I done tol’ you so …

I wasn’t kidding. There’s yet another case up that illustrates the reason why we need the ADA Restoration Act:

Orr used to close his pharmacy for 30 minutes every day at noon, and eat lunch. That helped him control his diabetes. The new boss ordered him to instead stay in the pharmacy and eat between helping customers. Orr tried, but his blood glucose levels fell. He got tired easily.

“When he came in and fired me,” Orr says, “I asked him why I was being fired and he told me straight out: Because you’re diabetic.”

When Orr was fired, he sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But a judge threw out his case, agreeing with Wal-Mart that Orr should not be considered disabled under the ADA. The reason: With his insulin, he could control his diabetes.

Um, aren’t employees supposed to have an actual break from work during their lunch breaks? Doesn’t Wally-World have pharmacy technicians who can run the till for half an hour?

Over at her blog, ReunifyGally, andreashettle describes a different case,

Carey was living in Georgia and had 20 years of experience working as an electrician when he applied for a better opportunity at a General Motors’ assembly plant in Arlington, Texas. GM offered Carey the job pending completion of a pre-employment physical examination. During that exam, GM’s physician asked Carey to raise his arms above his head. When he saw that Carey could only get his arms to shoulder level, the physician asked how Carey would perform overhead work. Carey, who had performed such work in the past, responded that he would use a ladder. Despite the fact that other electricians in the plant often used ladders or hydraulic lifts to do overhead work, the physician revoked GM’s offer of employment. (48)

Carey challenged GM’s decision. Even though GM revoked its job offer because of limitations resulting from Carey’s muscular dystrophy,(49) GM argued that Carey did not have a “disability” and was not protected by the ADA.(50)

As I explained before in my August 23rd post, “Mitigating Measures”, you can be considered “too disabled” to do the job, but “not disabled enough” to qualify under the ADA. This is a direct contradiction of what the original ADA was designed to address, and why we need the ADA Restoration Act.

Last time my congressman was in town, I went to visit with him about this issue. Unfortunately, I was too late in the line and ended up with only the opportunity to hand-write a last-minute note for one of his assistants to pass on to him. Some days later, I received a letter in reply. Most of the letter was devoted to describing the purpose and history of the bill, which is nice, but really just so much filler. (Behold the joys of the word-processing generated modifiable form letter.) The actual lines of reply read, “Please be assured of my continued support for programs serving those with disabilities and their families. Rest assured I will keep your views in mind should I have the opportunity to vote on this measure or similar legislation during the 110th Congress.”  Blah-blah-blah … sadly, even this highly-generic reply doesn’t really say how he plans to vote; so at this point, it doesn’t hardly matter which Congress person the letter was from. Argh.

Nonetheless, we must “keep buggerin’ on” …

Skepticism about cynics

When commenting on a previous post of mine, andreashettle asked,

I’m curious: how DO you help students understand the difference between blanket cynicism and healthy, balanced, thoughtful, analytical skepticism?

I don’t ordinarily teach. I’m in a different field. But I’ve done a little tutoring and teaching in the past. And sometimes I run into a student Read the rest of this entry »

How to Get Ready, in N Recursive Steps

(That’s N for an unspecified number.)

Thank goodness I have that extra 15 minutes built into my morning routine, because I needed all of them today. It was one of those mornings when I’m amazed that I got out the door and where I’m going without having achieved some minor catastrophe. The whole ADHD routine would be quite comical were it not so damn typical.

Of course, there are a few people who “don’t believe in” AD/HD. And there are people who believe that it exists, but can’t quite get their brains wrapped around the whole How and Why of it. You know, What could possibly be so hard about something as straightforward as getting dressed, eating breakfast, and driving off to work?

Well, it’s like this: Read the rest of this entry »

I’m not very “hopefuller”

This is why I don’t read the morning news in depth. It’s bad for the happy digestion of my breakfast, and would endanger the computer screen from being hit by coffee-spew. (I save reading the news for evening, after practicing my equanimity by being surrounded by students with emotional & behavioural issues.)

Recent comment made by the president regarding the No Child Left Behind Act:

“As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”
~George W. Bush, Sept. 26, 2007

Just in case you missed some earlier Bushisms (also known as, “why I generally don’t watch news on television”):

“Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?”
~George W. Bush, Jan. 11, 2000 Read the rest of this entry »

More captions, w00t!

