Disability On Theory Road

–after Pentti Saarikoski

 

In the morning on Theory Road

Ableists and doctrineaire landscapers accosted me

Told me I was sily wanting to go places like everyone else

A little higher up under my apple tree a fawn and her twins nosed fallen fruit

Malice, dressed as a bureaucrat told me to give up

His forehead wavy, eyes quite specific, didn't much like the blind he said

I climbed the steps to the dance floor

Late summer clouds calling me

To dance with them but I lay down on my back

& listened as if my life depended 

ADA Restoration Act Clears Hurdles

While you won’t hear much about it from the national press the “ADA Restoration Act of 2007” cleared two House committees yesterday with only one opposing vote. (I’ll have more to say on that in a minute…) 

You can read all about yesterday’s proceedings and learn a good deal about the history  of the “ADARA” at the website of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD):    

It is heartening that in a time of divisive squabbling in Washington the cause of Americans with disabilities has once again “shown the way” for true bi-partisan legislation and negotiation.

Disability is universal—it transcends race, class, gender, point of origin, sexual orientation, social status, age, fortune, and happenstance. Just so: the lives and concerns of people with disabilities are in fact the most logical point of “ethos” for a largely divided country to reassert its American values of fairness and decency.

While you wouldn’t always know it from the strident qualities of my prose I am at heart an optimist about the United States. I have lived to see kids with disabilities get a real chance in public education—when, not so long ago I was one of those “mainstreamed” kids who struggled without civil rights or appropriate educational supports. Yes, we’re a decent nation. We’ve come a long way in many areas. There’s reason for  a positive outlook. And yes, there’s also reason to stay strident. Rights and liberty are inconvenient for the ruling classes and we forget this at our peril.

“Aw, c’mon, Kuusisto, you don’t really think we have a ‘ruling class” in the United States, do you? I mean, don’t you agree that we’re a ‘classless society” etc. etc.?”

Continue reading

May 16, 2008 

EDUCATION 
Opening others’ eyes
 
Blind professor helping UI students, doctors see
disabilities in a new light

By Diane Heldt

The Gazette

IOWA CITY — Blindness is thought by many to be a great calamity,
still viewed in 19th-century Dickensian terms, says University of Iowa
professor Steve Kuusisto.

  But the reality, says Kuusisto, who has been blind since birth, is that
his talking computer, his guide dog and public transportation allow him to do
most anything sighted people can.

  “It’s not an obstacle to having a good job and a full life,” he said.
“Nobody has to have a second-class life. Really, the sky’s the limit.” That
philosophy, the 53-year-old Kuusisto said, fuels a new vision of disability
that is emerging. That vision moves away from viewing people with disabilities
as “defective,” he said, to finding ways for technology and society to help
them lead the richest, fullest lives.

  It’s a vision Kuusisto (pronounced COO-sis-toe) brought to the UI last
fall when he joined the faculty as an English professor with a joint
appointment in the Carver College of Medicine.

  At the medical college he is a “humanizing agent” who helps educate
doctors about disability issues. UI officials hope Kuusisto bridges the goals
of disability advocates and health professionals.

  “I’m probably the firstever poet named to a faculty of ophthalmology,”
Kuusisto says with a smile. 

 

Continue reading

fyi: featuring Steve and guide dog Nira

The University of Iowa has a great news magazine for faculty and staff called "fyi" and this month features Steve and "Nira" in an article and "picture show"!  This is very nicely done if you ask me.

~ Connie

Read article: Blind professor helps others see another side to disability
Photo feature: Steve and Nira’s first day of class
Audio slide show: Professor, Nira get acquainted with UI campus, each other