Blog 8: Final Review

When I started this course I had no idea that I would learn as much as I did about disability culture. As I had stated in my first post, I was unbelievably ignorant of disability studies and quite commonly committed the crimes of using Linton’s “bad words”. Throughout the semester I have learned how to approach disabilities and how to correctly navigate disability culture. 

The most enlightening experience for me was when we watched Murderball as a class. I had already learned that people with disabilities did not need or want pity and that they should not be defined by his or her disability, but I still had a lingering thought that I should always try and help if I ever encountered someone with a disability. After watching Murderball I realized that taking action might be viewed as interfering when it was not necessary, many people with disabilities simply did not need any help. In fact, the members of the USA Wheelchair Rugby Team proved that they, like many others, are just as capable if not more capable than any non-disabled person. This enlightening moment was what influenced my group to choose Oscar Pistorius and disability rhetoric in sports to be our final project topic. Oscar says in his interview “You know I don’t see why I have a disability, I think we make a huge thing out of a disability a disability, well I’m not disabled in any manner. I understand I have a disability, but physically speaking I do more than you know 99% of the world” and that statement is 100% true. There are only few people in the world that are faster than him in a 400m race, a feat that not anyone can boast about. And in the end, we chose to share this with the class in a video form. We felt that this way it could be accessible for a larger audience, especially with the close captioning and transcript options.

Finally, two of my favorite readings were the Linton and Brueggermann readings. Being the very first reading, Linton’s ideas were what set the tone for the semester. It made me much more conscious of the words I used and made sure I approached the topic of disabilities with the respect it deserved. Brueggermann’s reading solidified the how comfortable someone could be with a disability and really illuminated how a disability should not be disabling. By focusing on how cruel “passing” could be, Brueggermann conveys how unimportant it is to be non-disabled, that it does not make anyone better or worse, only different. In my opinion, the ideas of Linton and Brueggermann should be made available for everyone in society. These ideas are important for everyone to have mutual understanding as well as respect for disability studies and more importantly one another.





Rhetorical Implications of Sports Features on Disabled Athletes – Plain Language Captioning

Plain Language Captioning

The Runner Oscar Pistorius may soon make history as the only person to compete
in both the Olympics and Paralympics in London. He is one of the world fastest
runners despite having lost his legs, but some are claiming he cheats by using
replacement legs, which Oscar does not agree with. Who would you be if you were
born broken. Who would you be if you never knew what it was like to walk on two
feet. This is who Oscar Pistorius is. He was named Time magazine’s top 100 most
influential people twice and is one of the fastest 400-meter runners in the entire

This is who Oscar Pistorius is. A boy, born broken, raised to see himself not
as disabled, just different. He was born with a disorder that made his lower legs less
functional. Sadly, due to the treatments for this condition being likely unhelpful, the
parents decided to have his legs removed below the knee. “When I was 13 years old
my mother told me to put on my legs and my brother to put on his shoes and that
we shouldn’t complain about it.” Later, Oscar began to race against abled-bodied
runners, which made sense because he was never raised to accept limitations. As
soon as he qualified for Olympics he was accused of cheating and that his prosthetic
legs turned him into a robotic animal.

“The better I was doing the more people would complain. How come the
thousands of people using these legs cant run the times I do?” In 2008 following
two days of testing, IAAF, the official world track and field organization banned
Pistorius and said that his prosthetic legs were unfair. Months later Oscar won a
victory for himself and disabled people everywhere. “That day was one of the best
days of my life” This inspiring and unlikely runner will compete this summer in the
London Olympics.
“Oh Oscar my favorite.”
“Is he your favorite? “
“He’s my favorite. “
“Why? Tell me why?”
“He’s very kind, he’s got a tender heart, he’s got sportsmanship. “
“You’re not alone a lot of people get excited. “
“Yeah I’m one of them, his character his quite exciting.”

Its not an exaggeration to say that this broken boy is changing the world. Incredible,
great, he’s like the perfect human being. I know, in those silver pants isn’t he
amazing. Yeah, and as you say Jess what an extraordinary credit to his parents the
way he was brought up. To not feel that he was any, more better, that he was special
and incredible. That is truly amazing. I love the term super-speedy cyborg kangaroo
by the way, that should be a comic book hero, super speedy cyborg kangaroo.

