#ShitAbledPeopleSay: Why We Need This Hashtag

blue or teal background with #ShitAbledPeopleSay in black and white text alternating between the words

What does it mean to be disabled and exist in a society that purposely excludes you? What are some comments or micro-aggressions disabled people encounter in their daily lives? #ShitAbledPeopleSay (pardon my French) is a hashtag that answers these questions with honesty, bluntness, care, empathy, and humor. It was a tweetstorm of epic proportions.

We need this hashtag because it exposes our truths; it gives us space to communicate and empathize with each other. We need it because it’s time folks know how pervasive ableism affects our sense of self-worth, self-love, mental health, and position in society.

You can check out the Storify below, which contains a sample of the important and much-needed discussions happening around this hashtag. I encourage everyone to read, reflect, and share. If you have something to contribute, please do – the conversation is still going strong.

Edited to add: If the slideshow below is not accessible, try visiting the Storify’s permanent link.

Pokemon Go: Developers Drop the Pokeball on Accessibility

Three shelves filled with plush Pikachu at a store

I was excited for a new, free Pokémon game – until I realized it wasn’t accessible.

I don’t begrudge anyone their fun with Pokémon Go. It’s a good way to get folks out and around in their community if they have the ability to do so. Seeing strangers bond over a shared interest is fantastic. Some have said it helps with their mental and emotional well-being. But developers are ignoring a significant portion of gamers – disabled people. Inaccessible games are nothing new (listen to me talk about it), but we can’t accept the status quo when it increasingly and continually marginalizes us.

So, what makes Pokémon Go not accessible for me and other disabled users?

While I have the ability to leave my house, it is difficult to navigate the community in a wheelchair. Cracked concrete, lack of curb cuts and sidewalks, stairs, steep hills, dirt roads, rocky roads, sand – it’s all here, and it’s all an obstacle or completely impassable. I can’t get to that hotspot on the beach or on a hill. I can’t drive, and rely on others for transportation – meaning I don’t get out much. I can’t go out at all on my own. I can’t carry my phone and use it independently outdoors, unless there is a table – and those things don’t grow on trees. I can’t hold the phone up to take a picture or look at what I’m doing. Add in anxiety and chronic pain, and it’s a mess.

Pokemon Go logo with yellow letters and a pokeball in the O

I’ve caught a total of two Pokémon; one at home, and one at a restaurant. I haven’t left my house in five days, and I used the only incense available. There were no recent Pokemon sightings around here since then. While many folks can walk around to up their XP, incubate eggs, and go to gyms, I’m sitting here feeling like a nerd outsider.

Of course, my individual access needs are not the only problem. There are articles out there about the developers’ silence on accessibility, about lack of VoiceOver access for blind users, and a heap of other concerns. This isn’t an isolated incident.

How can developers at Niantic meet these access needs? As with all accessibility, one size doesn’t fit all. Disabled gamers have myriad needs and different ways of playing/modifying their gaming experience. But start with something like free incense, allowing your character to virtually travel, and allowing VoiceOver access. What about in-game tutorials and text-to-speech? The only way we’ll get changes is if developers work with us.

Making games accessible for more people needs to start at the beginning, not as an afterthought. It starts at home, where we teach our children about disability, or where we do not harm disabled children through exclusion or oppression. It starts through education and empowering disabled children to design and develop their own gadgets or games. And it starts by collaborating with disabled individuals in all areas of technology, from programmers to play-testers.

Screengrab of Pokemon Go, player with a blue target before them, on a google map type gridSome may say “it’s only a game” – but those saying that probably have the abilities needed to play. Yeah, it’s “only a game,” like that restaurant with stairs is “only a place to eat,” or that doctor’s office without accessible exam tables is “only a place to better your health.” Disabled people face ableism and access barriers all the time; when our methods of fun and relaxation are also blocked, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

We can’t dismiss topics like accessible gaming as frivolous, or detracting from “real issues.” The means by which disabled individuals access cultural trends or activities is crucial to disability justice. Housing, medical care, physical care, and access to voting and food are extremely important topics. But so is access to entertainment. To suggest otherwise is to make us the Other, as though we don’t deserve to have fun because we are disabled; as long as we can eat, sleep, and breathe, that should be enough.

We are part of society – screw “disability inclusion,” because we are already here. One thing we need, as a worldwide community, is to dismantle how we view disability, accessibility, and technology. We also have to look at this from an intersectional lens; class, race, ethnicity, and gender all factor into technological and gaming accessibility.

Here’s hoping the developers of Pokémon Go take notice and join the disabled community in a conversation about accessibility. We gotta catch ‘em all, too, right?

