Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31 Disabilities Awareness Item: Scary enough for the whole month

Dear Friends

Happy Halloween. I have numerous scary topics on my mind . I am going to start with some whines and a couple Halloween blog entries.

My laptop and my monitor are doing weird things as far as video. Editing with only a screen reader, excuse me, SUCKS. Okay, I know thousands of centered well-adjusted much blinder people do it all the time, but…. Luckily at last the monitor has decided to do it’s daily mess around through several cycles of power on and off until stable display results. Possible issues include failing components and video controller issues if I have my accessibility software installed wrong. So if Friends can hold my technology and paths to the wherewithal to update… in the Light. If Friends really cannot get through the day without more technological esoterica, I am happy to share further.

Update: visited another computer where the monitor works and the blue screen of death was at one point an improvement. Not necessarily reassuring to know that everyone in town is having some of the same issues with the newest upgrades. Grrrrr.

Speaking of seeing scary things, please hold my nephew in the Light. His school bus was going by as a bad incident involving a bridge or overpass happened last week. I think I saw a headline but did not click and read. My sister said my nephew saw a whole bunch of details I am not going to repeat, more than the kids in the other school bus who also saw the event. The kids who saw things got asked not to talk about it to the other kids at school which seems reasonable but my sister was complaining that the kids who did see things did not get to talk to a counselor right away. So please just hold the whole thing in the Light.

A scary technology headline:
The scary part for me is the headline: speech recognition software tends not to work well with people who have non-standard speech patterns as many hearing impaired people do. I had to read the article to see itis the doctors who are using the software which actually sounds kind of ingenious.

The blogroll does Halloween:

A fast way to respond to this year’s query from Pagan Ministry Friend about whose deaths one has noticed from my blog:  .
Names that stand out are Lara harding, Agnes Schmoe from Eastside and
Amy Trice, former tribal chief of the Kootenai tribe. Read obist
yourself if you feel led. The other two have the names in the titles; here is the item about Lara.

My ramble of last year.
This post was about the time of Pagan Ministry Friend's Samhain post which drew a letter to the editor in Western Friend. One funny follow up: I saw the editor of Western Friend, last summer at Annual session and the subject of the letter and my response came up. Friend Editor said that the author of the original letter posted something from one of the blogs I mentioned in my response on Facebook. I probably would never have known about the FB post unless Friend Editor told me because I just interact in a pretty limited way with Facebook. But I was glad to hear my suggestion spoke to the other Friend’s condition.

One part of Facebook I do interact with is the Association of Bad Friends. The Association of Bad Friends exists to encourage Quakers to poke fun at ourselves. Unfortunately most of the Bad Friends who post regularly are so earnest and serious that we cannot help frequently straying into serious topics. For instance, recently in some kind of exchange that started out about appalling things people do in Meeting for Worship, Pagan Ministry Friend mentioned how much our Meeting’s support of her ministry means. I am glad she feels well supported.

At the Association of Bad Friends one is only allowed to nominate
oneself for Quaker roles, not anyone else, even though as Bad Friends
we may be quite certain someone else deserves nominations. I used to
be clerk of the Committee on Doing Sudoku in Meeting for Worship
committee. I had to lay down that ministry but now one of the roles I
am seasoning is the Still Didn’t Get the Memo Committee on Email
Immoderation. I am unclear how I am going to be led about further
emanations. I am probably not up to the daily pace but I would still
be happy to receive Friends’ comments or further inquiries.

I am VERY clear there are a number of topics that still need further
conversation and I am unclear how I am called to proceed. I am
specifically seasoning what more needs to be said and where about a
number of scary topics, including what feel to me like contradictions
in my own thinking. Thoughts?

For instance, I complained a lot in June about it feeling like a lot
of people spent a lot of time talking ABOUT me and a lot less time
talking TO me. So then I decide I cannot deal with endless one on one
conversations. I decide to seed the conversation and tell you all to
talk amongst yourselves. At this point, I am inclined to collect
Friends questions or maybe have someone else, such as my clearness
committee collect Friends’ questions and then try to answer many
questions at once.

I told the young woman who called me about interpreting as a career
not to be afraid to contract out the parts of her work that she is not
good at. I think I did not make enough of teamwork too. On the other
hand, I have multiple gripes about points that feel to me like people
passing the buck. What does it mean to anyone else that we are all
ministers of God? What does it mean as far as specific people being
called to specific service?

(Here RantWoman intervened and is still seasoning a substantial tirade, a tirade which even by the RantWoman School of Tact and Diplomacy standards is TOO MUCH just now for the blogosphere. Hold centered discernment, seasoning,.... in the Light.

In the Light


PS: Here is another item about sex trafficking, just to toss in another scary topic.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 30 Disabilities Awareness Item

Hi Friends

Thank you to everyone who has given indications that you are interacting at least some with the content of my messages.

Thank you to the Friend who finds a paragraph or so in several entries to relate to. I am aware it’s too much. In case my comments have not made it clear, it’s too much for me too BUT

1. I am aware this approach to mass eldering is kind of annoying. I am also aware that additional increments of wordsmithing would not necessarily lessen the annoyance level enough to be worthwhile for quick dispatches.

2. I am aware of having both muddled and seemingly contradictory messages as well as complicated circumstances in mind about some topics. The fact that they are “too much” does not mean this does not need to be talked of further, but there is plenty here for today.

3. I am not even trying to guess at things that would speak to everyone with the same points and I think too much wordsmithing might scrub out some particularity that speaks particularly to one or another person.
Here is a blog item about this last point, with a number of other good links inside it.  .

I mentioned being willing to talk about my white cane. It’s not like you all are obliged to ask, but there are a couple more clear messages I probably need to make sure get through in addition to the moments below from my blog. Using my white cane REALLY helps as far as some back and neck issues. Using a white cane SOMETIMES increases the odds that bus drivers will do things I find helpful, some of which like calling stops they are supposed to do anyway. I have a time or two tried to have conversations with someone about a Meeting-related issue connected with my cane. Some of the time there has been fine progress. A time or two, someone has missed key points or their eyes have glazed over. Hold that point in the Light.
Here are an assortment of especially piquant adventures, some of which could probably be boiled down to a couple paragraphs containing the point. In other cases, the totality of the story is really part of the point.

Oh Good: some more cheerful statistics   shared this report comparing crimes against people with and without disabilities, 2008 thru 2010 The report is based on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS).

Highlights include the following:

• Persons age 12 or older who had disabilities experienced an estimated 567,000 nonfatal violent crimes in 2010.
• In 2010, the age-adjusted violent victimization rate for persons with disabilities (28 violent victimizations per 1,000) was almost twice the rate among persons without disabilities (15 violent victimizations per 1,000).
• In 2010, for both males and females the age-adjusted rate of violent crime was greater for those with disabilities than the rate against those without disabilities. The rate for males with disabilities was 23 per 1,000, compared to 16 per 1,000 for males without disabilities; for females with disabilities the rate was 26 per 1,000, compared to 15 per 1,000 for females without disabilities.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics,

On a completely different note, an item from my blogroll possibly of interest to people with fundraising or Meeting architecture concerns, an item about a Turrell Skyspace to be installed at Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting in North Philadelphia

In the Light


Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29 Disabilities Awareness Item

Hi Friends

So here’s the deal: I am feeling uncharacteristically attentive to thoughts of different people’s speaking and learning styles and posting here an assortment of links. Of course as far as disability awareness lifetime rather than disability awareness month and having further conversations that speak to us as a community, having everyone on different pages may or may not be helpful, but here we are.

To be honest, for me sometimes it is a lot easier to talk about something from our culture than something specific on my own mind, so I would be really pleased if Friends have anything to say in person about any of the items here. One topic I am pretty used to explaining different things about in person is my white cane, why I decided to start using it, some really clear benefits from doing so, some things that are really different for me than for other people who also use white canes, why I sometimes refer to my cane as Thwack or Ambassador Thwack. So feel free to ask.