This is a really quick post, owing to the fact that I need to try for getting more sleep than I got last night, which was of the “not more than four hours, total” interrupted variety.

I just found that those great folks at public television station WGBH in Boston, who pioneered closed-caption television shows lo-these-many-years ago, are taking their captioning efforts further.  They are YES! going to work on providing captioning for all those teeny-tiny screens, our iPods, PDAs, mobile phones and other hand-helds.

This is totally fabulous, because just when we had finally gotten nearly all the television shows captioned, out came these small media players, which then displayed those programs without their captions!

You can read all the details in this press release. 

A Nook of One’s Own

I was putting away clean laundry, and unexpectedly found the kid draped across dad’s bed, reading a book. He looked up at my puzzled expression and explained that he was looking for someplace comfortable and quiet to study. The kid usually studies at his desk near the living room, but dad had been watching football. I nodded, “Good plan. It’s not a good idea to study in the bed where you sleep.”

Later on I found the giant mixing bowl, a hand towel, and damp spots on the bathroom floor. I swabbed up the spots, tossed the towel into the laundry basket, and returned the bowl to the kitchen for washing. Usually the kid remembers to put the equipment away, but he’d been especially absent-minded today, forgetting a variety of tasks halfway through. “Are your feet okay? Is your toe bothering you again?”

“No,” he replied, “I just wanted to soak my feet, and the bathroom is all quiet-like for reading.”

I chuckled, definitely understanding that. Read the rest of this entry »


So I’ve been painting walls, which is something I actually enjoy doing. I pace myself, and switch hands frequently to keep from wearing out too fast. This is the second room of the current painting spree, which means that it’s been nearly a month since I bought the can of paint, along with the other necessary miscellany one ends up getting from a trip to the hardware store. Before I could start painting the room, I had to spackle in a gazillion holes, because it used to be inhabited by a teenage girl who had naturally put up dozens of posters and postcards and drawings over the years, leaving the walls riddled with push-pin holes in much the same manner that the moon is riddled with craters.

That break in time partly explains why I ended up with the wrong color of paint and didn’t notice until I’d applied it to two walls. Read the rest of this entry »

“Ancient chalk beds”

That was the phrase (from some science book of my youth) that came to mind the first time I stepped into a college lecture room with seating for some 200 students. The room was a broad wedge shape, filled with stadium seating of fixed chairs with small right-handed desktops. Down at the bottom was the instructor’s desk, a series of chalkboards, and a pull-down projection screen. Something was written on the chalkboard, but most discouragingly, I couldn’t read it from the back of the room. That meant I would also likely have trouble understanding the speaker, so I advanced down to the front row. Even moving to the front of the room was awkward (if not physically discouraging) because the terrace effect of the seating meant walking two paces forwards and stepping one down, an unnatural rhythm.

In such rooms, some professors would do a lot of writing on the board (usually still lecturing, which meant that they were talking to the board and were even less intelligible), and some profs would just stand there and lecture at us for the entire 50-80 minutes, sometimes writing a few things on the board. Some used slide presentations or overhead projectors, and only a few had moved to PowerPoint to merge the illustrations and text.

These were not classes from the 20th century — this was just a couple years ago.

The students around me were often visibly bored. Well, those that came. Some of them engaged in napping, with varying levels of discreetness. A few sat in the back and chatted with or texted friends. A lot of students took notes, or appeared to be doing something on paper. Few students volunteered questions, and fewer profs actually elicited dialog with and between students — most who asked questions of the students were just doing so to see if anyone had done the assigned reading.

The “sage on a stage” backed by those ancient chalk beds is a teaching style that’s over a century-old. Here’s a very interesting YouTube video,

… summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

It’s not just a very thought-provoking video — due to it’s text-driven style, it’s totally “open-captioned” as well! (Don’t worry — the video is much clearer than the frozen shot you see before clicking the Play button.)

Rare sightings

A few weeks ago I was teaching one of my gardening classes when a student came up to me during break and identified herself to me again. I’d already taken roll at the beginning of class by way of having the students tell me their names, as no one ever mispronounces their own name. Despite having heard her say her name and also seeing in print where I’d checked it on my roster, I hadn’t made that connection.

