5SR - April 4, 2024

Qudsiya on AI's shortcomings, experiencing the arts, and a timely reminder

Today’s curator is Qudsiya Naqui. Qudsiya is the creator and host of the podcast, Down to the Struts about disability, design, and intersectionality. She’s excited that her eighth season dropped on February 13. You can also subscribe to Qudsiya’s newsletter, Getting Down to It, for updates on the podcast and news from the disability community. When she’s not podcasting, Qudsiya loves organizing adaptive sports adventures through the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes. Qudsiya lives in Washington DC with her husband.

In a thoughtful, passionate piece, disability activist Alice Wong asks readers to consider those who aren’t included when public health officials talk about “most people.”

In the US, we are being told that most people who contract COVID will be fine, and that vaccines have rendered a virus that left so many dead of little concern.

But COVID remains extremely harmful to many people in my community, and I personally have concerns about the effect long COVID could have on my life. I’d encourage you to read this piece and consider what Alice has to say about making sure everyone is protected from disease—not just most of us.

There have been a lot of stories about Texans traveling out of state to have abortions following Texas’ abortion ban. There are, however, many people who aren’t leaving for abortion care — and this piece investigates why disabled Texans seem to be among their number.

It doesn’t quite get to the bottom of what happened to all of the disabled abortion seekers (and I think one reason for that is likely because we actually don’t have a lot of good data on disabled abortion patients as a demographic), but I do think this article does a very good job of clearly laying out the many difficulties the disabled Texas community is facing when it comes to abortion.

Technology can solve problems, but can just as easily cement them. This piece looks at that fact through the lens of an AI, which can be really helpful for disabled people (I recently used it to experience a visual art exhibit and was impressed by its image descriptions). There are also cases where AI can be harmful to the disability community.

I agree with the writer’s analysis that the way to ensure AI is actually good for disabled people is to include them in the design and testing phases of new AI products. As disability activists say, “Nothing about us without us.”

In this piece, a local Florida station profiles musician Tres Whitlock, who raps mental health and his cerebral palsy, among other topics. I wish we had heard more from Whitlock himself in the article and accompanying video, and that the piece focused a little more on communication access. Whitlock mentions that he didn’t feel like he had a voice for the first 19 years of his life, and I would have liked to know more about what barriers to access created that feeling.

Overall, though, I think this piece is a pretty good example of how to cover disability at the community level without leaning too heavily on inspiration porn tropes.

I live in Washington, DC, far away from Australia. But if I could, I’d love to go experience a show by Restless Dance Theatre, the troupe featured in this piece.

All too often, the arts aren’t made accessible to those with disabilities, and—as this article notes—disabled artists struggle to access funding with the same ease as their nondisabled peers. I personally don’t think of myself as an artist, but I love art deeply.

As a blind person, however, visual art was remote for me before I was introduced to audio description. Once I discovered that, it was like the floodgates opened (borrowing a phrase from one of the dancers interviewed in the piece).

I leave you with the hope you are able to find some time for art and beauty in your life this week!

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