This blog is by a Quaker cartographer. Somewhere on my Quaker blog I saved an interesting link about how people got around before there were visual maps. It mentions some books that sound interesting Maybe when I have time either to think systematically about how some people I know deal with spatial issues or for more conversations with blind people about different ways people get around, I will look up the titles. In the meantime, this item is interesting in itself and it has a link to a video of a British psychiatrist about localization of different activities in different parts of the brain.

Here is the PBS web page for Lives Worth Living, the documentary that aired Thursday night. I have not had a chance either to watch the documentary OR to read comments here, but perhaps Friends will find it interesting.

And then there is South Park and Crip fights. This video is toward the LESS tasteless end of the South park vernacular. For one thing I do not recall hearing the F word even once.
Jimmy and Timmy join the crips:

Topical themes: born vs late in life, fitting in, people having NO CLUE what language means.

Next, thinking about ways people get around and the people one meets and where one might or might not feel specific Quaker calls, some items about my experiences aboard Metro:

Here is an, um, interesting item about some “grammar students” I met one day on the bus. Judging by the garb of the grammar students in this item, one issue was gang affiliation but the guys in this entry were clearly trash talking AND they desisted when the driver asked them to so….

Some more Quaker-themed reflections. To be VERY clear, I am VERY grateful about many things to do with the bus, the fact that the Seattle area has what in MANY respects is a really good bus system, always with room to grow, the fact that I have the stamina and capacity to use the bus easily, the color and connections of my bus experiences. Well, read on.
Whole new windows on matters of faith:

Warning: this item includes a verbatim comment from a drunk and contains the F word.

And finally, one about a VERY cool thing I learned about at a recent meeting, Project Safe Place. Project Safe Place is a way for kids in difficulty to tell the bus driver they need a safe place. The blog entry has a link about it. I think LOTS of Quakers who ride the bus might like to know about it whether or not anyone might necessarily feel called to intervene about things one might hear on the bus. I personally am glad to know people talking about it at public meetings are aware of the trafficking issue even though I want to make NO assumptions about how often that specifically is an issue.

In the Light


Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28 Disabilities Awareness Item

Hi Friends

Today’s posting is all somewhere between work and poetry and translation and being rightly led. If you like, read it fast and think of it as throwing the pot of spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks for whom. The poetry part is mixed in unfortunately. Also it’s pouring rain and I do not know whether I will go out so my fingers have more time to run wild than some days.

Here is DiversityInc’s item from today about Disabilities Employment Awareness Month. It has some statistics I have not read and some other links that look interesting:

someone I know only from interpreter email lists who I will call Blind Poet recently got a job teaching at a new community college.

The “rightly led” piece has a number of aspects.

First, I did a phone interview for a student of interpreting from Pierce County community College. She got my name out of the local translators’ society directory and found my comments about the business of translation and interpretation and life and networking much more “spiritual” than someone else she talked to. At the end of the interview she asked me for advice. I told her something like:

--Here is my experience and special circumstances. Your mileage may vary.

--There are a large number of ways to have a difficult career and a large number of reasons another person she talked to might be right on about it being a miserable business BUT there are also opportunities.

--Follow your heart and the money will come

--Know yourself and what you need to take care of. Some people enjoy the gamesmanship of business negotiations. Some people find it rewarding to accompany people through medical care and other sometimes heartrending difficulties. Especially recognize what you need if you are walking with people through traumas.

--Network with other interpreters; teamwork rocks.

--Never be afraid to contract out the things you hate or are less than adept about.

Second, I spent FOUR HOURS writing up life experience in response to supplemental questions for a job I applied for. The “rightly led” was just that, even though my resume shows no paid jobs that answer their questions, the words to explain how my experiences DO relate kept coming and coming. Luckily the torrents still left time for at least a fast proofread.

Then my mind wandered to last year’s Disabilities employment event at Microsoft, a couple guys I talked to from disability insurance companies who were all hot about the issue of ergonomics and a story about someone I will call Blind Poet. I have never met Blind Poet in person but she is a very incisive contributor to a couple email lists I am on. In addition to translation and interpretation work she also teaches business writing at different community colleges. Awhile ago, at the school where she was teaching, someone in the administrative food chain above her got upset and did some kind of very discriminatory review of her teaching. Blind Poet had to file a discrimination complaint and ask her students to help her document the issues which she ultimately won about.

Recently Blind Poet got a new job at a different institution and found herself grousing: as a result of making a reasonable accommodations request, she had to step through a 29-point questionnaire. One of these days I mean to get a blog post written about how at least there is a 29-point list to help overcome some awkwardness. But then, thinking of the guys hot about ergonomics I have been wondering, what if instead of only disabled people having to deal with the 29-point list, everyone got asked the same questions. I am sure some people think that would just lead to lots of people slacking off and asking for help they don’t “really” need, but I think asking everyone could cut down on a lot of workplace-induced strains and encourage people to get help before problems become disabling.

Apropros the workplace, I would be interested to know whether any of you who are reading my dispatches with an eye to your workplace experiences, whether you hire people or just deal with co-workers, have found ANYTHING I have sent vaguely topical to issues or questions in your workplace. For my part, I have been meditating about one difference between self-employment and working for someone else: at the moment I am self-employed so I get to call this month’s efforts free consulting. I am not sure what I would call them if someone I were supervising undertook such a campaign. But it’s Friday and I feel more like poetic excursions anyway:

Looking at the site for last night’s PBS documentary, Independent Lens short of an ASL poetry slam

One of the things I like about this short is the way the translations are shown in parallel with the movements of ASL. For comparison, one time I went to a concert by the Seattle Pro Musica. The program was all different settings of the Ave Maria so the words were always the same. There was ASL interpretation and one of the interesting things to me was what what the interpreter did with the text to reflect differences in the music.

More from the teenagers in the poetry video: What do you love about being Deaf?

Another really fun item. The Turrell Skyspace is this wonderful room designed by Quaker architect James Turrell at the Henry Art museum on the UW campus and this is a link about an upcoming event there.

Poetry in Translation at the Turrell Skyspace

Another thing about translation, nothing particularly about disability because who wants to talk about that all the time anyway?

In the Light


An item off blogroll about leadings:

Another about language and indirectly about the occupy movement

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27 Disabilities Awareness Item

Hi All

Today I have been thinking about the inquiry from the Discipline Committee about what our Meeting’s experience / practice has been about mental illness.

On my usual route to Meeting I walk by Magus books on 42nd between the Ave and 15th NE. I frequently feel the way I imagine a recovering addict feels in the presence of his or her previous temptation: I can nearly always read the titles in the window but I really do not dare think of buying either to scrape my eyes painfully over myself or to collect dust while I find time and a human to help me read. On Sunday, the book that caught my eye is called the Essential Nash, a collection of writings by Nobel Prize winning economist John Nash. John Nash was the subject of a book called A Beautiful Mind by Silvia Nasr and also of a movie by the same name. He was a diagnosed schizophrenic. He was not the only or particularly the oddest character hanging around the math library when I was in college. He is interesting in a way I do not have time right now to look up further: at some point he stopped taking medication and as he has aged, either his symptoms have subsided or his ability mostly to control them has increased. The idea of schizophrenia subsiding with age at least some of the time seems like a very interesting idea and it would occur to me to see whether that also happens to others. Sure, in what additional free time, with what flock of graduate students trailing along behind?

Then two Meeting-related people wandered across my mind. One appeared in the form of a letter addressed to the Clerk of Peace and Social Concerns committee. Someone familiar with that Friend’s history was in the office at the same time I was picking up mail. I was VERY grateful just to hand the problem off. The second situation actually has blog entries but the blog entries are not all the story. Both situations wandered across my mind in the same context where people regularly exposed to others’ traumas need to take particular spiritual and emotional care of themselves to stay centered and healthy. Perhaps that is more than enough said. If not, you are invited to ask me in person what is on my mind.