I know her. Or, knew her — we’d had a class together about eight years ago. Once she pointed that out, I recognised the name as being familiar, and excused myself by way of saying that I’m really bad at remembering faces. Read the rest of this entry »

Movers and Fakers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any insect photos. But it’s autumn, which means that the Monarchs Are On The Move. A couple of weeks ago I came home and was walking up to the front door when I passed the pair of butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) and noticed a rather runty-looking Monarch nectaring.

Then I did a double-take, and thought to myself, “That’s not a Monarch — THAT’S A VICEROY!” (This was one of those odd times when I mentally caption dialog, even the all-caps.) I dashed back to my car to grab my camera, as I didn’t have a photograph of this particular butterfly yet.

The Viceroy (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae Basilarchia archippus) looks very similar to the Monarch: it’s an orange butterfly with a black body, black margins the wings, and a few white spots in the margins. However, its wingspan is smaller (about 3 inches / 80 mm), and the hindwings have a thin stripe running parallel to the outer margin.

For comparison, here’s a photo Read the rest of this entry »


Woah, the timing of this AP news article was incredible, “Parents avoid vaccinations by claiming false religious exemptions”. It’s an excellent follow-up to my previous post on “My student is missing”. (My student came back the next day.)

Many states are seeing increases in the numbers of parents who do this.

“Do I think that religious exemptions have become the default? Absolutely,” said Paul Offit, head of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, one of the harshest critics of the anti-vaccine movement. He said the resistance to vaccines is “an irrational, fear-based decision.”

Of course, the problem with highly infectious diseases is that no one is an island. You’re not just making a decision about your own health.

But public health officials say it takes only a few people to cause an outbreak that can put large numbers of lives at risk.

“When you choose not to get a vaccine, you’re not just making a choice for yourself, you’re making a choice for the person sitting next to you,” said Lance Rodewald, director of the CDC’s Immunization Services Division.

Time to get dressed

There I am, finally dressed and breakfasted and medicated and packed for work. A storm was coming in, so it was actually, finally cold enough to wear a jacket. I pulled my leather bomber jacket and wool fedora from the coat closet, then set my purse and lunch bag down to pull on the jacket.

Meanwhile, hubby comes by from the kitchen to give me a good-bye kiss and observes, “You look like you’re in pain, or tired, or both.”

I nod; it’s both. I’ve been slow getting up and ready in the mornings, hence slow to eat and then take my meds, and the dosage on the arthritis medication was halved to see if that helps the hypertension. My HRT was also dropped for the same reason, so I’ve not had a good night’s sleep the past month due to frequent hot flashes. Kinda sucks, but life goes on.

Then I’m slowly flapping my left arm, trying to get it into my left jacket sleeve, which is absurd because normally I can reach my arm around backwards so much that I can even scratch my own back. Read the rest of this entry »

Crazy People

Back in another lifetime, I did clerical work downtown in the Big City. One day the gal at the desk next to me came back from her lunch break and she said, “There’s a crazy woman down on the corner just standing there picking at the air.”

I thought this description to be odd, but Helen couldn’t really explain further. Full of ‘satiable curiosity, I decided to take my lunch at a nearby taco stand just past that corner. At first I couldn’t figure out who my coworker was talking about; there was just the usual crowd of professional, retired, and miscellaneous people hanging around the bus stop. So I bought a three-pack of tacos, and stood out on the sidewalk to munch them and watch the crowd.

A few minutes later I finally figured out which person was the “crazy woman” that Helen had referred to. Read the rest of this entry »

My student is missing

Just one of my students. I heard that he didn’t come to school today because he’s not up on all of his vaccinations. I don’t know if that is something intentional by his family, but I kinda doubt it — he’s in high school, which means he’s had years of previous vaccinations accounted for. Probably people got busy and forgot to take him in to the doctor or the county clinic to get whatever’s due at his age.

