Jerry Lewis the Humanitarian?
Includes the full text of the petition (and a link to it). The introductory blurb, among other things, says: “How many of us cringe when someone feels “terrible” that we are LPs/deaf/chair users/learning disabled/autistic/etc? That cringe is what this petition is giving voice to.”
Jerry Lewis to be Presented with Humanitarian Award
Encourages people to sign the petition, saying “… [I]t seems kind of strange and wildly offensive that someone might receive a humanitarian award after having referred to the people he “helps” as not fully human ….”
Petition to cancel humanitarian award for Jerry Lewis
In addition to presenting the text of the petition, this author also recommends a book to read analyzing how telethons promote discrimination and negative images of people with disabilities.
Please do remember to sign the petition protesting Jerry Lewis’ humanitarian award. And please also join the Facebook group coordinating the protests against this “humanitarian” award. Also, check the full list of links about the protests by clicking on the page Bloggers Protesting Pity in the top navigation bar.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Whether you’re Deaf or hearing; old or young; poor or rich; have muscular dystrophy or not; gay or straight; male or female; have disabilities or not—chances are, you would never want someone to pity you. Yet, too many of us think pity is okay as long as we do it to someone else. Meaning someone who leads such a pathetic life that they “deserve” pity. And, not so incidentally, charity.
Jerry Lewis is someone who perpetuates pity against all people with disabilities–and, yes, against Deaf people and Autistic people as well, even if not all identify as having disabilities–every time he runs his annual telethon for people with muscular dystrophy on Labor Day weekend. For his annual task of attacking the dignity of millions of people, Jerry is about to receive a humanitarian award.
There is now an on-line petition campaign against Jerry’s humanitarian award. If you already know you want to sign it, then skip the rest of this post and follow this link to the petition signature page! (Be sure to use the Comments line to explain, in your own words, why you support the petition. This will vastly strengthen the impact of your signature.)
Not sure yet? I will explain more about the petition and why all Deaf people, Autistic people, and people with disabilities should sign it. But, first, I will share a few words on why we all should take a stand against the destructive force of pity where ever we find it–whether it’s perpetuated by Jerry or by someone else (see “Protest Pity“). Then I will talk about why Jerry does not deserve a humanitarian award (see “Protest Jerry’s Pity-a-Thon“). Last, I will explain about the humanitarian award and the effort to protest it (see “Join the Petition Campaign!“)
Those of us who are Deaf, or who are Autistic, or who have muscular dystrophy, or who have disabilities, all know first hand how pity can damage lives. It undermines our efforts to seek out access to our environment; to full, independent lives; to our basic human rights; and to our fundamental freedoms. People who “pity” us don’t think about things like supplying us with closed captions (for Deaf people), or a quiet, dim environment (for Autistic people with sensory issues), or ramps (for wheelchair users). People who pity us are more interested in putting a quarter or two in our begging cup (because, surely, we must have one, don’t we?) so they can go away feeling good about themselves. Never mind whether our lives are truly improved by the charity they bestow upon us. Because, unlike empathy, pity doesn’t really have anything to do with providing the kind of help that people necessarily want and need to receive. Pity, and the charity it triggers, is really about the giver and their need to see themselves as kind and generous. By definition, it is never about the recipient.
Pity can frequently masquerade as more benign emotions such as “sympathy” or (better) “empathy.” But unlike empathy, pity dehumanizes the target. We feel empathy with our equals: empathy implies that we identify with the pain of someone we perceive as being mostly like ourselves. Empathy also implies that we believe the target deserves all the same kind of support we would want for ourselves if we were in the same situation. But we feel pity only for people we perceive as being, not just different from us, but beneath us. Maybe even contemptible, or less than human. Empathy binds people together and drives people to fight for things like justice, equality, and human rights. Pity separates us and stratifies us into “superior” beings (people who should never be pitied) and “inferior” beings (people who should be pitied, or who should be passive recipients of charity).
When we empathize with someone, we recognize their fundamental dignity. We may not necessarily share all their values and interests, but we acknowledge that they deserve to have access to all the same services, human rights, and freedoms that we do. If someone we empathize with is denied the right to informed consent to medical care (because they are denied the interpreters they need to understand the treatment options being offered to them), or the right to read an important brochure on HIV/AIDS prevention (because it is not available in Braille), then we become enraged on their behalf. We take as a given that they deserve the same things that we do. And we stand in solidarity with them when they fight for their human rights.
However, if we pity them rather than empathize with them, then it doesn’t occur to us that the barriers they face to full participation in society are a travesty of justice and human rights. Instead, we simply say, “How sad that they have disabilities.” Then perhaps we throw a few dollars in their general direction so we can move on and forget about them. Pity does not inspire people to support enduring equal access to the environment. It only inspires short-term, feel-good charity.