The Geeky Gimp Riots: Video Game Accessibility

screenshot of Geek Girl Riot website with headline number seventeen, the geeky gimp riots, video game accessibility with a screenshot below of access options in Uncharted 4

You knew I couldn’t stop podcasting, right?

I’m proud to share that I am now part of Geek Girl Riot, where awesome gals record short clips on everything nerdy. My segment, The Geeky Gimp Riots, focuses on disability in geekdom (surprise!).

The first one is on video game accessibility.

Transcript is available on their website. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and suggest future topics you’d like covered!

Until next time, keep rioting 😉

Richard Marx and Fair-weather Friends

Red, tiny robot made out of paper, a black tear from his right eye, holding a paper heart that's been torn in half

By guest blogger Noemi Martinez, a poet-curandera and writer with Mexican and Caribbean roots living in South Texas. Her poem and photo collection South Texas Experience: Love Letters can be purchased on Hermana Resist Press’ website. You can also read her previous guest blog on selfie sticks.

When was the first time a friend broke up with you?

Lyrics for Endless Summer Nights-Richard Marx:

https://medium.com/@hermanaresist/lyrics-for-endless-summer-nights-eb3b995f004e#.t6a9do7zo

For me, it was the last day of school in the fifth grade. Before the end of the day, my best friend told me when we came back in the fall for the beginning of our 6th grade year, she wouldn’t be my best friend anymore. She brought a cookbook from home that day to give me, and I spent the summer learning how to make peanut-butter blondies and petit fours.

She knew I loved to bake, but I guess didn’t understand how heart broken I’d be coming into the sixth grade – an awkward tall girl who sneezed too much and was too much for their ex-best friend. … Read more

Easy Roller Dice Co. – Tabletop Review

Easy Roller Dice Co. Product Review. Below text are three d20 dice, blue, purple swirl, and sparkly pink

shiny blue dice with varying side counts d10, d20, etc Imagine dice rolling across the table, landing on a number that seals the fate of your latest in-game decision – how does that moment make you feel? For me, it’s this inspired burst of energy and excitement – the same visceral reaction when I crack open a new book. Dice not only remind me of good times with friends, but they bring out my creative side with all their possibilities. With just a few d20s, I could design a game; add a pencil and paper, and I could imagine a whole world and its heroes.

My dice collection is fairly small, but I’m always on the lookout for pretty ones at game conventions. My five-year-old niece is getting into the hobby as well, which couldn’t make me happier. So of course I was delighted when Easy Roller Dice Co. offered to send me some products of my choosing to review. When I saw their clear-with-pink-sparkles set, I knew a kid who would love them.

Inside dice bags, aerial shot, black exteriors and blue, purple, red satin interiorsAppearance alone, Easy Roller Dice Co. dice and bags are gorgeous. The dice all have a nice weight and shine, feeling like polished, cast acrylic. Each die is hand-inspected before shipment, and there were no blemishes or chips on any of them. The small dice bags have a black velvet exterior, and a vibrant satin interior that comes in four different colors: blue, purple, gold, and red. Each bag also has the logo sewn on a small tag, sturdy pull strings, and some sort of stiff fabric inside to hold their shape. My mom wants to steal them to store her jewelry, so they’re multi-purpose too!

The 7-piece dice sets include one each of the following: a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and a percentile 10-sided die. … Read more

Interview with La Femme Collective

words in plain text, sans-serif, La Femme Collective

Thank you, Nora, for reaching out to me about La Femme Collective, a website that “supports and celebrates the career development of women.” Check out my interview with them, where I talk about getting my job at Easterseals Thrive, who inspires me every day, and offer career advice.

I’ve always been interested in disability advocacy, being a disabled person and all. I wasn’t aware a Digital Content Producer, which is basically my dream job, was a thing that existed. It’s something I can do from home, too – that’s a huge plus. Right now, I’m working as the Digital Content Producer for Easterseals Thrive, an online community and support network for young women with disabilities.

Read the rest at the La Femme Collective website.

 

Star Trek and Disability Live Panel: Part Two

cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation standing in front of a blue background

Space, the final frontier…

You probably know by now I’m a huge Star Trek fan. It’s one of the few sci-fi shows to address disability directly; sometimes it gets it right, other times it doesn’t. But it gives us something to think about, and a vision of the future that still includes disability.

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of disabled Trekkers out there (the disabled population is huge in general) who like philosophizing about their favorite show – including my friends and me. We got together last year on Google Hangouts, and it was so much fun that we’ve decided to give it another go this past Friday, February 26th.

