Thursday, October 9, 2008

Austin Women with Disabilities Speak Out!

Today was all about our meeting at ADAPT of Texas! Here is their office building:

Home Office of ADAPT of Texas

And in the wall of their meeting room, a disability poster of Harret Tubman, who had a form of epilepsy:

Disability Etching Poster of Harriet Tubman

And right outside the front door, since the building is government owned, is the mandatory sign warning people not to bring their guns inside:

No guns sign in English and Spanish

And thanks to David and Nicky, there were some tasty cookies shaped like the state of Texas:

Texas Cookies

And finally, here is our group of about seven women meeting in the ADAPT conference room:

Group photo in conference room

Ater introductions and talking about FRIDA, we brainstormed ideas for change and action, as follows (thanks to Stephanie for taking notes!):

Disabled woman told she must have her tubes tied if she was going to have her baby, nuns forced her

Had to go to high risk because clinics wouldn’t take her (more $, more appointmenst)


Right to sexual oppression: people with cognitive disabilities as well as other people with disabilities

Work? Hard to know with low employment rates for people with disabilities in general

When we advocate, sometimes people respond in a sexist way. Do we have sexism in the disability community?

When women come out of institutions, often feeling unempowered

Parents' expectations can be limiting

Disabled people....expectation that they won’t have relationships

Isolation leads to lack of inclusion in regular socializing

Rapes and abuse reported by disabled women are not taken seriously

Women’s groups don’t take disability seriously

Women with disabilites get tired of being the only women with disabilities at women’s gatherings; for activists, the activist stance sets you apart from the group

Issues with physical access and attitudinal access

There was an acupuncturist here in Austin who could not get a license because he/she was blind

What issue would make you mad enough to jump off a bridge? Cut off your hair? Take action?

Independence was mentioned important is it for women with disabilities?

We need housing for privacy and for escaping abuse

Some statistics say women with disabilities are abused at about the same rate as women without disabilities, but they stay in abusive relationships longer

One shelter in Austin is accessible and you can bring a PA too, but not all shelters are accessible

There are major problems with access to shelters for people with psychiatric disabilities

Women with disabilites are too often hushed up, kept at home, families embarrassed about their disabilities

Older women with disabilities are often ignored and overlooked, people are mean

What about starting a group for older women with disabilities?

Money affects access

Inaccessible homes means you can’t get together and build community, with the neighbors, with kids, in politcs (say at house parties), and with women’s groups

Segregation is a big issue

Access to health care is a big issue, no scales for weighing women with physical disabilities

We can’t use mammogram machines, can’t get on tables for ob/gyn exams, can’t get on the rape exam table

Undressing for exams is hard

We should see if the Planned Parenthood clinics in town are accessible

There is a lack of info about people with disabilities’ needs in the medical setting

There are problems with doctors’ and medical professors’ attitudes towards disability

With documents, testing and in hospotals, they should take time for people who are slower

What Are We Willing to Work On?

Sexuality and self expression

Checking access to Planned Parenthood clinics

Try meeting with doctors or medical professional organizations, escalate if necessary

Demand accountability for violations of women with disabilities’ rights, demand apology

Try talking with the City Women’s Commission on public TV in Austin

This was our very first US meeting of women with disabilities in connection with this project, and at the end the attendees gathered and exchanged phone numbers for follow up! Well done!

And last but not least, here is a photo of a poster at ADAPT of Texas of an older woman holding a sign advocating for community supports that says "Attendants Independence":


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