April 21, 2010

taxiAnd you thought it was hard to hail a cab if you’re African-American! (I know, bad, overgeneralized stereotype–perhaps not an inaccurate one— but there’s a point here, I promise).

It’s worse if you’re in a wheelchair since, even if one were to stop, 98% of them aren’t designed to accommodate wheelchairs anyway.

The New York Times reports on a report about wheelchair-accessible hired transportation. This includes cabs and also for-hire rides that you call to pick you up.

It turns out that most of the for-hire rides are subcontracted out. And while the for-hire companies are prohibited from charging riders more for using a wheelchair, the subcontractors are not prohibited from charging the livery company more.

The end result being that it is really, really hard to get a ride in New York if you have a disability. And the agency responsible for enforcing the pertinent rules/laws/policies hasn’t been doing so.

That’s not to say it’s all bad news. You can call 311 from anywhere in New York City and get an accessible taxi to come pick you up. The 311 service is exactly the sort of accommodation that I’m talking about when I get all soapboxy on society being accommodating toward people with disabilities. It’s something that is functional and practical for people without disabilities, too.

Design note after the jump.

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the Oscar goes to…

March 8, 2010

Music by Prudence

Oscar for best short-subject documentary.


This got a little more attention at the Oscars since one of the producers “pulled a Kanye” on the director as he was giving his acceptance speech. (Also, how funny is it that Kanye is now part of the lexicon for someone who upstages someone accepting an award?)

I’ll come back and edit if I find out when this documentary will be shown on TV in the U.S.

Lady Gaga and her interest in wheelchairs

I didn’t watch the Video Music Awards last September, but afterwards, there was a big to-do about the inclusion of a wheelchair dancer.

Some discussion on the topic:

It was probably a reference to the actual video to the song:

Lady Gaga

She can walk!!!

I’m not entirely sure that my opinion on the social implication of this matters since a) I’m abled, and b) Lady Gaga’s whole schtick is that she’s all vacuous surface and no substance, so any “statement” she makes is instantly made meaningless anyway.

(And this happened last September, which gives you an idea of how far behind I am about blogging this stuff).

Artie from Glee

Artie Abrams from Glee

Glee (9pm Wednesdays on FOX) is a musical comedy about a high school glee club. It has a sortof Freaks and Geeks vibe about it in that it talks about the divide and also the overlaps between jock and nerd cliques.One of the members of the Glee Club from the beginning has been Artie.

It has a rather large ensemble cast, so up to this point Artie hasn’t really had an episode yet. Last night it was his turn. The school will only provide a standard bus for the club to go to a competition and the club needs to raise the money to rent a wheelchair-accessible bus

As a bonus, there was a subplot about the evil cheerleading coach allowing a girl with Down Syndrome onto the cheerleading squad. (Also, damn the writers for making the villain of the show into a sympathetic character!) Yes, she has a sympathetic moment even after earlier in the episode she gives a hilariously incomprehensible speech about how wheelchair ramps encourage laziness in the ablebodied students by giving them a way to avoid the stairs.


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Mobility for Toddlers

October 2, 2009

It has always astonished me how long it takes kids to get powered mobility. Not being able to move around has profound effects on cognitive and language development. Check out these robots:

(However, please don’t read the YouTube comments. YouTube comments are probably the most cognitively impaired language output on the planet. )

I really thought I did this one already. I can’t believe I didn’t blog about this months ago…


Timmy debuted in season 4 of South Park. He has become a fairly popular regular character and some of the funniest episodes have centered around him. Timmy has a developmental disability. He uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility, appears to have moderate mental retardation, and a pretty severe communication impairment (his only speech is “Timmy!”).



Let’s get this out of the way now– they play Timmy’s disability for laughs. However, I don’t find his character offensive, and let me tell you why.

First, being offended by South Park is utterly stupid and pointless. The show is intentionally offensive, and goes out of its way to offend you. Everyone gets their turn on this show.

Second, the characters’ reactions to Timmy are universally accepting. While the writers make fun of Timmy by putting him into all sorts of plot situations that emphasize his disability, no character ever discriminates against Timmy (sometimes this is played to humorous effect).

But mostly I’m not offended because South Park is at its best when it takes the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges and instead of just pointing it out, sits it in your lap. Timmy as a character serves an important purpose on the show that no other character possibly can.

In fact, South Park, through satire, has explored aspects of disability in American society more often and with more honesty than any other show on television. That offends me. Where are the rest of the characters with developmental disabilities on TV?

At some point in the future, I’ll do a critical review the Timmy episodes to see what they have to say about society (that is, I’m going to intellectualize them and completely ruin all the comedy). I found them to be surprisingly perceptive and meaningful (for a show about fart jokes).

Things to consider: What are the elephants in the room that no one wants to point out with regards to disability? Whose responsibility is it to point these out? What are the ongoing obstacles to confronting these things?


March 1, 2009

I came across this place.

press to open

press to open

Well, this place has certainly made accommodations for customers with disabilities, right?

Let’s take a more critical look…

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Disability in pop culture 5

February 23, 2009

Family Guy

Family Guy has several examples, so it gets a rather more extensive post.

The Griffin Family

The Griffin Family

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The Message

December 4, 2008

What is the message here?

Handicap entrance in rear.

Handicap entrance in rear.

The floor is lava!!!

October 15, 2008

Good thing wheelchairs are lavaproof.



Now go play.

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