Blogging against disablism

Did you know that one in six people in the UK has a disability of some sort? No? Neither did I until quite recently. It’s a shocking statistic, not so much because of the figure of 17%, but because disability is so underreported that when it does make the press people’s life stories become stereotyped and distorted. For example, we’re used to reading stories about soldiers returning from the frontline of duty, minus limbs. We rarely read of people who lost limbs for other reasons. Disability reporting tends to focus on a couple of quite narrow aspects – benefit cheats and the “brave”.

The benefits issue is particularly distressing. Most people with a disability rely on benefits as their sole means of income, meaning they struggle to get by and are forced to live below the poverty line. The few non-disabled who milk the system to claim money they are not entitled to are the ones used by the tabloids to splash “benefit cheats” headlines and used by the government as an excuse to tighten the rules further each time it wants to make savings. The reality is that around 80% of those claiming Disability Living Allowance will be refused on initial application even though they fit all the criteria for a claim.

As for “bravery”, it’s just part of the often patronising, often ignorant language used by the press, as well as the public at large. Just this week, someone described me as “suffering from” epilepsy while someone said my latest seizure must have been “traumatic” – neither of these terms are particularly accurate for the vast majority of people with epilepsy. Language is so often used carelessly to describe the disabled, with little thought given to how the disabled might prefer to be described. I’m not talking just about PC language, although quite the daftest thing I ever heard some years ago was about a memo circulating at a local council instructing workers to use the term “thought shower” instead of “brainstorm” for fear of offending those with epilepsy. The origins of this PC term may well be apocryphal, but it did spread far and wide into common usage. You know what’s really offensive? No one actually asked the 450,000 people in the UK who have epilepsy if they were offended by the term brainstorm. And you know what? We’re not. Probably because we’re too busy fighting for access to decent neurological services.

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day – I invite you to click on the link and read what hundreds of disabled bloggers have to say about the reality of living with a disability. Read, and listen. And remember, you might know one of the one in six, or live next door to one of us.

I’m also really proud that Blogging Against Disablism Day coincides with the publication of my book, Epilepsy: The Essential Guide. If you’re very quick, you can hear me live on BBC Radio Manchester this morning at 11am, talking about epilepsy and living with a disability. It’s live-streamed on the internet.

213 thoughts on “Blogging against disablism”

  1. Good Morning Goldfish!

    I’m a first time BADD boy. My contributions is at Lose the Mouse for BADD 2009! It’s a short piece about keyboard accessibility, not brilliant – but I’m passionate about it.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  2. peter Beresford

    Dear Friend I just want to thank you for the great idea of Blogging against Disablism Day 2009. May 1st is also my Birthday. So it seems a great day to have it on. I write blogs for Community Care and the Guardian. I write as a mental health service user who is also keen to support and be involved in the broader disabled people’s movement as well as the survivors movement. I think our greatest strength against the disablism and mentalism we face is to link up and gain in understanding of each other and our different experiences and the common discrimination we face. I think that there are lots of similarities as well as differences in the disablism facing survivors and other disabled people. I really value the idea of uniting our efforts, that’s why i think this is a great idea. All the very best from peter (beresford)

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  3. Hi Goldfish. I hope you get lots of sleep!

    I think my first post for BADD may qualify under "other". BADD: How The Non-Disabled Person Can Participate (from one non-disabled person to another). It’s also cross-posted to my Dreamwidth Account, here. DW is a more accessible site than LJ, so it may be better to link the DW account.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  4. What Sorts is done at

    There’s a word for that kind of thingAs for categories, unless you put in "Life and death" as a category, and cast gloom and doom everywhere, best to put it under "Other"

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  5. Hi, hope next week is better for you both. Here is my contribution, I would suggest it go in the "Definition and Analysis of Disablism/ Ableism" category. Thank you for all you do!

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  6. Thanks so much for this opportunity Goldfish!! My post is "Ablism: My thoughts one year later": Hyperlink Code. It belongs in the "Education" category. I look forward to a great evening of reading!

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  7. It’s looking grand so far, Goldfish.
    As well as my original post, I’m compiling a list of my own personal favourites which I’ll publish later, although I suspect I’m going to have to be more selective in my choices else I might end up just replicating this post…

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  8. Excellent work yet again Goldfish. Thanks for organisg such a great event.

    My contribution can be found at

    Please file under Media and Culture.

    All the best and thanks again.

    Marmite

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  9. Looks like the day is going really well Goldfish – kudos to you!

