News & Topics in Our Community
Banking & Financial Stability for People with Disabilities
June 22, 2017
Please join the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, World Institute on Disability, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco for a Forum on Banking & Financial Stability for People with Disabilities on June 27, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon, at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103.
Participants will hear about California's soon to be launched CalABLE Program - being implemented by the California State Treasurer’s Office - that enables people with disabilities to save and build assets, even while receiving benefits, via new ABLE accounts, highlight local asset building and financial education strategies and resources, and discuss how local partners can support financial stability among people with disabilities.
Invitees in the Bay Area include individuals and groups serving people with disabilities, community groups, financial institutions and government agencies.
Statewide Community Organizer Job Opening: Sacramento
May 31, 2017
California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) is seeking an experienced Statewide Community Organizer. This position is under the supervision of the Deputy Director. The Statewide Community Organizer trains and supports local organizers in the Disability Organizing Network, DONetwork. This is a key statewide position in the CFILC Systems Change grant. The Statewide Community Organizer provides leadership in organizing strategic, tactical and agreed upon methods of organizing on national, state, regional and local issues to create systemic change. The Statewide Community Organizer works with the Systems Change/Community Organizing Staff located at each of the 28 ILCs as well as disability community volunteers, coalitions, allies and disability organizational partners. This position requires extensive travel throughout California and occasionally out of state. This position is responsible to prepare program reports for funders and external communications using a variety of methods.
Please visit http://www.cfilc.org/jobs/job-details.php?id=218 for further details and how to apply.
Threats to the ADA (H.R. 620)
May 12, 2017
Tuesday, May 16, 2017; 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
Learn about federal legislation that threatens the civil rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and find out what you can do about it. The so-called ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) would make it difficult for people with disabilities to enforce their rights to access public accommodations under the ADA, by requiring the person to identify ADA violations, notify the business, and allow the business a lengthy period to provide access -- even though businesses have now had 27 years to comply with the law! On the call we'll talk about visits to members of Congress, and other ways you can stop this bill.
- Marilyn Golden, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
- Claudia Center, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Note: New number! This is through freeconferencecall.com and will allow people who don't have long distance to join through their computers. Use this website: https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/organizersforum#/
Thank you to the National Disability Leadership Alliance for sponsoring the captioning of this call. If you need additional accommodations to participate in the call, please let NDLA know as soon as possible.
To ask questions via CART: sign-in to the chat function on the right side of the transcript and type your question. One of the call facilitators will read out any questions posted there.
Because we want to maximize the generously donated CART services, we will begin the call promptly at 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Mark your calendars! The Organizer's Forum has a call on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern.
The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.
Follow NCIL: Facebook & Twitter
Registration is Open for Disaster Planning for the Whole Community
April 18, 2017
Events in Northern and Southern California!
Featuring speakers from: Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, FEMA, the Pacific ADA Center, the American Red Cross, disability rights stakeholders, and survivors and responders from the Butte/Valley Fires.
Forge community partnerships for future disaster planning by learning about disability rights and emergency management responsibilities and promising practices, with a joint Table Top exercise to bring it all together
TURN Action Alert: PG&E Rate Hike
February 7, 2017
The Utility Reform Network (TURN) is hearing from consumers that high P&GE rates combined with cold temperatures are freezing them out. Customers say their gas bills have doubled or tripled this winter! If you are one them, please tell the CPUC NOW. TURN has our best chance of beating back further increases if the CPUC knows consumers are suffering. Please join our email list for future chances to fight PG&E’s high rates.
Tell the CPUC NOW: High Gas Bills Are Freezing Me Out!
Tell the CPUC NOW: High Gas Bills Are Freezing Me Out!
Think your bill is wrong? Send complaints about billing errors to the CPUC here;
you’ll have fill out a short form for TURN before the longer CPUC form.
LAO Releases Overview of Governor Brown's Budget Proposal
January 13, 2017
This publication is our office’s initial response to the Governor's 2017-18 budget proposal. The administration's estimates anticipate slow growth in the personal income tax (PIT), the state’s dominant revenue source. The Governor’s estimate of PIT growth in 2017-18 is probably too low. As a result, by the May Revision, the state could have more General Fund revenue than the Governor now projects, but much of that revenue would be required to go to schools and Proposition 2 reserves and debt payments. Facing uncertainties we have long discussed about the economy and new uncertainties about changes to federal policy, the Legislature may want to set a target for total state reserves at—or preferably above—the level the Governor now proposes.
This report is available using the following link: http://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3528
CBP: Webinar Briefing on Governor Brown's Proposed California Budget
January 13, 2017
Yesterday the California Budget & Policy Center released our "first look" analysis of Governor Brown's proposed budget for 2017-18, the state fiscal year that will start on July 1. We're pleased to be presenting a webinar next Wednesday, January 18, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., during which the Budget Center team will discuss the Governor's proposed budget and our analysis of it.
As part of our Policy Perspectives Speakers Series, this webinar briefing will examine key components of the Governor's proposal and the issues they raise, as well as some of the questions that will shape this year's budget debate.
For additional information or any questions about this webinar, contact the Budget Center at (916) 444-0500 or email@example.com.
WEBINAR: How ACA Repeal and Medicaid Reform Will Impact People with Disabilities & What You Can Do!
January 13, 2017
Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 12:30 to 2:00pm Pacific Time
Join national and state-level disability advocates for a webinar focused on one of the most pressing issues facing people with disabilities: Congressional effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants.
Advocates based in Washington, DC will provide a report on what they are observing on Capitol Hill, and discuss what will happen next. Advocates based in various states will discuss their work to educate lawmakers and grassroots people about the importance of these healthcare programs for people with disabilities. The ADA Legacy Project’s DisBeat will provide advice on collecting personal healthcare stories from people with disabilities and how to build a guerilla marketing campaign to call attention to our issues. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.
National speakers: Lindsay Baran, National Council on Independent Living (others TBD)
State-level speakers: Florida, Massachusetts, Texas (still confirming)
Media: The ADA Legacy Project’s DisBeat
You will not want to miss this! Those across the states interested in healthcare for people with disabilities will want to join in. We can and will galvanize disability electoral power as we head into a new Administration by being informed and empowered. Join your brothers and sisters from across the nation.
This webinar is free of charge and made possible with support from the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA), The ADA Legacy Project, Access Living, the NDLA Organizers Forum, and the Great Lakes ADA Center.
HOW TO JOIN THE WEBINAR:
This session will be available on-line via the Blackboard Collaborate System. This system is accessible to individuals who use screen readers or other forms of assistive technology. Closed captioning is available within the platform as well. Individuals using assistive technology, especially screen readers are encouraged to review information about the platform and how it works available on-line at THIS LINK.
If you are unfamiliar with the webinar platform and wonder if your computer system will be compatible you can review information that is available on-line at THIS LINK. Instructions are available on this page for testing the configuration of your computer and the requirements. We recommend you review this information prior to the session.
There is also a Blackboard Collaborate App available for Mobile Devices including Android, Apple and Kindle Fire HD. You can download the app in advance of the session from either Google Play, Amazon or ITunes. Note that there is limited accessibility of the App in terms of access to captioning, etc. If using the app, launch the URL from your mobile device and that will open the App (if loaded on your mobile device).
TO CONNECT TO THE SESSION:
Use THIS LINK (This link is active 45 minutes prior to the start of the session)
Audio will be broadcast via your computer/app if you have speakers/headphones attached.
Closed captioning is available via the webinar platform (not accessible from the Mobile App)
TELEPHONE OPTION OR AUDIO: 1-866-854-6779 Passcode: *3956839* (This is a toll free line)
ASKING QUESTIONS DURING THE WEBINAR: Questions during the live webinar can be submitted via the chat area within the webinar platform or if you are listening by phone and not connected to the platform you can submit your questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org the organizers will receive your questions for consideration during the webinar.
If you experience technical problems accessing the webinar please call 877-232-1990 (V/TTY) for assistance.
Questions regarding the content of the webinar should be directed to Amber Smock at Access Living, at email@example.com.
Justice in Aging Webinar: How ACE Repeal Would Hurt Seniors
January 13, 2017
When: Tuesday, January 17 11:00 a.m. PT/ 2:00 p.m. ET.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is under immediate threat in Congress. The consequences of repealing the ACA are far reaching, and would impact the entire health care system including Medicare and Medicaid. For older adults, these programs serve as a lifeline that insures access to critical medical care. Repeal of the ACA would jeopardize the care seniors receive every day by reducing coverage, and ending programs seniors rely on to remain in their homes and communities. The out-of-pocket costs seniors pay today for care would increase, straining already tight budgets.