But another Friend comes to mind in a bit fuller palette as introduced on my blog:
Friend Poet. Friend Poet is actually a published poet. Friend Poet's spoken ministry is prone to even more poetic excursions than RantWoman's blog. When RantWoman was recording clerk, she used to despair of capturing, when necessary, the essence, of Friend Poet's words until one day the Light dawned. Friend Poet has a couple favorite themes and there is nearly always a nugget in his words. Further, it's poetry and if one misses part of the point, it's poetry anyway. Even nicer: Friend Poet seldom reads and even less often objects to anything in minutes. Friend Poet's words, while an essential ingredient in the whole stew, tend not to be key to capturing big decisions or sense of the meeting and therefore RantWoman can feel more liberated in her attentions than with some other Friends.

Here are excerpts from some more blog entries with substantial content about this Friend.
First, from an entry that wanders among a long list of themes,

…The Holy Spirit showed up in worship--TWICE. The first time was a newcomer offering a memorial for someone for the sort of odor enhanced challenging presence whom many Friends undoubtedly wish God would lead to bathe. The memorial called him a teacher and did not offer further commentary on matters of God and bathing. A good while later came a message about God loving everyone in their own way and undoubtedly loving the Unwashed Teacher just as the visiting speaker unquestionably did.

A message began teasing around the edge of RantWoman's mind about recent ministry offered by Friend Poet during Adult Education: there had been discussion in small clumps of queries something to do with feeling the presence of God among other people. Two Friends in RantWoman's small group offered thoughts related to their station and education and presence in specific communities. RantWoman does not remember what Friend Poet said in the small group but was entranced with what he said when Friends were asked to reflect thoughts back to the larger group.

Friend Poet is among the vast fellowship, people of every station who make all their fashion choices at Value Village and Friend Poet spoke of feeling the presence of God in whatever other people had worn and handled his clothes before they came to him at Value Village. RantWoman suspects that several of those assembled just brushed this off as more randomness from Friend Poet, but this specifically spoke to RantWoman's flair for the physical. …

Two more items where Friend Poet figures.

Both of these entries have multiple threads. Please bear with and focus only on the Friend Poet parts.

There is much more I think I couldsay about Meeting and this Friend walking together. I do not feel called to say any of it tonight.

In the Light.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 26 Disabilities Awareness Item

Hi Friends

The point of this month’s email exercise is disabilities awareness so I am not displeased just to be able to pull in things that my usual information streams deliver to my desktop. The info is a slice out of time. I am making occasional effort to be comprehensive. Probably there is plenty I am missing including a number of hidden disabilities and cognitive and mental health issues. In general, I am including a mix of things I really need Friends to be aware of about me in particular including a capacity for foam at the mouth reactions and information I think it is extremely valuable for lots of people to be aware of even if some of it seems like weird minutia.

I am aware these posts include many, many topics and many points that could be discussed. Mostly I have not been posting queries or reflection questions and perhaps it would be helpful to do so. In general, although I am not interested in deleting people from the email list, I am interested in your reactions: what stands out? What questions come to your mind? Are there things you wish you knew more about? Does anything especially resonate from your experience?

Friends are again reminded of my offer to take the day off if someone else posts to this email list an item that meets my sort of arbitrary criteria for sufficient disabilities-related content.

Today’s offerings started out from an item about a test of fair housing issues in Seattle as reported in the newspaper. Also included are some links to local resources and then some more material about a spate of Fair Housing cases filed around the US, many related to service dogs.

Another item about domestic violence caught my eye, or actually my screen reader. This item reminded me that October is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I decided to check out current offerings on the website for Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services,
 . ADWAS is a pioneering agency specializing in services for Deaf and Deaf-Blind people experiencing domestic violence. Their Resources page has a number of VERY valuable offerings including some about supporting a friend or loved one in such circumstances. I have not looked a the actual item but ADWAAS resources tend to have both good deafness content and good content in general. There is another page that lists similar programs in several other cities around the US. I think Seattle is very lucky to have ADWAS though there are some specific reasons for need in our community. There is a concentration of deaf-blind people many of whom work for the Lighthouse for the Blind.

For those of you who like videos, there is a really fun video about the apartments at the ADWAS transitional housing program. The video is in ASL with captioning in English which I consider imperfectly accessible to me for instance. Nevertheless I expect it will speak to others; again Youtube offers a number of other interesting items.

One element of the apartments that caught my eye is the strobe light fire alarms / smoke detectors. Current housing codes do not, I believe, require strobe light smoke detectors and a homeowner would have to pay extra to have them installed. Most public buildings with modern equipment have both audible and strobe light alarms. This is important for deaf people, but strobe lights can cause seizures or headaches in some people.

A funny aside about modern apartment buildings with electronic entry systems: some buildings just require a person to punch in a resident’s apartment number on a keypad at the entry. Then the apartment dweller’s phone rings and the person at the front door can get buzzed in. I really have no idea what deaf people do with such things. The keypads may or may not be at a height accessible to people in wheelchairs. There might or might not be a readable directory, but my mom’s building has a funny feature that I am not sure her building staff even realize. Often with these systems a person can just punch in an apartment number but that is really not best practice as far as confidentiality of addresses. My mom’s building actually uses individual codes unrelated to apartment numbers.

I figured this out one time by bending over because the door panel is at waist level for someone tall who walks and then peering very close at a display with very poor contrast while scrolling through the directory. Now, though, I just key in the code and do not even bother about the directions to scroll through the directory. One of these days maybe I will play dumb and see whether the staff have been trained about this feature.

Other important local resources
The Alliance for People with Disabilities

The term “independent living center” has a whole bunch of specific legal and service concepts connected with it. For more detail, feel free to use your search engines. The more important point: the Alliance Resources page has information about a whole bunch of different trainings.

The Sight Connection

This organization has a retail store near Northgate Mall and a whole page full of resource links. I THINK they also offer some trainings but I did not find them in fast poking around.

In the Light


PS As a guage of public awareness, this further item about housing discrimination also came in. There are a large number of cases about service animals, an area where Fair Housing law is different and broader than the ADA. To read it one might think there has been a sudden outbreak of discrimination against people with service dogs under the Obama administration; I think it’s more likely that the Obama administration is just making a concerted effort to address widespread problems.
These items are from the White House website. I am unclear why I am unable to reproduce the links.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently made several important announcements regarding housing for persons with disabilities. Below you will find the links to each of HUD’s press releases, followed by a brief summary of each announcement.

If a friend forwarded you this email and you'd like to be added to the White House disability distribution list, email us at .

Hud Charges Philadelphia Condominium Association with Discriminating against Residents with Disabilities Association required residents needing assistance animals to use service elevators, failed to address harassment and intimidation

HUD Charges Florida Property Owner, Managers with Disability Discrimination Management refused to relocate resident hospitalized by neighbors’ second-hand smoke

HUD Charges Utah Homeowner Association, Condo Owners with Discriminating Against a Veteran with a Disability Association and owners refused to accommodate veteran’s emotional support animal Association and owners refused to accommodate veteran’s emotional support animal The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charging a Park City, Utah homeowner association, property management company, and a group of condominium owners with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to accommodate a tenant who required an emotional support dog because of a disability. HUD brings the charges on behalf of the tenant, a Gulf War veteran with a disability. HUD is alleging Fox Point at Redstone, a multifamily housing complex, assessed illegal fees and fines against the tenant and the owners of his condominium unit for the presence of the assistance animal. HUD is also charging the condominium owners for their refusal to renew the tenant’s lease unless he paid the charges. The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations to no-pet rules for renters with disabilities who need emotional support animals.

HUD Charges University of Nebraska at Kearney with Discriminating against Student with Disabilities. University denied student's request to have therapy dog live with her on campus
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is charging the University of Nebraska at Kearney and five of its employees with violating the Fair Housing Act when they refused to grant a student permission to have a therapy dog live in her University-owned apartment and illegally inquired into the nature and severity of the student’s disabilities. The student, who required the dog in order to cope with depression and anxiety, was seeking an exception to the University’s no-pet policy as a disability-related “reasonable accommodation” under the Fair Housing Act.

