deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
True Story: I only eat oranges when someone offers them to me. I can't peel them, I can't use (as seen on TV!) orange peelers, I can't scoop them out with a spoon like they're tiny grapefruit. I can sometimes peel a clementine, but not reliably. Yes, I could ask a friend to peel me an orange, but honestly, I have to ask people to do so many other things for me just so I can eat (carry that bowl; drain that pasta; chop that onion; open that bottle); I'm not going to waste one of my precious asks on an orange when I could just eat an apple.

Another True Story: My mother brought me up to feel real shame over convenience items. She was willing to compromise on keeping tinned soups in the house we kids could make for ourselves, and buying bakery bread. But everything from supermarket bread to pre-chopped garlic to cake mixes were items worth nothing but scorn. (Oddly, we had a microwave. Also, I'm pretty sure that in the 70's vegetables grew in rectangular frozen bricks.)

#OrangeGate thus hits home for me.

A summary of The Case of the Package in Orange: Last week, [twitter.com profile] awlilnatty tweeted:



The image in the tweet is of peeled oranges being sold in plastic tubs by Whole Foods.

Social media backlash was huge, Whole Foods pulled the oranges, the press covered it in multiple countries. Meanwhile, disabled folks on Twitter said "WTF, those oranges are awesome!" and got called Earth-destroying demons by some asshats on the Internet. (References: Crippled Scholar, "When Accessibility Gets Labeled Wasteful". [twitter.com profile] AnaMardoll, "Feminism: Oranges and Disability Accessible Items".)

Every time I purchase a convenience item, I argue with the inner puritan my mother instilled in me, the shaming voice that sounds like an army of Twitter eco-activists happily tweetraging away from their rare earth-filled mobile phones. I am lucky enough to be a well-to-do person with a disability, so I can make convenience choices: the robot swiffer; the accessible doorknobs and taps I've installed in my home; the touchpad remote control; the top of the line microphones and adaptive tech. And every one of these makes me feel lazy and shamed.

Once, I bought a motion-sensitive liquid soap dispenser. It was awesome, especially in the mornings when my hands are minimally functional. Later, someone I follow tweeted mockery at an ad for the dispenser. When mine subsequently died, I couldn't bring myself to replace it. Seriously, every time I see it in the drug store, I think about buying it, but stop myself. I've even put it in the shopping basket before putting it back. I hear my inner puritan yelling at me, now combined with the mockery of people on the internet. So in the mornings I struggle with a regular soap dispenser (uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes painful) or bar soap (constantly dropped, difficult to grip, sometimes painful).


  • The robot swiffer means I can help out a little more around the house and not rely on my partner.
  • If it weren't for [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman reminding me I'm allowed to take taxis, I'd see my friends even less often.
  • Do you know they make tool that both unscrews bottles and opens that annoying wedge of cardboard you're supposed to push in with your thumb? It's amazing.
  • My partner has to pop daily pills into a pill case for me, because nobody's invented a convenience tool that defeats blister packs.
  • If I could bring myself to buy pre-chopped onions, I'd cook far more often than I do. But every time I think about it, I'm confronted with people making fun of them as luxuries as in this old piece from Consumerist.
  • My mother shames me for buying sliced sandwich bread -- from the bakery, even, not from the store -- because if I won't bake it, she can bake it for me. But the store bread is sliced. Slices matter.
  • I remember when I could eat artichokes. I haven't been able to eat an artichoke in 15 years because I can't grip the leaves, but I can eat a canned artichoke heart.



Disability is expensive. An adapted life is one which is allowed to have a footprint on the world. Living without convenience items by choice is a luxury, and you should be grateful you can.

Excuse me. I need to go eat an apple.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Yet another pass through the cycle that periodically afflicts me.

  • Follow professional colleagues on twitter.
  • Be relatively quiet and well-behaved on twitter because it's a professional forum.
  • Follow more social justice folks on twitter because that's where they are.
  • Tweet more about politics because these issues are important.
  • Get stressed about tweeting about politics because I'm inexplicably followed on twitter by my boss, my grandboss, my great-grandboss, and my CEO.
  • Get equally stressed about tweeting during the workday because see above, even though I'm responsible about when I check it.
  • Hope they have me muted.
  • Follow lots of people using twitter as a long-form platform because the New Web is weird, y'all.
  • Start to long-form tweet because I pick up the languages of cultures I'm immersed in far too quickly.


With a soupçon of "I have all these blog topics half-drafted; why do I never finish them or reply to comments?" and a dash of "I seem to be so destractable and irritable lately."

I did eventually figure out that one of the reasons I was doing long-form tweeting is my perception that more people will read a storify than a blog post (unless it's on medium, *snort*). Which, (a) aargh, whatever, this is not a productive of my focus, and (b) I'm not widely read anyhow. [footnote]

I also keep running into the situation where I'm capable of being ridiculously diplomatic in situations where I believe it's called for (basically, any situation which has already become fraught), but in pretty much any other situation I am my father's daughter. I call that "assuming that in any non-politicized situation everyone is an adult and is willing to speak frankly with each other and hear frank and open opinions", though I suppose my father probably would have called it "not having time for assholes". To be fair, he also would have said something to the effect of "you're your father's daughter, and we're both assholes."

(Sometimes I miss the hell out of my dad. ♥♥♥♥♥)

This has led to the odd situation where some people believe I am incredibly diplomatic and can be called on to moderate awkward conversations, and some people think I am a bull in a china shop and should not be allowed out in public. Both of which are actually situationally true! But twitter, in any case, is one of the situations where it will not occur to me to be incredibly diplomatic, even though almost by his very nature it is already fraught.

It was at this point that I recalled I could disable Echofon notifications on my phone.

I'm hoping this will stick.


Footnote:
Certainly I'm not widely read in the accessibility community, where I'd like to have some influence. On the one hand this is deeply frustrating, because I do have a lot to add to that conversation with respect to technology, usability, and standards. On the other hand, that arguably means I can burn bridges freely.

Which, as I watch (as I have over the last decade) women, people with disabilities, and people of color get shunted to the side in accessibility standards making, accessibility voices cited, and people in the field given credit for their work, is something I have been considering more and more lately. If I'm not going to be allowed to help improve the accessibility of the web as a whole, why not focus on improving the accessibility of individual websites? I am too practical to bang my head against this particular wall forever.

Also, today was my first real mansplain! (Since its coinage.) I mean a For Serious dude in my mentions Calmly Explaining Me Things, when it became clear via three separate threads that he had no idea what he was talking about, and I, who had assumed he knew more than I did because he was so confident about it, was the more more knowledgeable of the two of us.

I was grimly thinking last week about the great day in the future when I will be able to burn all of those aforementioned bridges and speak a truth or too about the way things happen in the accessibility community, when I remembered the also aforementioned "the accessibility community doesn't particularly value my voice." Which again, means I can be tactless enough to make a post such as, say, this one, without even worrying about ticking people off. I could even link to it from twitter, honestly, although that would arguably be counter-productive for my own mental health.
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