To Caption or Not to Caption

that is, no doubt, not THE question, but a question, one asked by Seek Geo in the captioned video appearing below the fold that shows its author signing a message that is also captioned. I would be curious to know if anyone with a screen-reader can read this (and those with them who cannot, which I suspect is most if not all, let us know)–and what they think about either the medium or the message (or both). And to know what deaf readers think about the same. And what sighted hearers also think. Continue reading

Job Title: Senior Infrastructure Coordinator at The American Journal of Bioethics

Company: The American Journal of Bioethics
Job Title: Senior Infrastructure Coordinator
Company Description: AJOB is the largest, most read, most cited journal in bioethics. It has been lauded by many newspapers, magazines, medical and science journals, and is home to, the most read and more importantly most authoritative (most cited) site in all of bioethics, ethics, philosophy, health services research (e.g., Academic Medicine is a competitor), and in dozens of medical areas. AJOB is part of Bioethics Education Network, or bene, a newly formed NYS LLC based in Albany. bene also includes the world’s only Editor’s Blog by the editors of a major bioethics journal, as well as tens of thousands of pages of information including the definitive lists of events and jobs in the fields associated with ethics in medicine and science (stem cells, cloning, etc.). The American Journal of Bioethics is read in the office of virtually every U.S. appellate court justice, member of Congress, and even the White House. It has caused FDA scandals leading to the reform of medicine in a broad way and introduced the nation to a number of new technologies like face transplantation. It is regularly featured in places like Oprah, New York Times, etc.
Pay: $0.00 – $0.00 Per Year
Pay Description: includes travel, benefits, academic cred
Job Description: This person will be responsible for the back end of,, and the interface between The American Journal of Bioethics and the above. They will interface with web designers and editors, and will be widely publicly known for their work. This internship position has been filled three times, and all three have gone on to outstanding positions that would never have been possible in an internship in a large computer corporation, even of the nature of Google. is, though, incidentally a partner of Apple and Google, and has relationships which this person would be able to access at every level. There simply are no internships in health policy and computing that would produce a greater yield per hour for good work. This position must be filled immediately so the first highly qualified applicant will be placed. One reference is required, but that can be by email or phone.

Triathlete? Ball Girl? Amputee? All of the Above.

Triathlete? Ball Girl? Amputee? All of the Above.


 Published: August 28, 2008

After every few dashes across Court 14, Kelly Bruno reached down to her right leg and flicked at something. It was a gesture so slight and so fleeting, she could have been swatting away a bug. It was also the only thing she did that was not in the protocol for a United States Open ball girl — nowhere does it mention popping the pressure valve on a prosthetic leg.
Kelly Bruno reaching down to grab a ball off the court. 
Bruno’s prosthesis is in full view because she is wearing shorts.
photo by G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times

Questioning Race-Based Medicine

Genomic Research Pioneer Argues Against Race-Based Medicine

This past week, Craig Venter told the New Scientist that “Race-based medicine doesn’t have any real basis in science.” I have no idea why this story seems to be of little interest to the majority of science journalists, as it has not been very widely reported, but it represents a major milestone in terms of understanding how humans vary biologically. The story stems from a comparison of Venter’s genome with that of DNA co-discoverer, James Watson.

Venter, who loves both competition and controversy, has set himself apart not only from Watson, whose shameful remarks about the intellectual inferiority of Africans severely tarnished his reputation, but also from his old foe, Francis Collins. Venter was the CEO of Celera Genomics when Collins was the director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute. Both Venter and Collins desperately wanted to be the first to decode the genome as part of the Human Genome Project. Despite Collins’ subsequent arguments against the race concept, when the announcement was made in June 2000 that the Human Genome Project had completed an initial decoding of the DNA strand, he stated that the project researchers had used the genes of five different people, representing the major races of humans, and the racial diversity of humans. Even at that time, this seemed to me to be a confusingly narrow view of human population biology.

What Sorts of Candidates?

In the battle for the American Presidency, the question of “what sorts of people do we want?” needs top be asked of all candidates. Both major parties are reaching out to diverse sub-populations. Both claim to be advocates for people of diverse abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities as well as all other minorities. However, Biden and Obama appear to go a lot further than McCain based on previous track records.