HUD Charges Housing Providers with Discrimination for Evicting Tenants Over Visitor’s Support Dog The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it is charging the owner and landlord of an apartment building in Reno, Nevada, with violating the Fair Housing Act for evicting two tenants after a friend with a disability visited the tenants with his emotional support dog. HUD brings the charge on behalf of the tenants, alleging that the DeAngeli Family Trust and Peter DeAngeli, the respective owner and landlord of the property, engaged in unlawful discrimination by refusing to make a reasonable accommodation to the building’s “no pets policy” for a person with a disability. HUD also alleges the housing providers retaliated against the tenants by evicting them when they protested the housing providers' refusal to grant the accommodation.

HUD Charges Washington State Property Owner with Disability Discrimination

Lakewood Mobile Home Park Operator Refused to Accommodate Applicants with Service Dogs The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged the owner and manager of a Lakewood, Washington trailer park with discriminating on the basis of disability. HUD brings the charge on behalf of the Fair Housing Center of Washington, alleging that Deidra Miller, the owner of Terrace Trailers, and property manager Claudia Welch refused to make a reasonable accommodation to their “no pets” policy for testers posing as applicants with disabilities who needed service dogs.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25 Disabilities Awareness Item

Dear Friends

This item is in keeping with the Pendle Hill pamphlet called On Hallowing our Diminishments about the spiritual gifts of accepting changed capacity. I have not checked the Pendle Hill site, but I THINK in addition to print in the UFM library, this pamphlet is available to order in print or in PDF. I am afraid I am stuck on my own gifts, spiritual and otherwise. Once in awhile I discern that someone else seems to be appreciating their own gifts in this vein; again, if anyone wants to offer their own spiritual gifts in this area, I am happy to take the day off—and MAYBE even be appreciative of your offerings.

I know I have written and I think I have sent more than one account of all the wacky things going on IN my eyes. Here are items about what I do or do not see.

Here is an item about the gifts of not necessarily seeing that would require one to do more housekeeping.

Here is another item about not necessarily seeing:

There are two not necessarily seeing moments. The one about the underwear alludes to a time I went to dinner at my friends he Weed Whackin’ Wenches’ house.One of the Wenches was a housemate in college and is also legally blind but with different seeing and reading and mobility experiences than mine. We ate in the kitchen and I paid no attention at all to their clean underwear in a heap all over the dining room table. In other words, legally blind guests do not even have to work to overlook housekeeping lapses.

Here is an item about my not being able to read faces issue especially from across a big committee chamber. In this case, if I cannot see someone’s face to tell whether I might be boring the Chairman of a state senate committee, I at least get to be liberated of embarrassment about it. Sometimes it helps to plop one’s white cane on the table. Sometimes it does not necessarily.
 The committee chairman in question was both direct and gracious about the matter.

Here are a couple items about when I actually see better than I ever could at normal distances with no magnification because of my screen enlargement software. This does not mean the view is recommendable, but…
Some of my comments about the Quaker-themed bit from Steven Prothero on Steven Colbert where one of them said that Quaker Meeting is like the city bus:

Here is the bit off my other blog about the topic:

Here is an item about trying to figure out someone’s electronic imagery.

Here is an item about getting to say with impunity things one probably should not say aboard a ferry

Here for the sake of conversational diversity is today’s item off DiversityInc about the Occupy protests. In a fast first pass I see no disability-specific content. Nevertheless, this link is included here to make the following point, which I hope a number of people will take to heart: I really hate not being able to read as much on my own as I used to and sometimes it becomes almost absurdly important tnat there be space in conversations not only to talk about various other Friends’ fixations but maybe possibly to talk about the content of the thimbles full of reading I get done. I see NO conflict between this point, respect for people’s time and TIMELY and APPROPRIATE interaction with requests for help. Extensive further tirade available almost instantly if asked.

In the Light


Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24 Disabilities Awareness Item

Dear Friends

Today’s rant includes some observations and suggestions about Meeting life and also some topics that the press of time is probably going to save me from indulging my temptations to ramble too far about. Well probably. As I write I have been pulling out themes and asking myself which themes are specific to me, which speak to things going on in others’ lives as well as mine, and what do I wish Meeting would do about the topics. I am curious what themes or comments in these areas stick out for others. You are welcome to ask me more detail about my thoughts; I am likely to be led to share at least somewhat selectively whether you ask or not. Again, if others emit contributions to my disabilities awareness efforts before I get around to mine, I am happy to share the trouble and to TRY to take the day off.

Today’s to-do list (Meeting Friends might or might not care about anything past about the first 3 items):
Here is a shameless promo link about an upcoming PBS documentary called Lives Worth Living on Thursday night. Check local listings:

I confess, I have two televisions I do not even plug in, and I need to check listings myself. 10:00 sounds too late to invite myself over to anyone else’s house, even some of my more TV-positive neighbors. But I mean to watch somehow and would be curious if Friends watch it about reactions.

Quality of Worship: what if for spoken ministry we decided to do that Human Microphone thing all the Occupy protests are doing? Would people be able to hear any better? Would people passing through be appalled? Would all the people with long protest experience who are very grateful to be sleeping in their own beds feel a glorious sense of solidarity? Would all the Friends who might come to a Meeting retreat about equality but would not necessarily go anywhere near Occupy Seattle be nonplussed? How might our much-eldered Friend with the ministry of audible eye rolling react? Would anyone realize the Human Microphone thing is charmingly retro, evocative of 19th century hymnody and brilliant for “what if the power were to go out even if we had a movable mic?” Should we just start with announcements?

Quality of Worship: It was wonderful to see both Nasturtiums in Salad Friend and Mr. Nasturtiums in Salad Friend at Meeting. Mr. Nasturtiums in Salad, also known as Walk Cheerfully Answering that of God inEveryone Friend had a stroke a few months ago and now lives in an adult family home and uses a wheelchair. It is wonderful to know that they came on ACCESS and that their trip on ACCESS was a positive experience. was also glad to see they found our entry sufficiently accessible, and to think about how much it must mean to Nasturtiums in Salad Friend to stillb e able to worship with her husband.
When I think about Meeting life, although I have rich and colorful experience with bus blessings, that of God aboard Metro, and the peace testimony as realized in the “crip fight” section at the front of the bus, I hear lots of people talking in different ways about time and difficulty of travel. Does this suggest to me any need for more scheduling of events to make the most of time spent traveling and time together? I also in a few cases hear comments where I wish care committees were better informed about ACCESS, how to use its services and how to deal with its exasperating features. What do others hear in this area?

Sartorial decision: what do Quakers look like? If I were to decide to go be part of the faith community contingent to Occupy Seattle, the invitation says to wear clerical garb. Quakers are all ministers of God. In our meeting, two big themes are basically denim and Birkenstocks or Dayglo yellow and bicycle gear. What do Quakers look like to you? What fashion advice do you have about what to wear to Occupy Seattle? Decision of the day: skip the faith community visitation.

Make agenda for meeting I have to facilitate on Wednesday. I get to facilitate because quite awhile ago I persuaded someone else that things would go much better if she shared the task. Now for BIG starters, people at least feel heard.
Work with Blind Next Door Neighbor, one of two surprising volunteers who spoke up when the question of me sharing the facilitation task came up last month. Surprising volunteer #1 used to be a secretary for a local department store executive but she had a stroke fairly young. Now she has to tell us almost every month about the shunt in her head and MAYBE the information and referrals function at the Friendly Neighborhood Center... will manage to connect her with ways to avoid what most concerns her about her experience but maybe not. Anyway, she is on tap to help facilitate next month.
Blind Next Door Neighbor’s catch phrase is “my mother raised me to be a health independent person who happens to be blind.” We get reminded of this frequently,sometimes seemingly at random, sometimes in exact conjunction with some increment of inappropriately assumed need for assistance or offer of help. Anyway, maybe people need a break from whatever my stock utterances are. Work out what parts of the meeting Blind Next Door Neighbor gets to facilitate. Help Blind Neighbor figure out who she wants to ask to be a spotter to help her identify people to call on. Think about whether to suggest that we all look for ways to connect aspiring facilitators with training workshops and ways to practice?
Review some ground rules. The most obvious: one person at a time because at the Friendly Neighborhood Center… people all tend to talk at once when things get hot. I went to a meeting facilitation workshop awhile ago where those in attendance had a go-around and mentioned three different sets of “ouch language.” Maybe meeting under the care of the holy spirit is supposed to obliterate the need for ouch language, but in my experience even God cannot move very easily among us without some kind of shared language.
Do I need to ramble about facilitating while blind, interpreting while blind, interpreting while blind for the facilitator, interpreting for the facilitator while blind and trying to do simultaneous interpretation of other interpreters’ heavily accented English? To be honest, somewhere in here I hit an “it’s TOO MUCH” threshhold, but….

For now skip some possible rambles about disabilities awareness and protests, parenting and protests, parents with situations to hold in the Light, public image and protests,…

In the Light.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23 Disabilities Awareness Item

Paraphrasing a trailer Quaker Tweeter Friend tweeted awhile ago about the forthcoming Muppet movie, this rant rated for APPROPRIATE audiences.

Hi Friends,

Today’s posting is devoted to the Muppets in honor of Muppet Fan Neighbor. I expect there is some Meeting-related point in here, but I have not stumbled over it yet and am open to suggestions.

Muppet Fan Neighbor is one of the regular “building community” customers at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing, the computer lab in my building. “Building Community” works on the same principle as the woman I heard on the radio recently talking about what a great thing it would be if people spent dramatically more time in online games than they already do now. Muppet Fan is one of many customers who come to watch videos and hang with friends and neighbors and talk obsessively about some topic or another, in her case the Muppets.

Muppet Fan Neighbor earns her Nom de Blog by having an interest in the Muppets almost as obsessive as some guys I knew in college who could, in chorus recite every line of every Monty Python movie ever. Muppet fan Neighbor cannot quite do that about Muppet media, but her enthusiasm definitely puts my earnest fandom to shame.

To the delight of funders everywhere, Muppet Fan neighbor actually sometimes also tries to do many of the necessary activities moving online in our modern age. We know Muppet Fan Neighbor does this because she tends to forget steps needed to do it all herself and needs to ask for help. She cannot really read enough to be able to follow my directions and adding a screen reader would just increase brain overload for her. But through the wonders of teamwork there usually is someone around who can help her across her hurdles.

I also esteem Muppet Fan Neighbor for:
--an inspiring but somewhat worn lime-green reflective safety vest, knee-length to boot.

--this wonderful fold-out hat from somewhere in the International District. It’s not just a lovely broad-brimmed hat, it also doubles as a fan.

--sharing my irritation with strobe light fire alarms. I am glad, I guess, for regular reminders that our building’s fire alarm system works. Strobe lights are a very good thing for deaf people but Muppet Fan Neighbor and I have different reasons these alarms give us headaches.

Unlike me though, Muppet Fan Neighbor does not even get to blame her nearly hopeless inability to read social cues of the “Could we have maybe a little less of…” on vision loss.

I missed a meeting of modest consequence on Wednesday. I have been asking people what I missed and Friday it was Muppet Fan Neighbor’s turn. We were both at a multilingual training event about fire safety and disaster preparedness. As soon as I arrived I heard Muppet Fan Neighbor’s voice from across a large room. I had no idea where she was and needed to put things down but I nearly walked into her after I put things down. Someone had already briefed me about a couple subtle points but I needed to hear from Muppet Fan Neighbor what it was I was likely to be hearing about 100,000 times from Muppet Fan Neighbor and several other neighbors.

Alas. Not even Muppet Fan Neighbor absorbed whatever the news is about high quality nutrition in the vending machines. Still I was really, really glad Muppet Fan Neighbor was there. The information we needed to absorb is not that complex. It was important to get “everyone” in a room with interpreters to sort out misinformation connected with different cultures and histories AND we need people like Muppet Fan Neighbor who, HOPEFULLY can help repeat the key points a zillion times for everyone they meet so introverts like me can pay attention to what else might be needed.

Anyway, now edification written by other people:
Chatter about muppets with disabilities

Chatter by Muppet fans about their disabilities. Not much about Muppets even though it’s a Muppet forum.

The MuppetWiki,7340,L-3941544,00.html

The word Muppet as slang, disability-themed and otherwise.

The urban dictionary search results about the same topic. WARNING: it’s urban dictionary. Even clicking on the Muppet link will generate vulgarities I would never knowingly have, say, my mother read without warning. The usage show to me reflects more UK usage than US. Other than that, the language ranges between irksome, derogatory, and downright vulgar. Who knew? How dare anyone do that to the Muppets?

In the Light


Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 22 Disabilities Awareness Item

Dear RantWoman and RantWoman’s mass eldering list:
Thanks, (RantWoman) for the idea of the Service Python (or gecko, etc.). I just got this from my brother and hope all will enjoy it. The picture makes it especially funny, but the text does a good job of explaining as well. Enjoy.

Friend who still gets to get by without a nom de blog.

Reportedly, a woman was flying from Seattle to San Francisco.
Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes..

Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind.

A man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her guide dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight..

He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, "Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?"

The blind lady said,"No thanks, but maybe Buddy would like to stretch his legs."
Picture this: All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a guide dog for the blind!

Even worse, the pilot was wearing sunglasses !

People scattered.

They not only tried to change planes, But they were trying to change airlines!

True story.....
Have a great day and remember.....

Warning: RantWoman humor impairment alert.

RantWoman read the message the first time without looking at the picture. Then RantWoman remembered that this story goes around the internet at least a couple times every year and went back to look at the picture after she had already dispatched a response below.

This text is accompanied by a picture of the pilot in the sunglasses with a dog in a harness. RantWoman can guess why the picture did not survive RantWoman’s reply and forward efforts. RantWoman does not feel called to fuss about it.

If the pilot knows the passenger well enough to call her by name and to have her entrust her guide dog to him, naively I would think the pilot MIGHT know that it is most appropriate for him to use the leash rather than the harness; that MIGHT cut down on confusion. RantWoman has learned that ability to read details like this can never be assumed but RantWoman would not mind if people could just bring themselves just to treat the pilot like a human being and ask.

Dear Friend….

First, thank you. This item qualifies. Remember my offer to take the day off--or at least try not to ramble at too great length in reply if someone sends disability-related content before I get around to sending anything out. This item goes around the internet a couple times a year but it definitely qualifies. I do though have a couple hopefully enjoyable items in queue including more than one way to jump up and down about service dog issues.

The service python and service gecko are not original; Friends are behind both of those. Nor actually are the service chickens which someone from a local agency told me about in connection with a previous job. Then there is the 4-foot mastiff named Puppy from my building, but he actually falls under the housing law part of the service dog item and does not, for instance, go to church.

As for blind people operating large moving vehicles, two items:
--The National Federation of the Blind, the self-proclaimed Voice of ...Blind, has been connected for decades to a project that is partly robotics, partly optical processing that theoretically could allow blind people to drive. Driving, cough, is not a priority for me although if the price were low enough to help a lot of seniors with unacknowledged but serious marginal vision issues....

--My friend who I read a lot of Russian history and undergraduate bluebooks for in grad school for a long time dated a guy who drove for the campus bus system. My friend told me that one day her boyfriend let her drive the bus, straight, no turns for a substantial stretch in the parking lot out at the bus barn. I told her I was not sure I wanted to know that and did not think to ask what her Seeing Eye dog was doing at the time.

As for things not always being what they appear, I feel another rant coming on so I think it best to stop for now.

In the Light.


Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21 Disabilities Awareness Item


If you JUST want extremely useful information I think it would be nice for EVERYONE to understand, up-to-date info about service animals, please feel free just to scroll to the bottom and find the link there.

This item is dedicated to Service Python Friend who wishes to be held in the Light but in comparative anonymity. Service Python Friend will shortly have surgery to rid himself of a vile malignancy on his arm. Even though a spell of disability during recovery should be comparatively brief, Service Python Friend admits, basically, to being scared shitless. He also says he is a guy and guys are not supposed to get to show stuff like that.

Service Python Friend’s other notable concern involves tying his shoes during his recovery while one arm is comparatively immobile. I can relate. I remember wearing shoes I needed to tie one summer while I had my arm in a cast, but I have no idea how I got my shoes tied. I also remember sometimes being glad I had other footwear as well though Service Python Friend just does not seem like he would appreciate, say, Birkenstocks. Maybe I will see whether Service Python Friend needs some of those squiggly elastic laces little kids sometimes get to help them keep their shoes on.

