Thursday, March 13, 2008

33rd Disability Blog Carnival: Appreciating Allies

The theme of this carnival is "Appreciating Allies". So, what and who are allies? Wikipedia says that " those who share a common goal and whose work toward that goal is complementary may be viewed as allies for various purposes even when no explicit agreement has been worked out between them." 

Many of you said your biggest allies were your families and friends, while others mentioned those who assist us - from interpreters for the deaf to service animals. A mom who blogs reminds us that kids can be allies. Others discussed the need for self advocacy and doing the footwork in the system which can empower our lives and our future choices. There are also posts about how we, as members of the disability community, act as allies for each other. This includes parents of children with disabilities who network and our mutual efforts within our community and outside of it as we work toward inclusion.

Not only did I receive great contributions on the topic, but many varied posts on other topics. I'm including them all, so read on! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did putting it together.

I'd like to start off with a post from Emma, who wrote about how family and friends were her allies, but explained that she was the one who took action to get the system to work for her in her post Appreciating Allies.  This post is a great reminder that we need to recognize ways in which we empower ourselves - with the support of allies, but through our own volition.

Ettina over at the blog Abnormaldiversity offers an interesting post entitled Being an Ally as Well as a Self Advocate. Here's an excerpt: "Generally, the difference between an ally and a self-advocate is that a self-advocate is the target of the kinds of discrimination they are fighting against, whereas an ally isn't. In my case, I've been the target of some of the discrimination I fight, but some aspects of the discrimination I fight are expressly stated not to apply to people like me."

Kara writes a post called Who's Your Ally? and talks about ways in which her family members have acted as allies. (You have to go over and see the wonderful snowmen her mom built, including a snowman in a wheelchair and a snow service dog!) And she writes about ways in which her brother, now a teacher, carries the lessons he learned as a sibling about being an ally to his profession.

Allies can level the playing field for us. Karen sent a post about Communication Allies, talking about the interpreters for the deaf who have been her allies (and some of whom have become friends) over the years. She writes: "...interpreters and real time captioners have leveled the communication playing field for me. They've enabled me to attend conferences, group discussions, concerts and many other events. I use a videophone to make voice phone calls-- I use a separate phone to talk directly to the person I'm calling and I watch an interpreter on my computer or tv as they interpret what is being said through the phone. The interpreters keep up so well that there's almost no lag time. The first time that I used this system to call a long time friend, she thought I suddenly was able to hear over the phone." In the post Googling Personal Assistants, I wrote about  personal care assistants and how they can be allies.

Parents of children with disabilities often act as allies for each other. In Xenagogue- Disability Leadership that Works, Terri writes about this topic. I hear this from my sister all the time, who is the parent of a child with a disability. Terri puts it so well: "Parents and self-advocates teach each other to access systems, find supports and develop creative ideas. Few other folks understand the truly individualized nature of the lives we live. Systems often attempt to ‘bulk’ our kids, trying to assign our kids’ supports based on the system’s capacities or values, rather than on the reality of the individual child’s own circumstances. " Terri also wrote You: Allies and Advocacy, another valuable post on how allies work in the lives of parents of kids with disabilities.

Speaking of how potential allies could learn from people with disabilities about disability, a post from frida writes called Don't Touch Me! has specific, down to earth advice on respect in social interactions with people with disabilities. It talks about issues of safety, pain and personal boundaries.

On her blog, cripchick announces an annual retreat for disability advocates and allies in May in Michigan.

David from Growing Up With a Disability sent a post about Bang Long, a disability advocate he met last year, and shares his thoughts on what he learned about being an ally from Mr. Long. And here's another one about good guys who just seem to "get it" in Being a Buddy and Being Comfortable with Disability from No Limits to Life blog.

Cheryl asks the question Having Allies: A Sign of Weakness or a Sign of Strength?  and concludes that having allies is a sign of strength. She offers some very good suggestions on how to work with allies while reaching our goals.

Kids can be allies too. From the blog Homeschooled Twins, a post from a mom with a disability entitled What My Disability Means to My Kids, which talks about the fun things her kids get to experience that other kids don't and the ways in which her kids have learned to be allies. 

Service dogs can be allies too. Steve Kuusisto from Planet of the Blind was kind enough to share his poem "Guiding Eyes" about his first guide dog Corky with us, which gives us insight into the world of service animals.

