May Reading List

Monthly Reading List – May Reading List

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


Premier League urged to formalise promise clubs must meet disability pledge – by including it in rule-book, by Jeremy Wilson, The Telegraph

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is urging the English Premier League to formalize a promise to improve accessibility for fans with disabilities by including it in their rule-book. Premier League clubs have struggled to meet accessibility promises in the past. In 2017, only 8 of the 20 clubs provided the minimum recommended about of accessible seating. In 2018, that number jumped to 2018. The issues go beyond seating and include restrooms, entrances, unobstructed views, changing rooms, and more. There is more work to be done and there seems to be a push from the outside combined with a willingness by clubs to meet certain standards.

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Significant improvements have been made following both the threat of legal action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and a series of Telegraph investigations but, with some clubs still working towards a pledge that was due to be delivered last August, it has been suggested that the Premier League makes it a formal requirement. 

In the past year, wheelchair spaces have risen from 3,024 to 3,724, meaning that 17 of the 20 clubs now provide the recommended space compared to just eight in April 2017.

“Premier League football is for everyone and clubs have a long tradition of welcoming disabled fans to their stadiums,” said Premier League executive director Bill Bush. “In the past three years, clubs have made huge improvements to disabled access for their fans.”


What I wish I could tell my 6-year-old self about living with a disability, by Kristen ParisiToday

Kristen Parisi reflects on what she’s learned about living with a disability. Kristen was paralyzed from the waist down from a car crash at the age of 6. Since then, Kristen has learned a lot and shares her advice as if she were talking to her 6-year-old self. She discusses the importance of standing up for herself and going to physical therapy. She also touches on relationships, self-love, surrounding yourself with others like you, and why it’s important to teach and help others.

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From the moment I knew I was changed, I had a hard time feeling beautiful. No one deserves to feel that way, especially from a young age. Lean on people who accept you for who you are and do things that bring you joy.

You can go ice climbing, hiking, scuba diving, have a family — you are capable of so much more than you can imagine, and if you can get close to those who have traveled the path before you, it can be much easier.

It took me so long to be grateful for the amount of love and positivity I have in my life, and this situation provides an opportunity to create new paths, and to teach others. It’s never going to be easy and no one can control the amount of ignorance in this world, but we can control how we handle it. And you can help someone else who’s going through a hard time better than almost anyone, because you understand.


What I’ve learnt as a performer is that even the politically ‘woke’ still get embarrassed by the idea of disability, by Jenny Eclair, the Independent

In this opinion piece, Jenny Eclair uses her perspective as a performer to discuss audiences’ intolerance for people with disabilities – no matter how “politically woke” they seem. She starts off discussing the story of a disabled boy at a theatre watching his dad perform. The boy begins making noises and is shushed by a member of the audience. Eventually, the boy leaves the theatre while his father is still performing. Jenny acknowledges her own conflicting feels and admits that on a human level she is angered by what happened to the boy. However, as a performer and audience member, she sympathizes with the audience member who shushed the boy. She goes on to discuss a feeling of embarrassment around people with disabilities, a feeling that she is not comfortable with. Culture and arts are meant for everybody, so when a person with a disability is excluded because it makes others uncomfortable, it is counter to the purpose of arts and culture. Jenny ends with an anecdote about a positive crowd experience with a person with disabilities that she had while performing. Her point ultimately is that no matter how tolerable one might seem, you are still capable of ostracizing a person with disabilities, and that is something we all need to work on.

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I’m bringing this story up now because during a recent Grumpy Old Women gig, a member of our Reading audience began making “noises”. Instantly I knew they weren’t drunk women shrieks – this was either Tourette’s or a similar disability.

But that’s beside the point. The answer to true theatre accessibility (apart from lowering ticket prices, which is the biggest barrier that we all face) is to hold “relaxed” performances where all people can enjoy performances without fear of disapproval. 

We are getting better, people are more educated, but it’s not all plain sailing. When we got back onstage in Reading after the interval, our “noisy” audience member had gone.


Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing apps are ‘useless’ for disabled riders, NYC advocates say, by Fredrick Kunkle, the Washington Post

Uber and Left continue to fail riders with disabilities, despite claims by both companies that their services are for everybody. An advocacy group in New York calls both riding apps “useless” because of the lack of vehicles available to provide the necessary accessibility to people with disabilities. Additionally, the ride-sharing services are clogging up the streets, slowing down other means of transportation that are more accessible to people with disabilities, like busses. Both companies reiterate their commitment to providing accessible services, however, a study shows they are still lacking. A test was conducted to show the unequal services provided. Two rides were requested at the same time, one for a rider with a disability requesting an accessible vehicle, and one for a rider not needing accessibility services. The test showed that there are significantly less accessible vehicles available and wait times to receive a ride can beep to 4 to 5 times longer.

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The advocacy group called on Uber and Lyft, along with smaller operators Juno and Via, to do better by disabled riders, perhaps by offering more incentives to drivers to equip their vehicles to transport them.

The report — which was written about in the Verge — casts light on an issue that poses a particular challenge for the ride-hailing services and their business model. As a sort of DIY taxi company, Uber got its start inviting ordinary people to use their spare time and their private vehicles to earn money ferrying other people around. But not all of those everyday drivers have vehicles that are equipped to handle wheelchairs or motorized scooters very easily.

“These apps have billions of dollars in revenue, and they incentivize drivers to do stuff all the time,” Wood said.


Banning Straws Won’t Save The Oceans, by David M. Perry, Pacific Standard

David M. Perry studies the interesting and confounding battle being waged against plastic straws around the world. A number of cities globally have either banned or looked into banning plastic straws. Their argument is that plastic straws cause waste in our ocean and by eliminating plastic straws, we are cleaning up ocean waste. However, the data doesn’t seem to back up that claim as research has shown that plastic straws cause a minimal percentage of plastic waste in our oceans. Plastic straws are incredibly important to people with disabilities, such as David’s son. David looks into what’s really behind the bans and why we should think twice about them.

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These policies are meant to lead the way in removing plastics from the ocean, but, according to our best estimates, straws are not a major source of marine plastic pollution, and such laws are unlikely to have a noticeable affect on the levels of plastic entering our waters. The proposed bans do, however, have the unintended effect of making restaurants less accessible for many disabled people, while revealing the ableism embedded in far too much consumer-based environmentalism.

For Peters and many other disabled people, the fixation on banning straws feels arbitrary. As I wrote for Pacific Standard last year, straws provide a simple, accessible means for many disabled people to drink. My son, who has Down syndrome, is one of them. His mastery of drinking through ubiquitous plastic straws makes every restaurant and gas station a place where he can a drink without worrying. Straw bans erode that easy accessibility.

We need to look at the systems that generate these plastics, and hold producers financially responsible for safe disposal. Let’s put our efforts where the money is, rather than shaming disabled consumers who just want an accessible drink of water.


Thanks for reading our May 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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