If pity is such a terrible thing, then why do some people, like Jerry Lewis, do so much to encourage it? It can be tempting to fall into the trap of promoting pity for two reasons. One, too many people still confuse pity with its more productive counterpart, empathy. Two, pity does happen to be very effective at luring people to donate millions of dollars, in charity–which can do a lot of short-term good, even if the pity itself can do so much harm.
Hence, Jerry’s annual “pity-a-thon,” which has raised enormous amounts of money to support medical research. However, many people question whether the harm caused by Jerry’s pity-a-thon justifies the ends. They point out that events such as Jerry’s telethon can generate massive amounts of pity that last well beyond the event ends, with all its destructive implications. Last year, dozens of Deaf people, hearing people, Autistic people, non-autistic people, and people with various disabilities wrote about why they oppose Jerry’s telethon: you can read those blog posts at http://karasheridan.com/?p=164. And in case you were wondering: yes, there are people with muscular dystrophy who don’t like Jerry’s telethon either.
So what about Jerry’s upcoming humanitarian award, and the petition campaign protesting it? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that it will give Jerry Lewis its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscar Awards ceremony on February 22, 2009. This is largely for his work raising money by entrenching negative, stereotyped attitudes toward people with disabilities. Most people with disabilities do not oppose the need for more medical research into muscular dystrophy, or for services for people with muscular dystrophy. What we object to is the destructive means by which Jerry raises these funds.
Read and sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition.html. Please be sure to use the Comments line to explain, in your own words, why you support the petition. This will vastly increase the impact of your signature (because it shows you feel very strongly about this subject.)
If you’re on Facebook, you can join the Facebook group organizing efforts to protest Jerry’s award at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=40538392681
(If you’re not in Facebook yet, it’s pretty easy to set up an account for yourself, and it is free.)
Please do blog the petition campaign (be sure to link to the petition and to the Facebook group!) And please do twitter it as well.
You can increase the visibility of this blog post by “Digging” it–go to http://digg.com/arts_culture/Deaf_and_disabled_people_urge_others_to_Protest_Pity, then click on where it says “Digg it” (if you don’t already have a Digg account then you may need to create one, which takes just a few minutes).Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 9 so far )
Cell Phone Companies Should Accommodate Deaf People with Data-Only Plans!
Fed up with being forced to pay for voice call services that we deaf people cannot use? Or, fed up with being limited to only one or two cell phone companies (Tmobile) that even offer a data-only plan? Fed up with the fact that deaf people usually have to pay more for a data-only plan than hearing people do for a voice-only plan — even though our data-only plan is the functional equivalent?
If this is you, then read on:
Jeffery Stroud recently left the following comment in another post at this blog
URL : http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=28908999596
I’ve set up a (currently small and inactive) group on facebook called “Support Deaf accomodation by Cell Phone Company”. I’m not too sure what the ADA would say about cell phone companies not providing a data-only plan for all of their data-accessible phones for the deafs. That what I intend to find out. (I’m just quite a bit busy right now getting ready to move though so right now I’m just letting peoples knows about this group)
It is pretty easy to register for Facebook if you haven’t done that before. Once you register, you would be able to view the “Support Deaf accomodation by Cell Phone Company” group in Facebook and also join this group. It’s small (with only 30 members so far), but if you alert your friends in the deaf community, or re-post this announcement at your own blog, then it could grow quickly. Group members could then work together to fight for a wider range of choices of cell phone companies for deaf customers.
Thank you to Jeffery Stroud for leaving his comment at my blog.
Help Jeffery Stroud spread the word: link to the new Facebook group from your blog, too; or alert your friends via email.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 18 so far )
No, none of the participating blog posts specifically focus on Deaf issues (sorry, ran out of time to write one), but several are still very much relevant for Deaf people who are fighting to protect their own human rights.
From Australia … from the USA … from India … from New Zealand … from Fiji … from the Philippines …
Writers and bloggers from around the world joined together to help celebrate and promote the first legally binding international human rights instrument to protect the rights of people with disabilities — the international disability rights treaty, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
They celebrated by writing blog posts for the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008, which can now be read at
What did they write about? Some of the topics include …
… The story of one advocate who watched the birth of the CRPD among grassroots advocates with disabilities and others in the 1990s …
… How the CRPD could deliver new hope for people in India with mental disabilities …
… How the CRPD represents an evolution from the charity/medical model of disability to the social or human rights-based model …
… How the CRPD could make travel go a little more smoothly for tourists with disabilities …
… Why the CRPD matters for people who use personal assistance services or who are seeking the freedom to explore their own sexual expression …
… An allegorical tale about farmers, spoons, and plows: Why the CRPD is well worth celebrating and why our work isn’t done just because the CRPD is about to take full legal force …
… And more …
All at the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008, and all available by following the link to:
Celebrate and learn about the CRPD through the RatifyNow CRPD Blog Swarm 2008.
Then invite other people to do the same. Please circulate this notice or post it at your blog or web site — with, of course, a link to the blog swarm atRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )