Saturday, October 24, 2009

DC: A Retrospective Skit

It's James Dietz with a skit on last summer's happenings from myperspective. The last part doesn't have the music I wanted (in fact there's no music), and the ending hasn't been mixed (basically I'm brought to my senses being asked to finish my "report" on the summer due that afternoon - listen to the skit and it will hopefully be clear), but here it is. I just realized i haven't captioned it. I'll do it.

http://cs.oberlin.edu/~jdietz/dc_rough1.mp3

Hope everyone who checks this blog is having a rockin'-cool awesome year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A week back home, by Mitch Paschen


My picture this last post is me in front of Ford's theater.

Well, I've been home a week and I already miss DC. Slowly, I have had to get back to my life back in Wisconsin. I have been very busy this last week seeing friends, taking care of business for school, and slowly moving myself into my apartment in Whitewater.

My last week in DC, a few other interns and I went to Ford's theater and the Peterson house. It was a nice way to end the summer. After that, I decided just for the fun of it to go to the Wheaton Metro station, which happens to be the home of the second longest continuous escalator ride in the world and the longest in the US at 230 feet.

As far as a nice welcome home, it was pouring rain when I arrived home. The next day and a half were more humid and hot than most days I had while in DC. Anyway, since then, the weather has been very pleasant. I have gotten used to driving a car again, and I even got to go to the state fair.

I can barely wait until school starts. This fall I am taking a Geography of Europe class, an IT security class, a marketing class, an operations management class, and marching band. I was also chosen to speak at the opening of our new business building. One student from each department was chosen, and I was picked in the Information Technology Business Education department.

I can't wait to be back in DC again next year to work.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Best Summer Ever by Adam Dovens

I can say with absolute certainty that this summer has been by far my favorite summer ever. I have had so much fun and have meet so many new great people. this summer has not only helped me professionally but also personally. I have meet so many different type of people with a very different type of personality. Not to insult Norfolk but the fact of the matter is a lot of people have the same old story. Their is no real variety, but in DC i have been exposed to such a different variety of people with some great and interesting view points. DC has really opened my eyes to whole different political side of the country and how it influences our daily lives. I used to think politics was something that was done at such a high level that it was really hard to see how it effects the common man. Now I see how much the ADA actually helped every person in the disability community. I am really thankful for the opportunity that AAPD has given me this summer. Thank you so much AAPD you have changed my life!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Change

Alright. The summer is almost over. I’m kind of afraid… change is really difficult for me. Really difficult. I always get depressed when I start something new as well as when I end something. In order to cope with this I’ve internalized some ideas that I’d like to share with you guys. I think you can benefit from these ideas whether or not change is difficult for you:

Ok. Things don’t end. Friendships don’t end. Experiences don’t end. Even if I never see or speak to say, Romteen again (I’m just using Romteen as an example) our relationship won’t end. It will just change. It will go from being a relationship defined primarily by physical contact and shared experience to one of memory. I may not see Romteen again (although I fully intend to) but that doesn’t mean he won’t impact my life. It is impossible to know how someone influences you. Even if you think that they haven’t, they have. Something Romteen said in conversation, whether or not I even remember that he said it, may influence the way I look at things. Thinking back to a time that I shared with him will make me smile, make me happy. So while my relationship with Romteen will obviously change (we go to different schools) it can never end. The same goes for everyone. The same goes for DC. For AAPD. Yes, we are leaving the city, ending the program, but for the rest of our lives we will laugh out loud to ourselves in otherwise silent rooms because something funny from the summer of 2009 just popped into our head. For the rest of our lives our experiences, good, bad, and neutral, will help to influence the way we think and act. So, worry not, nothing is ending. Things don’t end. They just change. And it is impossible to say whether DC as a present is better than DC as a memory… so, to all: I look forward to the good that will come from the next stage in our relationship. I look forward to the things that retrospect will teach me, to the lessons that will be illuminated by hindsight, to the purity that comes with romanticizing something that may not have been perfect. Enjoy…

Andrew

James Dietz: Coming Back Hard Again

This is scattered, but I hope you enjoy it.

Like David I've felt an increased drive to work on personal projects not only because of all

I've been doing, but because of all I haven't been given the chance to do at my current

internship. Working in this type of environment and speaking or hearing from the

knowledgeable speakers at our AAPD events have driven it home: I need to follow my passions.

I'm working on creating a game using the Klango environment (http://klango.net). It's a

simple 2d maze game rendered in audio. The maze is represented by an x,y grid of tiles.

Each tile is a different ground type (metal/wood/concrete, lava - kills you, ice - slippery

so movement doesn't stop immediately etc.). Entities in the game world range from you the

player to simple enemies (which will probably just move in simple paterns if anything) to

walls, doors, sound effects, explosives (death when touched), switches (which send a signal

- read on for more on signals), powerups and more. The goal will be to complete each game

maze by collecting all of the "tokens" scattered through a maze (I haven't decided on the

story yet - computer chips which are needed to complete the mad scientists experiment?

Hostage monkeys held captive for lab experiments? Who knows?!) within a given time limit.

The most exciting feature of this game on the design end are signals. Every object sends

out a signal when it is created, dies (usually as a result of colliding with the user or an

explosive) and so on. Switches are signaled when pressed by the player. Every object

listens for signals and can respond to any signal sent by any other object. As a result, if

I flip a certain switch, walls will mysteriously open up (releasing robots held behind them)

and alarm sounds will be turned on, creating tention and awesomeness. The collection or

destruction of certain objects can also signal other objects - all monsters can be killed

when the player collects a certain item, or fires may start appearing randomly across the

map (thanks to timers, which can also be signaled) after the player kills a particularly

intimidating boss character.
WARNING: Technobabble ahead.

Klango makes use of the Lua scripting language, so that is what this game will be written

in. Each entity will be represented by a table (basically an associative array - there are

no native object-oriented programming facilities in Lua) with the expected attributes

(standingsound, type, etc). Signals will be placed in a queue when sent from a particular

entity. On each iteration of the game loop (once every 30 milliseconds according to Klango

specifications), the game will
- change the position of each item's sound in 3d space
- Check player's current tile; should it be killed? (lava?) Check entities colliding with

player as well (explosive? Fire?)
- peek at the signal queue and see if the topmost signal applies to the current entity and

if so, performs the designated action (kills the object, wakes up inactive ones, etc). Once

action has been taken (or not), the signal is popped from the queue and the next one is

peeked at. Loops until the queue is emptied... then again I might have the queue checked only once per loop, as there's a potential for tons of signals to stack up slowing down a single loop iteration considerably. Of cousre this would mean a little bit of lag when processing signals (and a potential for starvation as new signals can be continuously queued up). More than likely I'm thinking too much about this, the most exciting feature of the game.
- Checks keyboard input and performs actions as required (move player, use nearest item,

etc)

End Technobabble

As you can see (especially if you read the technogarbage) the design isn't completely nailed down, but I'm excited nonetheless. This game was formerly

being written in C++, but I find Klango/lua to be much less temperamental and much easier to

test and prototype with. Check it out at klango.net - besides a cool programming environment it's also a neat little community complete with forums and open media catalog (I can spend all day looking through radio stations, podcasts and youtube videos with the speed and efficiency any procrastinator needs to get further behind in today's hectic world).

