Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Disability & Pride: Celebration, Hope and Rebellion

As we celebrate Pride month across the globe and close to home, inclusion is top of mind for many celebrants with disabilities. In this speech given at the Chicago Pride Parade in 2010, Eli Clare shares a perspective.)

"Disability Pride calls for celebration, hope and rebellion. We take shame, fear and isolation, turn them around and forge wholeness. Pride refuses to let the daily grind of ableism, discrimination, exclusion, and violence define who we are.
Pride knows our history, joyfully insists upon our present, and stretches into our future. It must not leave anyone behind—not folks in prison, not folks in nursing homes, group homes, their families’ back rooms, not folks in psych facilities, not our elders nor our youth.
Pride demands and nurtures open, expansive community. Pride means listening hard and being accountable to each other. It means struggling against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism just as stubbornly as we fight ableism.
Pride isn’t about any single identity or community but rather about all of who we are—disabled people of color, disabled lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people, disabled women, disabled poor and working-class people, disabled immigrants, disabled transgender and transsexual people, psych survivors, people with intellectual disabilities, people with chronic illness, people with non-apparent disabilities. Pride asks uncomfortable questions and demands honest answers. It dances, sings, protests, loves, cries, fights, rolls, limps, laughs, stutters. Pride invites us to make home in our bodies and with each other.
“Pride fuels rebellion, and strong, vibrant, rebellious communities are more necessary than ever. I hope we, as disabled people, will continue to take to the streets, knowing that war, environmental devastation, corporate greed, and criminalizing people of color have everything to do with disability. We need revolutionary pride now!”
(Eli Clare is a writer, speaker, activist and teacher with disabilities in Vermont who addresses disability, gender, race, class and sexuality in his work. He has cerebral palsy and identifies as genderqueer and as a trans man.  http://eliclare.com



Friday, May 6, 2016

Sf Chronicle Letter to the Editor: Rideshare Access for Everyone

There is lots of controversy around ride-sharing and disability lately. We decided to weigh in:


Re: "Uber allows guide dogs after suit by blind passengers" (Chronicle 5/2)
Now that Uber has agreed to pick up blind passengers with guide dogs, my hope is that they will step up efforts to accommodate all passengers with disabilities.

Uber’s headquarters is two blocks from The Arc San Francisco, a resource for over 700 clients with developmental disabilities, many of whom use power chairs and mobility supports to get to and from work, classes and home.

From tech workers to seniors to young adults, the disability community wants equal access to ride-sharing services. In San Francisco, recent tests show consistently zero UberWAV cars available for riders with power wheelchairs. There are slightly more UberASSIST cars on the road to serve riders with walkers and folding wheelchairs, but wait times are too long.

One in five Americans have a disability, with over $220 billion in discretionary spending power. San Francisco is ground zero for disability advocacy. I’d like to suggest that Uber planners meet with the disability community and hear first-hand how services can be improved. With our disability transit experience combined with Uber’s innovation, we can be the first city in the world to fully accommodate all riders with the push of a button.  -Kristen Pedersen, The Arc San Francisco

From tech workers to seniors to young adults, the disability community wants equal access to ride-sharing services.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Client Advisory Committee: Helping Hands Get Things Done

CAC members vote on everyday Arc SF policies
The Arc San Francisco has a mission to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by promoting self-determination, dignity, and opportunities for our clients’ voices to be heard. Nowhere else have I seen this better exemplified than during the weekly Client Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings.

Every Friday, two staff members and a dozen or so clients come together to create a positive change in the community. In many ways, this committee is like any other: They sit around a long table, use Robert's Rules of Order, and follow an agenda of topics that each member contributed to. What astounded me, however, was the drive and insatiable urge these clients had to change the world.

The first meeting I ever attended sported a wide variety of topics and issues. The agenda touched on everything from local Arc policy to city, state, and even nation-wide politics. They voted to choose the destination of the next Arc field trip, and five minutes later began organizing a rally and letter signing event to advocate for affordable housing, and funding for organizations like The Arc SF.

“I really like the CAC,” said Mimi, a recent addition to the group. “We get to discuss things that are very important: how the city runs and the government, and issues like how to clean our environment and help the homeless. We get our own voice and opinions out, and we can actually make a real difference.”

Mimi could not have been more right. Not only have these clients made noticeable impacts on their communities, but they continue to develop their own leadership and communication skills. These clients are ready to face and better the world, and together they are unstoppable!
by Valerie Cripe, The Arc SF intern from Westmont College

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Experience as the New Arc SF Intern

San Francisco has long called adventurers, artists, and escapists to its beautiful hills and streets. When my college offered the opportunity to spend a semester here and gain some work experience, I jumped at the chance, ready to face the big city. There was no way I could have foreseen the impact it would have on my life and my perceptions of the people around me.

I joined The Arc SF as an intern in January 2016 and my experience continues to amaze me in new ways everyday. The clients are such incredible people, each with their own passions and stories to tell. I work with several of them in classes and creative writing sessions, and the highlight of my week has become sitting down with each of them to learn about their lives, their struggles, plans and dreams. My own ideas of what disability is and the limits it can impose have been shattered repeatedly by the drive and intelligence shown by the clients here at The Arc.

After working here a mere two months, I hardly notice the disability. It has been overwhelmed by the very human reality that they are people, more like me than I had originally thought. Had I continued to let their disabilities define them, I would never have come to befriend Mira the writer, Clinton the traveler, or Shaun the comic artist. I may never have known Joyanne the bowling champion, Miyuki the chef, or Clifford the entertainer. My world is more diverse and colourful, and I am grateful to say, this is only the beginning.

A tutoring and creative writing session in progress.