Zach Hodskins is a great basketball player; also, he has one hand

This is an online article about a teenager who plays basketball and was born with one arm.  The article uses this disability as inspiration for others “I love when people say things like ‘he’s a ballplayer’ first. Before ‘he’s an inspiration’ or ‘overcoming the odds.’ Forget for a moment that he is an inspiration. Forget that he has overcome the odds.”


Reporting it Right: how the Government got it wrong

Both these article talk about ‘appropriate language’.  The Australian government has developed guidelines for talking about people who have a disability.  These two articles (one form Australia and one from the UK) present an alternative view from a first hand perspective.

* Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week: a different approach

This online article was written by a woman with Cerebral Palsy.  She asks for the Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week to be looked at from a different perspective.  The awareness campaign traditionally puts out stories of achievement, inspiration and bravery. The author wants the stories of ‘forced normalisation’ to be heard.  She comments that these stories put expectations on people with Cerebral Palsy to continually strive to ‘fix’ their bodies.

I like the term ‘forced normalisation’. The medical model of having a problem, having treatment to fix or minimise the problem and the negative self image is a part of being seen as normal – being able to fulfil a ‘normal’ role in society. The author comments that she feels a failure by using a wheelchair and not continuing to try fulfil the normalised role of walking.

Whilst working in an agency providing services for people who are blind or have low vision, I constantly hear the marketing team wanting to write a story about a students who has ‘strived hard to overcome the limitations of their vision’.  These inspirational stories come from the ableist view that only able bodied activities are normal activities – I see this as forced normalisation.

Parents of children with a disability under twice as much stress

An online article about a new program for parents of children with a disability.  It reports that these parents are twice as likely to report feeling stressed. The program to address this is called Triple P Stepping Stones.  It is a parenting support program that aims to build resilience, confidence and competence.

* Disability care – what’s in a name?—what27s-in-a-name/4588198

These are two articles about the name ‘DisabilityCare’ that was being used for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  Whilst the name has since reverted back to NDIS since the recent Federal election, these two articles highlight the paternalistic attitude that people in power can portray about people with disabilities.

DisabilityCare portrays people with disability as needing ‘care’.  This becomes very disempowering and makes the assumption that all that is needed is ‘care’ and ‘support’.   As one of the authors, Stella Young, comments ” we’re so used to framing people with disabilities in terms of how we impact on non-disabled people.”  The NDIS is about choice, rights and inclusion – about empowerment.  And the scheme has the potential to impact the way disability services are provided – the consumer will be empowered to have choice and therefore the services must alter and adapt there delivery models to foster this.  If not consumers will choose a different service.

So the name does matter.  DisabilityCare says you need help and we will ‘care’ for you.  NDIS gives a value neutral label to disability,  allowing for choice and inclusion.