Monday, October 31, 2016

The Disability Community in the Library: An Exciting Announcement!

Picture of comedian Maysoon Zayid
Includes quote: "And I'm like, 'No, like seriously! The part of my brain
that controls coordination is damaged!'"
The first time I ever read a children's or YA book with a disabled character I could identify with, I was 29 years old.

Reviews on Goodreads will tell you that this book is horribly written, and loses the plot halfway through, and it’s just terrible and it’s probably weeded from most teen collections even though it was published in 2011. To tell you the truth I don’t even remember much of what it was about except “If Dawson had cerebral palsy” but that was the biggest thing: It was like reading a book about an abled character. Or, maybe, it was reading a book about a character that got abled character treatment: he had interests and passions and a screwed up friend and realistic goals and all of that had nothing to do with having cerebral palsy. He just had it. And lived.

This was (and still is) rare. The closest feeling I can get to my feeling reading this book was the feeling expressed by some women with the release of Ghostbusters 2016: “this is important and cathartic and satisfying and comforting and god why wasn’t it perfect it should have been perfect.” I wished it was better so that more people liked it, so that more books would be written about realistic disabled characters.

Around this time was the first time I actually started talking to other disabled people about disabilities. Specifically, when I was 29, it was people with cerebral palsy about cerebral palsy. People with other disabilities came later: an extended family member of mine has a disability, one that they have had my entire life, and it did not occur to me to talk about the disabled experience with them until Christmas two years ago. I started reading more about myself as a member of the disability community, rather than as a person in a world not created for me and didn’t understand my experience enough to represent me in media.


I didn’t fully come to terms with one of the largest parts of my identity as a disabled person in the world until the events that I talked about in my Disability Allies in the Library post; which was nearly 34 years after I came into existence, so I have some catching up to do with how to talk about it and what it means. BUT what I did discover was that You, Reader, wanted to hear more about disabled/neurodivergent people in libraries.  I decided it was important, as a privileged member of the disability community, to use this platform I’ve built (an actual blog that still has steady readership in 2016!) to do this.

So, it is my pleasure to announce:
 The Accessibility Series.
Cat with an astronaut helmet, holding a key.
Cat is flying through a library door.
Behind the cat is a background that looks like outer space.

This series will host periodic posts by disabled and neurodivergent people who want to talk about their experiences with libraries. Some posts will be personal in nature, others with professional tips. I enlisted the help of some fabulous library-types to talk this through, brainstorm ideas, and write with me, and I think you’re really going to get a lot out of it. I'd like to thank Jessica, Rebecca, endever*, Sharon, and Mindy for helping me shape this series's goals and for offering to write themselves. The logo is by Chris Frantz of On a Roll Designs, who has also agreed to republish one my favorite articles from her no-longer-active blog. Talking with them about their experiences has been amazing, and I'm so excited to see where this goes.

And that’s not all!

If you are a disabled or neurodivergent person working with libraries, even as a patron, and would like to write about this, I CAN PAY YOU TO WRITE A POST.

That’s right. I know that working for free can make opportunities particularly prohibitive to people with disabilities/neurodivergent people. So I was able to secure a small grant from the lovely people at Awesome without Borders (note: I did not write the press release) to actually compensate you if you need it. Email me at brycedontplay at gmail dot com for more information!

Click here to read the first post in this series!

4 comments:

  1. have you ever read Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper?

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    1. Hi, Unknown! I have, but not until I was 32 :) I go back and forth about it, but the doctor scenes in particular struck a chord with me. On Goodreads, it seems like a lot of readers don't believe that doctors would not be knowledgeable about cerebral palsy, but this is definitely something I and people I know struggle with!

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  2. I also really loved Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson...totally different take on disabilities.

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  3. This is wonderful news! Congratulations on initiating a great project, AND on getting grant funding. Looking forward to the series.

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