Here again is the college skit I recorded in late 2005. I've written a little script below for those who can't hear. I'm working on a script for a little something detailing some component of my DC experience (reigniting a passion I've slept on for 4 years).
College Essay

Transcript:
[Street, daytime. The sound of birds and the rumble of many passing vehicles. Footsteps

approach from the left.]
W: Excuse me. Do you need help?
J: I hear a female voice to the left of me on the corner of Cort and Rempsen on my way home

from school. The voice becomes more insistent as I feel a hand close around my arm.
W: Here, let me help you.
j: ... it says before I can respond. I feel a hand begin to pull me across the street.
[I try to explain that I'll be fine and I don't need help while she insists ("come on...

take a step, and another step, and ANOTHER STEP, and... OK you're doing great!")
J: I always wonder how my white cane was able to attract passers-by like it was some kind of

magnet. I get everything from drive-by prayers...
Car: (driving by) [2 brief horn honks] Jesus loves you!
J: ... to women accosting my mother with recipes to cure my condition (one of them involved

pouring hot wax over my eyes... no thanks) and any other type of help you can think of.

Fortunately, I don't usually have to deal with this type of exadurated assistance at home or

school.
[Street scene fades out. Cue cheesy flashback harp and jaunty "movin' around" music.]
My parents, after the shock of my sudden blindness, realized that just because I couldn't

see didn't mean I couldn't experience life the way others did. So instead of sheltering me

from the outside sighted world like some other parents, my parents made sure that I was

placed in a Kindergarten class with other sighted children. I learned to read and write in

Braille while my classmates learned print. Of course later in middle school I replaced the

clunky Perkins brailler with a sleek Dell laptop which ended up being a much quicker method

of completing assignments. [Keys typing] I use a screen reader called JAWS which reads the

text from a computer screen in a synthesized voice to use the computer.
[Music cuts out and is replaced by an ominous low drone]
J: I often forget how lucky I am to have such materials available to me. ... As I approach

the other side of Repmsen, I thought of all the benefits I have and realized that there was

no reason to be so put off by this women. At least I was living in a community where people

are willing to help. Suppose I got lost; I'd be needing that help now.
[Street sounds fade back in. Footsteps to the left.]
J: Uh, excuse me; do you think I could hold onto your elbow instead of you holding me like

this? That way I can follow you instead of you push me.
W: What? Oh yeah, yeah sure here ya go. ... Alright, here's the curbe.
J: Thank you very much ma'am.
W: Oh no problem. Don't mention it. See ya later.
[Fade out to triumphant orchestra epicness, ripped from the famous "elephant" scene of

Moulin Rouge.]

Monday, August 3, 2009

UNCRPD

Last Thursday Ari and I went on an adventure to NYC to celebrate the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Although Ari and I had a pretty messy time getting to NYC, it was definitely worth it. The stories we have about getting to NYC and celebrating the UNCRPD are amazing and definitely unforgettable.


When we arrived at the UNCRPD reception, Ari and I walked in with our “Community Choice Act NOW!” buttons proudly pinned to our chests. We received a lot of compliments on our buttons, so we started handing them out. Soon many people had bright orange buttons on their chests, some even asking Kareem Dale if the Obama Administration was going to do the right thing by the CCA (His response? “We’re going to try”).


After meeting many powerful disability rights leaders, the room went silent so that Ambassador Rice could speak. Following Ambassador Rice was Valarie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. Jarrett announced that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are creating a new senior level position at the State Department. The individual hired will develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the rights of the disabled internationally. This announcement excited the whole crowd. While I am very excited about this new position, I must admit, I was more excited about the announcement of a new position in the Department of Transportation devoted to people with disabilities and their access to public transportation. This excites me because I work as the Transportation Systems Advocate at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY and it will be nice to have someone in the Department of Transportation on my side.


The whole event was really amazing. Meeting the Ambassador and Valarie Jarrett was very cool, as well as meeting everyone else at the reception. I am very grateful to Ari for taking me with him. I am so happy that I was able to participate in such a historic event!


Stephanie Woodward

James Dietz presents Final Thoughts by James Dietz

It's been fun these past couple of months. I'm preparing to relax and to miss those I've been hanging out with. (That last sentence ended with a preposition) Not sure what else to say. Bye.

Disability Literature? Wait, like those eyedrop brochures my doctor gave me?

So, this will be the first in a series of posts meant to make up for my lack of blog activity over the past few weeks... sorry!

I figured I would tackle the "tell-us-about-your-disability challenge" that Stephanie posted a while back, here goes...

I was born with congenital cataracts and glaucoma. Starting at one month old I had a number of surgeries and currently have 20/80 vision in my better eye with glasses with a somewhat limited field of vision and some light sensitivity (20/80 means that I can see something from 20 feet away that a fully sighted person can see from 80 feet away). Basically, those who are fully sighted consider me blind and those who are visually impaired think I have great vision (by comparison “legally blind” is 20/200 in the better eye).

I think there have been many times throughout my life when I've "forgotten" that I am disabled. After all, I've had about the same vision my whole life so I find it hard to imagine what "good" vision is like. I know that sitting in the front row of a class I can barely make out what is on the board and that a student with "good" vision has little problem reading what is on the board from the back row, but its still hard for me to conceptualize what it is that they see compared to me.

I'm used to all the routine "hardships" associated with being visually impaired: four hour doctors appointments, sitting in the front row in every class, warning friends that I probably won't recognize them if I pass them on the street and that this doesn't mean I'm ignoring them, lacking the required hand-eye coordination skills essential to half the activities in high school gym etc, None of this has ever really bothered me much. But, for most of my life I didn't acknowledged how the disability experience has impacted who I am as a person. How my disability had molded me into a more patient and easy-going person with the ability to laugh at the smaller mishaps of life (like knocking over three wet floor signs in two days!) and the ability to advocate on my own behalf. Many of my strongest personality traits were developed in part as a result of my disability...

Until recently, I was quick to think of myself as a member of the gay community and I was quick to think of myself as a part of the Iranian-American community, and these were both crucial to how I saw myself, but I never really considered myself a part of the disability community, I think I'd just never really experienced it. I grew up speaking Farsi, surrounded by Iranian family members making delicious Iranian foods and going to an endless number of Iranian gatherings. When I was struggling most with my sexuality I immersed myself in everything gay, I read books on gay history, listened (with headphones) to gay-themed programs on a community radio station, and turned to the internet for "coming out stories." While I didn't really know many people who were gay at the time, knowing that there was a community out there who shared my experience made everything so much easier. With the exception of a couple short camps, my main experiences relating to "disability culture" centered around my interactions with my many eye doctors, special ed counselors, and state rehab counselors... and as amazing as they all were they never constituted a disability community, that wasn't their job.

In closing over the past few years I have begun to discover a disability community, and I think this summer has been a HUGE part of that process which is why I am so grateful for everyone who has made this program possible...

Until my next overdue post, take care!

Rohmteen Mokhtari

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Making a Difference - True Biz! By Leah

A while ago, I was honored to be chosen as one of the “Faces of Gallaudet” for the Undergraduate Admissions office at my university and I was interviewed in a Vlog about my education and experiences. The first point I made in my interview was the emphasis on making a difference. The reason why I was attracted to politics, why it drew me into its folds and embraced me, and why I ultimately decided to fully embrace political ambitions as my career choice is simply because I wanted to make the biggest difference I can for this world.

At the beginning of this internship, I was so eager about meeting other interns because I was really curious to learn about different disabilities and their experiences. I also wanted to give them a greater understanding of the deaf perspective and I eventually realized that a presentation/workshop would probably hit all the nails at the same time. So I worked on it, pulling together Dr. Dirksen Bauman, Ryan Commerson, and Robert Sirvage to give a presentation about their respective studies on Deaf Culture. On Tuesday, I was truly emboldened and inspired to see that my original venture had such a great turnout with plenty of interns attending and quite a number of people from the general community attending. The audience was so diverse, varying from students from other universities to interns with high variety of disabilities to professionals. I was really grateful and deeply pleased that there was such an interest in the subject to ensure a positive turnout.

I also really felt that the impact from the topics presented and discussed was very strongly apparent afterwards and that really delighted me. I had already been familiar with the ideas the speakers presented but I always learn new things, new perspectives, from discussion – and to hear about the Autistic’s perspective, the Blind’s perspective, and so many other perspectives was really constructive. I saw that the particular subject of “Disability” definition and “Re-framing” negative perspectives had intense response. As members of the general community who are accustomed to being unique due to our disabilities, I think we’ve all had our fair share of stereotypes and negative perspectives in our life experiences – we’re tired of it and we want things to CHANGE! That workshop really hammered it home that being different is not just “okay” – it is valued! And we can re-frame our issues to show that our values fit in with the mainstream.

Last night, it was a sort of bittersweet moment at the final AAPD pizza party because it suddenly hit me that this program is going to be over soon. It has been one of the best summers I ever had. I had such an intense human education that no words can ever do justice, not to mention my professional experience got a major boost thanks to AAPD’s opportunities and networking. Last night, there was a panel composed of people working in a variety of fields (Federal departments, private sector, and nonprofit advocacy) giving their nuggets of wisdom to us. My question: “In which area – the private sector, the government, or nonprofit advocacy – can an individual with disabilities make the biggest difference?”

The summary of the answers I got: Find what you love to do, be the best at it, and reach for the skies wherever you go.

Thus, I’d like to end this entry with a word taken from ASL that has no exact English translation: True Biz. It's ASL slang loosely meaning, "Real Business" “I really mean it!” “Seriously!” “For real!” “No kidding!”

I want to make a difference in my lifetime. Together, WE are going to do it. TRUE BIZ!!!!

Thank you

I’m sorry to see my summer ending. I really had a lot of fun. I loved working at the Coast Guard and programming the project management dashboard. I learned a lot about Flash, Actionscript and Java, and my supervisors, Wes Wallace and Tom Estes, both seem impressed with my work. I really got into this project and continued to work outside of office hours and into the night. I feel it has ignited in me a new passion for programming, and I hope that I will be able to integrate this passion into my future career.

It was also a great learning experience to just be around my fellow interns, who posses such a diverse array of disabilities. Despite our differences, we all got along very well and shared our lives with each other as young people with disabilities. I’ve learned to appreciate not just the different challenges we all face, but also the unique cultures that revolve around and stem from each disability. I heard that Leah gave a great presentation on deaf culture, although I am sorry that I had to miss it to have dinner with my mentor. But living and exploring Washington with my fellow interns has taught me a lot about our differences and commonalities.

Of course, I am eternally grateful to David, Alana, and the rest of AAPD. Before this summer, I have often felt alone, as though I were the only one who was different and needed extra help and accommodations. But it’s great to now know how large the disabled community really is and how such a powerful lobbying group represents us in Washington. Thank you so much.

Jackson

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Doffing My Work Suit By Fabio Botarelli

I am going to be frank when I say this but I am not going to miss donning a suit every morning in 80 plus degree weather while being squashed into a confined subway car like a canned sardine during my trips to the Hart Senate building. But what I am going to miss is the cerebral experience of my work and the supervisor who brought out the best in me. This Thursday, July 30th I attended a hearing on gang violence in native American reservations. It was to be my last hearing though because my last work day was on July 31st and there were no hearings that Friday. Indian affairs are among the most underrated issues in the political arena, but sometimes it is the underrated issues that can emerge as the major issues if they are not addressed immediately. It has been estimated that the average age of an Indian gang member is 15 years old and getting younger. Gang members are young as eight are being trained to sell drugs. As part of their daily activities gangs partake in sexual assault, gang rape, drive bys and disrespectful behavior towards elders. To help uncover the harrowing and disruptive influence of gang violence, Hermis John Mousseau of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council released a youth survey in April and May of this year. Exactly 1137 students of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation schools were participants of this survey. Out of all these students, 55% surveyed reported to being a victim of gang related activity and 72% reported to having been personally threatened by a gang or gang member. Only 65% reported that they felt safe from gang activity at school and a shocking 35% felt safe from gang related activity in their own immediate community. In the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, police have identified at least 39 gangs, which in total consist of 5,000 members; a sufficient number considering that the total population of this reservation is 50,000. After finishing this memo the following day, I had a terse conversation with the supervisor Anna Fodor. I thanked her for giving me a lot of autonomy over my work, such as permission to work in the library of Congress in which I was given no supervision. One of the most important lessons that I learned from working in DC was that you had to earn people’s “trust.” Had Anna Fodor thought that I was going to dilly dally in that library, she would have not sent me there in the first place. When people enter the workforce they usually find themselves under the supervision of a domineering boss of dogmatic attitudes who watches over their employees like a hungry vulture. But Anna Fodor was no such person. Although we were merely interns, she saw each of us as competent individuals and to show my appreciation I promise to be just as lenient and respectful to my employees when I secure a position of power one day

Falling on Deaf Ears

My alter ego has decided to sign in today to enlighten some folks. As a deaf individual, I often find myself struggling with this identity because I cope very well for my "loss." Loss, you say? Well as Leah's workshop shedded light, my deafness might be perceived as a loss in the eyes of the general public. After all society defines deafness as "hearing loss." They dont define deafness as the heightened characteristic of my remaining four senses. With that said, we are often judged by how we function in society. How we cope day-to-day, how we interact with others, and how we express ourselves.