We watch sports to take part in the amazing stories, like game winning
scores but there is an even more amazing story happening in track and field. How
about an Olympic runner with no legs? Your looking at one of the worlds best
athletes and a possible Olympic contestant next year. Look again, nothing has
changed. South African runner Oscar Pistorius easily won medals in the Paralympic
games including 3 first place medals in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and he’s
going for more. Since less than a year old when Oscar had the bottoms of his legs
removed he has been overcoming figurative obstacles like rules. He runs with
spring-like metal legs called “the cheetah”.
“Going through all of this trouble over time was hard but it was needed and a hurdle
in my career.”

“You know I believe everything does happen for a reason”
For the next 13 months Oscar will be racing against runners who have two legs and
also hope to win in the Olympics. So does Oscar want people to feel sorry for him?
“When you’re running against the best, it seems its every man for himself. Track is a
tough sport, there’s no room for feelings and emotion. No one is going to feel sorry
for me when I’m training and I’m vomiting my lungs out. That’s why I love running
as a career.

To showcase disability studies as an English class project we chose to show
a few videos on athletes with disabilities. We saw that the reporters in these
videos often used ways of talking about the athletes that tried to make them seem
incredible. A Professor named Rosemarie Garland-Thompson called this style of
story an “overcoming narrative”. The two videos shown here about South African
sprinter, Oscar Pistorius, have phrases that are typical to negative ways of speaking
about people with disabilities. We point these out and give a discussion afterword
about these videos. We have cut the videos down from their original length.

It may be hard to see the word choices used but they are important. Both of the
videos display Oscars skill despite his disability as something that should seem
incredible. The first reporter calls Oscar, “truly amazing” and “so special.” In the
second video, the reporter does the same and describes Oscar as “special and
incredible” and then later as a “comic book hero.” Although it might not be on
purpose, the language they use is rude in that it implies that Oscar is special because
disabled people don’t normally have the ability to make great accomplishments like
this. The video also focuses in on how the athlete beats his disability rather than on
his performance in the actual sport.

The use of the word overcome repeatedly in the first video shows disabilities
as something that must be beaten. It also makes the person with the disability
responsible for his or her care and allows the community to ignore standards that
will help people with disabilities. The first video also stereotypes people with
disabilities by pointing out that Oscar doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for him. This
suggests that most people who have a disability hunger for peoples pity. Finally the

second video used similar language about “overcoming” when they talk about how
he beat his “limitations.”

Also some of the phrases from the second video were offensive. They basically show
Oscar as a flawed object by repeating the phrase, “a boy born broken.” This is also
a terrible phrase because it puts the disability before the person and ignores the
other aspects of Oscar’s personality and tries to get the audience to feel bad for him.
Despite Oscar never asking for pity in the interviews shown the reporter selfishly
tries to use this sympathy to make the story more interesting. The reporters also
use the term, “super speedy cyborg kangaroo,” out of no where to compare him to a
robotic animal mixture and once again not a human.

Like the words in the video, the visual parts of the video should be discussed too.
For example the first video often shows the prosthetic legs as larger and more
in focus than Oscar himself. This subtly shows that Oscar’s disability is larger
than himself. Another way this is done is by showing close-ups on his metal legs
when running. It is understandable for the news to try to use emotion to hook an
audience and sometimes focus on important topics. However these examples can
be used to call the public’s attention to how language in the news can support unjust
ideas unconnected with disability studies.

If you would like to see a video that uses more realistic language please click this
link for a still video on Natalie du Toit. It is a great model for an athletic feature
because it uses mostly comments from the actual athlete and her friends. This is
a good tactic because it removes the need for an outside reported whom has no
personal knowledge of the person centered in the video. It also focuses in on her
accomplishments while neither ignoring her disability nor defining her with it.
We hope this discussion on disability language and speaking can change societies
understanding and response to things that have to do with disability.

Blog 7: Digital Disabilities

When I read the articles by Margaret Price and James Porter, two major things jumped out at me. The first is the fact that people believe that making things more accessible is an action that benefitting only the disabled. In reality, making things more accessible will simply allow everyone to have better access to it. Of course it may benefit a person with a disability more, for example a deaf person will not be able to access an audio file without a transcript. However, with a transcript not only can that deaf person access the file, but someone who has trouble understanding the audio will have something to reference to. To relate to myself, I always utilize close captioning if it is an option. Being able to read along makes it easier for me to understand every piece of dialogue whereas a lack of captioning would require me to replay something multiple times just to make sense of it. 

