The first issue of this newsletter went out on Oct. 11, which means this Thursday is the one month mark. And today marks the first time that we’ve hit a word count limit! This week’s events will come in v.5.2. ❤️🔥
The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has finally passed both houses of the U.S. Congress. It includes a $1.75 billion investment in the accessibility of transit stations, a success led by disabled Senator Tammy Duckworth. It also mandates Amtrak access spending and the appointment of a disabled person to the board.
The bill’s support for cleaner water, air, and energy will have broad impacts on disability communities in the U.S. We can hope, for example, to experience fewer wildfire safety blackouts that disrupt power access for life-sustaining medical devices.
While we wait for a new phase of drama in the efforts to pass the spending bill, check out new Data for Progress polling research. It offers more evidence of the urgency to increase support for home and community based services (HCBS) and, as well as voters’ preferences for the various proposals that may be included in the bill.
The bill could address several contributing factors to the maternal health crisis that endangers Black mothers, birthing people, and their children. For example, the bill may offer 30,000 doulas in training access to loans, scholarships, and programmatic support over 10 years.
Some other issues moving in the federal legislative world: The FDA opened public comments on its draft regulations on over-the-counter hearing aid and personal sound amplification devices (which the agency was directed to do in 2017). Public comment is also open on a proposed ban on sub-minimum wages for disabled workers through a federal program - AbilityOne - that prepares federal contracts with nonprofits that employ disabled people.
The CDC now recommends a 4th dose for immunocompromised people who received the Modern or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Big Bird got vaccinated (not actually new since 1972). Biden’s plan for a 2022 mandate for private workers has been temporarily blocked. And we still need solidarity to understand how the pandemic continues.
There‘s little action around the backlog of disability claims at the Social Security Administration, which rejected 66% of claims before the pandemic. Tens of thousands of people are struggling to prove that long COVID qualifies them for crucial support. Longhaulers like Una Aya Osata are making beautiful, hilarious, and vivid art about their experience.
Last week, limits on plastic straws went into effect in both NYC and NJ. Disabled activists helped ensure these laws don’t refuse straws to people who need them.
Marcel Hug & Madison de Rozario won the NYC Marathon wheelchair races.
This is just a slice of the disability news that’s happening. I strongly recommend checking out Alice Wong’s meticulous collection of links on Wakelet. More citational celebration in a coming issue for the organizers whose work informs what I put here each week!
Rest in power, Engracia Figueroa. Engracia died from injuries sustained after United Airlines mangled her powerchair while she was traveling across the country for her activist work.
This rampant, preventable, and well-documented industry-wide harm has destroyed 15,425 wheelchairs in the last 3 years - or 29 every single day.
This is direct harm to disabled people’s bodies.
Engracia was returning from a Care Can’t Wait rally in July when her chair was broken. She was representing Hand in Hand’s California chapter in the ongoing campaign for living wages for care workers.
Sign and share this petition that will show support to hold the industry accountable for its lack of safety and dignity for disabled people.
Some news in disability arts:
KQED has released an episode (with ASL, open captions, and audio description!) about disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light in its series If Cities Could Dance.
Calgary’s National accessArts Centre brought disability artistry to Conference of the Birds, an exhibition at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. See this video from a panel about “Disability-Inclusive Climate Action.”
In The Clearing - an album and a book - JJJJJerome Ellis offers “speech dysfluency—stuttering in particular—as a space for possibility rather than a pathology.” I strongly recommend “Dysfluent Waters.”
Leonardo, The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, has announced its inaugural cohort of artists in its CripTech Incubator: Carmen Papalia, moira williams, JS Shokrian, Olivia Ting, Andy Slater, and Meesh Fradkin. The program will offer artists residencies, workshops, presentations, and publication support. (I was honored to serve on the jury for this fantastic initiative!)
Undeliverable, a multi-gallery exhibition curated by Carmen Papalia, features Mad, Deaf, and disability artistry from Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Chandra Melting Tallow, Jessica Karuhanga, jes sachse, Aislinn Thomas, and Carmen Papalia with Heather Kai-Smith.
The Casting Light series is a 10-part look at ignored issues of inequity at contemporary art spaces published by I Care if You Listen. Here are the first 6 that have been released:
Creating Inclusive Spaces for Neurodivergent Artists by April Yee
The Establishment of Genderqueer Sound Culture by Kymani Queen & Aaron Gabriel
Reimagining Accessibility and Inclusivity in Virtual Events by Michele Cheng
Dismantling Arts Journalism — and Why We’d All Benefit by Olivia Giovetti
Learning to Listen from Deaf Communities by Jasmin Kent Rodgman & Vilma Jackson
Tricia Hersey, the activist behind The Nap Ministry, has released “Rest Life” and it is a fantastic vibe!
David Wojnarowicz’s recently released audio journals led Andrew Leland to explore ways artists work with disease, which led me to think about doing a podcast roundup in a coming issue. If you have recommendations, send them my way by replying here!
Lots of other great reads:
Check out Bitch’s Access series:
Minneapolis Uses Mutual Aid to Fight for Collective Liberation by Teighlor McGee.
The Complex Future of Post-Pandemic Work by Julia Metraux.
Language Wars: Callouts Obscure Vital Truths About Disabilities by s.e. smith and Anna Hamilton
The University of Massachusetts Press has released This Brain Had A Mouth: Lucy Gwin and the Voice of Disability Nation by James Michael Odato.
In The Guardian, Jan Grue explains “The High Cost of Living in a Disabling World.”
If you’re looking for a good long-read, be sure to follow Alice Wong’s Disability Visibility Substack, where there have been several rad book giveaways recently.
And if you’re looking for a book club to join, try Cloudspotters’ Café’s online space for anyone navigating the difficulties posed by an on-going health challenge.
And some calls:
The Remote Access Archive project is seeking stories, documents, and other information about how disabled people have used technology to interact remotely.
Submissions are open for the third edition of the Moving Body - Moving Image Festival with this year’s theme: MOVING BODY WITH DISABILITIES. The deadline is Dec. 15.
The New York Times has opened applications for its 2022 Fellowship focused on disability in America. Applications are due by Dec. 1
Southerly is soliciting information about ADA accessibility in parks, public lands, and outdoor recreation locations in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia and the South.
The Whitney Museum of Art is hiring an Associate Manager of Access & Inclusion.
ThisAbility Limited invites applications for 10 grants of up to £1,500 through its Disability Radical Imagination Impact Fund. Deadline is Dec. 3.