If there is any deviation from the norm, it is defined as a loss or perhaps as political figures would say: disability. We evaluate an individual's capabilities based on social measures of their assimilation to popular culture. In other words, "do they act like us?" Us, being the majority population. So far, so good? With that in mind, I have always been scrutinized and criticized on my actions under the watchful eye of both hearing and deaf populations. I've been told by both equally that I'm not "deaf."

Baffled yet? Yes, I am too. Because who is anyone to tell me what I am or am not? But since I can speak and articulate without the distinction that I'm deaf, hearing people laugh at me when I say I'm deaf; they think I'm joking. And if a deaf person views me chatting away with my voice among others, they also dismiss me to be hearing despite my claims otherwise. So while most people tell me what a gift my voice is... to be able to speak so clearly without any hint that I'm deaf, I consider it a curse in disguise. Why, you ask? Hearing people dont believe I'm deaf and deaf people claim I'm hearing... so where does that leave me? In the gray somewhere.

I spend so much energy struggling to claim my identity as being deaf that no one believes me and therefore, I'm always missing out. I miss out on verbal communications, because no one has the patience or insight to realize I do miss a lot of what is said since I'm deaf. And deaf people shun me if I utilize my "gift," claiming that I'm hearing or trying to be. So I'm not exactly welcomed into their community or social circles.

And if you think this is limited to "abled" people, meaning non-disabled people, you'd stand corrected. Because even my fellow AAPD interns have chosen to ignore or neglect the fact that I'm deaf when I ask them to repeat themselves or if I miss something. They tell me what I can and cannot hear... again, who is anybody to tell me what I can and cannot do? But I guess everybody is an expert these days. And maybe I'm tired of fighting... seeing as I'm damned if I do, and damned if I dont. Pardon my French... but can anybody hear me? Yeah, that was a pun coming from a deaf person. I do that sometimes, joke I mean. Well, maybe more often than not. Because how else can I cope as the outcast I've been branded. When you score enough laughs no matter what you say, you learn to take them as compliments and assume your new role as the joker. An incognito joker, I say. But nevertheless, that's me. Sheiba, the funny chick who's always cracking jokes. Aight, that's my cue to sign off before my alter ego charismatically presumes to lash out.

Sheiba!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The PDF is Now Accessible!

My second to the last week in DC and it was a busy one! I finally finished my PDF project, which was quite an accomplishment! Now that it’s complete, I can reflect a little bit on what I learned. This was one of those projects that you have no idea what you are in for. The task: make an 88 page PDF document accessible. Sounds like a big project, maybe it will take a week or two. A month later it is finished, the correct way. First, I used all of the automated tools which proved to not be sufficient. This document had teeth, it was ready to put up a fight, test my boundaries, and see how dedicated I was. My Adobe resources helped me some, but then I received a lot of advice from the USDA Target Center. Soon I found out I had to go through every page, manually, page by page. On most pages, I had to redefine reading orders and define headings and objects. Some pages went smooth, other pages became my enemy, taking literally days to make 508 compliant. The hardest was the graphs and tables. Try to define a graph as an image and it becomes 80 separate images, all wanting alternate text. The undo button doesn’t work. Redefine the image with the same result multiple times, then all of a sudden, it works! You then tip toe around it, fixing the rest of the page, saving after every change. One change could make the image change it’s mind and turn into 80 objects. Then, there was the week when Adobe Acrobat Professional would crash randomly, losing any unsaved work. By the end, I think I went through every page at least three times, checking to make sure everything was correct. There were many days when I made no progress and wanted to give it back to my supervisor. I made sure I kept going and then I would finally have a breakthrough. Never give up! I talk about this document like it was alive because it felt like it was. Computers are not logical. I defeated the monster! The lesson: create documents the correct way. Monday I am presenting my accomplishments and providing a handout on how to create accessible PDFs from Microsoft Word. Hopefully no more PDF monsters are created!

--Daman Wandke

International Perspectives on Disability Rights

International Perspectives on Disability Rights
This has been a noteworthy week for the disability community. We are celebrating the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the United States of America signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (CRPD) The first human rights convention of the 21st Century, this document calls upon States to provide equal protection under the law, condemn all forms of discrimination and fully include people disabilities in society.
I attended an informative conference to learn the history of this document, network with influential leaders and discuss strategies for implementation after ratification. The conference was sponsored by the United States International Council on Disability, the Federal Transit Administration and the American Public Transportation Association and emphasized issues under the transportation umbrella. Other topics included universal design standards, access to accessible healthcare and independent living outcomes.
Interestingly enough, CRPD is the first United Nations document to require availability in accessible formats, which is extremely significant.
A major theme of this conference was the importance of international cooperation with respect to best practices. While the United States is demonstrated global leadership by passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, we also can learn from the policies of other states. Notable examples include floor lowering devices for bus systems modeled after initiatives in the European Union and coalition advocacy between independent living centers and the Japanese legislative body.
As the United States moves to ratify the treaty, multilateral cooperation within the disability community is essential to the implementation of best practices in the promotion of human dignity.


Nathan D Turner

Dealing with Time; a Challenge for Me, By Mitch Paschen



My picture this week is of me and my grandma on the terrace on the top level of the Newseum. I also have a video of a news broadcast which I am a part of in this week's post.


Time to me is very valuable. Great responsibility is shown when one is either early or on time. I am not sure where my obsession with time came from, but I get very uptight and nervous if time is cut close for an event or if something causes me to stay somewhere later than I had originally planned.

Part of my Asperger's is that I get very obsessive compulsive about time. While here in DC, I've had to learn how to deal with this obsession in a fast paced city. I have learned how early to leave for work in order to get there by 9. I have also learned that it is much better to be early here than it is to be late.

Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, it was very easy to arrive someplace on time because there were never any delays. There was no traffic, no distractions, and no Metro system that could ever slow you down. Traveling on vacation was always a very stressful time for me and my family because I would always constantly be worried that we would be late either for our flight, or for something small such as dinner.