I greatly esteem Service Python Friend and his ministry of mirth in the face of difficulty. Service Python Friend’s latest dispatch reports that he should be free of a vile malignancy and good as new by 2012. That is just in time for election season and getting rid of other malignancies in political life.

During the worst summer of my eye issues, as I was coming to Meeting week after week with a face full of various swelling and bruising, all of which my doctor got paid for, Service Python Friend suggested that what I really needed was a service python!

I demurred. A service python is definitely one of the better “I do not know what to say so I will offer something that might or might not miss the point, might or might not make the situation worse” suggestions ever. However, I don’t want a service animal that might eat the cat. Plus, people who have real credible, certifiable, certified service animals frequently have more than enough problems negotiating with cab drivers, other bus passengers, various kinds of public accommodations. the idea of adding interactions about a service python to all the other things one must negotiate when, for instance getting on a bus, just cracks me up.

Service Python Friend talks about his situation with the same wry comments he brought to my eye yuck; most of the time, I just crack up. I keep telling Service Python Friend he has to tell me if my laughter is too far beyond the bounds of good taste; so far he just tells me the dates of next increments of treatment. Then we digress, for instance about the current fashionable practice of having multiple people with various medical credentials quiz patients before medical procedures. What body part are we operating on? Which side of the body? What Is the problem? How did it occur? This is all well and fine if one’s body has just gone and grown a malignancy without asking permission; it’s plumb embarrassing if one has to keep saying to all and sundry that one has earned one’s trip to surgery trying a Stupid Kitchen Knife Trick or tripping over a crack in the sidewalk.

I suppose I could ask Service Python Friend whether he thinks there is any danger he will qualify for a service python himself. Instead, while he deals with temporary slightly disabling results of treatment, I am going to try the all-purpose conversational awkwardness evoker “oh, you have this problem, have you thought of….?”

If that does not work, I can wish Service Python Friend some surprising and uplifting increment of enlightenment comparable to my arm in a cast experience. During my summer of the worst eye yuck ever, I happened to get a short translation job involving a handwritten document and by far the WORST Russian handwriting I have ever seen—and it wasn’t just eyesight gone haywire. The document was undated but in the course of my work I learned it had been written when the author had his writing arm in a cast because of a fact material to the issue the translation was needed for. Suddenly all the problems with the handwriting made sense. Who would have known that my arm in a cast experience would wind up helping decipher effects of someone else having an arm in a cast?

I do have one piece of bad news for Service Python Friend. There is a small town in California where a woman with some kind of seizure disorder has a service snake or service lizard, I forget which. This service animal can detect some kind of indication that the woman Is about to have a seizure and send her some kind of signal she can use to regulate some of the effects. The local jurisdiction has enacted legislation decreeing that her service animal is entitled to the same considerations as a service dog in all public accommodations in the town. However, those chuckleheads in Congress just are not amused about thoughts of a service gecko, service chickens, or even trained miniature horses. As of last summer and regulations implementing the latest revision of the ADA, the ONLY thing that qualifies all the time as a service animal in public accommodations is a service DOG. A miniature horse sometimes counts too but there are extra regulations for that! In general the regulations are clear and categorical about many points:

NO Service pythons! I hope Service Python Friend is not too disappointed.

In the Light.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 20 Disabilities Awareness Item

Dear Friends

Today is my brother’s birthday. Some of my brother’s story is disability, although I am not sure how he identifies about the topic and a whole list of experiences. Some of his story is mental illness and substance abuse. Some of his story is someone who loves mountains and plants, listens well when he wants to, and still works with his faith. If you really must click away without reading, please think of all that and think Happy Birthday Brother before you go.

If you are feeling a bit hardier, this year we are already grateful that:

--My brother borrowed someone’s cell phone and called Mom recently. He called in the morning when he is more likely to be lucid and they talked for about half an hour. My brother has some recurring conversation themes. When he is lucid he can also talk about dreams and aspirations, some of which almost sound reasonable and doable. Well current themes involve a Cadillac, a large tract of land somewhere and possibly study of medicine, so maybe doable is too strong a word.

--My brother still has his job at the pizza dough plant. His hours took kind of a hit in the recession and he made a lateral move away from swing shift manager for the same hourly wage but he is still hanging in there. The job at the pizza dough plant is part of one triumph: my brother was on social security disability for a long time because of a rare rheumatological condition diagnosed shortly after high school, when he was just starting to get on his feet and find his way. The condition is so rare that the doctor he saw in Seattle had three patients from the whole NW with his exact condition. The condition most often at some point goes into remission. That happened with my brother years later than usual. As a result of that and of the steady job at the pizza dough plant, my brother did something pretty rare: he worked himself off of Social Security disability and frequently talks proudly about that even though things like health insurance remain a big pain in the neck.

--My brother has had stable housing for several years. It’s not lavish and he complains from time to time but it’s a big improvement over a long previous spell. I had to kick him out of my household twice. I had to help my mother kick him out of her household. Finally, at some point I got sheepish email from a family friend, something like “I haven’t seen your brother lately but I think he might be living in my shrubbery.” It was January—in Montana. I really could not imagine NOT knowing for sure if someone was living in one’s shrubbery though I could imagine this friend being reluctant to confront anyone. Awhile later, I had a “by the way….” Conversation with a social worker I had called about something else and she got the picture IMMEDIATELY. Awhile later I got email from the friend, something along the lines of “you didn’t have to sic a social worker on me but thanks.” Shortly after that, I heard from my brother and he finally got re-established about housing. My brother fancies himself a bit of a mountain man and would not necessarily mind a certain amount of sleeping out, but somewhere after that my brother talked about one time when someone gave him a set of long underwear that he said probably saved his life for awhile.

--My brother sometimes talks about quitting drinking but in the meantime he is a booze snob so he cannot afford to drink as much as if he had less pretentious drinking tastes.

--My brother seems to be free of any other substance abuse besides cigarettes and alcohol. This is really good for cutting back on paranoid hallucinations caused by wind moving in trees or intrusive appearances of space aliens trying to control his mind through the pressure relief shunts in his eyes.

--Maybe the pressure relief shunts really are a new way of communicating with space aliens, especially when combined with the electronic theft prevention system at WalMart. The more important point: something about my brother’s health regimen has so far gotten him several birthdays past the ones near where my dad and I started having detached retinas. Knock on wood. Maybe thank the space aliens?

--One of my brother’s conversational threads is about a long list of enemies. The enemies list starts from some circumstances and my sister and I together had an “Oh crap” moment during one of our “yucky topic good conversation” moments recently about the beginning point of my brother’s enemies list. Anyway, the good news is that despite the march of time and many other opportunities others might find to acquire new enemies, my brother’s enemies list seems to be stable and not growing.

Other items vaguely topical to my brother that might be more fun to read:
This post from my blog is about all kinds of things. The main point as far as my brother: I had some OW experiences because of early eye issues. My brother’s experiences at the same points were more like OW! OW! OW! We also wound up sharing a hospital room after later surgeries. My brother lgot sicker from the anesthetic than I did. He liked to drink a lot of Seven Up and watch more cowboy movies than Mom would permit at home for a whole month. I have no idea whether he even remembers the part about Mom reading to us about the Boxcar children.

Here is an inspiring item about a legally blind kid playing baseball. I have been seasoning a whole disabilities awareness rant about sports but maybe it is enough to say my brother found it a drag to have to keep telling football coaches that no, despite being tall, my brother is not a good candidate for football or baseball. In fact, this problem kept him from being able to do anything enough to acquire skills but did not save either him or me from having to cope with needing the very same skills in Phys Ed.

A blog post from Jim Wallis about standing up to bullies. People get bullied because of all kinds of things that set them apart. I appreciate this post’s comments about sexual orientation but I also appreciate the post’s call for others to stand up to bullies too. Probably I could also dig up some depressing statistics about kids with disabilities being also targets of bullying.