    By the way, my post ("Defining Disablism" – mentioned under the Definitions and Analysis category) appear to be missing a hyperlink.

    All the best ๐Ÿ™‚

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  10. Mine is done as well it is called Fibromyalgia the Invisible Pain. It is about adjusting to a chronic illness and how those around us expect us to overcome.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  11. Here is my contribution. I titled it "What Disablism Means to Me." I guess it qualifies as a personal journey, but this is your website, so class it as you will.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  12. It’s finally done! Here is the link: Social Security benefits & women, working while disabled, and stigmatizing mental health terminology!I think it might fit under Employment, Politics, Healthcare, or something else…
    THANK YOU for hosting this; it’s incredible! ๐Ÿ™‚

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  13. Two posts:

    One from The Curvature, which should go under "Definition and Analysis of Disablism/ Ableism," I suppose (could also easily go under personal journey):

    http://thecurvature.com/2009/05/01/blogging-against-disablism-day-on-depression/

    And one from Feministe, which should go under "Disability Interacting with Other ‘isms":

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/05/01/disability-and-class/

    Thanks so much for putting this all together!

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  14. Just added a post titled Assumptions, Assumptions.

    I’d say it’s a combination of General Thoughts and Impairment-Specific Prejudice, as I touch on both. Probably better classified as General Thoughts though.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  15. Sorry, forgot to include in my previous comment that I think it could go under general thoughts, or personal experiences. Thanks!

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  16. I’m sorry — I didn’t include what section it should go under when I linked to my post. Blogging Against Disablism Day: workplace gadflies Under employment. And thank you for doing this!

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  17. Oh, and as I completely failed to include it in my post (*darn*), and I’ve not read another post which references it yet (but I’ve not been through them all, so it might be there), I’d like to offer up the Pepsi ad Bob’s House for anyone who hasn’t seen it as something very appropriate to today…

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  18. Just to add my roundup/review post (is there a section for these?) – here’s Bloggers Blogging Against Disablism (BBAD does BADD).

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  19. I hope this counts even though I didn’t sign up beforehand.

    http://www.disaboom.com/Blogs/outsidethecircle/archive/2009/05/01/it-s-never-that-simple-autism-assumptions-and-ability.aspx

    It would probably go in "Impairment-Specific Prejudice," but you might feel differently. I know a lot of what I describe applies to other groups of people, disabled or not, but it’s a lot more profound when it’s an ability issue.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  20. http://donttypeangry.blogspot.com/2009/05/blogging-against-disablism-day.html

    I write about cerebral palsy (from an outsider perspective) and endometriosis. The cerebral palsy section mentions the woeful situation with carers (my experience is in Australia) and the endo section mentions people not taking endometriosis seriously due to it being a woman’s affliction.

    Great idea, by the way. Brilliant. Let’s blog for change!

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  21. Hi, Goldfish. I’m not sure which category my post goes in — maybe Disablism in Culture? maybe Definition & Analysis?

    What it is, it’s an essay about learning not to be so able-ist in my own life and interactions … a first post on disablism by someone who has only been discriminated against for other things.

    Her Own Self:

    http://northlighthero.livejournal.com/

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  22. My post can be found on my livejournal here http://redtoffee.livejournal.com/164542.html

    It fits into personal journeys but also impairment specific-prejudices (I have ME.) I hope you and others find it useful. I will be editting it to send to the local papers for ME awareness week May 11th-17th 2009 so any feedback is good!

    Thank you for doing this!

    Laura
    ~X~

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  23. Hi, Goldfish,

    My contribution is Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear (of disability). It fits best under the "Disablism in literature, culture and the media" category.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  24. Nice post! Thought shower? Soon we won’t be allowed to call a cat a cat, for fear that it could remind some people of a cat-scan… Adapting language is good sometimes, but it should be done by the people who could get offended by it. But as we all know, disabled people can’t speak for themselves, they need other people to make decisions for them.

  25. I’m all for adapting language – it’s how a language evolves and grows, after all. Any language that fails to adapt and evolve condemns itself to an early grave. And a language that tries to force certain usages on a people is equally doomed, as Orwell expressed so eloquently in 1984.

    As a professional writer I’m painfully aware how my choice of words can affect other people, and as a professional writer who’s now officially disabled doubly so. Which is no doubt why I get doubly frustrated when other members of my trade use words so carelessly. And when I’m being a patient at the hands of the NHS awaiting my next check-up and not being listened to that frustration doubles yet again.