Middle school did not help; in fact, it added to the problem. For lunch, we were given a half hour to eat, and that did not include passing time in the halls. Once we would arrive in the cafeteria we had to sit down and wait to be called. Once we were called to get food, we had to wait in line and get our food. Once we actually sat down to eat, we had about 10 minutes to eat. I had several meltdowns because once lunch was over, you were required to throw away any uneaten food, even though you bought it with your own money. If you were disciplined for some reason such as forgetting a pencil, you would receive a lunch detention and not be allowed to eat lunch until everyone else had.

As middle school passed and I moved on to high school, I became much more relaxed and open to changes in time. Although, even as recently as a few years ago, I could not go somewhere new without getting very stressed or without asking tons of questions about how long in particular something was going to take.

These days, I am able to go somewhere on a whim, a nice characteristic for a college student. College has allowed me to make my own schedule and manage my time in a way that doesn't make me nervous about how every minute will be spent. video

Last Weekend in DC by Bob

Wow, one more week of internship then it’s over! I’ve learned a lot of new things this week and the past week. Last week, I went to the TARGET center at the USDA building to check out their new assistive technology that is being developed and will be on the market soon. Some of the new technology I saw over there is truly AMAZING! They developed new software where you can speak to the computer and have them do things while you don’t need a keyboard or a mouse. The guy, who demonstrated it to me, spoke to a device that’s wirelessly connected to the computer, and the computer would do exactly what he said to the device. For example, when he said open Microsoft Word, it opened up. Then he said type, and then Word was ready to type. As soon as he started talking, Microsoft Word started typing whatever he was saying! It was so amazing seeing how the computer can pick up the words he’s saying and type it correctly or even choose the correct word. I thought there would be some mistakes because there are some words that sounds very similar, for example there, their, and they’re sound almost the same and the computer could mistake it as a different word but I was very impressed how the computer was dead accurate. There are so many new assistive technologies that are almost ready to be launched at the TARGET center and I believe that this will benefit a lot of people who cannot use computers that well, and I’m proud to say that I’m very impressed with the new assistive technologies.

On the way to the USDA building from the DHS building, where I work. I actually got to see President Obama! I was walking along Independence Avenue toward the USDA building, bunch of police cars and cops blocked the roads and sidewalks and I’m thinking oh great another shooting at some museum or some sort. But I was happy to be mistaken, I got to see Obama’s motorcade go rushing down Independence Avenue with a bunch of black SUV’s and a truck with big guns mounted on top. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a black limo surrounded with big black SUV’s, I looked hard into the window of the black limo and there he was, President Obama with his wife. It was pretty cool seeing him going down the avenue with a bunch of black cars and big weapons around him. It’s something you don’t see everyday. OK maybe for the locals around here it’s normal, but I don’t live in this area and it was very amazing seeing that since I probably won’t see this again in my lifetime.

I’m looking forward to this weekend, that’s when I will be going to Richmond, Virginia which is like two hours south of the District. I’m going to Richmond to get a taste of what Kings Dominion has to offer. It also will be my first time in Richmond, so I will actually get to see the capital of Virginia and not only that also what used to be the capital of the Confederate States of America.

Well I better start packing now; my friend will be picking me up at the metro station soon.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! It’s our last weekend in the District before we go home so enjoy it as much as you can!

-Bob

A Different Frame – Closing Thoughts

The Deaf Culture and Philosophy Presentation and Workshop on Tuesday got me thinking about my own disability and how people treat others who are different. When people think about those with disabilities they tend to think what they are unable to do. The problem with this frame is that it does not include what they are able to do be it the same or better than a “normal” person. The speaker brought up the concept of deaf-gain which is about what deaf people can do better. Two advantages the speaker brought up were improved spatial memory and improved peripheral vision. This is similar to how blind people can hear sounds others would not.

This brings me to my own disability, High Functioning Autism (HFA.) It is part of a group of conditions called the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD.) Many with ASD never learn how to talk and have significant intellectual impairment. The common stereotype for autism is a little boy flapping his hands and making unintelligible noises. The core features of ASD are impaired communication abilities and repetitive behavior. HFA and a similar diagnose known as Asperger’s Syndrome are signified by a lack of intellectual impairment but still have communication problems. I can talk but it can be hard to for me start or enter a conversation. I also tend to twitch or move a little more than “normal” people especially in social situations where I am not always comfortable. It also does not help that my disability is not immediately obvious those around me which may make me seem weird or strange.

So what do the deaf and autistic have in common? They both face communication problems and they are both trying to change their images my educating people about the special abilities they can bring to an employer. It the case of ASD the traits include an intense focus and increased attention to detail. The real issue is that people see the disability but not their skills. People need to be educated about people with disabilities and what they can bring to an organization. It is encouraging to see people working to improve the public perception of people with disabilities. The message I got out of the presentation was that diversity is the rule, not the exception.

On another note the summer is drawing fast to a close and for me it is time to say good-bye. Tomorrow my family and I are going to Myrtle Beach for our annual summer getaway. I am ready for a vocation as two months of early mornings and long commutes have left me feeling drained and I need some time to rest. I hope that you have all enjoyed your stay here in DC. I hope that you enjoy your last week in DC and what is left of your summer at home. I wish you the best of luck in your studies and in your careers. May whatever modes of transportation you take deliver you to your destinations safely.

Have a good weekend and a productive final week.

Farwell

Chad Carson

--David McKee-- I'm on the gravy train... and BOY is it messy.

Ok so that really had nothing to do with anything but I'm in the middle of a brainstorm right now so this post might be kind of... blarg.

Ok so as we all know, the internship is ending and we'll all be going beck to school or work or whatever we were doing. However, I know for me, I'm going to try to go back with a different attitude.

See, because when I was at home, I was a bit lazy. Sure, I want to class and did a decent job. But I never really DID anything extra. Sure I have tons of cool ideas... but that's all they are, ideas. I never really acted on too many of them. Even more so, I never really attended any events unless I KNEW I would have fun... and it turns out that some of the ones I thought I'd have fun at weren't so fun after all.

When I came here, I was still like that, but I soon started to feel a little odd about just sitting there in my room on YouTube and IM. I mean, come on. Out of all the people that applied for the internship, I was one of the people to get picked and I don't want to waste that chance to do something. Even if I didn't attend some of the official events, I wanted to be doing SOMETHING with the other interns. So that's when I started going to a bunch of places with them. Later on, I realized even further how important networking really was. So what if it wasn't at a place I really enjoyed being or if the people there didn't like anime or video games. It's still an important part of doing things. Like everyone has said, it's not just about what you know, it's about who you know as well and as I'm trying to get into the realm of audio and graphic design the same phrase holds true.

