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

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

On Technology's Role

I  read "On Institutionalized and Autonomous Access Forms: Toward a Refusal of Pity Infrastructure." As is typical of that blog, I'm not sure how much I understood the actual points the author was trying to make, but it made me think anyways.

I think I get what's being said here, though:
We can start to build communities that do not create singular models of access, but turn access needs into a constant conversation between people. Access needs can become an everchanging process based on persona deliberation.
And at least some of this:
Access and asking about access needs is built into the social patterns of disabled people amongst disabled people. This proves that access need not exist as a reassertion of private technology manufacturers and government bureaucracy.
Here's the thing:  I'm an engineer. I like finding technological solutions to problems. I like when technology can make a job or a process or a life or anything else easier.

What I don't like is when a lack of technology is used as an excuse to discriminate against people, or when a lack of technology is used as the excuse for failing at access. I especially don't like when technology is kept out of the reach of the people who need it most because of profit motivations or discrimination in general.

Before elevators, someone could have made the excuse "we don't have a way to get you up to the second floor" to a disabled person, and it might have even been true. That wouldn't have made it OK. Finding a way to make whatever the person needed be somewhere they could get at it, finding another way to get them to the second floor (there's ramps to the second and third floors in the gym complex, wide enough, smooth enough, non-steep enough that yes, you could take a wheel chair up that.)

When people don't understand the communication of disabled people, or when people don't understand that our actions have a purpose (even if it's a purpose that wouldn't make sense to others,) there can be problems. It depends on the attitude: If they say "I don't understand what you want, but I can understand your no and try stuff till I get it right if you want," that seems reasonable. If they instead decide that because they don't understand, there isn't any communication happening, that's not OK. Finding a technological solution to "we're having trouble understanding each other's communication" is a reasonable thing to try. (Google Translate, much?) Using technology to try to prove that communication isn't happening or using the current lack of a technological solution as an excuse to ignore communication is not OK.

So: The way you look at a problem matters. If you're looking at a problem in a way that is equitable and not oppressive (hard to do!) there may still be questions and problems where a technological solution makes it easier. The lack of technological solution isn't an excuse to do things wrong, but trying to find said technological solution and make it readily available is still cool.

If you're looking at a situation from an oppressive angle, the technology-based solutions you come up with are probably still based in that oppression and that's not OK.

Also:  There not being technology answers to any given access issue (yet?) doesn't keep disabled communities from figuring out ways to do access. Technology that makes it easier for people to do what they've already been doing, that makes it easier for communities that care about access to make it happen as a community? I think that's still worth trying to create, yes. 

I say "if you" here, but this is something I need to remember just as much, if not more, than most of my readers: I'm the engineer. I'm the one who'll be looking at problems and finding technological solutions for them, so I'm the one who's going to have to remember to pay very close attention to my perspective on the problems, to make sure that I'm not basing solutions in the idea of a person being broken or wrong or lesser, or of a culture being broken or wrong or lesser. I'm the one who's going to have to pay attention to, well, who I'm paying attention to for things like problem statements and possible solutions.

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