MSNBC article about ‘One-person, one-fare’ ruling for Canadian airline travel

Canadian doctors decry airline ‘tush test’

Carriers comply with disability ruling; critics claim they’re passing the buck

Air Canada diagram

The picture above is the diagram which appears in the AIR CANADA medical form instructing doctors how to calculate the width of someon’s behind. The diagram, which is a line drawing, depicts the naked back and partial buttocks of someone who is seated. An arrow pointing to the outside of the left buttock indicates “Point A” and an arrow pointing to the outside of the right buttock indicates “Point B”.

By Harriet Baskas – Travel Writer

After fighting it for nearly a year, Canada’s major airlines finally unveiled procedures they claim will comply with the Canadian Transportation’s Agency’s “one-person, one-fare” ruling. On all domestic flights within Canada, the carriers are required to provide additional seating to disabled travelers who must be accompanied by a personal attendant or to travelers determined by medical professionals to be functionally disabled by obesity.

How airlines determine who needs or gets an extra seat has been a thorny issue. On Jan. 10, Air Canada and WestJet announced they will require disabled or obese passengers seeking a second seat to get a note from a doctor and send it in for review well before their flight date. But doctors, disability rights groups and travelers of all sizes are calling that requirement everything from “too burdensome” to “ludicrous,” and they give the plan’s chances of working a big fat zero.

Disability rights groups claim the medical forms require passengers to give too much personal information to the airlines. They suggest a third party — one more experienced with these issues — would be better suited for the job. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA), meanwhile, is complaining that the form asking doctors to measure a patient’s behind “shows a disregard for the use of scarce medical resources.”

Read the entire article here:

Acknowledgements to Beth Haller at media dis&dat.

Criminally ugly

This is an excerpt from Michael Pollack’s FYI column in today’s New York Times:

Q. I’ve been told that it used to be a crime in New York to be ugly in public. Sometimes it feels that way, but was it literally true?

A. Practically. In many cities in the 1880s and 1890s, groups dedicated to separating the “worthy” from the “unworthy” poor tried to suppress begging by passing “ugly laws.” Their special targets were disabled mendicants who attracted public sympathy.

About 1895, one Charles Kellogg drafted an extreme version of the law for New York, working with the Charity Organization Society in New York.

The draft read: “It shall be unlawful for any person, whose body is deformed, mutilated, imperfect or has been reduced by amputations, or who is idiotic or imbecile, to exhibit him or herself” in a public place for money, or to seek charity door to door.

Susan Schweik, professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, describes the state of affairs in “The Ugly Laws,” to be published this spring by New York University Press. “The disability movement is really the sole place where it’s been remembered in American culture,” Professor Schweik said in an interview.

Read the full answer here:

Eugenic strategies under patriarchal (neo)liberalism

[Today the F.D.A. in the US approved the test of a “therapy” for spinal cord injuries developed with embryonic stem cells, which the *NY Times article below reports. Not surprisingly, the article mentions the controversy that surrounds embryonic stem cell research with respect to the moral status of the embryo, but makes no mention of the potential for the technology to lead to increased commodification of women’s bodies and exploitation of women in the global South, nor its deleterious consequences for the lives of disabled people, issues I have discussed in my comments to previous posts made on the blog. — ST]

F.D.A. Approves a Stem Cell Trial

Published: January 23, 2009

In a research milestone, the federal government will allow the world’s first test in people of a therapy derived from human embryonic stem cells. Geron’s trial with embryonic stem cells will involve people with severe spinal injuries, and will mostly test the therapy’s safety. Federal drug regulators said that political considerations had no role in the decision. Nevertheless, the move coincided with the inauguration of President Obama, who has pledged to remove some of the financing restrictions placed on the field by President George W. Bush.

The clearance of the clinical trial — of a treatment for spinal cord injury — is to be announced Friday by Geron, the biotechnology company that first applied to the Food and Drug Administration to conduct the trial last March. The F.D.A. had first said no, asking for more data.