Obama was a strong advocate for the Matthew Shepard National Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act which would have extended federal protection to people with disabilities as well as gays and lesbians. McCain opposed it. Biden introduced the Crime Victims With Disabilities Act of 2007. Obama pledges to work to get the US to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

McCain and his soon to be announced running mate should be asked what they are prepared to do. Hopefully, they are prepared to make the same commitments.

Gay Diver Makes a Splash

Cover picture from the gay magazine The Advocate of Matthew Mitcham

Cover picture from the gay magazine The Advocate of Matthew Mitcham

Ok, ok, ok, so I *haven’t* actually seen this headline in a tabloid of late, but given all the kerfuffle that my compatriot Matthew Mitcham’s gold medal in the 10 metre diving event has caused, I might well have. There’s a few stories to watch and sort through (and don’t give up until you’ve taken The Quiz, a special feature of today’s post, below the fold.)

Basic story 1: Australian Matthew Mitcham clinched the gold medal in the 10 metre dive with his final dive of the day, knocking off Chinese favourite Zhou Luxin by just under 5 points overall. Mitcham was the only non-Chinese athlete to score a gold in the diving, and also received the hightest score EVER for a diver in this event. Yay Matt!

Basic story 2: Matthew Mitcham, who won a gold medal in something watery, was the only openly gay male athlete at the Beijing Olympics. Of the roughly 11 000 athletes competing, 10 openly lesbian women have been identified (by strategically placed spies?). If at least half the athletes competing were men, that makes calculating the percentage of openly gay male athletes something that even I can calculate: 1 in 5500. (Women: 1 in 550). Let’s stick our necks out, and hazard a guess: that’s significantly lower than the base rate of openly gay people in the rest of society. Every society. Yay … society?

Basic story 3: NBC and other major US networks ignored Basic Story 2 in covering Basic Story 1. Sports and sexual orientation are just separate things, and they were just interested in covering sports. Yay, self-deception!

Basic Story 4: Basic Story 2 is of much more interest to many people than Basic Story 1. As is the ambivalence that Basic Story 2 creates in many people who share that interest. (And as conveyed by my sorry attempt at a punchline in Basic Story 2.) Three cheers for Matthew on all fronts, but really, which century are we living in? In addition, people who get worked up about Basic Story 3 should really get Out more. Continue reading

Shrink Rap on Tats, Stats, and Crossing the Borderline

Young male with plenty of tattoos

Young male with plenty of tattoos, but still room for improvement

Well, it’s that time of year again, when suddenly we realize that the dream is over and it’s back to the real world. (And no, that’s not because of the Democratic National Convention, though I guess it could be.) No, it’s that end of summer feeling, which in this kneck of the woods is shortly followed by that Expect Snow ANY DAY NOW feeling. It’s coming.

Anyway, I figured that over the next few weeks, much like the last few weeks, my posting contributions are gunna be spinelessly minimal, but thought I might at least point to a few blogs that we’ll add to our blogroll and that some readers might find interesting if they don’t already know about them.

First up: Shrink Rap. It’s a joint psychiatry blog by Dinah, ClinkShrink, and Roy that has been going for over 3 years, operating under the motto A place to talk, no one has to listen. (I hear ya.) Posts are typically short and zappy, and at least 1 in 3 will catch your attention if you’re interested in matters psychiatric at all. When I become a better person, I promise that I will be a more consistent reader of this one myself. Really, really, really.

Two recent posts worth checking out are Love Me, Love My Tattoos, which briefly discusses a Scientific American Mind study that explored the correlation between tattoos and a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. Guess what? Continue reading

Guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less resourced settings

guidelines here

New guidelines released on wheelchairs to support users in developing countries

Today in Quebec City, Canada, on the occasion of the 21st World Congress of Rehabilitation International, WHO, the US Agency for International Development, the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and Disabled Peoples’ International have launched an important new document: Guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less resourced settings.

