My Gimpy Feet: The Quest to Find Accessible Shoes

My Gimpy Feet: The Quest to Find Accessible shoes. My feet wearing Mary Jane style shoes, one shoe's fabric looks like a notebook cover and the other looks like lined paper

Finding shoes that work on my feet is a trial, for several reasons. Muscular Dystrophy makes my ankles contract and curve inward; this shape also makes my ankle bone protrude, leaving the sides of my feet extremely sensitive. And because they arch so heavily, they’re smaller than average, meaning I wear child-size shoes. Imagine me, age 33, trying to find sandals in the kid’s section that aren’t bedazzled with Frozen characters or excessive bows. But that isn’t the only trouble; my sensitivity issues mean I can’t slide my foot into most shoes – so sneakers and boots are out, and anything with a heel is impossible. … Read more…

The Boiling Point: Disability in The Handmaid’s Tale

The Boiling Point: Disability in The Handmaid's Tale. Image of Janine, a handmaid in a red robe with a white hat. One of her eyes is scarred over

Warning: spoilers for the book and first three episodes beyond this point!

After the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale aired on Hulu, folks were rightfully horrified by the scene where June (later known as Offred) and her fellow women coworkers were fired; the women in that fictional world also lost access to their bank accounts and credit cards, ushering in the Republic of Gilead, the authoritative regime that took over the country. While this scene was chilling, it didn’t impact or disturb me as much as intended. Why? Because this dystopian fiction is a reality for many disabled people, especially those who are multiply marginalized – like queer and trans disabled women of color. As a disabled latina, I’ve already lived through, and continue to live through, that scene in the show. Let me break down what I mean. … Read more…

Losing Friends to Ableism

Losing Friends to Ableism. Little wooden meeples, one side they are all grouped up, other side is just one, lonely meeple

“I would’ve made sure it was accessible if we were closer friends.” An ex-friend said this after I expressed hurt over his party being held in an inaccessible venue. I wasn’t even mad at him initially since it was a surprise planned by his family; they knew I couldn’t get inside, and ignored guests offering alternate, accessible spaces. When this ex-friend told me of the event, all he said was “sorry you can’t come.” That was it.

I wouldn’t have been too upset if this person offered to visit for a mini celebration with mutual friends. I wouldn’t have been angry if he gave a sincere apology rather than defensiveness and silence. Making accessibility a privilege offered only to closest friends or family is horrifically ableist. This person was someone I hung out with regularly, so I assumed we were good friends. But even if we were acquaintances, what he said was dehumanizing. To make things worse, he spouted that quote above knowing I was going through an emotionally vulnerable time in my life. I’m glad I ended that friendship, especially after realizing he was toxic in other ways. … Read more…

LARPing While Disabled: My First Impression

LARPing while Disabled. Two Storm Troopers, one in a wheelchair being pushed by the other

It’s been a few weeks since I attended Dreamation, a tabletop and LARP convention in New Jersey. I’m more of a board gamer, and my only experience with RPGs has been online. I play-tested a LARP about disability at a previous convention, but beyond that, I’ve yet to break into the hobby. My boyfriend Michael is into LARP, so I decided to go out of my comfort zone and play a full game. At the least, I would get blog material; the worst outcome would be me spiraling into anxiety mode and quitting. I ended up playing two LARPs that weekend, taking away a new understanding of myself and the space I inhabit as a disabled woman at a convention.

The hotel hosting the event was ADA compliant, with elevators, smooth flooring, automatic doors, table seating near the bar, and spacious rooms. The folks running Dreamation also had a disability liaison on hand (the amazing Elsa), and attentive staff aware of potential access needs. Because organizers give attention to safety and accessibility, a lot of disabled people attend; not just physically disabled, but mentally and chronically ill gamers were in abundance. So I knew if I had a problem in-or-out of the game, Dreamation’s staff would support me and find a solution. Other conventions should follow this pattern for disabled attendees. … Read more…

Ableism in Fiction: My Guest Blog for Disability in Fiction

A pile of books on a shelf, illustrated

A few days ago, my guest blog was published for the Disability in Fiction blog series, hosted by fantasy author Intisar Khanani.

