The Best of Disability Blogs and Banter
“Thou Shalt Never Again …” — A Journey From Futility Into Fertility
“Hey, I just wanted to see if it worked.”
This was the don’t-blame-me response I would say to my wife each time our young son would do something she found maddeningly irritating. The “it” I’m referring to is what I had once believed to be my neutered nether regions.
You see, one of the many shibboleths contained in the book of “Thou Shalt Never Again …”, the perennial gospel distributed to new cripples, is that men with spinal cord injuries shoot blanks. Alas, we’re infertile. Except, it turns out, when we aren’t.
I sought out a specialist in male fertility who performed a semen analysis. The results were encouraging, I had viable sperm. He prescribed a battery of costly tests and procedures for both me and my wife to undergo. While waiting for these scheduled appointments to take place, my wife purchased a home ovulation test kit. This made all the difference. The third time was the charm. Fertility appointments all canceled: we transmuted futility into fertility.
As recently as this week, 14 years after my wife delivered our son, ABC News published this story: “Paraplegic Man Conceives Twin Girls After Sperm Extraction.” After being told by his doctor that he could never father a child, Raul Rodriguez, a T5 paraplegic, did just that. “That doctor,” said Rodriguez, “was wrong.”
— Stephen Feldman, www.pushliving.com
The Uncanny Valley of Boston
Observation: the patrons were nervous …
At a Starbucks in Boston a young man wheeled himself into the store and transferred awkwardly to a seat. Customers peeked up, then quickly looked away, and repeatedly stole brief glances. And it struck me: did I get the same reaction when I motored in on my mobility scooter?
His latte rocked and threatened to tip over and his muffin crept closer to the edge of the table. I moved quickly to catch it, but another man beat me to it. This other man also elicited a reaction from the patrons, one of revulsion. His arms and neck were covered in tattoos, and he had piercings on every part of his face.
It reminded me of an incident at a Harvard Square crosswalk. I got knocked over by a crowd jumping out of the way of a taxi that had run a red light. The crowd shouted curses at the taxi, gathered themselves, and went on their way … and left me lying there. A homeless man watching from the stoop of a bookstore got up and offered me a hand.
There is a theory in robotics called ‘The Uncanny Valley.’ It states that people are comfortable with robots until they start looking ‘too human’ and then they become uncomfortable with how ‘uncannily human’ they appear. I think a version of this exists with people who don’t quite fit society’s construction of ‘normal.’”
Boston is home to many denizens of Uncanny Valley.
— William Bradford, badasschaplain.com
I Spent a Day in a Wheelchair to See What It’s Like to be Disabled in a City
Never before had I seen the streetscape in such meticulous detail. Tiny height differences such as curbs and grooves between cobbles become mountains, cruelly halting progress and making small advances exhausting.
I make my way to a ramp situated at the back entrance of a supermarket, to buy lunch. After several attempts with different approaches, I still can’t heave myself up the ramp. The incline is too steep; with a final attempt my wheelchair falls behind me and I am hurled out of the chair onto the cold, mocking concrete.
This is a statement to all designers and architects. Within a mere few hours of navigating Lincoln in a wheelchair, my basic human rights have been breached more than once. Being denied the right to use a toilet as well as being unable to access a supermarket to buy food independently is simply unacceptable. The ramp’s incline should be lessened, to fully integrate all users.
— Sophia Bannert, architecture student at Lincoln University, U.K., berkeleyprize.org/competition/essay/2013/winning-essays/bannert-essay