Thomas B. Okarma, Geron’s chief executive, said Thursday that he did not think that the Bush administration’s objections to embryonic stem cell research played a role in the F.D.A.’s delaying approval. “We really have no evidence,” Dr. Okarma said, “that there was any political overhang.” But others said they suspected it was more than a coincidence that approval was granted right after the new administration took office. “I think this approval is directly tied to the change in administration,” said Robert N. Klein, the chairman of California’s $3 billion stem cell research program. He said he thought the Bush administration had pressured the F.D.A. to delay the trial. Mr. Klein called the approval of the first human trial of this sort “an extraordinary benchmark.”

Stem cells derived from adults and fetuses are already being used in some clinical trials, but they generally have less versatility than embryonic stem cells in terms of what tissue types they can form.

Read the entire article here:

*(Notice that this article appears in the Business section of the NY Times, rather than its Technology section.)

CFP: ‘Life going on and on: time, embodiment, ageing’

RGS/IBG annual conference 2009, Manchester (
2nd Call For Papers: ‘Life going on and on: time, embodiment, ageing’

Co-Sponsored by: Social and Cultural Geographies Research Group and Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Working Group.

Organisers: Bethan Evans, Manchester Metropolitan University; John Horton, The University of Northampton; Peter Kraftl, University of Leicester.  Please send abstracts to by 29th January 2009

A range of recent geographical work has questioned the multiple spatio-temporalities and conceptions of embodiment which drive particular ways of knowing, being and acting on and in the world. Geographers have, for instance, continually questioned the spatialities of time, and vice-versa (Massey, 2005; Dodgshon, 2008). Recent work on pre-emption and hope has highlighted the affective registers at play in the potential futures open to intending subjects/societies (Anderson, 2006; 2007). Geographers of age have insisted upon more relational understandings of age, inter-generational relations, agency, responsibility and the lifecourse (Hopkins and Pain, 2007). Children’s geographers have deployed nonrepresentational theories to query the linearity of ‘growing up’, stressing that “embodiment-and this being-in-the-world-is always becoming: bodies are always in flux; always ongoing; never still”(Horton and Kraftl, 2006a, 2006b). This session seeks to bring together critical debate about the diverse, multiple conceptions of spatio-temporality such as those above (and more besides).

Continue reading

CFP: Disorderly Conduct (July 24-26, 2009)

Interdisciplinary Conference
July 24-26, 2009
Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Keynote speaker: Dr. Steven Angelides, Department of Women’s Studies, Monash University

Other featured speakers will be confirmed for the release of the official conference announcement to follow.

The conference, “Disorderly Conduct” will bring together scholars from around the world and from such disciplines as sociology, philosophy, health studies, history, women’s studies, and medicine to explore and problematize the notion of a “disorder”. The conference seeks to bring front-line medical and mental health personnel who treat various “disorders” together with humanities, social science and health and disability studies scholars who work (in one way or another) on theoretical questions related both to specific “disorders” and to the notion of a disorder simpliciter. In workshops and symposia, conference participants will engage questions like the following: Continue reading

Petition to cancel humanitarian award for Jerry Lewis

Every year, disability activists in the US protest the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon because of the stereotypes and prejudice that Lewis and his annual escapade promote about people with muscular dystrophy and other disabled people. The Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences has announced that it will award Lewis its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at next month’s Oscar awards ceremony. American disability activist and author Laura Hershey has written a petition which will be delivered to the Academy. An excerpt follows: Continue reading

Haller’s review of representations of disabled people on U.S. TV in 2008*

Disability Visibility in U.S. Entertainment TV in 2008
By BA Haller
Media dis&dat blog
The visibility of people with disabilities in entertainment media helps subtly educate diverse audiences about the disability experience in America. Many non-disabled Americans have little contact with people with disabilities in their daily lives unless they have friends or family with a disability. Therefore, they get much of their information about disability from the media and these images have the potential to change attitudes. (A 1991 Louis Harris poll showed that Americans surveyed were less likely to feel awkward around people with disabilities after viewing fictional TV or film presentations about people with disabilities.)
* The photo on the right above is of deaf actress Marlee Maitlin with her dancing partner on a segment of “Dancing with the Stars”. In the photo, Maitlin, who won an Academy award for best actress for her role in the film “Children of a Lesser God,” has both arms extended above her head and is wearing an unusual red dress with matching wrist bands. The photo on the left above is of Robert David Hall, a double leg amputee, who plays forensic scientist Albert Robbins on the crime-drama “CSI”. He is standing with a Canadian crutch and wearing a white lab coat.