This webinar, How ACA Repeal would Hurt Seniors, will provide a summary of the impact an ACA repeal would have on low-income older adults, including how it would affect seniors who rely on Medicaid and Medicare. We will also provide an update on the efforts Congress is taking to effectuate a repeal and what procedural steps are yet to come. There will be ample time allotted for question and answer.
Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director, Justice in Aging
Jennifer Goldberg, Directing Attorney, Justice in Aging
CA Budget Stakeholder Call at 2pm
January 9, 2017
A California Budget Stakeholder call will occur on January 10th at 2pm
Please call by 1:50pm to ensure time to facilitate the larger volume of callers.
CA Governor's Budget Release @ 11:00am Stakeholder Call at @ 2pm
January 9, 2017
The access the live stream of Governor Brown's budget introduction on Tuesday January 10 @ 11:00am go to www.calchannel.com/live-webcast
To participate in the California Department of Health and Human Services Stakeholder Call with Secretary Diana Dooley at 10:50am Tuesday January 10th by calling 888-221-9518
U.S. Election Assistance Commission Seeks Input from Voters with Disabilities
December 7, 2016
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) wants to hear from voters with disabilities about their stories on Election Day. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us the good or the bad: they want your feedback.
Wheelchairs Vans Won't Roll in San Francisco City Carshare Deal with Getaround
November 29, 2016
Read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle see link...
CA Budget & Policy Center Releases Medi-Cal Fact Sheet
November 29, 2016
Medi-Cal Reaches Millions of People Across California, but Faces an Uncertain Future
Enacted in 2010, the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) has significantly reduced the share of Californians without health care coverage. A central component of California's implementation of health care reform has been the expansion of Medi-Cal (the state's Medicaid program) to a broader population of low-income Californians.
A new Budget Center Fact Sheet highlights Medi-Cal's importance across our state by providing figures on Medi-Cal enrollment for every California county. This analysis shows that Medi-Cal serves more than 13 million people across all 58 counties and that in 49 of these counties over one-quarter of residents are enrolled. However, millions could risk losing Medi-Cal coverage if President-elect Donald Trump and other Republican leaders follow through on their proposals to repeal the ACA and substantially reduce funding for Medicaid. Read the Fact Sheet.
LAO Releases Report: Disability Among California's Seniors
November 28, 2016
Rapidly Growing Senior Population and Changing Demographics of California Seniors Raise Issues About Long–Term Supports and Services (LTSS) System. Seniors are major users of LTSS—defined broadly as services and supports provided to the disabled (of any age) who have difficulty performing daily activities. The senior population (adults aged 65 and older) in California is projected to increase more than twofold from roughly 5 million in 2015 to nearly 12 million in 2060. The demographics of the senior population are also projected to change during this period. For example, the senior population is projected to shift from being majority white to majority nonwhite by 2030. The rapid growth and changing demographics of California’s senior population raise issues about seniors’ LTSS needs, LTSS system capacity, and the financial impact of LTSS on personal and state finances. This report presents the results of our projections of disability levels of California’s seniors through 2060 to inform the Legislature and stakeholders about levels of disability and the potential need for LTSS among California’s seniors over the next several decades. These projections provide a useful starting point in understanding how California’s changing population demographics will impact the LTSS delivery system.
Population of California Seniors With Disabilities Projected to Grow Faster Than Overall California Senior Population. We project that the number of seniors in California with disabilities (as defined by limitations in routine activities of daily living, such as dressing or bathing) will increase from 1 million in 2015 to 2.7 million in 2060. This represents 160 percent growth in the population of seniors with disabilities, while California’s overall senior population is projected to grow by 135 percent over this period. The faster growth of the senior population with disabilities is partially driven by the increasing share of seniors aged 85 and older and increasing racial diversity of the senior population.
California Seniors Turning 65 Between 2015 and 2019 Projected to Spend 4.5 Years on Average With a Disability. On average, seniors turning 65 between 2015 and 2019 are projected to live for 23.6 years after age 65 and spend 4.5 of these years with a disability. The average number of years lived with a disability varies based on demographics of the seniors in this cohort. For example, white seniors in this cohort are projected to spend 3.6 years on average with a disability, while Hispanic seniors are projected to spend 5.8 years on average with a disability and nonwhite, non–Hispanic seniors are projected to spend 5.6 years on average with a disability. (Data constraints prevent us from breaking out the nonwhite, non–Hispanic race category into additional groups.)