----------------------------HAT--------------------------------

Alright so on Tuesday, one of the interns--Leah--held a small seminar on deaf culture where a few people spoke... or signed rather, on the different types of research they were doing on deaf culture and how the deaf in general handled things in different situations. They also talked about different frames of mind and ways of thinking about something. For example saying things like "they CAN'T hear." or "they LOST their sound." or something silly like that. Even saying deafness is a disability is not good because it hints that the person is Disabled in some way.
So then they talked about different ways to think about things so instead of saying they lost hearing, things like "they gained deafness. Changing frames is what they called it. This is important because it's basically a large game of word association. When people usually think deaf or blind, they think "Oh, this person isn't as good and something is really wrong with teem." and then they come up with all these other falsehoods like we're not smart or something.

As a visually impared person, I found this meeting really interesting and I really enjoyed that part about changing frames. So in celebration of that, I would like to announce that I will no longer watch anime ever again. I am growing sick and tired of the loud mouthed girls with pigtails who look like they're all 12-years-old and guys that look like girls that this ridiculous thing called anime is made of.
Instead, I will now be enetertaining myself with accelorated arts; a beautiful and unique artform that has an extremely dynamic range in how it can portray itself. Within this artform, the artist is free to do whatever they wish and express they're true feelings while still giving it a very stylish and classy look and feel.

I had more stuff to say, but I forgot what it was...

Oh right.. work... Um... things have been going kind of slow because I can't get in the main server.

I found a game company called Bethesda softworks who is near here. They make Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3 (and 2 and 1) and I'm trying to go visit them. I hope they didn't find my letter to them annoying or anything. Well that's it.

Bye for now.... OH RIGHT... I think my plan for going to Six Flags is actually working! This is the first big thing involving a lot of people that I've really ever done so I'm really happy that it seems to be working out. I just hope things continue to go well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Salsa Club by Adam Dovens

Just recently I have been attending this great salsa club in McPherson square called Lima. They offer free salsa lesson every Monday night and open bar for ladies. I really enjoy myself because their are two different lessons, one basic and one more advanced. The lessons not only give me a refresher of my basics it also teaches me new moves and the best part of all is that it is all free. Some people really feel that it is weird that I do ballroom, i have even had a girl come straight out and ask me if I was gay because of it. Their are a lot of things that I do that are not stereo typical. I am a ballroom dance, play volleyball (primarily a girl sport in a America), and i do a lot of world travelling. All these put together makes one weird person. What this boils down to in conformity. i simply don't like conforming to the American standards. I feel that I want go my own root instead of following what everyone around me is doing. This is very applicable to the entire disability community as we discussed at the presentations yesterday in ivory tower.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Slaymaker - I better not get docked money. "I was busy, okay?"

Okay, I have come to the realization I am never going to accomplish all that I had planned for the summer. The time has just flown by too quickly…which is frustrating. I mean, if 2 and a half months flying by this fast, I can’t imagine how fast life must go. Anyhow, this week was a good one. With the JFA celebration, it was easy to have a good week. I was very impressed with the turn out of the event and what the award winners/speakers had to say. Hearing from Senators Leahy, Harkin, & Brownback and Secretary Duncan was a very nice thing. Also, the networking after the event was good. I met Dick Thornburgh and Ted Kennedy Jr., and connected with a few people I hope to work with on some issues. I realize though, that my last two weeks are going to be incredible hectic. I have meetings with many people and hope to make a strong sprint to the finish. I have sincerely enjoyed this internship and recommend it to anyone interested in a government.
Okay, so time for the last Slaymaker’s Sayings:
1. When networking (just like in dating), make sure to have good breath. It is always a turn off to smell bad breath, or body odor for that matter.
2. Always follow-up within 5 days. In my opinion, you don’t want to appear over eager and e-mail the same night, but you want them to still remember your encounter. Of course, this advice is discretionary depending on who you meet and the connection you made.
3. Don’t be afraid to go out on the limb. If a big name is speaking, write a note to them and try to put yourself in a position to give it to them (with a business card of course). You never know what might happen. Additionally, in the workplace, always be the “I’ll do it” guy. By doing so, you allow your co worker’s the ability to rely upon you…which they will remember the next time something comes around.
Thank you to all the faithful readers of the brilliant lessons I have learned and shared with you.

Feeling good

Things have been great this week. Had fun at the Justice for All Meeting celebrating the 19th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They gave out awards to many high profile people who have furthered the cause of disability civil rights. One was the author, Karin Slaughter, who wrote a book in which the main character has Dyslexia and another was Russ Owen, president of the Computer Science Corporation, a company that hires many people with disabilities, showing how they can be just as capable as anyone else. Most of the honorees, however, were politicians, such as Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Sam Brownback, who helped pass the disabilities rights legislation that we were celebrating. It was inspiring to hear them speak about how they had fought to pass many of the civil rights laws that I now take for granted. They gave speeches about what it was like before the ADA, and it was unsettling to think what my life would’ve been like without these people. I’m extremely grateful for all they have done to better my life and the disability community, and it was an honor to see them at this celebration.

Saw Harry Potter with Stephanie, Daman, and David. It was great, but much darker than the other movies, both thematically and literally.
There were no bright colors or pretty images like there were in movies in the series. Instead, the director gave us scenes in grey bathrooms, dark caves, potions class, and a depressing Room of Requirement. Not that I didn’t like the change however. The story was much darker than before (all Harry Potter fans know why), so it makes sense that the movie should be literally darker as well. Speaking of Dumbledore, in the cave, why didn’t Potter just create water right over Dumbledore’s mouth instead of in that enchanted cup or ultimately going to the surrounding lake? It’s not like avoiding that attack disrupted any key plot points (Dumbledore is killed by Snape, not by a lack of water or those creatures.
I’m sad that there are only two weeks left to go in this program. It’s been a great summer, and I’ve really had a lot of fun. I hope I’ll be able to keep in touch with all the friends I’ve made here.