The wheelchair is one of the most commonly used assistive devices for enhancing the personal mobility of people with disabilities. An estimated 1% of the world’s population, or just over 65 million people, need a wheelchair. In most developing countries, few of those who need wheelchairs have access, production facilities are insufficient and wheelchairs are often donated without the necessary related services. Providing wheelchairs that are appropriate, well-designed and fitted not only enhances mobility, but also opens up a world of education, work and social life for those in need of such support.

The guidelines, developed for use in less resourced settings, address the design, production, supply and service delivery of manual wheelchairs, in particular for long-term wheelchair users. The guidelines and related recommendations are targeted at a range of audiences, including policy-makers; planners, managers, providers and users of wheelchair services; designers, purchasers, donors and adapters of wheelchairs; trainers of wheelchair provision programmes; representatives of disabled people’s organizations; and individual users and their families. By developing an effective system of wheelchair provision, Member States support implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the May 2005 World Health Assembly resolution A58/23 Disability, including prevention, management and rehabilitation.

Guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less resourced settings is freely downloadable here or can be obtained in hard copy via the online order form. For further information, please contact Mr Chapal Khasnabis at

For further information on assistive devices, visit:

WHO disability and rehabilitation

CFP: Multiple Perspectives on Access, Inclusion & Disability: Change, Challenge, & Collaboration

Ninth Annual
Multiple Perspectives on Access, Inclusion & Disability:
Change, Challenge, & Collaboration

April 28 and 29, 2009
The Ohio State University Columbus Campus

Conference information past programs and updates can be found at: <> , To be on the mailing list for the conference, send e-mail to <>

CALL FOR PRESENTATIONS (Proposals are due November, 2008 ) The  Ninth Annual Multiple Perspectives conference continues the university’s efforts to bring together a diverse audience to explore disability as both an individual experience and social reality that cuts across typical divisions of education & employment; scholarship & service; business & government; race, gender & ethnicity. Continue reading

More 10 Goodness!

I was thinking that it would be nice if we had a widget so that you could create your own ten lists at a whim. As it turns out, we do! Sort of… ok, so it’s just a search bar. But  I thought I’d draw your attention to it, it’s a great way to search for posts that focus on a similar topic.

Anyway, here’s ten posts that reflect what you’ve found interesting over the last month. Apparently some of you folks like reading old entries. A lot. However, the Olympics hype really shines though in your viewing patterns. Enjoy!

The Tasty Top Ten

  1. Can we ditch the fatty anorexics but save our own stupid selves?
  2. John Mark Stallings
  3. Natalie du Toit
  4. Ableist language alternatives
  5. Natalie du Toit carries South African flag at Olympics
  6. African American swimmer wins gold medal
  7. Body Worlds
  8. Tropic Thunder: from insult to injury
  9. Tropic Thunder box office expectations
  10. New Coke commercial features Special Olympics athletes

BBC on Disability Hate Crimes

This week BBC Radio 4 aired a 40 minute documentary on hate crimes against people with disabilities. The show will air again on August 24th. This is an excellent documentary that raises serious questions about how hate crimes are conceptualized and prosecuted. Continue reading

Dani, a feral child

The idea of a child who has grown largely without human contact or care is of interest to academics for a variety of reasons, whether the interest stems from questions about child development, or the nature/nurture problem. But I agree with jj in this post from Feminist Philosophers that the reality of “the feral child” is far from being the distant object of theoretical curiosity that it is often speculated as in classroom discussion.

Dani with her new family

Dani with her new family

This journalistic report on the story on Dani, a child who went largely without human contact until she was seven, does a remarkably good job of treating her as a person, rather than an object of medical intrigue. Dani was diagnosed with a kind of environmental autism due to this neglect. Included is an audio version of the story and a slide show, as well as links to other stories on Dani and a place for feedback.

Documentary: “Offense Taken”

Jerry W. Smith of the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota has drawn attention to this documentary of one community’s response to use of the word “retard.” Produced by Self-Advocates of Minnesota (SAM), “Offense Taken” is 26-minutes in length and closed-captioned, with a shorter version available for workshops and classrooms. The film is premiering this evening in Minneapolis and will be available on DVD in early September.