California–Specific Projections Are a Necessary First Step in Planning for the Growing Senior Population. California–specific projections are necessary to inform the conversation around the future of the LTSS system as California’s senior population grows over the next several decades. Available national–level projections of disability levels (and the related issues of LTSS utilization and LTSS financing), while a useful starting point, are not sufficient to reflect California’s unique demographics and LTSS system. (For example, California’s senior population is projected to be majority nonwhite by 2030, while the senior population nationwide is projected to remain majority white through at least 2060.) As the Legislature, administration, and stakeholders continue to engage in planning for the impact of the growing senior population on the LTSS system, it is necessary to have projections that accurately reflect the uniqueness of California’s population and LTSS system to inform policymaking.
NCIL Launches #We Can't Breath Breath Project
November 23, 2016
We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project
The National Council on Independent Living’s Diversity Committee is pleased to announce the release of “We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project.” This project includes a video and toolkit that can be utilized for educational training for disability organizations and agencies. The We Can’t Breathe Video discusses the narratives of 5 people with disabilities on the margins that have been victimized by police brutality and other forms of systemic violence. The We Can’t Breathe Toolkit was designed to equip facilitators and participants with the tools to process the video and build policies, programming, and advocacy that center intersectional organizing. The We Can’t Breathe Project addresses how state violence affects people with disabilities who are also women, people of color, and LGBTQ+. This training intentionally utilizes an intersectionality framework to combat the racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia that pervade disability organizations and agencies.
CMS Requests Information & Data on Reforms to Speed HCBS Services to Medicaid Users by January 9, 2017
November 21, 2016
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.
Request for information.
This request for information seeks information and data on additional reforms and policy options that we can consider to accelerate the provision of home and community-based services (HCBS) to Medicaid beneficiaries taking into account issues affecting beneficiary choice and control, program integrity, ratesetting, quality infrastructure, and the homecare workforce.
To be assured consideration, comments must be received at one of the addresses provided below, no later than 5 p.m. on January 9, 2017.
In commenting, refer to file code CMS-2404-NC. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.
You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):
1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the “Submit a comment” instructions.
2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-2404-NC, P.O. Box 8013, Baltimore, MD 21244-8013.
Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.
3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-2404-NC, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.
4. By hand or courier. Alternatively, you may deliver (by hand or courier) your written comments ONLY to the following addresses:
a. For delivery in Washington, DC—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 445-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201.
(Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building is not readily available to persons without federal government identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in the CMS drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available for persons wishing to retain a proof of filing by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the comments being filed.)
b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.
If you intend to deliver your comments to the Baltimore address, call telephone number (410) 786-7195 in advance to schedule your arrival with one of our staff members.
Comments erroneously mailed to the addresses indicated as appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed and received after the comment period.
For information on viewing public comments, see the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Melissa Harris, (410) 786-3397.
Jodie Anthony, (410) 786-5903.
Department of Rehabilitation Invites You to Attend Stakeholders Discussion About the California Competitive Integrated Employment Blueprint
November 21, 2016
The Department of Rehabilitation is proud to announce the completion of the final draft California Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) Blueprint and invite stakeholders to participate in a public teleconference to gather feedback on the Blueprint.
The Blueprint is the combined effort of the California Department of Education (CDE), California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), and California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders including Disability Rights California (DRC) with leadership provided by the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA). The purpose of the Blueprint is to increase opportunities for Californians with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) to prepare for and participate in CIE.
The three departments developed the Blueprint with an aim to support the achievement of CIE for individuals with ID/DD. The CIE Blueprint was developed with assistance from Disability Rights of California and the public, and identifies changes in policies, practices and regulations.
If you are a consumer, parent, or advocate; or, you work in partnership with the CDE, DOR, and/or DDS to provide services and/or employment opportunities to individuals with ID/DD, please join us in a public teleconference on Tuesday, December 13, 2016. The purpose of the teleconference is to collect stakeholder recommendations and feedback on the final draft CIE Blueprint.
The public teleconference provides stakeholders with the opportunity to provide recommendations and feedback on any items in the Blueprint that may need to be modified or that may be missing. Stakeholder input is important as we move forward to the finalization of the California CIE Blueprint.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
1:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.
CALL IN NUMBER: 888-946-2714
PARTICIPANT PASSCODE: 2778914
To view the final draft Blueprint, please visit the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA) webpage at www.chhs.ca.gov and select the tab at the top titled “CIE”. The Blueprint is available in the following seven languages:
· Chinese (Traditional)
The public comment period for the draft Blueprint is now open and will close on December 30, 2016. Written comments and questions may be submitted to CaliforniaCIE@dor.ca.gov.
