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Archive for April 7th, 2021

The harmful ableist language people unknowingly use

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Sara Nović writes in Equality Matters:

Some of our most common, ingrained expressions have damaging effects on millions of people – and many of us don’t know we’re hurting others when we speak.

I like being deaf. I like the silence as well as the rich culture and language deafness affords me. When I see the word ‘deaf’ on the page, it evokes a feeling of pride for my community, and calls to me as if I’m being addressed directly, as if it were my name.

So, it always stings when I’m reminded that for many, the word ‘deaf’ has little to do with what I love most – in fact, its connotations are almost exclusively negative. For example, in headlines across the world – Nevada’s proposed gun safety laws, pleas from Ontario’s elderly and weather safety warnings in Queensland – have all “fallen on deaf ears”.

This kind of ‘ableist’ language is omnipresent in conversation: making a “dumb” choice, turning a “blind eye” to a problem, acting “crazy”, calling a boss “psychopathic”, having a “bipolar” day. And, for the most part, people who utter these phrases aren’t intending to hurt anyone – more commonly, they don’t have any idea they’re engaging in anything hurtful at all.

However, for disabled people like me, these common words can be micro-assaults. For instance, “falling on deaf ears” provides evidence that most people associate deafness with wilful ignorance (even if they consciously may not). But much more than individual slights, expressions like these can do real, lasting harm to the people whom these words and phrases undermine – and even the people who use them in daily conversation, too.

Not a small problem

About 1 billion people worldwide – 15% of the global population – have some type of documented disability. In the US, this proportion is even larger, at about one in four people, with similar rates reported in the UK.

Despite these numbers, disabled people experience widespread discrimination at nearly every level of society. This phenomenon, known as ‘ableism’ – discrimination based on disability – can take on various forms. Personal ableism might look like name-calling, or committing violence against a disabled person, while systemic ableism refers to the inequity disabled people experience as a result of laws and policy.

But ableism can also be indirect, even unintentional, in the form of linguistic micro-aggressions. As much as we all like to think we’re careful with the words we choose, ableist language is a pervasive part of our lexicon. Examples in pop culture are everywhere, and you’ve almost certainly used it yourself.

Frequently, ableist language (known to some as ‘disableist’ language) crops up in the slang we use, like calling something “dumb” or “lame”, or making a declaration like, “I’m so OCD!”. Though these might feel like casual slights or exclamations, they still do damage.

Jamie Hale, the London-based CEO of Pathfinders Neuromuscular Alliance, a UK charity run for and by people with neuromuscular conditions, notes that the potential for harm exists even if the words are not used against a disabled person specifically. “There’s a sense when people use disableist language, that they are seeing ways of being as lesser,” says Hale. “It is often not a conscious attempt to harm disabled people, but it acts to construct a world-view in which existing as a disabled person is [negative].”

Using language that equates disability to something negative can be problematic in several ways.

First, these words give an inaccurate picture of what being disabled actually means. “To describe someone as ‘crippled by’ something is to say that they are ‘limited’ [or] ‘trapped’, perhaps,” says Hale. “But those aren’t how I experience my being.”

Disability as metaphor is also an imprecise way to say of saying what we really mean. The phrase ‘fall on deaf ears’, for example, both perpetuates stereotypes and simultaneously obscures the reality of the situation it describes. Being deaf is an involuntary state, whereas hearing people who let pleas ‘fall on deaf ears’ are making a conscious choice to ignore those requests. Labelling them ‘deaf’ frames them as passive, rather than people actively responsible for their own decisions.

Hale adds that using disability as a shorthand for something negative or inferior reinforces negative attitudes and actions, and fuels the larger systems of oppression in place. “We build a world with the language we use, and for as long as we’re comfortable using this language, we continue to build and reinforce disableist structures,” they say.

Say what?

If ableist language is so harmful, why is it so common? Why might someone who would never purposefully insult a disabled person outright still find ableist expressions among their own vocabulary?