A blogger asks the question: who would be an ally in certain situations? In Fat, Courtesy and Theater Seating over at body impolitic, perceptions are discussed. "...while I’d like to think that a) we don’t treat size as a disability and b) we still prioritize it as a genuine concern, I’m not sure that either of those things is true. The seats are hellishly uncomfortable if you don’t fit in them, tall, fat, old, whatever. But I think that society would say that it’s her fault that she’s fat and can’t fit into the seats; it’s not her fault that she’s old and disabled, and needs to sit somewhere that won’t hurt her legs. And consequently, it’s less our job to help the fat lady than it is to help the disabled lady or the old lady. I wonder if she dared to ask me because I’m fat. And I wonder what would have happened if she had asked someone else."

There are opportunities for those of us in the disability community to act as allies. Connie from Planet of the Blind sent me a link to her new blog called Crimes Against People with Disabilities and asks all disability bloggers to be each others’ allies and help grow this blog as a means of raising awareness about this often neglected issue. From Blog[with]tv, a chance to participate in a survey on Media Consumption and People with Disabilities by Anna Pakman, an MBA student at Columbia University. Anna says " “the Nielsen ratings track media consumption for just about every population EXCEPT our community so the only way I can get this data is through your assistance. All individual survey responses are anonymous and will be kept strictly confidential.”

Now we move on to appreciating other disability-related topics, such as mobility advocacy, sports and disability,  inclusion and even one for Springsteen fans!

Ashtyn writes about the denial of a Medicare claim for a power chair for Dominick in Medicare Doesn't Do Legs: Disabled Need Not Apply. She writes: "While I might go to sleep tonight hoping that I wake up tomorrow to a country that takes care of its citizens, I am smart enough to know that by morning nothing will have changed. You have the power to make it change though. All it takes is one letter at a time and the power of the unheard voices in America will get stronger and finally, one day something will be done."

Over at Disabled Christianity, a post that  raises issues of inclusion in churches for people in group homes entitled Sally's Memorial Service . "You know the average person in a group home is someone who would come to church if invited. They would be responsive to the Gospel message. With simple acts of kindness, we could literally change their lives. But we don't do it. We don't try to reach out to people in group homes as the Christian church. As a result they live segregated lives with few friends and limited opportunities for social integration. In the end they die and no one other than licensing even notices." 

In Amputee Survival Strategies: A 35 Year Perspective , a post about adaptation and equipment tips from an experienced hiker and outdoorsman. Or would you like to nominate someone for The Celebration of Life Through Sports Award, written about over on the Brittanica blog? Christopher Minko established the award to bring attention to a myriad of issues facing people with disabilities, some of whom are landmine survivors.

And here's one for Springsteen fans from Along the Spectrum, called Jersey Boys.  All I can add is rock on!

Over at Autism and the Empress, a post entitled The Autistic...Aliens?? described as "comparing my autistic son's behaviors to those of a 'typical' child with austism". It's a post that reminds us to avoid putting kids (and adults) with disabilities into boxes that limit them - which is a wonderful way to end.

Thanks to everyone for your valuable contributions. I appreciate you taking the time to write them and share with the community and also all who read the carnival and act as allies in so many ways. And many thanks to Penny Richards for sending links to such great posts. 

The next disability carnival will be held on March 27 at Andrea's Buzzing About.   The theme is "Breaking Out".  Posts are due by midnight on March 24 and can be submitted in comments over at Andrea's Buzzing About or via the carnival submission form .


Anonymous said...

Thanks for including me in this Ruth! I wasn't sure my post worked so I'm glad you liked it.

Blog [with]tv said...

I've just read through your Carnival, now I look forward to going back and checking out the individual posts - some of which are from bloggers I've yet to *meet*. Thanks for pulling it all together, Ruth! And thanks for the links....

David said...

Thanks, Ruth! I look forward to reading these posts.

Penny L. Richards said...

Great job, Ruth!

Karen Putz said...

Great Carnival, Ruth!

Anonymous said...

Really appreciated Ariel Franklin Hudson's post from our blog "Body Impolitic" being included in the Carnival.

Ruth said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and your comments. Enjoyed doing the carnival!

Terri said...

Wonderful, Ruth and thanks so much for including me! I have begun noodling through the posts and they are thought-provoking as always.

Lon said...

Thanks for including me too. My "buddy" really does get it!
I enjoyed reading through.

Ettina said...

Abnormaldiversity is my blog's name. I'm called Ettina.
Not a big deal, just wanted to clarify.

Ruth said...

Ettina - Ok I'll reword it to make it more clear. Take care.