For more information, please visit the website:

As Smith points out, although the film was produced in response to a Minneapolis theater group’s use of “retard” in one of its performances last summer, it has nevertheless garnered attention again given the release of “Tropic Thunder”. Anyone who has questions about the documentary or its distribution, can email Jerry Smith at smith495@UMN.EDU or contact Advocating Change Together ( by phone at 651-641-0297.

The Olympian

Rebecca Solnit offers another look at the bodies of the Olympics, what they mean, and what they hide.

“On August 8, the Beijing Olympic Games will begin, and television will bring us weeks of the human body at the height of health, beauty, discipline, power, and grace. It will be a thousand-hour advertisement, in some sense, for the participating nations as represented by athletes with amazing abilities. In reality, the athletes will be something of a mask for what each nation really stands for, and this year the Olympics as a whole will be as much a coverup as, say, the Mexico City Olympics of 1968, which came hot on the heels of the Tlaltelolco Plaza massacre of students, or the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which gave the Nazis legitimacy as they turned Germany into an efficient totalitarian death factory. Ironically, the 2008 summer Olympics begin on the twentieth anniversary of the 8888 (for 8/8/1988 ) Burma uprising against the brutal military dictatorship that has controlled that country, with crucial backing from China, for more than four decades now. The Chinese government is also busy terrorizing Tibetans protesting for religious freedom and liberation of their colonized country; it is also the main protector of the Sudanese government carrying out a holocaust in Darfur. Continue reading

Natalie Du Toit 10km swim result

[picture of Natalie Du Toit preparing to dive into the pool from what appears to be a dustjacket for a book; small, typed writing on bottom half of page]
Natalie Du Toit
, an amputee swimmer who qualified for the able bodied 10 km swim in Beijing, has just placed 16th in that event, more than one minute behind winner Larisa Ilchenko of Russia. She had kept up with the lead pack for most of the race but could not keep up when the pace quickened in the latter part of the race. She was disappointed with her result hoping for a top five placing. She plans to be back in the London 2012 Olympics in that event. She will be staying in Beijing for the next month to compete in the Paralympics.

Continue reading

Tropic Thunder Protest Effect?

In spite of the entertainment industry’s attempt to claim that Tropic Thunder had a good opening and that protests by people with disabilities and their advocates made no difference, Tropic Thunder las week with disappointing box office sales. Continue reading

Call for Abstracts: Embodied Resistance: Breaking the Rules in Public Spaces

Call for Abstracts

Embodied Resistance: Breaking the Rules in Public Spaces

Co-Editors, Chris Bobel, University of Massachusetts Boston and Samantha Kwan, University of Houston

This edited collection will assemble scholarly yet accessibly written works that explore the dimensions of resistance to embodied taboos of all sorts. We are interested in pieces that describe and analyze the many ways that humans subvert the social constraints that deem certain behaviors and bodily presentations as inappropriate, disgusting, private and/or forbidden in various cultural and historical contexts. Empirical, historical, theoretical and narrative contributions are equally welcome. This book, intended as a supplemental text for use in undergraduate and graduate classrooms, aims to advance and deepen our understanding of the motivations, experiences and consequences associated with the bodies that break the rules through the (intersecting) lenses of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, culture, religiosity, class and nation. Continue reading

CFP: Two themed issues of Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

The Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies is seeking proposals for 2 themed issues: “Blindness and Literature,” which will be guest-edited by Georgina Kleege; and “Disabling Postcolonialism,” which will be guest-edited by Clare Barker and Stuart Murray. For more information please visit

Tropic Thunder and the R Word

Following up on dsobey’s post on Tropic Thunder: From insult to injury, a brief review of what’s being said about the film on Slate in a post on my blog, Words, Words, Words. I’ve been reflecting on the “r word” and on hateful speech so casually applied to persons with intellectual disabilities—to the point that many people think it fine and well that a movie like Tropic Thunder is “questioning stereotypes” when it’s rather simply reconfirming them, and showing why we do need to look so very closely at how we use words like “simple” and “different” and, yes, “retarded.”