The death of disability advocate Sheryl Grossman

Twitter Stream from Joe Shapiro: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Sorry to learn of the death of disability advocate Sheryl Grossman. Was one of first I called in March 2020 to talk about risk of COVID. She’d dealt with 12 cancers by then. There were doctors–ones she saw every week–who worked hard to keep her alive. But others,

she didn’t trust, who didn’t understand why. And at National Council on Independent Living, she quickly turned to work to stop rationing in pandemic by medical profession.

In 2017, she told Maryland lawmakers (then considering assisted suicide law) about being treated in hospital and the doctor who, sympathetically, offered to turn up her pain meds, “turn off the machines” and let her die. “I gave the last of my conscious energy to screaming NO…

Indie-Rock Band Delta Spirit Debuts Music Video Featuring Actors with Down syndrome for New Single “What’s Done is Done” at SXSW 2022

By Andrew Reid: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd-Great music video…

An authentic story with a universal theme can connect with anyone on a global scale. Any true creative strives to tell such a story in their career, and the band Delta Spirit successfully achieved this in their latest music video for their single “What’s Done is Done.” Directed by Michael Parks Randa and starring Zack Gottsagen (The Peanut Butter Falcon) and Jamie Brewer (American Horror Story), the music video recently premiered at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival and was released online on March 21st for World Down Syndrome Day. This is the first music video starring two individuals with Down syndrome.

The music video chronicles a love story of two individuals with Down syndrome. What makes the video high impact is its subtext: love is universal. Rarely is romance accurately explored within the disability community, especially in commercial filmmaking. This music video shows that people with Down syndrome explore romance and have romantic issues the same as everyone else. The stigma that romance does not apply for people with disabilities is so wrong. Not only is Zack and Jamie’s chemistry onscreen enigmatic but it had me as an audience viewer envious that love so beautiful exists.

Even though this music video is an indie project, it’s on par with the most polished music videos coming out today. The creative team behind the project helmed by Director Michael Parks Randa had a few unanimous words to say about each other: family, trust, authentic storytelling. Gottsagen also added, “I always follow direction from Michael, and he pushes me as a director.” Parks Randa responded by saying that “Zack and Jamie were the dream team from the beginning, and the music video speaks for itself.” I have to agree that it does.

You should be following more disability activists. Here’s where to begin.

By Chase DiBenedetto: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Diversify your social feeds and follow some of these activists, educators, and influencers.

Take a quick moment to do this check-in: Look at your Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok follows and ask yourself if any activists made the cut. How many of those accounts address ableism? Are they people who have a disability themselves? How many of those are people of color?

Regardless of your answers, it’s probably time to diversify those feeds and follow more online creators who educate and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. It’s not just beneficial to your own feed and personal learning — these creators deserve the time and views.

Unfortunately, in the past, that hasn’t always been possible. For example, in 2019, reported that TikTok’s moderation routinely hid content by creators with disabilities. While TikTok said it has ended the practice, these accounts still deserve digital interactions that could educate more people, help their advocacy work, and even make them a living. As fellow users, we should amplify their voices on our own profiles, trust these communities to tell their own stories, and listen to them about the impact of policy decisions and ableism at every level.

You can’t rely on social media algorithms to keep your social media feeds full of diverse experiences. It’s a personal choice to seek out and prioritize these perspectives. To start, try following some of the creators on this list, a non-exhaustive group of activists and influencers who are pushing online spaces to be more inclusive and intersectional.












Raising Awareness of AT for All

by ColesStaff: For Complete Post, Click Here…

This year, the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) is ringing in the fourth annual National Assistive Technology (AT) Awareness Day with a few exciting firsts.

ATAP worked with the Senate to designate Wednesday, April 6 as this year’s aforementioned celebration of AT. Before we get to ATAP’s awareness efforts, let’s take a refresher course.

Assistive technology is defined in the Assistive Technology Act, Public Law 105-394, stating: “An assistive technology device is defined as ‘any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of an individual with a disability.’”

ATAP serves as the national representative of state and territory AT programs funded under Section 4 of the AT Act, including the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads. There are four state-level activities that all state AT programs conduct: device demonstration, device loan, reutilization and financing to support the purchase of assistive technology.

National AT Awareness Day plays a vital role in helping these programs grow, and ATAP has some tricks up its sleeve this year to make the day stand out and shine bright.

New Efforts in 2022

“Raising awareness is a two-fold effort,” said ATAP Executive Director Audrey Busch-Treussard. “The first part is making sure people understand the important role that AT plays in everyone’s lives. Even people without disabilities use closed captioning when watching a movie, or they enter a building through automatic doors. Every day, we all benefit from some type of assistive technology.”

