Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekly Reading List

Picture of a multi-colored stack of books
This time, it's a selection from several weeks worth of disability reading ... quite a lot about the work, and the meaning of "disabled."

This Outnumbered Mama - August 14, 2015

A parent of an autistic child wrestles with the word "disabled." It's well-covered territory for the disability activist community, yet even we still struggle with what to call ourselves and how to respond to how other people call us, and think we should call ourselves. She says it "hurts her heart." It hurts my head.

Ann Carrns, New York Times - August 28, 2015

This is a pretty good update on what's happening with the ABLE Act. It still burns that the law doesn't do anything for people who became disabled in adulthood. For better or for worse, the law's most active support and motivation came from Developmental Disability groups and "special needs parents," so maybe it's not so surprising that the law turned out as it did. On the other hand, I appreciate the Times giving prominence to the idea of disabled people opening ABLE Accounts for themselves, which has tended in the past to be mentioned as an afterthought, if not forgotten altogether.

Jason Russell, Washington Examiner - August 11, 2015

I have said before that the debate shaping up over Social Security Disability gives me the willies, because the program needs to be both reformed and defended. I like some of the ideas here, particularly the idea that "disabled" for employment purposes shouldn't be a disabled / not disabled binary. But I am suspicious about anything published in a heavily right-wing paper like the Examiner. Ideological crossover appeal can be productive, but it's also extremely risky.

Smart Ass Cripple - August 10, 2015

As usual, Smart Ass Cripple gets right to the point about the strangeness of equating disability with inability to work. It's not just a strange, outdated idea, it also puts disabled people and disability advocates in a strange position. We think most of us can work, but we also think most of us need extra support, including in many cases financial support, even when we do work. Sen. Rand Paul thinks more of us should be working, and I agree. But there aren't many members of Congress lining up to give us more Disability money after we are fortunate enough to get a job.

Rajeev Syal, The Guardian - August 23, 2015

I think it's essential to follow what's been happening in the UK, which is going through it's own round of efforts to "reform" disability benefits. This headline says it all, and might be a warning for us here in the US. There is a huge difference between clearing a path for disabled people who want to work, and forcing disabled people to work who may not be ready, or have suitable employment available to them. The thing is, it's relatively easy to do the second thing while promising you are only doing the first.

Amelia Thomson Deveaux, - August 24, 2015

We need more coverage like this on disability issues by the new breed of "data" and "explainer" journalism ... outlets like,, and the Washington Post's Wonkblog. Deveaux does a pretty good job here of covering the main theories for why disability employment remains so low. I also agree with one of the articles' conclusions, that the ADA was never going to make a major impact on the employment rate, no matter what lawmakers and us activists said at the time. It's helped a lot of individuals deal with discrimination and lack of simple accommodations, but we'll probably have to look elsewhere for ways to really move the needle.