Jackson

James James James Dietz

I don’t have much to say this time around. Work is work. The internship is winding down and I’m a little burnt out. Time off becomes remarkably valuable when you’ve a full work week. Working everyday is a blessing and a curse – it’s long and occasionally tedious but it gives me something to focus on, putting my mind to work on something besides worrying. Last week’s AAPD events were worthwhile. I want to say something about how meaningful and important this summer has been to me, but I already have and there’s not much to add on that front. I really wish I had more to write if only to be more interesting and use it as a device to get to know readers better through shared experiences. Lots has been going on this summer in my head. We’re all traveling through life alone whether we like it or not. Friends can cushion things sometimes but in the end we have to deal with everything by ourselves. I know that I don’t learn the full weight of something until I find myself the business end of whatever it is which is about to hit me. I’ve never had a ton of friends, but my family and those around me are usually willing to convince me that everything’s alright. How we all deal with life – whether it’s someone grabbing you to turn you in the direction they think you want to go or having your attempt at success be crushed by a rainstorm or something equally uncontrollable really defines us as a person. Some people are better at finding quick social acceptance and it’s hard not to envy them because in my mind they have an easier time dealing with life (I’m also realizing that life is about you’re being a likeable person; if no one likes you enough to appreciate what you do, you are essentially worthless). Of course people are the least predictable part of life, and building your life around others can’t be safe or pleasant all the time. This weekend was fun – events, free dinner and the repair of my laptop. Almost time to go home and then school.

James

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Andrew

So I’m feeling good right now. I’m excited about the weather. I had a good week. So, random story. It was 6:10 and I was walking towards Union Station with 500 other people from the Senate Office Buildings. Anyway, all of a sudden it starts to rain. Now this was one of those 0-60 rains. The rains that aren’t preceded by a drizzle. In fact this wasn’t even rain. This was liquid hail. Baseballs of wet. So in an instant 500 people in suits and ties and high heels, briefcases and blackberries begin a 50 yard dash to the awning at Union Station. It was really incredible. As wet as I was, as ruined as my newspaper was and as disgusting as my suit smelled, it was beautiful. Girls had it the worst. They were just walking, cursing their heels. Grown men were all but sliding over the hoods of cars on their way across the busy streets… I loved it. It was awesome. Anyway, I’m not really sure why I enjoyed that so much.
Um, I had a really good time at the reception. It was great to see so many people there. I was really surprised actually. It’s really an amazing thing to see so many people rally around one thing… so many interesting, fun, successful people… all of whom have overcome significant setbacks. Anyway, have a great weekend y’all.

-Andrew

A Joining Of Kindred Souls By Fabio Botarelli

On July 22nd, AAPD hosted its major awards ceremony. Prior to this event, I was in the Congressional library, completing my action memo on our countries monetary policy, while remaining cognizant of the 4:20 pm mandatory meeting time. With the help of an employee I discovered that there was a ninth floor in the Hart building after all.
Throughout the early part of the week, I waited patiently for this day, expecting excitement and the joy of being with the other AAPD interns, but what occurred that day really blew my mind. Two of our guest speakers were distinguished senators, including Patrick Leahy. If any of you remember watching the Dark Knight, Patrick Leahy had a one minute cameo appearance on the film in which he stood up to the Joker. Today I now know why they included a man of his caliber to be involved in that scene because this is the same man who has stood up intrepidly for the rights of people with disabilities. There were many great speakers who had a lot of insightful words to say, but the one that really stood out was when the senator opposite of Senator Leahy talked openly about how employers use to discriminate against people with disabilities and how because of this discrimination, 60 percent of eligible people with disabilities are currently unemployed. Coupled with the fact that less than 1 percent of federal employees have disabilities and you are given a starch reality of the improvement that needs to take place. But that being said, the disability movement has made marvelous progress, thanks to AAPD and other public officials in support of the movement. Before for example, a person with disabilities could not go to court if an employer discriminated against them, but today people with disabilities have much greater protection from the legal system. A few days later, I received some pictures in the mail and on face book with regards to the ceremony. They are pictures of all of us AAPD interns with smiles on our faces and doing goofy poses. Usually I am not the type to make an asinine of myself on camera but on that very day I broke that golden rule and accidentally made a funny pose in a picture that was supposed to be a serious one. I will hang on to that picture for all eternity on facebook. To all of you AAPD staff out there I want to thank you not only for planning such an astonishing event but for elating my spirits in the process.

Busy Networking --Daman

How busy can DC life get? Last night was my only free night for the next week. Let me tell you, the sleep felt good. I have been to events around the city this week from the Hart Senate Building on Capitol Hill to the National Press Club using my networking skills like crazy. At work I am making a lot of progress on my projects! The PDF is now 508 compliant or very cclose. I sent it to the Target Center so they can test it with JAWS. On my database project, I ran into some issues compiling the data in Excel, so I figured out a way to import the data into Access. We are now simplifying the data process and I am waiting on the new template and user testing results from my co-worker. On Tuesday, I attended the American Association of Advancement’s Entrypoint reception. Tuesday was also my birthday and a bunch of the interns went out to T.G.I. Friday’s to celebrate that I am no longer a teenager. The big celebration was Wednesday night at the Justice for All event where we celebrated the 19th anniversary of the ADA and the 14th anniversary of AAPD on Capitol Hill. Then on Friday, I attended the national launch of a disability history media project, “It’s Our Story,” which took place at the National Press Club.

--Daman Wandke

Beneath the Surface

Last weekend, Rohmteen and I were discussing some of Andrew's posts because it seems everyone is intrigued by them. Initially, I didnt get the hype because I often feel the exact same way he was depicting in his writing. Rohmteen explained that it was more profound for Andrew than perhaps me. But really, I do the counting thing and I do fight with my conscience more often than not. I just dont talk about it... not really. Sometimes when I share it, people think it's funny or entertaining. I could care less, but I do have many of the same thoughts and feelings as I read from his posts on a daily basis.

I do struggle to "let" myself do things right and be content with it. I used to be a pretty extreme perfectionist and what you see now is a pretty mellowed-out version. I still have remnants of those times... But since I know I will be given a hard time for it if I share those feelings, I choose not to disclose them.

I can be pretty structured in how I prepare for bed and get up in the morning. I've told my roommate a few times, but I dont think she understands. Another reason I choose not to share my feelings; they go unheard. And then my conscience presides to cuss me out for being a fool to think they'd understand. It is for these reasons that my entire stay here I've not had a lot of sleep or rest. Often times, I have to wait for her to go to bed first so I wont be distracted or interrupted. This means going to bed 3AM on a regular basis, because she doesnt crash until 2AM.

In the mornings, I wake up super early for the same reasons and because she doesnt consistently awake at the same time for me to maintain structure. I say structure, because I dont know how else to say it. But I cant keep up the 2-hr daily sleep cycles and now my body bails on me, and of course nobody sees or understands so my conscience just laughs at me all the time. And I fight with it to show that I can still persist. And now that I fall asleep while I get ready, it makes it even harder. I say conscience for you guys... but I call it my alter ego, and it likes to take advantage of opportunity.

Is this everything I go through in one day? Hmmm, no! But there's a glance. I used to be almost like Monk from the television show "Monk." But now nobody would even think to see that in me. And if I bothered to explain, I think I'd get more laughs than understanding. As the big-time joker that I am scoring laughs couldnt hurt anyone, could it?