Missed the chat? No big deal. You can watch the recording below – subtitles are available!

Jump to:

 

The Live Event Recap


On February 26th at 8pm EST, I hosted a live panel on Star Trek and disability! We focused on a few topics, followed by a Q&A with questions from our viewers.

You can watch the event on my YouTube channel and above on the video.

I was joined by my friends and fellow Trekkers: Alice Wong, Andrew Pulrang, and Day Al-Mohamed. Meriah wasn’t able to make the event, but I will post her thoughts on Trek here soon.

The Panel


An woman smiling, wearing glasses and a green knit Yoda hatAlice Wong runs the Disability Visibility Project, a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture. She’s also a fan of Spot the Cat.

 

A man smiling, wearing glasses, and a red shirtAndrew Pulrang is a disability blogger and a Star Trek fan. You can find him at www.disabilitythinking.com.

 

 

black and white photo of a woman smiling, wearing hoop earings and sunglasses atop her headDay Al-Mohamed is a part-time science fiction author, and a full-time science fiction fan. 🙂 Her first novel, “Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn” was published by DarkQuest books in 2014; her stories can be found in SFF magazines and anthologies. Her current project is a short historical film about the “Invalid Corps and the Battle of Fort Stevens” due out in 2016. She is an advocate and policy advisor and works on disability youth employment issues for the Federal government. Also, despite the fact she loves all kinds of tea, she loathes Earl Grey.

woman wearing blue cat eye glasses with blue streaked hair smilingErin Hawley runs The Geeky Gimp blog and YouTube channel. She is also the Digital Content Producer at Easter Seals Thrive, which promotes self-empowerment for young women with disabilities through online communities. Her favorite Trek series is TOS (and is obsessed with Spock), followed closely by DS9. She likes all kinds of tea, especially Earl Grey.

woman with short blondish hair, smilingMeriah Nichols is a deaf Humboldt Housewife who lives off the grid and coordinates the Two Thirds of the Planet (www.twothirdsoftheplanet.com) site via satellite. She writes about travel, disability and chickens at http://www.meriahnichols.com when she’s not. She likes her tea Earl Grey, and hot.

The Topics


Some topics we covered during the event:

  • Captain Pike (“The Menagerie” and “The Cage” episodes)
  • Lieutenant Barclay
  • Our favorite Star Trek foods and drinks
  • PTSD and Deep Space 9
  • JJ Abrams Trek
  • What would make an ideal Star Trek episode relating to disability?

How to Watch


Here is the link to the video: Star Trek and Disability Panel, Part Two

Join in the Conversation


Even though the show is over, we’d love to continue the conversation about Trek and disability. If you want to chat with fellow Trekkies and Trekkers, tag your tweets with #Trekability!

Accessibility


Subtitles are available on the video. Please send me an e-mail using the contact form for any suggestions for future events.

 

Don’t Label Me Undateable – featured on Easter Seals

someone coloring a pink heart on a piece of paper using pastels. box of other colors in the distance

Recently, I published an article on Easter Seals Thrive about my experience dating as a disabled woman.

“People told me I would never find love, and no romantic partner would accept everything that comes along with my disability. I refused to believe them, and it worked – just ask my boyfriend.”

To read the rest, visit this Thrive website.

Thrive is a microsite and social network community for young women with disabilities. 

The Narcistick in You: Why We Should Embrace Selfie Sticks

Technology assists disabled people every day, whether it’s for activities of daily living, or for our passions and hobbies. Thanks so much to my friend Noemi and her daughter for sharing their experiences with us in this guest blog post.

Noemi's daughter using a camera, her walker in front of her. She is wearing a tie-die shirt.

Noemi’s daughter snapping some pics.

Noemi Martinez is a poet-curandera and writer with Mexican and Caribbean roots living in South Texas. Her poem+photo collection “South Texas Experience: Love Letters” can be purchased on Hermana Resist Press’ website.

As technology advances, so does society’s dependence on technology; and with it, a phenomenon of shaming. It’s not a new response, from society, to changes in the way we traditionally ascribed to do things. The horseless carriage of the late 1890s was an invention used by the elite and super wealthy. When the Model T came along in 1908, it was the most affordable automobile being produced. Before that, automobiles were extremely expensive and a luxury beyond our wildest dreams. There was the expected backlash, of course, of new and unknown technologies, as happens when one industry is replaced with another; the push from the railway industry and those that made a living from horse-drawn carriages.

The same can be said for the use of electricity, telephones, and media; the debate of newspapers as a dying form of media, or the debate on how print is dead.

But with new breakthroughs and advancements come societal benefits.

In the Age of Tech

Read more