As you know, the Hugo Award-winning Uncanny Magazine is taking over the Destroy series from Lightspeed Magazine. The current plan is to run the Kickstarter for Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction in July 2017. The issue will be written and edited entirely by disabled people.
Personal Essays Editor Nicolette Barischoff is currently looking for short personal essays (ideally between 500-800 words) to run during the Kickstarter and eventually be included in the special issue. These pieces will explore the writer’s connection to disability and genre fiction in a deeply personal way, as a writer, an editor, an activist, or a consumer. We’re defining these terms (connection, genre) as broadly as possible to give you as much space as you need to tell your story.
Uncanny is offering a flat $15 on acceptance for these short essays. If you’re interested, please email Nicolette Barischoff and Editor-in-Chief/Nonfiction Editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry at email@example.com with your idea for an essay as soon as possible. If you have any questions, you may tweet them to @NBarischoff and @snarkbat. The deadline for completed essays is July 17th. We are particularly looking for disabled writers of color."
So I spent last night working my way, point by point, through Labour's Disability specific Manifesto. Overall the vital stuff is there, it gets wobbly on the merely very important, and there are a few unforgiveable omissions.
And How the Hell do you write a manifesto specifically for disabled people and not have accessible formats available!?!The analysis.
Maitre d' "Would your boy like a colouring book"
Wife of President of Little People of America: "He's my husband".
Maitre d': "Would your husband like a colouring book"*Jaw Drops* *Headdesk*
Autism Women's Network: Disability Doesn't Come With Extra Time and Energy
What's missing from the discussion is that disabled people work harder because of the fear of losing their job, and the difficulty of finding one, in the face of workplace disablism. So when people misinterpret it as some positive, that's three separate layers of disablism being compounded into one positive.
Yep, that's the Minister of State for Disabled People celebrating World Downs Syndrome Day by saying how 'inspiring' it is that a young woman with Downs Syndrome actually has a job. Disabilityconfident she isn't.
I may have been inspired to a rant about the objectification of disabled people as 'inspiring'.
Beyond my part in the Spartacus Network response to the Work and Health Green Paper, I wanted to do a personal response as I take a slightly different view of the Disability Employment Gap that Work and Health is supposed to challenge and think it's much more to do with employer/recruiter disability discrimination and tacit government acceptance of the same/reluctance to display employers in a bad light.
I'd set today aside to do that, as submissions have to be in before 11:45PM (and dyspraxic, so bad with deadlines and planning), so of course today was the day I crashed and burned and slept all day because of cumulative fatigue.
The consultation had 46 questions, I managed to answer about 30 of them between waking up and remembering and 11:30PM rolling around which was when I pressed submit (just in time, it wasn't exactly quick to respond).
Which means I couldn't thoroughly respond to Work and Health because it was too much work for my health....
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
The new Spartacus report, Smokescreen, into the government's Green Paper on Work and Health, is out. I'm listed as a co-author as it incorporates my 'Ticked Off' dissection of Disability Confident, but didn't actually do any work on the main report - which is a monumental, spectacular effort by Caroline Richardson and Stef Benstead.
TLDR: The government want us to see disabled people as the problem in disabled people being unable to work, rather than challenge employers as the actual cause of the Disability Employment Gap.
A friend just linked to this - two wheelchair-using sisters blogging spoonie life on wheels via comics and snark - The Disabled Life
So much 'yes, that!'
And the writing is just as sharp:
" With great power comes great responsibility… like having the ability to run someone over, but CHOOSING the right moment to do it."
"Ticked Off" is a piece of analysis I've been writng to look into the government's Disability Confident scheme, which has morphed into a replacement for Two Ticks, the much derided (by us) and much abused (by employers) scheme to guarantee the employment and fair treatment of disabled staff.
To illustrate the 'quality' of the new scheme, you can be a 'Disability Confident Leader', the top level, with no disabled employees and an inaccessible workplace. It's extremely poorly written, and very difficult to comprehend all the requirements as a whole, so I set out to dissect it. I ended up with 5,500 words, 16 pages and 6 data tables. I don't think anyone had sat down to do a line by line comparison between Disability Confident, Two Ticks, and the Equality Act 2010 before. But when you do it's clear that Disability Confident is actually a weakening of employer commitments, and only very marginally stronger than existing legal requirements, and in places considers legal requirements optional.