The second issue was the importance of non-verbal cues in communication. This was brought up by James Porter, he stated that majority of communication actually occurs non-verbally. Some examples being sarcasm, tone, volume, hand gestures, body language etc. A deaf person reading a transcript is unable to recognize tone or sarcasm the same way someone who is hearing can. Or a blind person is unable to see someone’s body language, which may reflect a speaker’s true feelings that conflict with that they are saying. I find this problem to be the most pressing, because there are few ways to communicate hidden emotions if the speaker themselves are not willing to share them.

In conclusion, accessibility is an issue that must be conquered on multiple fronts. Not only is it important to remove the stigmas of accessibility, that they are only for the disabled, but it is essential that their are improvements made to the means of accessibility. By focusing on the quality of the accessibility, it would prove how beneficial it could be to make everything more accessible. That is why I believe that the second issue of non-verbal cues and accessibility is a more pressing issue than that of removing accessibility stigmas.

Blog #5: Planet of the Blind

The rhetoric that Stephen Kuusisto uses in Planet of the Blind greatly differs from that of any other author we have read so far. This is most likely due to the fact that Kuusisto’s disability, retinopathy of prematurity, allows him to experience the world in a completely different manner. Retinopathy of prematurity is a partial blindness that allows him to see a very minimal spectrum. In his narrative, he describes what he can see, which greatly varies from what non-disabled people can. His description of rush hour traffic is “The irregular or sometimes certain flight of color and shape is a wild skein, a tassel of sudden blue here, a wash of red. The very air has turned into hand-blow glass with its imperfect bubbles of amethyst or hazel blue” (Kuusisto 68). While chock-full of imagery, for someone like me who is a non-disabled person, his description of something mundane like rush hour traffic is completely foreign. His narrative hinges on how his limited sight combined with the enhancement of his other senses affect how he feels and relates to the environment. It is a perfect medium to draw readers into his personal world and his personal feelings. Even though his writing is filled with what may be exaggerated descriptions, it is my personal opinion that of all the rhetoric I have encountered, Kuusisto’s is the most realistic. The way he writes is truly what he feels, it is not his intention to invoke emotions; that is simply a by-product. 

However there are instances in which his narrative conforms to the rhetoric of previous authors we have read. The greatest similarity is with Brueggemann and On (almost) passing. This is especially prevalent in the earlier chapters where Kuusisto is insistent on “passing” and appearing to be a normal child. In both cases, they are unable to accept their respective disabilities and attempt to do the same “normal things” as non-disabled persons. For example, Brueggermann forces herself to sit through movie theater dates even though she cannot hear the movie audio and cannot read the lips of her date. In the same vein, Kuusisto is insistent on riding his bike, “I cycled from the age of ten until I was thirty…As a child, I had only that graven need to resemble” (Kuusisto 9). Eventually though, both parties are mature enough to realize that they were only harming themselves and cease their respective actions.


Blog Carnival: Deafness and Accessibility

Using I created a wordle with terms that I thought represented my blog carnival. It focuses on words associated with being deaf or hard of hearing. Rather than nicely laid out, the words are seemingly chaotically thrown across the page. Because of the broadness and depth of a disability, I thought this better represented it since it cannot be grouped together. The words are different colors and set on a black background. The words used are: Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Cochlear Implant, Ears, Sound, Experience, Emotion, Music, Beats, Bass, Sports, Signals, Sign Language, Interpreters, Rights, Tinnitus, Hearing, Voice on, Voice off, Passing, Accessibility, Awareness, Invisible, and Appearance.

This blog carnival seeks to be an insight on the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing and the accessibility issues that they face. Because it is an invisible disability, many people overlook it and do not understand the disability as well as they should. The outward appearance says very little of the issues people who are deaf face mentally and emotionally. Having grown up in a neighborhood with two deaf children and having spent a good amount of time with them, this issue is personal to me. I was initially very ignorant of their deafness, never understanding the issues they might have or overcompensating for them. Hopefully this blog carnival enlightens people to the nature of being deaf and hard of hearing as well as some of the accessibility issues that they face.

Jim raises the issue of some companies not having the necessary resources or options to assist those who are deaf and hard of hearing. These same companies sometimes refuse to talk to his wife, who is hearing, because she simply is not Jim. If these companies do not accept his wife as a relay operator and also do not offer one for him, it becomes impossible for Jim to communicate with these companies. Something must be done to ensure the equality for all deaf and hard of hearing persons.

