Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Humor and Disability

Humor is a serious thing. I like to think of it as one of our greatest earliest natural resources, which must be preserved at all cost.

James Thurber, American writer (1894-1961)

Is there anything funny about disability? Not the disability itself and not necessarily the disabled person, but the situations we find ourselves in are often funny, and everybody often laughs at the same things.

Let's look at the wheelchair careening down a slope. Funny or frightening? What if it's a car, kids in a wagon, someone skiing or even someone rolling in a tire. This gag is a staple used over and over in movies and sitcoms. A Psychology Today article, What's Your Humor Style, mentions that the ancient Greeks thought humor was aggressive, and this particular gag certainly seems to be so. The article tells us this is only one type of humor.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

A Few More Words from A to Z

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a Disability Alphabet. I had made a goal of emphasizing only positive words, and I went through the letters, coming up with words that came to my mind. When completed, I then asked: “In a word, what does disability mean to you?”

There were some comments, some with submitted words, and some words plucked from your prose. I knew I missed some!

Tim's Disaboom Weekly newsletter started me off with one of my favorite tools -- a quote. Anyone who reads my blogs knows I frequently use quotes. So many people have said so many things better than I could ever say them. Tim's offering was “Words are the voice of the heart.” Confucius put it so nicely.

Now let's look at some additional word suggestions received from others --

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Good Intentions and Worst Words

Language is a hot button in the disability community. We have words that can be used among ourselves, but we prefer able-bodied people (ABs) to omit them from their vocabulary. Terms like "crip" and "gimp" and other pet names are bandied about, but we find them especially derogatory if someone outside our group dares to speak their names.

In fact, most people are squeamish about certain words, but there are no definitive guidelines for determining when it is okay and when not to use such language. Often words used in complete innocence are offensive. Do we need a glossary of unacceptable terms? I think the guideline should be to be respectful when talking and not too sensitive when listening.

Ouch! is an online UK magazine about disability sponsored by the BBC. If you are unfamiliar with it, take a look. Ouch! has been exploring language used in reference to disability. In 2003, they assembled a list of the top ten offensive words and asked their readers to vote which were perceived as most offensive. Ouch! revisited that exercise and published the results in August. Responders were asked to voluntarily identify themselves as disabled or not.

Here is a data visualization in Swivel.com of the results:

Worst Words by Disabled vs. Not Disabled
2053 votes cast: 73.9% non-disabled 18.3% disabled 7.6% "rather not say"
Click here to see relative values by percentage.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Survey Request

Kathryn M. Martin, Public Affairs/Patient Advocacy Manager at MediciGlobal, sent a message and asked that I put this in my blog:

"We're doing some research to understand the journey people might take from their first symptom(s) of MS, to the time they visit a doctor, and eventually if/when they begin treatment options. If you have about 5 minutes to spare, we would really appreciate it if you could take this survey to tell us about your journey. It's anonymous so no identifying information will be collected."

I took the survey. The questions were simple, anonymous as promised, and took only a few minutes as promised. If you would like to participate, click here.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Share Your Art and Writing

Are you an artist with work to share? Here are two venues:

The MS Foundation is a service based non-profit organization the helps MSers especially focusing on improving quality of life. The website has developed a new forum, "Voices," designed for authors, poets, writers and photographers to share their work.

Tonight I read a short story, a poem, and saw pictures of a koala, lorikeets, baby platypuses, and a baby possum with burned "hands." Cute, cute, cute.

Anyone touched by MS can offer work, MSers, friends and family. Check topics in "To Our Visitors" the read "Forum Rules" to get started.

The second venue is Kaleidoscope Magazine that explores "the Experience of Disability through Literature and the Fine Arts." They publish fiction, non-fiction, book reviews, and visual arts of all kinds.

See publishing and payment information, or subscribe to the twice-a-year magazine.


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Friday, October 03, 2008

Disability from A to Z

I decided to make a Disability Alphabet, and I made a goal of emphasizing only positive words. I was inspired by Missy's ABC's of Caring Game, where she started a challenge asking readers to submit a word about care giving for each letter. My disability alphabet took me through a kaleidoscope of words. Here are my words. Suggestions?

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude." ~ Scott Hamilton

The letter A could stand for so many things that are important to the person with a disability. However, I chose Attitude. A positive attitude allows each of us to accept ourselves and enhances each day. Besides, we can control our attitude and keep it positive.

Other good words: Acceptance, Accessibility, Accomplishment, Action, Answers and Assurance

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