Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some Good Things In China

Trigger Warning: Some ableism references, some references to ableism-related poverty

I have China stuff to talk about. When I was at orientation, one of the people told me that disability rights was basically not a thing in China and that "accommodations" were also not a thing. I get that China has a lot of disability stuff that's bad. I really do. I've seen some of the problems first hand. A blind person digging through the trash to try to find food and something to drink is a sign that something is very wrong with how we handle disability. [I asked him what he was looking for, and he said something to drink, and I gave him my full water bottle. It doesn't fix the structural issues or the fact that he's going to be doing the same thing again the next day and the next until he can't anymore. If he's lucky, it meant one day where dehydration wasn't as much of an issue.]
But what I want to talk about is a few of the things people are getting right here. I don't have the energy to spend all my time on the things that are wrong. I just don't. It's tiring, and it makes me feel like we're getting nowhere. Sometimes, I need to talk about things that are good. [Remember, this blog is actually for me. I'm happy when it helps other people, but I write it because writing things helps me process stuff and if I'm not accountable to the world about it I can ignore it which is bad because it's important.]
Pretty much every sidewalk, all the subway stations, have lines of bricks that are textured. It's done in a way that you can feel it through shoes. The lines in the bricks direct people along the sidewalk, and they change where the path is changing. So things like "this is where you turn to get onto the subway" or "there's about to be stairs" or "there's a fork in the path here" or "STREET!" all have the lines change to a bunch of dots. I'm pretty sure that's meant to be for blind/low vision access. I don't know how well it actually works, because I can see, but it seems like a smart idea.
The local supermarket has no stairs. None. Instead of a typical escalator, it's got a slanted moving sidewalk sort of thing. I assume it's actually meant for being able to take shopping carts up, but slanted moving sidewalk>escalator in terms of wheelchair access.
I've seen a few power chairs (mostly they look like the motor was added by the end-user) rolling down the street in the bicycle lane. As an engineer, I kind of want to know how these DIY power chairs work. It looks like they took the battery and motor off an electric bike and then somehow got it to turn wheelchair wheels instead of bike wheels. If I knew much of anything about how electric bike wheels were hooked up to the motors, I probably wouldn't think this were complicated.
I've had speech go kaput on me several times while I've been here. No one has taken issue with my writing or typing instead. Usually typing, since my handwriting is horrible, though I did wind up writing on a couple of social occasions. I've pulled out Open Office and Notepad++ in class, in tutoring, in meetings with teachers. People have been confused about what caused that specific instance of speech not working, but no one's tried to tell me that if I really wanted to speak I could or anything. Even the "I can't really come up with original speech right now, but I can still type and I can very slowly read what I typed out loud" was taken as just being what I needed to do at the moment. That was during tutoring yesterday. It might have also been the first time that my tutor got that I really am disabled. Which yeah, I am. Just a bit. It actually gets more obvious that I am as I get more access to the technology that lets me get around the issues, since it's pretty easy to mistake "inconsistently capable of speech" for "just quiet."
[Why just "technology"? Well, all technology assists someone. Otherwise there would be no point. Also, the stuff I use is primarily stuff that abled people use too, just for different things. Notepad++ is the text editor of choice for quite a few programmers who use Windows. Open Office is an office software package- word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and the like.]
So there's that. Yeah, China has a lot of issues with how it handles disability. So does the USA. That doesn't mean that folks in the USA can't learn from stuff that folks in China do well, even if it's not most of the folks in China doing it. The existence of bad stuff shouldn't stop us from taking a look at the good stuff and seeing what we can learn from it. (I bet an electric bike motor and battery attached to a manual chair is a LOT cheaper than a typical power chair, and it's almost certainly better than no power chair at all, for one thing.)

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean about how even places which deal with disability badly can still manage to do certain things better.

    I live in Taiwan, which also has many ways of mishandling disability. For example, there is a wheelchair-using blogger who lives in the same city as me who has a post which describes the mobility barriers on the city's sidewalks (heck, I am abled-bodied, and I sometimes end up walking in the street with the cars because it's easier than trying to get through all of the barriers on the sidewalk, and that is something I generally didn't do back in California). There are of course many, many other issues.

    That said, I have never seen a subway system which was as disability-friendly as the Taipei MRT system. *Every* station has at least one elevator, and some of the stations have additional elevators under construction to make things even more convenient for people with mobility-impairments. Also, the Taiwanese people take the priority seating for disabled/elderly/pregnant people very seriously. If you look like you are old and/or have a mobility impairment, Taiwanese people will often offer you their seat, even if it's not one of the priority seats.


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