We look forward to receiving your input.
Nancy Bargmann, Director, DDS
Kristin Wright, Director, Special Education Division, CDE
Joe Xavier, Director, DOR
Transportation to Mobility: Disparities, Data and Action--Join the ADA Audio Conference Dec 15th
November 21, 2016
ADA Audio Conference: Moving From Transportation Towards Mobility Management: Disparities, Data and Action
December 15th from 11:00-12:30pm
The ADA Participation Action Research Consortium (ADA PARC) will present a session titled: “Moving from Transportation towards Mobility Management: Disparities, Data and Action,” on Thursday, December 15, 2016 as part of the ADA Audio Conference Series from the ADA National Network. Individuals may participate by either webinar platform and/or telephone. The session will be real-time captioned via the webinar platform.
The session features Judy Shanley, PhD, Co-director of the National Center for Mobility Management, Easter Seals, Lauren Nolan, Economic Development Planner at the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Involvement and Marian Vessels, Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center at TransCen Inc., a member of the ADA National Network.
Transportation has consistently been identified as an ongoing problem for people with disabilities impacting quality of life and participation in communities. In an effort to increase equitable access to transportation, this webinar will highlight new initiatives focusing on a shift towards mobility management, current research initiatives using mapping that analyze transportation disparities for people with disabilities, and use of transportation data to create potential for community action.
Date: December 15, 2016
Time: 11-12:30pm Pacific Time
Registration Required: www.ada-audio.org (Individuals will be required to establish an account on this website if they do not already have one)
Continuing Education Recognition: Certificate of Attendance
National Voter Registration Day - September 27th
September 1, 2016
Election day is around the corner and will be here before we know it. The disability community across the country continues to organize, educate and get the word out about the importance of the disability vote. Many of you have been engaged in these efforts and are gearing up for National Voter Registration Day--September 27th. The American Association of People with Disabilities "Rev Up" campaign has a number of useful resources, including trainings, statistics and toolkits to make our Get Out The Vote, (GOTV), work a little easier. These resources can also be helpful when organizing events and activities for National Voter Registration Day.
If you are interested in connecting with a local disability organizing team that is working on voting please feel free to connect with your local Independent Living Center.
VOX.com covers the DOnetwork's #VoteDisability GOTV Conference: online story and video!
June 23, 2016
50 million Americans live with disabilities. They could swing this election. You listening, politicians?
The rights of disabled people aren't a partisan issue — they're an American issue.
When I asked Tangikina Moimoi how she felt when Donald Trump made fun of a reporter with a disability, she went completely silent. Tears started to pour down her face as she struggled to conjure the words necessary to express the toxic cocktail of emotions she felt when a man running for the highest office mirrored the lowest common denominator of attack she'd experienced as a person living with a disability. My throat tightened, my eyes started to swell up, and I could hear my cameraman starting to sniffle, struggling to keep his own emotion from muffling the sound of our interview.
I was mad as hell. That the most visible and widely covered man in American politics could publicly display such an insensitive reaction to a person with a disability wasn’t just shocking, it was infuriating. My frustration was outweighed with the rage boiling inside of me as I realized the media had failed to broadcast responses from those like Moimoi.
Click below to read the full story and watch the video
Take the SOS Accessibility Survey: Voters with Disabilities
June 10, 2016
Dear Voters with Disabilities,
The Secretary of State is asking for voters with disabilities to respond to a brief and private survey regarding their experiences during the June 7, 2016, Presidential Primary Election. The survey results will help us see whether there is a need for more training, modified services, or enhanced outreach programs for voters with disabilities.
CLICK HERE to take the survey
Contact for questions: Jon Ivy, email@example.com, 916-695-1581
#VoteDisability Alert: Election Day Access and Mail Ballots
June 7, 2016
Tuesday June 7, 2016
For resources and information like finding your polling place or reporting access barriers go to www.VoteDisability.net. Also, below is some important information about voting today:
- If you vote-by-mail:
- If you encounter an access barrier to voting:
-Disability Rights California Voter Hotline (888) 569-7655, reporting the barrier to this legal team will help make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Also, scholarship ticket still available
#VoteDisability 2016 GOTV Leadership Conference
Click on the image below
Spare me, "Me Before You": Hollywood's new tearjerker is built on tired and damaging disability stereotypes
May 30, 2016
The love story of a suicidal quadriplegic and his young aide is the latest to objectify disabled people
by Emily Ladau
I usually try to read a book or watch a movie in its entirety before forming a definitive opinion, but the portrayal of the disability experience in Jojo Moyes’ fictional bestseller “Me Before You” stung so sharply after just a few chapters that I could barely handle any more. I stopped reading, returning to finish it over a year later only after being inundated with trailers for the movie adaptation starring “Game of Thrones”’ Emilia Clarke and “The Hunger Games”’ Sam Claflin. The book overflows with dehumanizing stereotypes about disability, from implications that disabled people are things no more active than houseplants, to assumptions that disability is a fate worse than death. Based on previews, it seems the movie will be just the same.