Ableist language as colloquialism functions like any other slang term: people repeat it because they’ve heard others say it, a mimicry that on its face suggests use is undiscerning. However, according to University of Louisville linguistics professor DW Maurer, while anyone can create slang term, the expression will only “gain currency according to the unanimity of attitude within the group”. This suggests ableist slang is ubiquitous because, on some level, the speakers believe it to be true.

It’s possible for individuals to be truly unconscious of these biases within themselves, and unaware of the ableism couched in their own everyday sayings. But the fact is, discussions about the negative effect of a word such as “dumb” – a term originally denoting a deaf person who did not use speech, but which now functions as slang for something brutish, uninteresting or of low intelligence – have been happening in deaf and disabled circles for centuries.

According to Rosa Lee Timm, the Maryland, US-based chief marketing officer of non-profit organisation Communication Service for the Deaf, these conversations have remained largely unexamined by the mainstream because non-disabled people believe that ableism doesn’t affect them, and ableist language perpetuates and justifies that belief.

“Ableist language encourages  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, and it’s good to know.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2021 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Memes

Heart Stents and Upcoding: How Cardiologists Game the System

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Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2021 at 12:48 pm

A low-energy day, but with collards

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Today I have low energy and feel like just sitting in my chair, but I suddenly remembered I have a very nice bunch of collards and some spring onions in the fridge, and that got me charged up to cook them — and to show them to you. I should have included something for scale in the photo above because these are petite collard leaves — rather than the usual elephant ear size, these are barely bigger than my hand and — dare I say it — rather cute.

Collards and spring onions strikes me as a good combination. I think I’ll not use garlic, and I’m trying to decide between a diced lemon and a splash of vinegar. I suppose I could do both.

I have some vegetable broth on hand, and that will be a good simmering liquid. Collards become silky smooth when simmered for a long time.

I’ll mince the stems and sauté those with the onions — probably four of them — and then add the chopped leaves and vegetable broth and something for umami (fish sauce or soy sauce, and if I use soy sauce I’ll include a splash of mirin).

I think I’ll sauté one jalapeño with the onions and minced stems — just enough heat to give it some presence.

Now I feel cheerful and energized. 🙂

Update: I decided on soy sauce and mirin, and I used brown rice vinegar for the vinegar. I did use a diced lemon as well, and just a pinch of salt. (And I’m out of salt, and though I don’t use much I’m convinced now I need a little. My choice is Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is the best of the kosher salts I’ve tried. Morton’s kosher salt is, IMO, pretty bad: the salt is in tiny pellets that don’t stick well to foods.)

Update again: I had some after it finished cooking. Extremely tasty — and the jalapeño did provide presence without excessive heat.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2021 at 12:46 pm

The RazoRock Adjust delivers a fine shave

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Prep as usual, this time using a sample of a Mystic Water soap. Ginger Pear is a very nice fragrance. Despite the clay, I had no trouble loading the little horsehair brush (which I left to soak while I showered).

The Adjust feels enormous, mainly because of the length of the handle and the heft of the razor. As I took the first stroke I was startled by how good it felt. “Must be the Grooming Dept pre-shave” was my first thought, but as I continued to shave I realized that, though the pre-shave doubtless helped, credit must go also to the razor’s head design. This is an extremely comfortable razor, something I did not expect from its appearance (a somewhat formidable head) and how it feels in the hand.

As I continued the shave, I realized that it’s not only quite comfortable (and I had adjusted it toward the + side — more aggressive), it was stripping off stubble like nobody’s business. After three passes I had yet another exceptionally good result.

I’ve now learned — in the sense that I don’t have to try to remember — that after pass 1 and pass 2, rather than rinsing my face before re-lathering, I just wet my hands and press them against my face to ensure that it’s wet. This is what Grooming Dept recommends when using the pre-shave, presumable to avoid rinsing off the pre-shave that remains. After the third pass, I of course do a full rinse.

A splash of Vitos Lavanda as aftershave, and the day begins. I’m sitting here feeling my face, still surprised that a razor that looks (and feels in the hand) bulky can do such a fine job. At $15, it’s a bargain. (Sold out right now, but you can sign up to be notified when it’s available.)

Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2021 at 9:28 am

Posted in Shaving

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