But this is enough for now. Happy Birthday Brother.

In the Light


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19 Disabilities Awareness Item

Dear Friends,

Today’s message is several items about deaf people, language issues, and other life changes. I am seasoning whether to make this more than one entry. Frankly, I am not quite sure why the topic is so firmly evoking Inner Blowtorch but I am offering a variety of choices about how to interact with the topic. The material probably most topical to do with anything at Meeting is at the bottom; I expect Friends will find the excursion to get there variably interesting.

First, a blog link to a video about sign language interpreters, presuming on people’s time and capacities, and privilege.

The video link on this blog page is about 6 minutes long. Warning: the F word appears once along with pointed discussion of ethics. Youtube serves up a bunch of other videos about sign language interpreting. I followed one link and got some great ones about teachers too.

The interpreter in the above video is a hearing person. Here is an item where people might actually work with a deaf interpreter. This Item is from the Seattle Times via an interpreters’ discussion list.

The rudimentary sign language used by deaf people who have never had a chance to attend school, for instance with their also unschooled hearing family members, is called home sign. Often an educated deaf person or a very experienced hearing interpreter will have the best success working out how to communicate with people in this situation. The article is interesting to me because it talks a little about this in the context of a community college class helping acclimate the refugees to life in he US and the elaboration of their language as they work together.

When I think about sign language and the power of people coming together, I think about the school for the deaf in Nicaragua. Apparently some member of the Somoza family was deaf and one of the dictator’s female relatives helped organize a school in the 1970’s before the Nicaraguan revolution. The first generation of students came from all over Nicaragua and all used individual versions of home sign. Over a couple generations and across several political regimes, the language has become much more complex with dramatically increased use of abstract concepts and metaphor. There are lots of articles about this; the one here seems like a decent basic introduction.

Now the lawsuit of the week. Medical facilities in Seattle are probably better about interpreter issues than in other parts of the country and I still spend a fair amount of time hearing about deaf people experiencing communications barriers. I expect that more cases like the one in this news item get reported on sign language interpreter lists than on spoken language lists but I see more than one a month on the email lists I read. In other words, 20 years after the ADA, with a number of processes in place to encourage people to get services to deaf people right, LOTS of people still miss the boat.
In the case here issues include:
Relying on fallible and non-functioning technology for one encounter.
Repeatedly failing to book an interpreter even when there is sufficient advance notice.
Repeatedly relying on untrained family members.
Unnecessarily traumatizing a child with exposure to complex and sensitive medical topics.

Hospital settles lawsuit
A Keene hospital has agreed to pay a $25,000 federal fine and put in place a program to provide interpreters to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing in a settlement of a lawsuit alleging discrimination.

In documents filed last week in U.S. District Court in Concord, Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene disputed the discrimination claim and denied liability in the case, which is the second lawsuit against the hospital alleging discrimination against a deaf patient in seven years.

“We agreed to this consent decree because we are committed to providing effective communications with our deaf and hard-of-hearing patients and we continue to focus on patient-centered excellence at the hospital,” said Sandra M. Phipps, senior director of development and communications. “It’s our commitment to provide compassionate, quality health care for every patient every time and in our looking at the consent decree and examining programs in place, we do recognize that the level and consistency of services to our deaf and hard-of-hearing patients in the past is not what we expected and not what they deserved.”

The recently resolved case involved three visits to the hospital in October 2009 by a patient, Laura Waldren, who is deaf. According to court documents, Waldren made an appointment at the hospital to see a doctor and requested a sign-language interpreter be present at the visit, which was scheduled for two days later. When she arrived at the appointment, an interpreter was not available and doctors and nurses relied on written notes to communicate with Waldren, documents showed.

A few days later, Waldren contacted the hospital to inform officials that she needed to be seen in the emergency room and would need an interpreter. Waldren’s mother, Jeanne Waldren of Vermont, drove her to the hospital, along with Waldren’s 9-year-old daughter. When they arrived, hospital staff said a sign-language interpreter was not available and relied first on a faulty video interpretation system before requesting that Waldren’s mother interpret for them.

Waldren’s mother, who is not a trained sign-language interpreter, had difficulty explaining technical medical terms to her daughter, but felt she had to act as an interpreter for her daughter to receive medical care, according to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And because Waldren’s mother had to be with her daughter in the examination room to serve as an interpreter, Waldren’s young daughter also had to be in the room while the doctors discussed sensitive medical issues with Waldren, the complaint said.

Following the emergency room visit, Waldren made a follow-up appointment a few days later and, again, an interpreter was not available so doctors relied on written notes and Waldren’s mother to explain that she would need an outpatient surgical procedure, according to the court documents. Waldren’s mother was not in the room when doctors asked Waldren to sign a consent form for the surgery, which Waldren didn’t understand, according to the complaint. Throughout her visits, Waldren was never asked to sign a waiver form agreeing to see a doctor without an interpreter, which is part of the hospital’s written policies, according to the complaint. The hospital’s policy on providing services for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing was stipulated in a 2005 settlement between the hospital and an unidentified patient and the Disability Rights Center, according to court documents.

According to the 51-page consent decree in the latest case, the hospital has 90 days to design a program to provide appropriate aids and services to patients. Among the requirements of the settlement: the hospital must designate at least two staff members who are available round-the-clock to arrange for auxiliary aids, such as interpreters, when needed by patients; it has to compile a list of freelance interpreters within 30 days and sign a contract within 60 days with an interpreter to be available when needed; and it must create and maintain a log of requests for auxiliary services.

A team of hospital officials has been working for about three months on reshaping the hospital’s program to improve services for people who need interpreters and building its network of sign-language interpreters who can work on-site when requested, said Phipps, the hospital’s spokeswoman The hospital has added a new full-time staff position as coordinator for the hospital’s interpretation services and is in the hiring process, Phipps said. The agreement also requires training for staff members and postings in the hospital directing patients on how they can request interpretation services if they need them.

The N.H. Business Review reported that the hospital also reached a settlement with Laura and Jeanne Waldren that was not disclosed in court documents.

Casey Farrar can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or

Miscellaneous informational bits
A deaf person whose first language is ASL will sometimes write English with ASL syntax. This can be important to know when looking at written documents and can be a big difference between someone who learns ASL as a child and older people who lose hearing after a lifetime of work and reading and writing in English. For extra entertainment value, one can mix in with ASL syntax literal translations done by someone working from a dictionary for another language into English.

American Sign Language and English are two different languages. Assuming someone will use ASL just because he or she has lost hearing is just like assuming someone with vision loss will automatically and instantly be adept at Braille. Ha!

There is a Law and Order episode where the twist revolves around whether a deaf or hearing person wrote a message through the relay system to assist deaf people with making phone calls. Two deaf people who both have TTY’s or an internet connection will contact each other directly and type back and forth. If a conversation involves a deaf and a hearing person, calls will go through a relay system: the deaf person types and an operator reads it to a hearing person; the hearing person speaks and the relay operator types for the deaf person.
For anyone just assembling current info, here is a link to the WA Relay Service; at this point there are also internet-based relay services:

Thinking about different experiences:
My family had a long-time friend who lost hearing due to a stroke at some point in mid-life. I never knew him before he lost his hearing. He could lip-read really well and he and my mother could talk for hours. For me, it was easy to get him started talking just by writing a question or two on paper. I am not sure why no one ever thought to ask him about a Voice carryover telephone, one that would have allowed him to talk but required callers to have a relay service type the other side of the call.
To me sometime it would be interesting to do worship sharing, say at a retreat, about Friends experiences of disability over time, both lifespan and in terms of different realities in different eras.

For the woman in the article above, insisting on communicating by writing notes was completely inappropriate because she used and preferred another communication method. However for many people who lose hearing late in life, writing notes can be really, really important.

Our Meeting has had two different Deaf members at different times. One I think married someone who had done a lot of interpreting for him; they frequently worshipped together and Meeting budgeted for an ASL interpreter as part of including the whole family in our community. In the other case, the Friend relied on his wife and never used any other option; all of their children also used Sign language .