Like other school districts in the state, this one requires that the students be fully vaccinated per the list issued by the state health department. There’s a 60-day period after the beginning of the school year for students to get caught up, and after that date, students don’t get to attend until they’ve done so. (There is also an exception clause allowed by the state, requiring that abstaining parents or guardians to provide a medical exemption signed by a MD/DO every year, and they sign a religious exemption. Note that the doctor has to be an actual physician, and that the child is getting regular medical attention, to help insure some baseline of health monitoring. Note also that the parent also has to claim exemption for religious reasons, not just because they think that vaccines might be more dangerous than the long list of highly infectious and sometimes debilitating or deadly diseases.)

So naturally, my children have had their various vaccinations over the years. In recent years I’ve also had the MMR, at the tender age of 45. Why? Read the rest of this entry »

Fairy dust

Or maybe it was called pixie dust. Whatever it was Tinkerbell sprinkled over the children in the Peter Pan story that magically allowed them to fly. That’s the ticket — that’s what we needed! Because you know, otherwise we couldn’t fly. (Not even if you wear a superhero cape and jump off your dresser.) We need something, because there are too many incidences of people with disabilities being denied airplane access, such as:

A limbless woman being refused permission to travel alone by Air France, one of whose employees said: “A torso cannot possibly fly on its own”

Actually, neither can torsos with arms and legs. Because we lack wings, humans cannot fly.  That’s why we invented airplanes. And helicopters, and hang gliders and suchlike.

At last a new law in the European Union is ensuring that all sorts of humans can not only get their tickets, but also get on their airplanes, because both holiday (vacation travel) companies and airlines will no longer be able to discriminate against the seven million disabled people who would travel by air around the EU. Furthermore, guide dogs will be allowed on planes, and you can get compensation if your wheelchair or other equipment gets mangled during the trip.

Because we lack wheels, humans cannot roll. That’s why we invented wheelchairs. And bicycles and motorcycles and cars and trains and suchlike. We just keep on truckin’.


I went in to get my driver’s license renewed. Part of that ended up getting my name entered correctly into the system; convolutions on my name seem to follow me everywhere! And of course, there’s always the ordeal of smiling for the photograph. This involves a story in two parts.

No one looks good in their identification photos, or at least that’s the impression I get from hearing people’s comments. They complain that the picture “doesn’t look like” them. Sometimes people feel compelled to pull out their new license or employer ID tag or school ID card and show it to me, which leads me to shake my head sympathetically and say something blandly supportive, like, “Yeah, what can you do!”

Truth be told, I can’t really recognise people from their ID pictures. I don’t even think that the pictures look necessarily lousy, aside from obvious annoyances like having a “bad hair day”, crooked clothing, or less-than-steller compositional framing. True, identification photos always have that flat, full-front angle that removes distinctive profiles, and the artificial lighting saps the natural color from most everyone’s skin tones. I’m sure those are some of the reasons why people don’t like their ID photos.

But one part that I’m missing is the, Read the rest of this entry »

It was a dark and stormy night …

and it continues to be a dark and stormy day, at least in my corner of the planet.  What a great day to stay home cozied up with a pot of tea and do some blog reading and writing.

But instead, this afternoon I need to throw on my rain cloak and venture forth to teach a class, and run some errands (tarantula needs crickets, cats need catnip).  I’ll probably get around to some blogging later on.  Meanwhile, you all should check out Disability Blog Carnival #24:  the 1st Anniversary Edition!

The deadline is in just a few days!

We all have our very favorite blogs, those that we make a point to read even if we don’t have time to read much else before going to breakfast, during lunch or whenever we do our online reading time.  We love these blogs because the writers provoke thought, because they introduce us to news or ideas we weren’t aware of, because they entertain us, because they are able to express shared opinions or experiences in a way that create commonality among diverse people, or any number of other attributes.

Well now is the time for giving those bloggers your kudos!  Nominate them for the Blogger’s Choice Awards!   (boldface mine)

Not only can you nominate your favorite blogs within a slew of unique categories but you can also vote and comment on others that have already been submitted. In turn, others can also vote and comment on the blogs you’ve nominated. Votes will be displayed on the site in real-time, so you can see who’s leading within each category at any moment! The voting for Blogger’s Choice Awards 2007 will end at 11:55pm on October 19.

