May 01, 2006

A BAD Day... and a Good New Look

The Ragged Edge techie folks took the occasion of Blogging Against Disablism Day -- today! -- to make some minor changes that move us pretty much over into the blog category from our former "online magazine" status.

We hope you like the changes. Over the months since our last re-design (back in the fall), we've heard from readers who say they didn't like the 3 columns of stuff -- they missed stuff; it was confusing; too much to hunt for -- so we've tried to simplify things and make the site more of the blog it's becoming anyway.

Still to come -- we hope -- a list of topic areas for browsing.

About "disablism": dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs are planning to be writing about "disablism" today -- there's at least a partial list here at "Diary of a Goldfish, the British blogger who hatched the idea.

At Ragged Edge Online we'll be posting a number of pieces today in which "disablism" figures. But then, "disablism" figures in most of what we report here. We'll be adding to this post later today, probably, or posting new stuff.

What, after all, is "disablism"? First off, it's a British term. British disability rights activism is, in our view, way way ahead of us in the U.S. -- at least the theoretical underpinnings of it are. They seem to have thought about the nature of discrimination much more than we have -- and have come up with the term "disablism," which is on a par with racism and sexism.

The Perorations of Lady Bracknell blog has gone into more detail than any blog we've found in discussing the concept, and it's an essential read. Go there.

Among other things, Lady Bracknell writes that

there are parallels between disablism and the way women were treated prior to the birth of the feminist movement. In the same way that the majority of men believed they were doing “the fairer sex” a favour by protecting them from the perils outside their own front doors, many non-disabled people mistakenly assume that we need to be protected from the big, bad world and are therefore perplexed and insulted if we throw this “kindness” back in their faces. . . .

And the fear of becoming disabled is another differentiating factor between disablism and e.g. racism. We’re everyone’s worst nightmare. Nobody wants to be reminded of the frailty of their own flesh or their own cognitive processes. So it’s much easier either to pretend that we don’t exist at all, or to pretend that “there’s nothing really wrong” with us. This, I have come to realise, is why people say, “Oh, but I don’t think of you as being disabled”, and expect us to take it as a compliment. It must be terrible to be in our position, surely? We couldn’t possibly be happy living with these tragic impairments? Well, I’d be the first to confirm that acquiring an impairment isn’t a walk in the park. But it’s not the end of the world, either. And it’s not something to be ashamed of. . . .

Posted on May 01, 2006