Once in awhile I am called to meditate about whether some message has not gotten through just because of literally not being heard.

In the Light.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18 Disabilities Awareness Response

Dear God

RantWoman is sincerely grateful for evidence of Friends interacting with the fruits of this month's leading.

RantWoman still keeps showing up in the conversation.

Please have mercy on us all.


Oct 19
Dear RantWoman and others,

I commend this video to you all. I was aware of a lot of what it suggests, but there were other parts that were new. I had long ago learned that you should always ask any person with a disability if they would like help. However, I think the wording of "how can I help you" was especially good in the setting. Maybe we should be asking: May I help you - and if so, how?

The visuals on what different legally blind see was very helpful.

I was aware of the etiquette re seeing-eye dogs (and any service dog), but it was good to see.

All the parts about orientation and how to tell blind people where things were (using the clock image) was really useful.

The statistics on how many folks use white canes and service dogs were surprising to me. It was good to be reminded about the best way to offer guidance.

The examples of how to NOT help were good because they were overdone to make a point, but it was easy enough for me to picture myself making at least some of the errors!

Thanks RantWoman
Friend who for the moment gets to get by without a Nom De Blog

Dear Friend...

I am glad you liked the video and I appreciate your leading to encourage others to interact.

To be honest, I would be grateful to know others are led to interact and maybe led directly to interact even before they hear your bllessings. We are all ministers of God and some of this exercise really is about asking everyone to consider what you as individuals might be called to do.

I am not sure it's fair to apply the concept of gathered meeting from the blog link at the bottom to this particular approach to mass eldering, but the second link does have some further links to resources about eldering that look great. Still, I appreciate many people having the same information so I do not have to interact one on one eighty zillion times about each topic. That does not mean I do not want to interact at all.

I am glad you appreciated the visuals about different vision patterns. I hope you also interacted with the text below about all the wonky extra stuff that goes on for me personally. Excuse me for jumping up and down on the point, but I did not really quit doing sudoku during worship just because of everyone's brilliant eldering. I quit doing sudoku after a procedure involving one eye incrementally messed up both eyes enough that it was just enough more work to do sudoku not to have any benefit as far as centering but there is a whole bunch of stuff I really cannot control.

The information about orienting people and the clock method for food are pretty standard. Personally, usually by the time food is on my plate I can see where things are but frequently the contents of dishes at potlucks are a total mystery until I ask someone.

I agree. The numbers about who uses white canes or seeing eye dogs sounded surprising as numbers. However, if I count up people I know and what they do or do not do,I think the numbers are pretty representative. I also think some blind people are just maniacs and others do denial or do not want to deal with anything that marks them or marks a difficult truth. But you are welcome to ask in person about the blind people as maniacs question. It also occurs to me that I should ask one couple I know whether they realize their walking patterns frequently take them across freeway on- and off-ramps.

As for making mistakes, believe me, I do too.

In the Light

October 18 Disabilities Awareness Item

Hi Friends,

Email is saving writing time again. This item is a video about how a hospital can better serve blind and visually impaired patients. The video is well-done. The most important thing: ASK how can I help?

The origin of the video is a nice story, which is why I am including the text not just the links. It’s also a nice contrast to my interpreter list lawsuit of the week email, ironically about another hospital in NH that has had to get sued multiple times about abysmal treatment of deaf patients.

I assume the NH Association of the Blind site has interesting material but I watched the video on Youtube and then poked at some of the other stuff served up by YouTube. The video mentioned here is about 15 minutes long; I of course have quibbles, cavils and annotations below the end of the email.

"How Can I Help You?"
Last year, client members of the Advocacy Committee of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind shared personal stories about difficulties they had experienced as persons who are blind or visually impaired in hospitals and other medical practices and facilities.

The group asked:"How can we change things?" "How can we train hospital staff so we can have the same access as sighted people?"

The decision was made: "Let’s make a training video."

With this goal, the committee got serious, deciding what situations would best illustrate the problems blind and visually impaired people often face while getting medical care.

The committee met with Concord Hospital and discovered they had a partner with a strong interest - and the ability to produce training videos. The Committee wrote the script, acted the roles, and trained hospital staff and volunteers, the hospital filmed the video.

Partnering also with the New Hampshire Hospital Association, the NH Medical Society, and the Home Care Association of NH - total memberships of these partners total over 2,000 medical practices in New Hampshire alone - this video is now available to all.

To Watch and\or Download: Go to:  - on the front page menu open Resources Tab, select Video Links, read the story of how the video came about and select Watch or Download.

You can also see it on YouTube:

It is the hope of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, that any organization that wishes may use this video for staff and volunteer training purposes and to promote accessibility for persons who are blind and visually impaired. We also encourage others to create similar tools and disseminate them broadly.

Thank you,
George Theriault President & CEO
New Hampshire Association for the Blind

Now some quibbles, cavils, at least one confession, and further annotations due to peculiar focus first of all on my own issues:

Vision Experiences
There is a sequence of images simulating several different vision experiences. They left out floaters and double vision and did not mention changes in color perception, reaction to glare, and various other points that, for me, make mind-altering substances basically superfluous. I was reading the other day about some more things to try about indoor glare but that does not do anything about the stuff fgoing on inside my eyes.

Seeing Eye Dogs:
Different Seeing Eye Dog schools have slightly different approaches and commands. The man in the video at one point uses a Follow command. I have never seen guide dog uses I know use that command and I think it might be a different schools issue.

Seeing Eye Dog confession:
In grad school I read for a colleague connected with my program. She had recently gotten her first seeing eye dog, a big friendly Labrador who almost did not make it through her first year ofwork for chasing squirrels. Sparkle, the dog, would recognize me across the library and start dragging my friend toward me. My friend had no idea what was going on and one day I made the mistake of saying Hi to the dog before I said Hi to her. She INSTANTLY knew what was wrong and after that I always said Hi to my friend and TRIED not to talk to the dog until they were safely at the table and the dog was at liberty to greet.

Sighted Guide / Being Led Around / Mobility:
You are getting this video rather than either a rant about things other blind people and I do that completely annoy each other, about how flocks of blind people sometimes handle getting around in groups, or about all the white-cane related things I spent my White Cane Awareness Day doing before I even left the house.

One IMPORTANT point: if you are even thinking of offering to lead me around, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask first. I have lots of issues of stride length and body size. One of the things that made me think about carrying a white cane was making a list of lots of injuries of varying severity related to not seeing things. I just DO NOT have either margin about some safety issue or time and words to argue about split-second decisions. One benefit of carrying a white cane is that I use my eyes to avoid big things and the cane finds stuff I used to look down a lot about. When I started using a white cane and walking more erect, a whole bunch of back and neck pain magically went away!

In the Light


Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17 Disabilities Awareness Item


My last multimedia contribution was so popular, here are a couple other items. I have looked at the first but not the second which I definitely mean to do. I have not thought about these items enough to pull out something obviously relevant to Meeting life—beyond the fact that I promised you all daily dispatches and I have other things I need to focus on today!

Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez on National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month.

Last year about this time, there was some kind of event in observance of this occasion out at Microsoft. I got an invitation to go for free and told the coordinator of the (Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing) that I was sure we needed to be there. I did not particularly ask permission; I just said we needed to be there. I prepared some topical materials and spiffed up the “This is my name and here is my elevator speech” routine I trot out about quarterly for trips to Microsoft. Alas, I forgot to invite any colleagues. The forgot to invite is telling: colleagues at the Friendly Neighborhood Center ... can be a mixed blessing. Just coordinating the logistical and cognitive aspects of getting from A to B is sometimes non-trivial for people who don’t drive, use wheelchairs, typically have variable coping strategies. My punishment for this oversight: I had to stay with our exhibits and did not get to hear Sec. Martinez speak except on a giant screen in a noisy exhibitor hall. Then I returned home and realized from a happenstance conversation that I frequently see her sister at a nearby bus stop. Her sister said they did not get to get together at all the last time she was in town.

On a different topic, the National Girls’ Collaborative Project Webinar on making events more accessible for Youth with Disabilities. Emphasis on computer science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

In the Light