Growing up as an avid reader, I never came across any disabled authors or characters in literature. Before the internet, I only had access to my small-town school library. Seeking out books with disabled characters never crossed my mind; disability was something that I had and not part of my proclaimed identity as it is now. For most of my childhood, abled was the norm, even though I’ve been disabled my whole life. I was the only visibly disabled person in my social circle, and I wasn’t aware of invisible disabilities as a concept.

Read more at BooksByIntisar.com

I want to know what you’re reading! Share your experience with disability in fiction, including any book recommendations, in the comments below.

Overwatch Developers, Don’t Ban Disabled Gamers

Overwatch Developers, Don't Ban Disabled Gamers text over an image of Sombra character page, a cartoon woman in neon clothes

These past three days, I’ve played Overwatch obsessively on PC, now understanding why many love this game. It took me a while to start playing, as I tend to avoid most competitive online experiences; they lean toward inaccessibility and obnoxious alpha players. While Overwatch can attract those sorts of gamers, I have yet to run into any in the teams I’ve played so far. I think it has a lot to do with the matchmaking system; it pairs you with those of similar skill levels. There are also practice modes to learn each character’s abilities and test them out before you jump into an online game. Overwatch is addicting, with beautiful graphics, smooth controls, and unlimited ammo. Each character has unique abilities and user interfaces that you can explore in detailed maps. When your team is victorious, there is a rush to try again, racking up your XP and hoping for an MVP vote from your comrades.

But what sets Overwatch apart from other first-person shooters is its accessibility.Read more…

Crip The Resistance: Thoughts and Resources for Accessible Protests

Crip The Resistance: Thoughts and Resources on Accessible Protest, black background and white text

What does protest mean for disabled people, and how can we contribute through our lived experience or active engagement? I can’t access in-person marches or similar events, and sometimes I must completely disconnect from current events to stay healthy. It’s hard to find solace when our rights and safety are threatened, so I write when things become too much. That’s how I channel my anxious energy, and it works for me.

There is no right way to protest – one method does not count more than another. Protest is about building each other up in resistance to crisis. It’s about those with privilege filling the gaps while amplifying marginalized voices. “You’re not doing enough” shames those who may be struggling to get through another day, or who don’t have the means to contribute more of their time or energy. We don’t all have to show up and hold signs and tweet to be in a political movement. For those who bear the weight of oppression, our lives and bodies are inherently political, and surviving is a form of protest. Surviving can be enough. … Read more…

Recap of #CripTrek

#CripTrek Twitter Chat Recap over a starry background

Hey Trekkers/Trekkies! If you missed the live #CripTrek Twitter chat, you can read the recap below.

We need to keep the conversation going, so please continue using the #CripTrek hashtag to talk about disability representation in Star Trek! You can also share the recap on your own page – don’t hesitate to link to it or tweet about it.

Here is a link to the recap on Storify, or view it in the slideshow below. Thank you to everyone involved! Until then, live long and prosper.

#CripTrek: To Boldly Go Where No Crip Has Gone Before

#CripTrek header, logo on a star background, images of Geordi, 7 or 9, and Melora

Hey disabled Star Trek fans – let’s let CBS know we’re here and we want disability representation in their new series, Star Trek: Discovery! Using two hashtags, #StarTrekDiscovery and #CripTrek, share an idea, picture, video, audio recording, piece of writing, or other digital representation of YOU and your love of all things Trek. Maybe a pic of the Vulcan salute, a poem confessing your Spock and Bones ship, or a video acting out your favorite scene – be creative!

Lt Barclay, wearing yellow TNG uniformTweet at @StarTrekCBS and tell them why you want a disabled character in the cast! Post your contribution with the hashtags on Twitter or Instagram to make sure everyone sees your creation. You can also just share overall thoughts about disability and Trek using #CripTrek – we will keep the conversation going.

On September 1st at 7pm EST, I’ll host a Star Trek and disability Twitter chat along with Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project. The Disability Visibility Project™ is a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture.

To join that chat, log onto Twitter and follow @geekygimp. Starting at 7pm EST, I’ll start posting the questions below, and you can answer using the #CripTrek and #StarTrekDiscovery hashtags. If you have any questions or accessibility concerns, please get in touch with me through the contact page.

Thanks to Mike Mort and his design skills, we have this awesome #CripTrek graphic! Feel free to grab the image and use it as your social media profile pic of choice. The background is transparent to use as you wish. If you have trouble downloading, please contact me.

CripTrek logo is blue insignia with name below and a wheelchair in the insigniaRead more…

#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.