Accessibility is often an issue for anyone with a disability. In the case of Jim, because he is deaf he is unable to communicate with many companies over the phone. In my mind, companies that do not offer alternative options for people with disabilities are simply poorly led companies. Not only are these companies discriminating, they are losing out on a large portion of the consumer base. Jim has tried other options, such as having his wife speak for him, but even then many companies do not accept that. Because of their personal relationship, there could be no better relay operator. Yet these companies not only do not accept her, but also do not offer one of their own. This impairment to accessibility is something Jim and other people who are deaf have to deal with every day. In my mind, it is a problem with human rights and equality.

Kym Bozarth breaks down some of the stereotypes that people sometimes associate with being deaf or hard of hearing. It focuses on the fact that deaf people are fully capable of speaking and many do, it is a matter of personal choice. It also debunks the ignorant belief that deaf people are also mentally challenged, something that people who are deaf take great offense to.

People often have misconceptions of people who are deaf or hard or hearing. The biggest misconception is that they are either unable to speak or that their accent signifies mental retardation. This is offensive to anyone deaf or hard of hearing. In fact people who are deaf have the capability to talk, but for various reasons some choose not to. This could be either because he or she is unable to judge their own volume, or even it makes people forget he or she is deaf. On the other hand, there are many people who are deaf who are very proficient in both lip-reading and speaking. This emphasizes how deafness is an invisible disability, because it would be nearly impossible to tell he or she is deaf. In terms of mental retardation, the assumption is unbelievably offensive. It is comparable to judging someone on the way he or she speaks a second language. It is not an easy task to train the mouth and tongue to create foreign tones. For a person who is deaf and unable to hear him or herself speak, it is even more challenging to create the same tones as someone who is hearing.

Kym Bozarth talks about her personal experience with being deaf and how she views her deafness. She was born hearing and therefore has perfected the ability of talking and holding a conversation. However even though she has earing aids as well as the option of cochlear implants, she has chosen to fully embrace her deafness. She has chosen “voice off” because she finds ASL so natural to her. She does not want to use her voice and have people forget that she is deaf, and that “deaf Kym is the real Kym”.

In this post, Kym is someone who I admire greatly and has inspired myself to be more confident in myself. Many people assume that people who are deaf would love to be hearing, or at least want to “pass” as a hearing person. Kym’s views let people know that this simply is not true. Her gradual deafness has given her all the tools to pass easily as a hearing person. But because she knows that she in fact is not a hearing person, she chooses to embrace who she is because that is more comfortable for her. Since her deafness is a big part of who she is, she prefers to use ASL and finds that it feels more natural for her anyway. This is her own take on accessibility, because while it does inhibit some forms of communication with her, it makes her much more comfortable.

Lizzie Ward talks about having “musical tinnitus”; defined as sound in your ears without any external stimuli. Throughout her blog she talks about how since she was young she had a series of ringing noises in her head. When she was young this ringing made it very difficult to sleep and affected her interactions in her daily life. Finally her introduction to the music of Michael Jackson gave her salvation from her “torture”. Because her way of listening to music involved her repetitively listening to a song, she eventually became able to turn the noises in her ears to something resembling Michael Jackson tracks. From then on, music has helped her overcome the side effects of tinnitus.

Many people, including myself, believe that being deaf means that you simply hear nothing all the time. However, as Lizzie Ward knows, that there are various forms of deafness. I wanted to share this post in my blog carnival because it emphasizes the depth and broadness of a disability. It is also interesting how accessible music can be. Even though she is hard of hearing, she is able to make out the bass and other aspects of Michael Jackson’s music. That along with other music has allowed her to evolve tinnitus to something that brings her great pleasure.

Jean F. Andrews explains how police officers state the Miranda Rights to deaf suspects.  Usually delivered in spoken form, the Miranda Rights are six statements that inform the suspect of the rights they have as they are placed into custody. However deaf people do not have the ability to hear so officers resort to a signed waiver. This leads to a variety of problems such as the reading level of the suspect, or the fact that they might sign it in fear or not being cooperative. Andrews calls for an increased awareness for deaf suspects and for officers to rely less on lip reading or written communication and find ASL or other sign language interpreters.

