Identiy Theft or New and Improved

March 31, 2005 at 2:41 PM (Assistive Technology) ()

Someone, I don’t know who, got two very good ideas and put them together.
When ATM’s exploded on our local landscape they were great for everyone who could read a screen. Transferring money, depositing money, and that feeder of the American consumer machine, withdrawing money got a bunch easier. Except for…Oh, wait, yeah. The Blind People. Their banking experience remained the same for quite awhile. Go into the bank, wait in teller lines wait for the teller to ask two more tellers what to do with that annoyed blind woman in aisle 3, get someone willing to help execute the transaction, complete it and then walk out into the street realizing that 7 people had been able to walk up to the ATM and do their banking while you were trapped inside.
Thankfully, some bright suit in the banking industry (or someone hounded by the weight of the ADA), got the idea that braille notations beside each button would help their visually impaired customers turn from old school banking to the modern age. In addition, ATM’s equipped with braille buttons began to “talk” to their customers, further streamlining the ATM process for blind consumers. Ah, the age of technology. Weren’t the disabled so *lucky* to have all these great advances 🙂
Then, some other bright suit got the idea that TOUCH SCREENS were the wave of the future. No more clumsy buttons. I mean some of those buttons were actually more than half an inch in diameter! Too awkward, too busy, too clunky. And those braille notations, well they were just, well, unsightly. And who needs braille buttons anyhow? The bank can still talk about those nifty TOUCH SCREENS! We’ll ditch the buttons and the braille and watch how quickly our customer transactions will proceed!
Evidently the last batch of banking innovation wizards *never* tried the TOUCH SCREENS with their eyes closed. (It’s hard enough with coordination impairment, believe me. If you don’t hit *exactly* as hard as it needs, and exactly inside the little rectangle, no cash for you.)
No matter how hard you listen to the talking ATM, it just tells you to make a selection from the screens shown…
If…one…cannot…see…the…TOUCH…SCREEN…one cannot use the system without contributing to that other great proliferation…Identitiy theft.
Banks are forcing the blind to either go back to Stone Age Banking, or (shudder) trust the stranger next to you in line with your PIN.
It’s amazing really. All those suits. All that money. All the time spent in refitting ATMS. And nobody in the industry actually used their braincells to think. All it would have taken is one measly transaction with their eyes closed.
That’s what comes of keeping banker’s hours, I suppose.

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The Time of The Disabled

March 29, 2005 at 8:00 PM (Uncategorized) ()

Able folk say that they walk down a street and see someone with a disability…and they flinch…they look away. Perhaps they are made profoundly uncomfortable by what they see. “What if that were me?” they wonder.
The disabled are not here to make the able bodied comfortable. That is not our purpose. We are busy going to work, to medical appointments, on dates, to events that interest us. One of the requirements of our existence *is not* that we make the able comfortable with our methods of speech, of locomotion, of eating, of loving. The fact that it takes us six hours to do laundry, or that we laugh and scream constantly while being transported to a group home or daycare is *our business* alone.
We’re ordinary, not the consequence of sin, or automatic saints. We rise up to succeed, or we fail, as the able do.
Adaptive devices and legislation are tools that make an attempt to equalize the opportunities for socialization or employment or maybe just getting into a courthouse to pursue a lawsuit that will make our voices heard on a given issue.
The able bodied have begun to study us and our history as an academic discipline, and that, in and of itself, may broaden the understanding of the economic and social forces that shaped past and present policy concerning us.
My hope for the future of these studies is that the academic voices studying us and our struggles will be disabled scholars themselves, who can inform present choices while studying past policy regardng the disabled.
That’s one thing the disabled should make time for: the study of their own.
(brought to you by speech recognition)

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Stuck In the Middle With Whom

March 29, 2005 at 2:34 PM (Terri Schiavo)

March 29th Stuck in the middle with whom?

In a case that never should have left the Florida courts, the disability rights community has found itself patronized by the right, and ignored by the left.
Fact: We do not have written confirmation of what Terri Schiavo wanted. But the same lack of living will crops up in family situations every day. They manage to agree on what’s best for their loved ones.
But what of those, who for various reasons have left no written advance directive and have no family to decide for them?
In October 2003, the disability rights community asked the ACLU to respond to its concerns regarding the protection of the rights of those in institutions. The ACLU has not yet responded.
The circus of the far right, led by Tom Delay who once made the perfectly acceptable decision to end life support for his own father, is now playing Nosy Neighbor with great gusto.
The right-to-die movement, Terri’s husband and the mainstream media are making the case that she needs to die with dignity. Dignity has certainly been taken out of the equation. And, all of those making noise on both sides are certainly able-bodied, so of course they know what’s best for the disabled woman at the center of this.
Legally, I must side with the spouse. I do. The Flordia Courts decided this case long ago, the tube should be removed. Finis.
I have questions for the left: Why does concern over the slippery slope towards non-elective euthanasia equate to an anti-choice agenda? I’m pro choice and my feelings on this case don’t change that. So, as a disabled woman, why do I feel abandoned? Why are the disabled, normally a progressive constituency, left alone in the middle, with the right eagerly using them to make common cause with, common cause that will vanish with the next Medicaid cuts?
I’m terrified for the Unknown Disabled Person. The one who has much higher brain function than Terri does. S/he is institutionalized at present. People feed him/her through a tube and dress him/her. S/he likes listening to them, and listening to music and television, and scraps of view out the window. But s/he cannot let them know. S/he said to someone years ago that she would never want to live like this. But now that s/he has, s/he has decided that living is better than not, because s/he has that irrational hope that things might change for the better.
Because of the ridiculousness unleashed around Terri’s case, that person will one day be killed without their consent. I hope to Gawd that isn’t me.
I have questions for the Right too.
In 1999, then governor Bush signed into law a bill that permitted a hospital to withdraw life support from a baby of color since treating him would be futile, *even against the baby’s parent’s express wish.*
If Terry were a woman of color… I believe the fight for her life wouldn’t have been brought to the public eye.
Right to life? Which lives are more right than others?
The right won’t pay for the disabled’s lives and the left won’t protect them. Which leaves the disabled stuck in the middle.
With whom?

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