Sheiba!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Police Brutality: The FACTS by Leah

I was at work this week when the controversy erupted over Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. It immediately caught my eye as well as millions other people across America because it shone a light on an intense moment that still happens even with our first African-American president: Racial Profiling. Race relations in America have always been a sensitive and touchy subject, largely because early America had structured its culture and social hierarchy to ensure that whites had all the power. As barriers were broken, some issues still lingered around. We all know about ugly stuff underneath the surface - like racial profiling, police brutality, stereotypes, and socio-economical boundaries. All these factors charge race relations in America to such sensitive levels that sometimes it boiled over and riots broke out (Rodney King, Crown Heights, etc). BUT there were also amazing moments where strong feelings and passion prevailed through the form of civil rights rally and politics – energies that fueled Martin Luther King Jr, Cesar Chavez, and Barack Obama.

The African-American community and the Deaf community have been compared to each other in the book “Black and Deaf in America: Are We That Different?” Indeed, I feel that any “minority” culture is capable of identifying with another minority culture. The central concept is that the African-Americans and the Deaf both have a long history of oppression (through racial discrimination and linguistic manipulation/oppression) and resisting back against that.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., reminded me of another fact that links the Deaf culture inexorably with the Black culture: the constant, enduring frustration with police “overreaction.” Let me tell you something – police “overreaction” has another meaning in our communities and it’s a lot more straightforward: POLICE BRUTALITY.

The Deaf almost never have any good experiences with police. It’s not because we’re criminals or because we give them hard time. It’s simply because we can’t hear and they don’t understand that. I mentioned a while back about the “second set of knowledge” that comes from life experiences; there are too many stories of deaf people being treated with excessive force, being beaten up, being shot at, being arrested for the wrong reason and then the situation escalating because the deaf person was angry and confused and the police refused to cooperate. Deaf people have been thrown in jail for days without any interpreter or phone calls or accommodation, not knowing why they’re in there. Many times, when problems arise, the cops think that the Deaf are faking it and step up their “toughness” with disastrous results. And I know this from personal experience: When a deaf person even goes as far as to show an extremely exasperated facial expression or hand gesture, it’s good enough to get you arrested.

Worst of all, when deaf people get arrested, cops frequently handcuff the hands BEHIND THE BACK. When you do that, it pisses us off very very much. So imagine an upset, distressed, agitated Deaf person being roughly treated and now their voice is being taken away with the handcuffs behind the back. Without their hands, we can NOT COMMUNICATE and hell often breaks loose. And when they DO call in interpreters, I can guarantee you that calling in interpreters with even DC’s Metropolitan Police Department will take HOURS. Even worse beyond DC’s borders, sometimes there are no interpreters at all in rural areas. Sometimes they call in someone who can “sign” but are barely marginally qualified. And you think we the Deaf people are stupid? We’re gonna sit there at the police station and say “Hmm, that’s ok, you don’t understand us the deafies… This is all just a big misunderstanding”? No. The reality is that, we know our legal rights pretty well. We’re not afraid to speak up, to be blunt to the police, to raise our voices and demand our rights being protected. This is often met with more intense antagonism from the police’s side. When it is all over, we are disheartened and frustrated when the police "gets away with it," which is nearly always the case.

We even have our own Rodney King, only the difference was that our tragic icon died. Rodney King was lucky enough to live and become a celebrity. A Deaf man named Carl Dupree died because he was being restrained by four hearing security officials as they handcuffed his hands behind his back while pressing against his neck. He was resisting even harder because he was trying to tell them that he couldn’t breathe and they pressed on him harder. In the end, the autopsy report concluded that his larynx was broken. Carl Dupree left behind a wife and four young children.

Why are cops like that? The fact is that, they do have training. Most of the time, they should be aware of how to deal with Deaf people. But I think the issue runs deeper than just “miscommunication” between cops and Deaf people... and it hits upon the same thing that the African-Americans are constantly dealing with – the police’s inflated sense of superiority and power. They are the AUTHORITY and they are the LAW ENFORCEMENT and their sense of power can very quickly, easily spiral out of control when faced with someone who already has a history of being oppressed (like the African-Americans/Deaf) and not too long ago, that oppression was not only acceptable and legal, it was even encouraged.

That’s why… For the first time in my life, I was deeply disappointed in President Obama’s words today. Racial profiling and police “overreacting” is a SERIOUS problem that NEEDS to be addressed forcefully and unflinchingly. When he apologized to the police department for his earlier comment that they had acted “stupidly,” it was like a slap in the face. Because I understand what Henry Louis Gates Jr. felt like while he was going through his situation.

Professor Gates’ situation warrants an apology from the entire American police department and every single President in the United States’ history.

By Leah Katz-Hernandez

My Reflections on the ADA Anniversary

Reflecting upon the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I reread one of my favorite inspirational stories: The Starfish Story. This story was presented to me on a plaque when I graduated from Partners in Policymaking in 2006. To reiterate from an earlier post, the Partners curriculum teaches self advocacy and disability determination to people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. The adapted text is below.

“The Starfish Story

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved-- adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley”


This story highlights the significance of individual action, or -- in advocacy-- the power of a single voice. Almost 20 years after passing the “Emancipation Proclamation" for the disability community, I am still flabbergasted by stagnant unemployment rates, the emphasis on institutionalized services and inadequate educational supports in restrictive environments among others.

I am grateful to Ed Roberts and his “artichoke heart” perspective to advocacy. Through his and the efforts of many others decades of oppression ended. Before ADA, Roberts’ fought for educational equality in universities. This demonstrates the effectiveness of self advocacy and other actions to positively influence outcomes. In the next 20 years, I have a dream that disability history is integrated with secondary school curriculums. I know the current generation of disability advocates will be up to this task.

Lead on,

Nathan D Turner

A Nice Upcoming Weekend by Bob

Wow! I can’t believe summer is coming to a near end already! Over the summer, I can say that I’ve learned a lot of things here in DC. Not just new software and technologies that are out there. I actually got to feel how it feels like to work in the real world and being able to communicate with hearing people who cannot understand me very well. Back in school, I’m always used to having an interpreter around so they can voice for me but in the workforce, if someone can’t understand me, then I’d have to speak slower so that way they can get a better understanding. It was a good experience for me.

This weekend, I might go to Six Flags in Maryland so that way I can compare it to King Dominion in Richmond, Virginia next weekend with my Fairfax friends. They wanted to take me there before I leave to Colorado; they wanted to take me there since they say it’s really good according to them, so there’s only one way for me to find out!

Have a great weekend!
-Bob