Being a pre-law student, I understand the importance of the Miranda Rights in any criminal investigation. Those difference between stating those six simple statements and not changes the whole outcome of the case. For suspects who might be deaf and hard of hearing, it is necessary to find a better way to let them know their rights. By signing the above waiver, they sign away many of their rights. It allows the officer to interrogate them without an attorney present to defend the suspect. In a high stress environment, it is very plausible that deaf suspects would do whatever they could to cooperate and avoid conflict. This lack of accessibility is an attack on the undeniable rights of every citizen in the United States.

This is a blog post about how the election outcome could benefit or harm the deaf community. The general consensus is that another four years of the Obama administration is the most beneficial for the deaf community. The reason being that Obamacare, Obama’s health plan, offers a wider variety of care compared to those offered by Paul Ryan’s or Mitt Romney’s plan. Also Obama seems to be more pro-union than Romney or Ryan, and unions seem to be crucial in ensuring equal rights and opportunities for the deaf community.

This post has little to do with accessibility, but I thought it was very interesting to see how a disability could affect the way people voted. They take into account issues that hearing people simply do not think about. Because of the way Democrats and Republicans view the economy, I thought that people who were deaf might side with Democrats more. Democrats implement a good deal more financial aid packages, which is crucial since some of the tools that deaf people use are very expensive, i.e. hearing aids and cochlear implants. It was interesting to know that Obamacare offered a good deal more coverage than the Republican health plans. Paul Ryan’s plan in particular leaves many people who are deaf out to dry. In the end, it seems the vote of people who are deaf on average go to whoever offers more accessibility. In this case, because of the Democratic stance on health care and unions, Democrats might receive that vote. However this is only the viewpoint of a single person, it would be very interesting to know more.

Jim was a deaf high school athlete who competed in football, soccer, and swimming. In football, he was left unable to participate because the coach did not like that he was deaf. In swimming, he was able to participate and was quite good. However he suffered a disadvantage of having a late start because he was unable to hear the buzzer. He wishes that there were the technological advances as there are now that are geared towards helping deaf swimmers start faster. While this sounds like asking to be treated differently, he also claims that he loved how his soccer coach treated him as “able”. He was very successful at soccer, making varsity as a freshman, proving his athletic prowess.

When I swam in high school, there was a deaf swimmer, Jordan Jones, on my swim team. Since our lockers were very close to each other we slowly became friends throughout the season. He was usually “voice off” but would occasionally yell funny phrases seemingly to amuse the team. He was very comfortable with the team, we would spend over 5 hours together a day and maybe more on weekends, and so his deafness was never an issue. Jordan however wasn’t just any team member; he was one of our fastest swimmers. Not only was he on all three of our state meet relays, he also placed 3rd at states for the 50 free. Without a doubt in our minds, Jordan was more than capable at thriving at the collegiate level and beyond. In my mind, Jordan represents what Jim hoped he could be. With the high level technology used at every meet, he was able to start at the same time as everyone else; overcoming the disadvantage Jim faced. It shows that Jim’s wishes have come true and swimming has become much more accessible and equal with more advanced technology.

This blog talks about Marcus Titus, an Olympian level deaf swimmer. He is accusing USA Swimming of discriminating against swimmers who are deaf and hard of hearing by not allowing the necessary resources to be used to allow them to compete with the hearing not-impaired. Right now, a strobe light is used in both hearing impaired races as well as not hearing impaired races to signal the beginning of the race. However, there is no way for hearing impaired swimmers to know when to step up to the block and take their marks except for hand signals or other indicators. USA Swimming is not allowing these hand signals to be used during their trials, forcing a division between hearing impaired and hearing not impaired swimmers.

Mark Titus’ plight has an Olympian level swimmer once again reminded me of Jordan. Similar to Mark, Jordan would have to receive the initial instructions, “racers on your blocks” and “racers ready”, from his interpreter. Without these instructions, not only would he physically be slower than other swimmers, it definitely affects the pre-race mentality. So even with the advances in technology, there are still many issues with accessibility at some levels. In my opinion, the ban on hand signals makes no sense. It does not offer them any advantage, and would cause no or minimal distraction to other swimmers since they rely on sound. This is just one sport in which accessibility must be improved, because it is a shame for both parties.  Mark, Jim, Jordan, etc. miss out on the competition, but the swimming world and hearing swimmers also lose out on valuable competition.

