August Reading List

August Reading List – What We Read This August

What’s your August Reading List? Here’s ours.

Every first week of the month, Disabled Spectator publishes a reading list of our favorite disability and accessibility related articles. We look for insightful, interesting, controversial, heartbreaking, well-written, or enjoyable articles that provoke thought, conversation, and emotion. This post looks at articles we read in August. Accordingly, here is our August Reading List.


Inside The Organization Saving Disabled People During Hurricane Harvey, by David M. PerryPacific Standard

David M. Perry speaks to Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies co-founder Paul Timmons. The non-profit is playing a tremendous role in saving people during Hurricane Harvey. They discuss the history of the organization, attitudes towards people with disabilities during natural disasters, the importance of planning, and how emergency responders need to do better when it comes to disability. You can learn more about Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies and make a donation here.

3 Quotes

When natural disasters strike, disabled people are among the most vulnerable. Disability acts as a multiplier, intensifying risk from both natural and human forces.

Enter Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies. The 501(c)3 organization was founded in the late 1990s as a way to recycle and distribute durable medical equipment, but, during Hurricane Katrina, the non-profit shifted its focus to disaster relief.

Everyone should have a personal plan. It’s counterintuitive not to have some idea of what you’re going to do if a giant schism rips open the surface of the Earth. But it’s the job of the people in the business [of disaster response] to serve our community.


‘I’m getting over hating myself’: how to front a punk band with cerebral palsy, by Maeve ShearlawThe Guardian

Maeve Shearlaw speaks to Culture Abuse’ frontman David Kelling, who has cerebral palsy. He discusses being a disability ambassador in the music industry, venue accessibility, insecurity, and his experience as a person with a disability. Kelling has important things to say and his positive attitudes about cynical topics make this interview compelling.

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Kelling says he is happy to be an ambassador for disability. “There are female musicians, there are black musicians – almost everyone can find someone who is like them. But disabled people have no role models at all. There could be more, there should be more.”

While there are campaigns for gender-neutral public bathrooms, Kelling argues that there’s no equivalent for disabled facilities. “Five flights of stairs to get to a venue – how does someone in a wheelchair get up them? And who is talking about that?” he asks. “It never stopped me going to gigs when I was younger, but sometimes I’d trip and fall and feel like I didn’t want to be there anymore.”

He is confident that he will be the only disabled frontman to perform at Reading and Leeds this weekend. “I was always afraid of singing,” he says. “But I feel like a freak anyway, so I may as well get up on stage in a dirty T-shirt, spit all over myself and just embrace it.”


The Highs and Lows of Clubbing With a Physical Disability, by Amelia Abraham, Vice

Amelia Abraham speaks about what it’s like clubbing and bar hopping with a disability. Using her experience, and the experience of others, she talks about being denied entry at establishments because of safety concerns regarding disability. She also discusses times when disability is misinterpreted as inebriation. She also touches on venue accessible and the lack there of, condescending interactions with strangers, and how 40 percent of venues in the UK do not have accessible restrooms.

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“When a club has no access you feel hugely rejected, all the while knowing your friends are having fun without you.”

SCOPE hear from these people every single day, and according to its research, 77 percent of disabled people say they’ve seen zero improvements in the accessibility of bars, restaurants, clubs, and shops since 2012—the year that London held the Paralympics and Britain’s attitudes toward people with disabilities was supposedly transformed.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of it all is that it doesn’t take the world for bars and clubs to make accessibility improvements. Sometimes, all that is required are small, simple, and inexpensive changes.


Many People With Disabilities Are Being Paid Way Below the Minimum Wage, and It’s Perfectly Legal, by Ashley Dejean, Mother Jones

Ashley Dejean delves into how it is legal for people with disabilities to be paid below minimum wage. She looks out how it’s justified, why it needs to change, and the effect this working condition has on people with disabilities. She also looks at examples where states reversed this law. It’s an informative article with strong arguments against the law and testimony from others who either support it or are torn.

3 Quotes

According to the department, about 20 percent of people with disabilities participate in the workforce, and of that group, about 3 percent, or approximately 195,000 workers, are being paid subminimum wages. These workers typically make well below the minimum wage, sometimes as low as “pennies per hour,” according to the Department of Justice.

Many disability advocates consider the law to be a relic of the past and argue that no other class of people faces government-sanctioned wage discrimination based on who they are. Additionally, they argue these jobs segregate people with disabilities from the rest of society.

Most disability advocates agree the elimination of the subminimum wage should come with adequate supports in place; if it doesn’t, many people working in sheltered workshops won’t be able to find other jobs.


Where All Bodies Are Exquisite, by Riva Lehrer, The New York Times – The Opinion Pages

Riva Lehrer discusses her journey through seeing disability as beautiful and exquisite, rather than monstrous like depicted in pop culture. Riva was born in 1958 with Spina Bofida. As a painter and illustrator, she had only seen disability as freakish and used to cause psychological disturbance in art. That changed in 1995 when she joined a group of writers and artists determined to build disability culture. Since then, her art has changed to be representative of disability and she is more confident with her disability.

3 Quotes

The only images of the contemporary disabled body I’d ever seen were by photographers who used disabled subjects as avatars of psychological disturbance, such as found in the work of Joel-Peter Witkin. Creatures of suffering and sin. Monster imagery that taught me that I was a monster.

With this new group, I was for the first time seeing disabled bodies as unexpected and charming and exciting. Each one stretched the boundaries of what it meant to be human. They made the world big enough to include me.

I’m more visibly different than I’ve ever been — but I wear my glasses all the time now. My reflection doesn’t cause me to flinch. I must say, it’s nice not to collide with buildings, pedestrians, dogs and parked cars nearly as often.


Thanks for reading our August Reading List. Keep an eye out for our list next month.

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Josh Appel
jappel@disabledspectator.com
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