To show the benefits of this technology, ATAP is collaborating with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to develop a video called “Why AT Matters,” which will feature people with disabilities using their AT devices and talking about the impact they make on their daily lives. The video will be available to view on ATAP’s YouTube channel, and it will also be distributed to the organization’s members and federal agency partners, who can then share it online using ATAP’s social media toolkit.

Another new awareness effort from ATAP is a series of documents highlighting how AT is an everyday part of educationcommunity livingtransportation and housing. Each of these themed documents will be sent to a corresponding executive department of the U.S. government.

ATAP will also work with the government during its Capitol Hill virtual fly-in visits on the weeks of April 4 and April 11. ATAP will host a number of events and speakers, including Hoosier native Emily Voorde, who now serves as the White House disability liaison. She’ll discuss the Biden administration’s initiatives to support people with disabilities and assistive technology. Staff members from the offices of Senator Kevin Cramer and Senator Bob Casey — sponsors of the bill that reauthorizes the AT Act — will speak about pushing the bill through the Senate. Other speakers include Alison Barkoff, acting administrator for the Administration for Community Living, and Anita Vermeer, education program specialist for the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education.

Elsa Sjunneson: DeafBlind fencer, hiker, published author | American Masters | PBS

From PBS: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Official website: | #AmericanMastersPBS

This short film is an extended look at some of the themes explored in American Master – Becoming Helen Keller, and hopes to provide an accurate and updated representation of modern DeafBlind role models who navigate the world today.

Elsa Sjunneson is a person of many talents—she’s a professor and media critic, a skilled fencer and hiker, and published author who has written for Marvel Comics. Through her work, she wants to change the misconception people have of the DeafBlind community, and show them as loud, capable, strong people.

“It’s important to me to work in the genre because I want there to be disabled people in the future. I want us to imagine disabled people in the future. I want to be in the future.”

This version of the film contains Closed Captions (CC). For the version of the film containing American Sign Language interpretation (ASL), Audio Description (AD), and Open Captions (OC), click here:

Hong Kong’s first locally trained guide dog Google dies of cancer

From The Standard: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Hong Kong’s first locally trained guide dog – a Labrador retriever named Google, sadly passed away due to cancer on March 27.  

The Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Service broke the tragic news on Facebook on Monday, saying it was with great sadness that the organization had to bid farewell to Google.  

“Our seeing eye dog Google officially graduated in 2012. He successfully matched with the visually impaired person, Mr. David Wong. Google has been side by side with David throughout the years; he is not only his beloved family member, but Google is also his beloved son, and most of all, Google is his guiding light.” The group wrote.  

The group noted that they were grateful to the Taiwan Guide Dog Association for donating Google to them in 2011, which developed a new chapter of the seeing eye dog services in Hong Kong, with guide dogs being non-existent in Hong Kong since 1975 before the arrival of Google.  

The Standard Channel


They also thanked the medical care team of Bouncy Animal Clinic that took seamless care of Google’s health condition in recent years.  

“Most [importantly], we are grateful for Google, who dedicated his life to the visually impaired. We believe that the blessings of Google will always be with David and Mrs. Wong, and their love will never end.  

“Our beloved Google, we are so proud of you, you are an excellent seeing-eye dog, and for sure, your spirit will be with us and will last forever.” The group added.

At the Forefront of Medicine: My Summer Involuntary Hospitalization

By Cassidy Wilson: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Editor’s Note: This piece is a personal account of the author’s experience with UChicago Medicine. Maroon editors have verified key details of the account, including the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD)’s intervention at the author’s address, the author’s stays in various psychiatric facilities, and that the author communicated with friends and family while hospitalized about their experience and with the University following their hospitalization.

ngd-The disclaimer is necessary because of the stigma surrounding sever mental illness and the false perception that all mental health supports are provided with kindness…

Our culture conditions us to keep quiet about mental health interventions and the trauma that can co-occur with those experiences. Due to both the stigma about people who receive mental health interventions and misconceptions about us, there is very little conversation around how the mental healthcare system itself can be traumatizing even as it claims to be a system of care. When survivors do speak up, we take a risk. There seems to be a drastic mismatch between the narrative that people have about what psychiatric interventions are like and the reality. There is very little visibility for psychiatric survivors, and as such, people have a narrow conception of who we are. This allows a narrative of medical benevolence to be upheld because people who have survived traumatic psychiatric intervention are dismissed by virtue of the stigma around their experience.