The plot centers on a quadriplegic man named Will who is suicidal because he has become disabled, and a young woman named Louisa who takes a job as his caregiver and, of course, falls in love with him. Most people have been eating up this storyline, so the movie is practically a hit before it’s even been released. When the trailer first came out, it was received with overblown emotional fanfare. HuffPost Entertainment wrote, “Even The ‘Me Before You’ Trailer Will Make You Cry.” BuzzFeed declared, “’Me Before You’ Is The Movie That’s Going To Emotionally Wreck You.” Since I embrace my love of anything with a heavy dose of sappy romance, headlines like these would usually have me planning to see the first showing at my local movie theater, armed with a full box of Kleenex. But to me, a physically disabled woman who uses a wheelchair and believes all lives have value, “Me Before You” isn’t just a contrived tearjerker. It’s yet another contribution to an endless line of disability objectification in the media, and I can’t get behind it.
Exploiting disability as a plot device tends to be a pretty common theme across media outlets because it virtually guarantees strong emotional reactions. Look no further than social media for a steady stream of examples. Try to think of the last disability-related story you came across on Facebook or Twitter. I’d be willing to bet almost anyone that it wasn’t real news. It was likely clickbait crowing about how heartwarming it is that a disabled student was asked to prom by a non-disabled fellow student, or a photo of a visibly disabled person and a demand that you should “like and share” if you believe the person is beautiful or brave. Or maybe it was a heartbreaker about someone “suffering” from a disability — either heroic for overcoming odds, or pitiful for succumbing.
I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by these kinds of stereotypical narratives of disability. In far too many cases, non-disabled writers and filmmakers seem to have no qualms about reducing disabled characters to victims or sources of inspiration (referred to as “inspiration porn”). Consider, for example, one of the defining scenes from “Forrest Gump,” in which young Forrest is being bullied by a group of boys because of his disability. As they start to chase him, Forrest’s friend Jenny yells, “run, Forrest, run!” Of course, the uplifting music begins to swell and Forrest magically breaks free from his leg braces, outrunning the bullies “like the wind blows.” In this case, Forrest goes from victim to inspirational figure, evoking feel-good emotions from viewers. On the flip side, consider the movie “Million Dollar Baby.” When Maggie, who is a boxer, becomes a quadriplegic following an injury sustained during a match, the movie does not convey that life goes on. Instead, Maggie becomes desperate to die, begging for assistance to commit suicide. Maggie transforms from inspirational figure to victim, leading viewers to sadness and pity.
Sign the Petition to Showtime: Remove the Segment from Gary Owen's Comedy Routine!
May 20, 2016
We live in an era where bullying has become public sport, where public figures and leaders from dozens of walks of life seem to believe that humiliation and viciousness are acceptable ways of communicating. The results are disastrous: racism, sexism, fear, violence, and even terrorism. They all have the same root: demonizing someone who is different. Some think it’s funny. We don’t. We think it’s horrific and we’re asking you to help us stop it.
Showtime’s comedy special, “I Agree with Myself,” includes Gary Owen’s disparaging use of the word “retarded” to describe his cousin with intellectual disabilities. His routine ranges from being insulting to people with intellectual disabilities to being dangerous in that it recalls practices ranging from institutionalization to infanticide. He mocks their speech, mocks their love, mocks their sexuality, mocks them as people and worst of all, does so without any qualms or hesitation. He can pick on his cousin. Why? According to him: because she’s “retarded.” Apparently, she isn’t worthy of even the most basic dignity. To him.
None of this is funny. At all. It is callous and gratuitous verbal violence. It is infuriating and dangerous and should not be condoned by citizens, corporations, or leaders. We are determined to stop it.
Please join us in signing the petition to demand that Showtime remove this segment of the comedy special from their air and implore Gary Owen to apologize for his use of the R-word and take the pledge to not use the R-word.
Click the link below to sign the petition