The report is here: Ticked Off
A news article on it from Disability News Service is here. I think John Pring did a really good job of extracting the highlights to give a TLDR version, and it was really surprising to see the Business Disability Forum come through with comments that backed my analysis (that must have turned up at the 11th hour as John had had nothing back from them when we talked late last night).
Just back from Asda. There's two sets of 4 disabled spaces by the door, with an access road up the middle. I parked a little further away, but when I roll up, sitting in the middle of the access road, blocking all 8 cars in, is a large car.
Sitting in the driver's seat is a young woman, when I stop by her door she winds down the window and says "Yes?" She's holding a mobile in one hand, a chihuahua in the other.
"You're blocking everybody!" says I (and the way she was parked it would have been impossible to get a wheelchair+trolley to at least half the cars, never mind blocking them in).
She looks at me like something she's accidentally trodden in and winds the window back up. Then looks puzzled when I don't move off. Eventually she decides to reverse out, still with mobile in one hand, chihuahua in the other.
When I start to turn away she stops. So I turn back around to watch her until she does actual drive off. Still with chihuahua in her arms.
And the car? It was a Bentley. Talk about giving the 1% a bad name.
I almost burst out laughing when I saw the chihuahua.If it had been the set-up for a comedy sketch you'd have said it was a cliche too far, but there it was.
A wee bit of a twitter firestorm broke out earlier when the World Fantasy Con panels were posted and one of them was called "Spicy Oriental Zeppelins" Apparently the title was based on a 'joke' that had only every been made by the WFC Head of Programming, Darrell Schweitzer, and he'd been repeatedly warned it wasn't funny in advance.
With just about every SFF author on twitter going WTF WTC? that was quickly changed to "Outrageous Aviation Stories, Flying Pulp Oddities."
What got a lot less attention, and has been more subtly changed was another panel:
"7. Freaks, Sideshows, and Human Oddities. From “Hopfrog” to Freaks to Geek Love. Is this the last taboo, the final frontier of bad taste, or something (perversely?) alluring even yet?"
Which became7. Freaks, Sideshows, and Human Oddities. From “Hopfrog” to Freaks to Geek Love. Is this the last taboo, the final frontier of bad taste, or a persistent archetype in literature?
Schweitzer had been warned in advance about this one as well, and specifically that it was ableist. I'm glad to see it has been changed, but I still think it's deeply problematic and I'm horrified something so negatively objectifying about disabled people ever made it out as a formally released program item.
And it's not as if this is the first issue WFC has had with disability in the last year. WFC 2015 had major access fails, never mind they had a disabled guest who had talked to them about her access needs, and then earlier this year WFC 2016 instituted a significant price rise despite disabled people telling them they couldn't book until they had published their disability access policy. The price rise had no sooner gone into effect than they published their access policy, which looked to have been written in five minutes on the proverbial back of a fag packet. I got the distinct feeling that was sheer spite.
ETA : File 770's on the story: Outrage Greets 2016 World Fantasy Con Program
TLDR: A government disability scheme is so bad it can't even get the legal definition of disability right.
We used to have a scheme called "Two Ticks", which had a logo of, surprisingly, two ticks, which employers could sign up to to say they were disability friendly, in return for agreeing to five measures.Measures like always interviewing disabled candidates who met the requirements, and discussing whether needs were being met on a yearly basis. So not exactly onerous. In practise companies used to sign up, put the logo on their paperwork and do nothing as it was almost never checked (Evil Aerospace are the only company I've ever heard of having it taken off them). Needless to say it fell into disrepute.
We (disabled people) were promised several years ago that a better replacement would be along soon.
In the meantime we've had the worse than useless Disability Confident proclaiming that employers are just embarrassed about disability.
It's now emerged, they aren't confident enough to do a proper launch, that a revamped Disability Confident is the replacement for Two Ticks and will have three tiers.
Tier 1 asks companies to make a single commitment in comparison to Two Ticks five, is self assessed, and once they've sent in the trivial paper work, they get to use the new logo.