    I have my own set of “kick off” factors. I don’t care if people call a seizure a “fit”, I don’t even care too much if they call me a spazzer, as I’ll happily refer to myself (jokily of course) as one, but tell me I “suffer from” epilepsy? Stand back and be prepared to accept the consequences.

  26. I’m not sure, but I think Blogger must’ve done something weird because I posted my link of http:www.fulltiltwheelie.blogspot.com/reflections on language

    for BADD 2009 and it somehow got left out???

    Thanks!

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  27. I’m technically a couple of hours late, but if you’re still accepting submissions, here’s mine (it turned out a lot longer than i originally intended it to be): Disability Terminology: too much confusion, so much frustration

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  28. I’ve made two posts on separate blogs.

    My post on the Change.org autism blog should be categorized under Disablism and Politics.

    http://autism.change.org/blog/view/direct_action_adapt_at_the_white_house_tony_attwood_update

    My post on the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, SW Ohio blog should go under Relationships, Love and Sex.

    http://asansouthwestohio.blogspot.com/2009/05/not-children-tony-attwood-still-doesnt.html

    Meg Evans

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  29. I didn’t sign up earlier either, and as it happens, I’m way late getting this in and if I can’t be included I understand. (I did write it yesterday, for whatever it’s worth.) It’s called "Fat, Major Depression, Aspergerโ€™s: Where the Social Model Meets the Medical Model," and it could go either in the "Definition and Analysis of Disablism/ Ableism" or "Personal Journeys" section because it’s a little of both. Thanks!

    http://fatfu.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/badd/

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  30. Diary,

    I put up a "Take 5" post at What Sorts of People with 5 favourites from the day fairly early on … though that day seems to keep on going and going and going

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  31. Goldfish:

    Here are my blogs for Blogging Against Disablism Day, BADD, 2009.

    goes in Healthcare IssuesGovernment-Sponsored Ablism and Segregation Tears Families Apartgoes in General Thoughts on DisablismAblism: Idiotic Comments From IdiotsThanks, I would’ve gotten it in faster but ran up against hospital curfew ๐Ÿ™

    Nick

    PS
    also following your twitter ๐Ÿ™‚

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  32. Hi, hi..

    …here is my tremendously late entry. Due in part to my illness, I fell down a flight of stairs the other day and was not really quite able to get to comic-bloging as I’ve have liked. …Why do I feel like a kid with a note to get out of gym?

    Anyway – it’s either disablism and health care or personal journey…

    http://acomiclifeindeed.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/tales-from-the-clinic-1/

    – miss waxie

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  33. two things: My contribution was a bit late and I understand if I missd the cutoff

    http://onesickmother.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/05/invisible-disabilities-depression.html

    also I have selected you for the Premio Dardos award. Info below.

    The Prรฉmio Dardos is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

    http://onesickmother.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/05/honoured.html

    OSM

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  34. Hi, my comment didn’t show up, (or I can’t find it).
    It’s also possible that I’ve posted it in the wrong thread by accident.

    So here’s my contribution:
    http://gonzogalore.blogspot.com/2009/05/blogging-against-supremacist-attitudes.html

    It probably fits best into the "general thoughts" category.
    But I’d like to suggest a category called "humour", or "rants", (Maybe next year?) for bloggers like me, who faced with ignorance can only come up with snarky sarcasm. (Hopefully I’m not the only one! :S)

    Thanks so much for your hard work! ๐Ÿ™‚

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  35. Hi all,

    I Googled ‘BADD 2009′ last night and the results are very interesting. If anyone is interested, I’ve blogged it at: Google Results for โ€˜BADD 2009?.

    I’m still reading and commenting…could take a while to get through them all!

    Cheers,

    Gary

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  36. Apologies to the last few bloggers here – I’ve been hit with both health and technical trouble over the last couple of days thus the delay in putting your links up!

    A Huge Thank You to Everyone!Also, please, if you see any errors do point them out. I am bound to have made them and I shan’t know unless you tell me.

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  37. Hey Goldfish,

    Don’t know if it counts as a review, but I wrote some more and a large part of it was inspired by BADD: Asking For Help.

    All best,

    Peter

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

  38. Hey there Goldfish…

    I know my post for BADD was short, but I thought you were including everyone. I have so many long posts, too bad I was in such pain that day.

    Shauna

    This comment was originally posted on Diary of a Goldfish

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