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

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Stuff and The Things

Also known as "What's Alyssa been up to?"

I started teaching precalculus. There were technical difficulties in the classroom (my computer didn't hook up to the classroom media properly even though it worked fine in the other classroom that's theoretically the same.) I haven't needed my text-to-speech yet, but I am going to need to figure out a different way to handle it than the classroom audio because the connection is not working.

They'd probably move my classroom if I asked (the chair of my department offered that he could get it moved in case of just this problem), but my class is mostly freshmen and they're having enough trouble getting used to college as it is, so I'd rather either fix whatever is wrong in my current classroom or see if the speakers I have for my iPad's AAC are loud enough for the classroom.

I have made an attempt at joining Best Buddies, not because I think the way they work is good (erm, no, not even a little bit) but because I want to make a point to the people there that developmentally disabled people can be mentors too. (I'm also looking forward to meeting my buddy, because yeah, I do like getting to hang out with other disabled people/people with disabilities.) I've heard from a friend with what I'm guessing was a similar idea that the online registration form directs you into the person being helped category if you say you have a developmental disability, so I have plans of attack in my head for either getting it changed or making a really loud fuss about it (hopefully the first, probably the second) should that still be the case. The university chapter said "of course you can!" when I asked about being a mentor while myself disabled, so I might be able to get them on my side for at least the changed part, but probably not the big fuss part, even though the big fuss is probably how the changed would happen if it's going to.

I went to the meeting of my school's graduate assistants union. This is a year for contract renegotiation, and I noticed that the only reference to disability at all is in the nondiscrimination clause. There's nothing about accommodations or access or anything of that sort, or about designing things to be usable by as wide a range of graduate assistants as possible in the first place. Which, I mean, I can kind of understand why it's not in there:
  1. It's not the sort of thing most people automatically think of unless they are themselves D/disabled or have a disability.
  2. The accommodations/access side is theoretically covered by laws like the Americans With Disabilities Act anyways.

I think it should be in there anyways, and there's a few reasons for that.
  1. Enforcing the ADA is really hard for most people, because it involves filing a lawsuit with the department of justice. Yes, even the threat of a lawsuit can be effective at times, but it generally needs to be at least a semi-credible threat.
  2. If it's in the contract, then violations can also be handled by having the union go to bat, such as by filing a grievance. That's got more force than showing up in an office and complaining alone, but is generally easier to accomplish than filing a lawsuit. This is important because many professors do refuse to ensure access for students, and many departments do actively exclude disabled faculty members.
  3. Attitudes: If following relevant disability laws is explicitly stated in the contract, even if it is a bit redundant (and as an engineer, I like certain kinds of redundancy, including this particular kind,) tells people that there's a group on campus that cares about the disability side of things, beyond just disability services (who don't negotiate the graduate assistant contracts.) There being such a group is a whole lot more welcoming for folks where disability stuff could be relevant than there not being any groups like that is!
I'm actually supposed to talk to the... I think it's the executive board or the negotiating committee or something like that, this Monday, right after lunch. When I brought it up, they said that it was important and they'd like to get it into the contract. One of the people on the board worked in disability services at another university for a while before coming to grad school, and she pointed out that she'd seen so many professors actively refusing to do access, and disabled students have all those same stories from the end of being the one who gets excluded, that this was a big problem. So it looks like I've got union support in saying this needs to be on the contract.

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