Not sure which for category your blogger qualifies? (After all, I don’t see categories for “Best Science Blog” or “Best Advocacy Blog”.  Hmn, we should probably make a noise to the peeps* to include those next year.)  Make a comment on a recent post and ask them, because readers’ votes need to be concentrated to a category for the blogger to be awarded.

Here’s the rules.

*  mail to:  info@bloggerschoiceawards.com   subect = Question about Bloggers Choice Awards

M, F, N/A

Wow. Here I was ready to comment on one piece of news, when several more caught my attention. They all revolve around social ideas of gender rôles, and marginalised or disabled people.

This first one struck close to home: Khadijah Farmer was kicked out of women’s toilet of a Manhattan, NY, restaurant because the bouncer thought she looked too masculine.

“I said, ‘I am a woman and I am where I am supposed to be,'” said Farmer, speaking at a a news conference. “I offered to show him some identification. I was told that’s neither here nor there.”

Some people might say that happened “just because” she’s a lesbian (like that’s a valid reason), but I can vouch for the same thing happening to me as well. On the occasion that I wear a skirt or dress, I look “appropriately” female. But since I have a really short hair style, and often wear men’s shoes (because I have wide feet) and men’s shirts (because I have broad shoulders and long arms) and am disinclined toward wearing make-up, I have been frequently mistaken for a guy.

Even my name doesn’t seem to help; just last week Read the rest of this entry »

Second-hand story

Well, this is a terribly second-hand review. Which really wouldn’t be fair, so I won’t even try to review the play, because I’m not going to be in town to see it. Instead, I’m reviewing the reviewer, or at least remarking upon the reviewer.

Nonetheless, I was skimming through newspaper headlines this morning, and the New York Times had a review of the play, “The Children of Vonderly”. A few lines by the reviewer, Neil Genzlinger, made me come up short. The review title is, “All families different? Not this different.”

And a paragraph later, the reviewer notes: Read the rest of this entry »

Prove You’re Not A Robot

Several weeks ago hubby emailed me inquiring if I was familiar with accessibility issues related to a Web technology function, “[The bank’s] Internet Banking site prompts users to enter a security code using — I forget what it’s called. It changes every time you sign in. You have to type in what you see. Don’t some people have trouble reading these codes? Do you know what I’m talking about? If so, do you have any links or information about people who have trouble with these verification codes?”

I was rather tickled that he’d asked me, and replied, “Yeah, I know them bastards. Read the rest of this entry »

“For no reason”

(Coffee-spew warning)

“I don’t know; he just started biting the other kid for no reason. But you know, children-with-autism just do those things.”

“We were just going over the lesson when alla-sudden she just BLEW UP for no reason, and started cussing and calling me an F-ing B and threw her folder papers all over and stormed out of the room!”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with this kid. He’ll just pitch an absolute FIT. We tried to restrain him but then he starting kicking the para and screaming and banging his head on the floor. Honestly, he does. It’s awful, believe me. He’s just uncontrollable — if you want, we can set him off and you’ll see what I mean!”

These are re-created quotes, not verbatim from documentation. But I’m sure you get the idea. (The behavior specialist was naturally horrified Read the rest of this entry »

Wicked Good

This is SO cool! The Disability Rights Commission put together a video (split into Parts 1 & 2). The official description for Talk:

The award-winning ‘Talk’ portrays a society in which non-disabled people are a pitied minority and disabled people lead full and active lives. Jonathan Kerrigan, of BBC’s ‘Casualty’ fame, plays a business executive whose negative preconceptions of disability are dramatically shattered.

“Coffee-spew warning”: their official description doesn’t begin to describe the wicked-good bits; they’re absolutely spot-on with digs at disablism!

This particular version is both subtitled (open-captioned) and signed. I think that’s signed in BSL; someone kindly let me know. Be sure to scroll downpage for the Part 2.


Math and Science, Bass-Ackwards

In one of my jobs, I’m a paraprofessional in a high school science classroom. Last week in Biology we were in the unit on carbohydrates, lipids and proteins as polymers. Of course, the students have been struggling because we’re touching on biochemistry concepts, and they’ve not had chemistry.

So I asked the teacher, “If biology depends upon chemistry, and chemistry depends upon physics, then WHY don’t we start with physics, and then go to chemistry and then biology?”

(I mean like, duh!)

And he replied, Read the rest of this entry »