Written by an anonymous author, this blog post talks about Gray’s Athletic deaf soccer player Daniel Ailey and the ridicule he faced. At a recent match against a rival team, the opposing fans harassed Ailey for his deaf-related actions on the field, i.e. grunting loudly to attract teammates attention. It eventually escalated to the point where the police had to be called to calm them down. Ailey, who was part of the Paralympic team, bravely ignored the fans but said that he had expected more from them.

In soccer, the ability to seamlessly communicate with teammates is a necessity to win. The Gray’s Athletic team has overcome any accessibility issues that would have impaired Daniel’s ability to compete with the team. They created an offensive system which involved hand signals to communicate to him, and a mixture of grunting and hand signals for him to communicate with on the field. The issue here is the barriers created by the ignorant and harsh audience. Just because things are physical accessible, it does not mean deaf people are comfortable using them. Because of the mental stress created by the fans, it became a completely unsportsmanlike environment not only for Ailey but also for everyone involved. The general public needs improvement in the way they handle things in order to increase accessibility for everyone. 

Artifact Offering: Wheelchair Basketball

After watching Murderball in class, as well as writing a paper on it, I decided to use my experience playing wheelchair basketball as my artifact offering. Being one of the most popular sports at the Paralympic Games,  as well as having its own international league, wheelchair basketball has a very large participation and fan base.

Last year in March, I went with some friends in Circle K to Northwood University to participate in their third annual wheelchair basketball tournament. As some background information, Northwood University in Midland has a very large Special Olympics team with the 75-person basketball program being the largest program. The tournament purpose was to raise awareness for persons with disabilities as well as fundraise for the Midland Wheelchair Basketball Team. Having played basketball in high school, I was very excited to participate in the basketball tournament. However, upon getting into the wheelchair I realized how tiring and grueling wheelchair basketball would be. Being unable to to use your legs meant relying solely on upper-body strength to make baskets, a task that would prove very challenging. (I can now understand why Joe Soares was so confident in his upper-body strength when fighting his childhood bully.) Beyond just shooting, the act of dribbling, moving around the court, and playing defense were all very difficult. In fact, the end score was a dismal 10-8 with each team only scoring 4-5 baskets and getting into 10-15 collisions in the 20 minute game. After the competition with non-disabled players ended, we were lucky enough to see an exhibition game between some of the players in the Midland Basketball program. Compared to how clumsy we were on the court, they effortlessly glided up and down the court making baskets from nearly everywhere. They were also executing plays like the pick and roll to perfection. The tournament ended with a few non-disabled players taking on the Midland team. Needless to say we did not stand a chance; losing 30-4. I talked to a few players after the game and found that just like in Murderball all the players came into their disability at different times. Whether it was a childhood disease or a traumatic accident, they all bounced back and found wheelchair basketball. I personally became friends with one of the players, Evan. He had been in a car accident in high school that had paralyzed him from the waist down. He told me how reading about other paraplegic athletes inspired him to get back into basketball (he had also played in high school).

This was one of my very first in-depth experiences with a paraplegic athlete. I realized the massive amount of perseverance and determination to rebuild not only the physical strength but also to build the mental strength required. The program at Midland is a very comprehensive one, helping players of all skill level and at all stages in their rehabilitation. Experienced players help out the newer ones, as well as receive physical training of their own. Beyond that, the amount of basketball knowledge and play training is also very extensive. I hope that all colleges, including ours, as a program similar to this. Since sports has long served as an outlet for myself, and I’m sure for many others as well, I believe it is extremely important that persons with disabilities, who may need the outlet more than I do, can also take part in a variety of sports.

The only thing that appeared odd to me was that the hosts, Northwood University and the Midland Wheelchair Basketball Program, referred to the event as benefitting the “Special Olympics Michigan for Area 30 (Midland). As anyone who has watched Murderball will know, paraplegic athletes resent their events being referred to as the Special Olympics. At the time, I was ignorant and unaware of the difference, but now the naming seems very odd. Attached is a link to the event page:

I’ve attached also a picture of the Wheelchair Basketball tournament. Unfortunately the member with all the pictures has recently graduated from University of Michigan and I was unable to get some of my favorite pictures from her.