Tier 2 asks companies to sign up to several more commitments, roughly equivalent to Two Ticks, and again it's self assessed and they get a pretty logo. The commitments basically amount to agreeing to do what is already legally required under the Equality Act 2010. (Yes, that's right, Tier 1 signs you up to do less than you're already legally required to).
I thought 'well, at least Tier 3 will better than Two Ticks'. More fool me.
Tier 3 consists of getting yourself assessed on Tier 2. You can pay to get yourself assessed, but you can also be assessed by your mate whose company is already Tier 3, or your mate who runs a Disabled People User Led Organisation, even if it has no interest whatsoever in employment. Pass this and you get to call yourself a 'Disability Confident Leader' and use the appropriate logo.
They've taken a scheme that was worthless because everyone signed up for the logo and never followed through on the commitments, and replaced it with one where you don't have to make the commitments.
The other quotes in the article are interesting, even the people who worked with DWP on producing it, including a DPULO that's stopped being a DPULO and rebranded itself into an assessment company to take advantage, are describing it as a lost opportunity. While others openly say 'if we asked companies to stop being disablist none of them would sign up'.
Talk about being seen to be doing something.
I've been shooting off my mouth to journalists again, and seem to be responsible for the title of :
I won't link to anything as it's more a cumulative effect thing, but there seem to be quite a few people raising questions about how accessible Pokemon Go is. I'm not really a mobile game person, but I'm not remotely attracted by a game that requires you to walk around.
I finally wrote the blog on the Me Before You controversy I've been intending to write for several weeks.
'Finally' because I thought a lot about how I should do it, as the obvious approach to take as both disabled writer and disability activist collides head-on with the advice to us as baby writers to never do anything remotely controversial on the net (given agents and publishers will hunt your web-presence down as a form of due diligence). In the end I went with the obvious approach, because not taking apart how the writing and filming process systematically failed disabled people, and especially wheelchair users, seemed like a betrayal.
There's a lot of embedded links, so I'll link to it in place rather than reproduce it here: Rather You Than Me
CW for extended discussion of euthanasia and disablist fuckwittery
The idea is that if you have a submission ready manuscript with diverse characters and/or are yourself diverse, then this is your chance to pitch to a bunch of agents (over 50) looking for diverse authors/stories. You have a single tweet to sell your manuscript to watching agents, so it really hones your precis skills! (You're actually allowed one tweet an hour over the 12 hours it runs).
I'll be taking part with my Pitchwars novel, and I also blogged about #DVpit, SF/F Disabled Voices and #DVpit on why it's so desperately needed for SF/F and disability. (TLDR: no one has a clue how to do a decent job of it, or to recognise when they don't/)
Sadly #DVpit has become somewhat controversial. While the initial rules made it clear you could be non-diverse, but submitting a diverse manuscript, some people have set out to police those people out of the running, and as a consequence, some people on the margins of diversity, e.g. those with invisible disabilities, and LGBT folks who aren't out, are being driven away. It's sadly ironic when the pro-diversity camp adopts the "you aren't genuinely disabled" tactics of the forces of oppression. ETA: Beth Phelan seems to have come out in favour of own voices only, but the tweet wasn't exactly clear, I read it the other way around, but seem to be in the minority.
And then there's the non-diverse writers with non-diverse manuscripts whining because they can't enter. Tough, enter the next #pitmad or #pitchwars, there's no shortage of pitching events
We had #Mockpit earlier today, a trial run for your tweets, which was valuable as it turns out people can't work out what "w/chair user" means, and some were even unhappy with 'wheelchair-user". I very politely explained why "wheelchair bound" is not an option (because I'm not writing 50 Wheels of Grey!)
Jami, my #Pitchwars mentor, came up with a couple of good tweets for me:
"# Adult UF #. When forensic sorcerer Laura's husband is shot and her daughter stolen, she'll face down demigods to get her back."
" When a necromancer with a grudge targets wheelchair-user Laura's family, he pisses off the wrong forensic sorcerer # Adult UF Own" - This is the one people had problems with, no one could parse "w/chair using forensic sorcerer", not ever after I expanded it to wheelchair-using. *Headdesk*, long way to go....
While mine are mostly variations on the theme of:
"Laura's many things:CSI, wheelchair user. witch, but mother first. God help the man, or demigod, who threatens her 3yo # Adult UF Own"
Now to go finalise my 12 tweets.