Travelling wheels, and whoever invented the ankle was a jerk

Someone just tagged this very nice photo of me dressed to kill! It’s from in 2010 in Wellington. Now that was a fantastic conference! I had such a great time with the Haecksen and at DrupalSouth. I gave three talks, “Code of Our Own“, “Hack Ability: Open Source Assistive Tech“, and one about Drupal consulting; went to some other great talks; did some fun hacking around; messed with Arduinos; went to a GirlGeek dinner; did touristy things (greatly facilitated by Daniel and Kelly driving me around half of the island, one of the nicest things ever); and met a ton of fantastic people. (Thank you Google “diversity” money, LCA, and DrupalSouth for helping me get there with some cold hard cash!)


I note that when you’re using a wheelchair and dressing up it is important to either wear pants that are about 3 inches longer than you’d wear walking, OR make sure to have on really good socks.

These stripey purple socks cheered me greatly! I have matching armwarmers, but that’s kind of overkill.

It was nice to wake up to see this reminder that I am a tough-assed world traveler.

That’s part of why I leave the dozens and dozens of airplane gate tags remnants on my wheelchair frame. Sometimes it bolsters me up to look down at at them and think, “I’ve been a lot of places with this chair.”

After months of doing very well and gradual improvement in walking, to the point where in December I was boldly walking around barely using a cane “just in case” and practically STRIDING, going up stairs just for fun and to “feed” my little FitBit friend, well, something went wrong in my ankles. I don’t really know what (yet if ever) but it began to hurt like hell. I took it easy every couple of days, but then it went *really* wrong, and I could not bend my ankles very well. That’s never happened to me before! A whole new kind of pain and limping! Right when I was cautiously thinking about my future years of “invisible disability” and the new challenges that would bring…

If your ankles don’t work, you can only shuffle very cautiously. Going up or down even a small step means turning sideways to take the step, while holding onto something for dear life. So, I’ve been in bed for two weeks, with my feet up on ice packs and heating pads. It is hard to take a shower. I can’t drive, because my foot can’t work the gas and brake pedals. For going to the doctor (or my one outing this week, to a cafe, driven by a friend) I am back in the wheelchair. I’m taking taxis for doctor visits and using TaskRabbit rather heavily while my partner is out of town.

Now while I talk big about everything I have to say it was just plain convenient and nice to be able to walk so well. I am in pain and sad and upset. Actually I’d notch that up to “freaked the hell out and terrified of losing my independence.” So it’s nice to see this photo of myself from 2 years ago, happy and smiling, looking sharp, ranging (alone) so far from home. I do love my wheels!

And next year I swear I’m going to KiwiCon. . .

Will you need a photo ID to vote in 2012?

The Brennan Center just published a huge report, Voting Law Changes in 2012. The description of the report says that these laws will affect disabled people as well as young, minority, and low-income voters. Here is the lowdown on how these laws may affect people with disabilities.

Disability and Voting equals Power button

Seven states have changed the law on voter registration and on absentee ballots to require government-issued photo ID. If you’re disabled, and you don’t have a current state or federal government issued photo ID, you may need to do quite a lot of planning to get one. Transportation, and the process itself of waiting in lines and going to various offices may be a barrier for many people.

If you have an elderly relative whose ID may be expired or who may not have a photo ID, and you’re in one of these states, you might want to help them prepare to vote. Let them know the law has changed and ask them to check their ID expiration dates now!

Unexpired driver’s license, non-driver’s ID issued by a motor vehicle department, U.S. passport, or U.S. military photo ID will be accepted by all seven states: Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Student IDs: Alabama, Kansas, and Rhode Island.

U.S. naturalization documents bearing a photo: Alabama, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Tribal ID card with a photo: Alabama and Wisconsin.
Concealed handgun licenses: Kansas and Texas. (Okay….)
Any old ID with your name and photo on it: Rhode Island. Woo hoo, print your own!

Here’s an excerpt from the Voting Law Changes in 2012 report that describes the situation in detail:

In general, the photo ID bills that were introduced this session are more restrictive than those in prior sessions, including fewer forms of acceptable IDs, fewer exemptions, or fewer alternative mechanisms for eligible voters without the specified IDs to vote.

Those laws that have passed this session vary in several respects, including: (1) the types of photo ID that voters are permitted to show for voting; (2) whether the requirement to provide ID applies only to in-person voters or to those who vote by mail as well; (3) whether there are any exemptions from the requirement to provide ID; and, most importantly, (4) whether there is an alternative way for a voter who does not have an accepted form of photo ID to cast a ballot that counts. Detailed descriptions of each bill are included in the appendix to this report.

The types of ID permitted
With the exception of Rhode Island, each of the states that passed voter ID bills require voters to show government-issued photo IDs, though the list of acceptable IDs differs from state to state. All seven states accept an unexpired driver’s license, non-driver’s ID issued by a motor vehicle department, U.S. passport, or U.S. military photo ID. All states except for Kansas and South Carolina also accept U.S. naturalization documents bearing a photo. Alabama, Rhode Island, and Tennessee broadly accept any photo ID issued by state and federal governments, though Tennessee expressly excludes student IDs from consideration. Only Alabama, Kansas, and Rhode Island accept student photo IDs issued by state institutions of higher education. Wisconsin purports to accept certain state-issued student IDs, but the state’s new law imposes criteria for such IDs that few if any state schools’ IDs meet. Kansas and Texas expressly allow concealed handgun licenses, and Alabama, Rhode Island and Tennessee accept such IDs as well. Only Alabama and Wisconsin accept a tribal ID card with a photo. Rhode Island is the only state that accepts non-governmental photo IDs for voting; indeed, any current ID with a voter’s name and photograph suffices.

Who must show photo ID

All seven states require individuals appearing to vote in person at a polling place to show photo ID. Only Alabama and Kansas require all persons who vote absentee to submit a copy of their photo IDs with their mail-in ballots. Those states are now the first two states in the nation ever to require photo ID with absentee ballots. Wisconsin requires permanent absentee voters to submit a copy of their photo IDs, but only the first time they vote absentee. As a practical matter, all absentee voters in Wisconsin will have to provide a copy of their photo IDs when the law first goes into full effect in 2012.


Several states exclude certain categories of voters from the requirement to show photo ID for voting. Alabama exempts individuals who are entitled to vote absentee under federal laws protecting certain military and overseas voters and certain elderly and disabled voters. Wisconsin also exempts military and overseas voters, as well as voters designated as “confidential,” such as police officers or domestic violence victims. It does not exempt elderly or disabled voters other than those indefinitely confined to certain care facilities. Tennessee exempts voters who are either hospitalized or in nursing homes. Texas exempts certain voters with disabilities who can produce a statement that they have been determined to be disabled by specified government agencies and do not have the required ID. And Kansas exempts only permanently disabled and absent military voters from its law, but allows persons over sixty-five to show expired photo IDs.

I’m not in any of those states but thought I’d help get the word out.

If you’re in California, take a look at Disability Rights California’s page on Voting Rights, it’s very good and has a ton of links to information in Spanish, English, Cambodian, Hmong, Chinese, Tagalog, Laotian, and Vietnamese on voting while disabled.

Thanks to Dan Gillmor for the link to the Brennan Center report.