In June 2021, I was committed to UChicago Medicine’s psychiatric ward against my will. As I discussed this experience with others—including those who work in the mental health field—I was often met with surprise. My experiences did not fit with their expectations because they assumed that psychiatric facilities help patients rather than hurt them. From the moment the UCPD came to my door, I knew that what followed would not be care. I study neuroscience and human rights in the College, with a particular focus on psychiatric ethics and pedagogies of pathologization. I have read extensively on these topics, so I know that the psychiatric system too often harms the patients it purports to help. Even knowing the lengths to which these institutions go to protect themselves at a cost to patients, I still felt dehumanized by what occurred, and I left in a worse mental state than I arrived.

Nothing that happened was illegal or against institutional rules. Even when everyone does their jobs in a psychiatric setting, these systems of so-called “care” are not designed to administer life-bettering interventions for patients because the need to protect practitioners and institutions from liability gets in the way.

Here is my story.

Methamphetamine and the Transition to Housing: Strategies to Support People to Thrive in Permanent Housing

From HHRC: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Webinar Registration Page:

The transition into permanent housing following homelessness or housing instability can be particularly challenging for individuals who use methamphetamine or other stimulants. However, there are interventions and supports that can help improve safety, independence, and recovery in housing. This webinar will discuss health and housing challenges related to methamphetamine use and will provide specific strategies to support new and existing tenants who use methamphetamine to maintain housing. Join us as we release the Guide to Methamphetamine Use, Treatment, and Housing Considerations for People Experiencing Homelessness (available in English and Spanish). Attendees will hear from speakers with experience in the field and have an opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the panel.

This webinar is facilitated in partnership with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

Time: Apr 20, 2022 03:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

U.S. alcohol-related deaths hit highest rate in decades during coronavirus pandemic, study shows

By Lindsey Bever: For Complete Post, Click Here…

With millions of cases of a new and relentless virus, hundreds of thousands of deaths and the wait for a vaccine, for many, the first year of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States brought unimaginable pain, fear and frustration.

Some people turned to alcohol to cope. Sales of alcoholic beverages spiked, so naturally alcohol consumption did, too. Now a study has found that alcohol-related deaths in the United States climbed nearly 26 percent in 2020 — the largest year-over-year increase in decades, researchers say.

The study, published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that more than 99,000 people died in 2020 of alcohol-related causes ranging from alcohol-associated liver diseases to mental and behavioral disorders to drug overdoses involving alcohol.

Public health experts have seen increases in anxiety, depression and social isolation during the pandemic, said Aaron White, lead author of the study and senior scientific adviser to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “And we know from previous crises that when people are faced with uncertainty, they tend to reach for things to try to cope with that and they’re not always the healthiest things,” he said.

He said the study’s findings reflect “a general increase in difficulty coping during the pandemic.”

Before the pandemic, White said, researchers with the NIAAA had been seeing an increase of about 3 percent per year in alcohol-related fatalities. In 2020 — when the coronavirus spread around the globe — that increase jumped to nearly 26 percent, he said.

Embracing Accessibility and Getting ADA-Excited (Casting Light #10)

By SOCKS WHITMORE: For Complete Post, Click Here…

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”

You’ve probably heard this quote (attributed to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) somewhere before. Its meaning is straightforward enough; no matter who you are, where you come from, or what words you are able to speak and write, music is a form of communication you can understand. But for such a communal experience, the world of live music performance frequently excludes a massive group of people who have just as deep a need and a right to engage with it as everyone else — the disabled community.

Early on in my time as a neurodivergent, invisibly disabled music student at college, I began to recognize systemic inaccessibility in the school’s structures and routines. Mobility aid users touring the school had to take a longer, separate “accessible” route that included the only two elevators on campus. There were no wheelchair accessible restrooms or low height sinks on the first floor of the main building. Across disciplines, it felt like there was an active resistance to content warnings and sensory friendly experiences in performance and gallery spaces, some folks citing the idea that to make these accommodations compulsory would be censorship. When I came to the administration with inquiries about making the needed updates, I was told, “We don’t have the money” and “not enough people need it.”

The unfortunate reality for disabled people is that these arguments are often the end of the conversation. In capitalist culture, accessibility is considered excessive or an inconvenience; if only 1 in 100 customers need something, it’s more “cost-effective” to abandon the customer. This mentality not only creates huge inequities for disabled people, but also boxes the world at large into unadaptable, unsustainable structures. And the assumption that “not enough people need it” is also simply not true; in 2016, statistics showed that as many as 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have some kind of disability.

Accessibility is not a set of limitations, but a series of open doors. Accessibility benefits everyone! As we’ve seen with the mass-disabling event known as the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone, at any point, could become disabled. And making artistic spaces inaccessible — spaces where we experience essential parts of being human and connecting to our universal culture — dehumanizes the disabled community. So why wouldn’t we want to make music accessible to everyone? Why are we settling for being just barely ADA-compliant when we could be ADA-excited?