June Reading List

Monthly Reading List – June Reading List

What’s your June 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 June. Accordingly, here is our May Reading List.


‘The history of disability was to hide it,’ but Waltham students bring it to light, by Cristela Guerra, The Boston Globe

Students at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA are responsible for a student-driven exhibition on disability history. Their purpose is to bring forward disability history – a history that is so often brushed under the rug and hidden from view. The students team together as researchers, curators, and investigators to highlight a variety of angles in disability history, including civil rights victories and horrific acts committed in the name of science. They focus both on local and national events to bring in their community and explain their role in a larger context.

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The group of high school juniors had been steeped in this subject matter since November. The high school juniors in the class became curators, researchers, and investigators, seeking to include as many stories as possible in their exhibit, both the civil rights victories as well as the atrocities done in the name of science.

“It’s not an easy history to tell,” said Ben Schwartz, 17, of Framingham. “Something I was doing for this project was trying to simply look up the definition of disability. I spent weeks on that because it’s just one word but there are so many different definitions of it.”

The exhibit also includes oral histories, including one from a lawyer who helped rewrite portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act; another with a former trustee of the Fernald School; as well as several from Gann Academy students with learning and cognitive differences.


I Need Plastic Straws To Drink. I Also Want To Save The Environment, by Robyn PowellHuffPost

Plastic straw bans are rapidly spreading across the world. The European Union (EU) has proposed a ban, as have Scotland and Canadian city, Vancouver, that would take effect in 2020. Tawain has proposed a similar ban that would take effect in 2030. Here in the US, California, Hawaii, and New York City, all have proposed legislation to ban plastic straws, as well. The problem is, plastic straws are vital tools for people with disabilities. Robyn Powell explains why in this article for HuffPost.

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These two priorities ― disability rights and environmental protection ― have long been compatible. However, as the movement to ban plastic straws intensifies, I find myself increasingly wondering which is more important: disability rights or the environment?

Furthermore, reusable and compostable straws are generally more expensive than plastic ones, which is important to note, because poverty is more prevalent among people with disabilities; in 2016, nearly 27 percent of people with disabilities lived below the federal poverty level compared with 10 percent of non-disabled people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. I’m fortunate that I can afford reusable straws and that my disability does not affect my ability to use them, but this isn’t the case for many in the disability community.

People with disabilities are forced on a daily basis to find creative solutions so we can function in an environment not built for us. And we know our needs better than anyone else. It’s critical that straw manufacturers engage with the disability community to explore new, environmentally friendly straws that meet the needs of those who need them the most: people with disabilities.


How To Navigate Common Concerns When Job Hunting With A Disability, by Judith Ohikuare, Refinery29

Judith Ohikuare discusses some of the common concerns and obstacles people with disabilities face while job hunting. While the job market is looking good for job hunters, job hunters with disabilities struggle. As of May 2018, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities seeking employment was at 7%. In this article, Judith takes some time to address those obstacles and provide solutions to navigate around them.

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Some jobs require driver’s licenses, but many job seekers with disabilities rely on public transportation or paratransit services — which, “especially in rural areas, can be very limiting,” adds Anne E. Hirsh, co-director of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Harvey says that like anyone else, job seekers with disabilities should start with their strengths and “research what types of jobs would be the best fit for their abilities.”

She says that if you do decide to disclose and you know what your accommodations are, being able to articulate them clearly can be a “powerful tool.” Explain what assistance you may need that aligns with the job requirements so you can do the best job possible without burning yourself out or putting yourself at risk.


Portugal app empowers disabled to win better access to buildings, by Catarina Demony, Reuters

Disability charity Salvador Association, +Acesso have developed an app allowing people with disabilities in Portugal to file official complaints about building accessibility. The app is designed so that complaints can be filed immediately. The app is free and covers all of Portugal. It identifies the user’s location and allows them to select a shop, restaurant, etc. From there, they can provide accessibility ratings and file complaints if necessary. It is believed that this is the first app of it’s kind.

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Fed up with the obstacle course of Lisbon’s narrow footways and stairs in doorways, wheelchair user Ricardo Teixeira has taken matters into his own hands, giving disabled people the chance to fight back and instantly report violations via a phone app.

Launched in May, the free app, which covers all Portugal, identifies the user’s location on an interactive map that shows all nearby buildings. In a single click the user can select a shop or restaurant and rate it based on its accessibility, including if it has an adapted toilet, parking or a ramp, and fill in a complaint form.

“Some people get discouraged from complaining because they think nothing will ever change,” she said. “The app is a very smart way of making us exercise our rights.”


At the world’s first fully accessible water park, every guest can swing, splash and play in the sand, by Kate Bratskeir, Mic

Morgan’s Inspiration Island is the world’s first accessible water park. Inspired by its partner theme park, Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island is free of charge to all people with disabilities and contains special features with accessibility in mind. The water park opened last year and contains mainstay water park features like a lazy river, riverboat rides, geysers, and more – all designed to be accessible for those with disabilities. The park also provides a special wheelchair, specifically designed for the water park, that can be used free of charge. While the park is designed with accessibility in mind, it is meant for those with and without disabilities, creating an inclusive experience.

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Like its sister park Morgan’s Wonderland — a wheelchair-accessible theme park in San Antonio that opened in 2010 — Morgan’s Inspiration Island admits anyone with a special need free of charge.

In line with its barrier-free mission, Inspiration Island has amenities that aren’t typical for a waterpark. A waterproof wheelchair called the PneuChair, which is powered by compressed air instead of electricity, and was designed by the Human Engineering Research Labs at the University of Pittsburgh, is one standout example.

Morgan’s makes seemingly elementary activities — ones that guests without a disability may take for granted — possible for all. “Some of the things are so very simple,” McCullough said, explaining that the parks’ specialized swings have been manufactured with a lockdown function so wheelchairs can be secured safely.


Thanks for reading our June Reading List. Keep an eye out for our list next month. You can read last month’s reading list here.

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Josh Appel
jappel@disabledspectator.com
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