This picture depicts 10 non-disabled persons male and female playing wheelchair basketball on a regulation basketball court. They are sitting on a variety of specialized wheelchairs that allow for faster movement and quicker direction changes. They are not wearing any team uniforms so it is hard to tell who is on what team. The ball is in the hands of a girl close to the rim as she prepares for a shot.

I’ve also attached a video of wheelchair basketball being described and played: 

English 316 Design Apartheid Video

Our video displaying design apartheid around the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor Campus

Caption Fails

When I watch videos on Hulu or Netflix, I always turn on close captioning. I am not deaf or hard-of-hearing, I simply enjoy being able to read along in case the environment I’m in is too loud for me to hear properly or the actors are mumbling unintelligibly. For this purpose, close captioning has always done its job and improves my viewing experience. In order to better comprehend the problems Zdenek raises in his article, I attempted to watch a full-length episode of The Office on Hulu without any sound. What I found was that close captioning alone does not capture the true essence of the show. 

The main problem is that Hulu does not adjust for tone in their close captions. With a show laden with sarcasm like The Office, many of the jokes are seem either nonsensical or incredibly rude when in reality they are all good-natured. In addition tone, it is impossible to distinguish the when a character is speaking in a voice different from his normal one. For example, Dwight Schrute falls of a slack-line and cuts his mouth open. From that point on he develops a slurred voice that adds comedic value to his fall. Without sound, it is impossible to tell he is talking differently until another character brings it up much later in the episode. (Picture below)

Another problem with Hulu, and most close captioning services, is that it does not caption some of the unimportant, but humorous, dialogue in the background. Another example for this episode of the office, Dwight attempts to bike on a cable from one building to another. He fails and ends up hanging on the cable while firemen come to rescue him. The whole time he is hanging up there, there is a main dialogue which consists of him screaming for help and the manager Andy calling 911. However all the other remaining characters in the office are saying snide quips or witty remarks. Close captioning fails to capture any of these side conversations, changing the scene from a lighthearted situational comedy to a thriller while Dwight and Andy panic. 

In conclusion, close captioning has a long way to go before it genuinely captures the true essence of T.V. shows or movies. And because each show is different, and presents itself differently, it is imperative that each show has its own close captioning department. A generic close captioning system cannot possible capture all the intricacies that each show brings to the table.

ImageDwight Schrute, wearing office attire, has just fallen off the slack line outside and is staggering. His mouth is cut and bleeding down his chin; his teeth are also stained red. His statement “this activity is stupid” is addressed to the other characters in this scene of The Office. His speech is slurred because of the injury he sustained.

Becoming (in)visible

While the previous readings addressed the trials and tribulations that go hand in hand with “coming out”, the concept of “passing” was a relatively foreign one. Before reading Brueggeman’s “On (Almost) Passing”, I had assumed “passing” meant a person with a disability getting through the day without being “outed” (another important topic). However Brueggeman defines “passing” more as successfully integrating oneself into society while having a disability. Beyond that, “passing” can also be the moment in which both parties are aware of the disability but allow it to go unmentioned. By not mentioning the disability and letting it “pass”, both parties acknowledge the existence of a disability but allows the individual with the disability to choose the time (if ever) and place to “come out”. Through this, I realized the act of “passing” is just as intimate of an experience as “coming out”.

By understanding the significance of “passing”, it also led me to understand the pain associated with being “outed”. Brueggeman recounts her experience after being “outed”; “I went to the other side of the chow table and tried to breathe, tried to think of how I could make it past those people, to my car, out of here.” (Brueggeman 328). It is unimportant how other people reacted, accepting or not accepting, her personal struggles debilitated her more than her disability (deafness) could.  Beyond being “outed”, just the fear of being “outed” continued to act as a deterrent. This led her to share her disability with strangers in order to avoid the harsher alternative of possibly being “outed”.

The reason that Brueggeman can even “pass” as a non-disabled person is because her disability, being hard-of-hearing, is what Montgomery refers to as an invisible disability. Deaf or hard-of-hearing, like many other disabilities, are hard for the average person to detect without specifically asking or looking for it. And because of that, not only do they feel segregated from the non-disabled but there is also a rift between them and other people with not so invisible disabilities. It came as a great surprise to me that even within the disabled community that there would exist discrimination. Montgomery finishes off well with: “So let me challenge all of us: among ourselves, let’s give up belief in ‘invisible disability’. Let’s work as a cross-disability community in a way that acknowledges all disabled people — all people — as individuals.” (Montgomery)