Gary Karp's Good Reading: Disability Awareness Information... and More.
March, 2009
In This Issue
Me and Obama II
Changing Workplace Culture
Advocacy News
Great Progress This Week on Notable Federal Disability Legislation

The Community Choice Act has been reintroduced in
the House (HR1670) and in the Senate (S683).

The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act (HR146) has been passed by the House of Representatives.

View details on these bills at
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Volume Discounts
Life On Wheels
The A to Z Guide to Living Fully with Mobility Issues

Gary Coat Juggling

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It's true what they say about the media...

They pick up on the things that stir people up the most.

...and miss the real story in the process.

I got a firsthand lesson on this following my Town Hall encounter with President Obama on March 19.

Read on. Hope it's good for you!

Me and Obama II

 What Do We Really Want to Talk About?

Last Thursday in Los Angeles at his Town Hall meeting I asked President Obama a disability question, opening with this statement:

"There is a true renaissance happening with people with disabilities. They are an emerging population - millions of people who are more mobile, more educated, more healthy, more empowered by technology, and with more potential than ever before in history."

Gary Karp asking Barack Obama a question.

So, even though the president nodded his head in vigorous agreement as I made the statement, what was the overwhelming focus of the media reporting the next day?...

Obama's unfortunate slip on The Tonight Show about the Special Olympics.

No one bothered to wonder about the True Renaissance in the lives of people with disabilities. 

Isn't this really what we want to be talking about?

I believe it is. It's time to focus more of our energy on getting the social model of disability straight once and for all. The real obstacles to the inevitable emergence of this immense human capacity are these prevailing cultural stereotypes of tragedy and care (and heroic overcoming).

The very attitude that underlies Obama's quip about the Special Olympics is the same one that underlies all of the misdirected policy and money which goes to dependency instead of inclusion. It's the attitude that keeps qualified people with disabilities from work they can perform as well as anyone else. It's the spirit that prevents people from being seen for the essence of who they are.

How can we turn the conversation to the True Renaissance?

It's up to you. Start talking about this. Bring it up whenever you can. Ask people what they assume about disability. Tell them what you understand about how radically it has changed and who we really are.

If you've heard me speak or read my work, you've got the basic pieces. If you're living it yourself, then you know plenty well what I mean.

Once society gets up to speed with the truth of Modern Disability, then the president of the United States won't find himself embodying the misconceptions that are so widely held in our culture.

See my encounter with President Obama on YouTube. My question starts at the 3:18 mark.
Changing Workplace Culture

My Primary Role in Advocacy

From the very start of my disability advocacy work, my main desire has been to get our surrounding culture and belief systems up to date on what disability really is and what it actually means in someone's life.Gary at SCVWD

It's been clear to me from the very start, following my spinal cord injury in 1973, that the world just doesn't get it. People don't know how it works. People believe successful adaption to disability is rare and heroic. They think people with disabilities universally want exceptions and favors.

It's getting better. More and more individuals have got it straight. But there is a long, long way to go.

That's where I come in.

My talks and trainings lay the groundwork for all other possible efforts in disability policy, disability management, employment and disability, success in rehab, and on and on and on.

Eddie Snow of the Oakland Rotary got the point:

"You definitely gave us a new view of people with disabilities and their tremendous potential and untapped value. You also caused us all to examine our preconceived attitudes about people with disabilities as just everyday people who, like the rest of us, have accepted their lot in life and made adjustments so they can be the kind of person they wish to be."

How I can support your efforts? Call me at 415.491.4280 pacific time, or email me and let's talk about your goals and how I can help support them.
A Greener World

Taking Water for Granted

Just turn the tap, and it's always there. We've grown up thinking of water as an inexhaustible supply (doesn't it just fall out of the sky for us??!).

Two problems: it is apparently quite exhaustible; and most humans on the earth don't have enough of it.

Pretty serious stuff. We could easily find ourselves fighting wars over simple H2O (the "Universal Solvent" as biologists call it).

Less than three tenths of one percent of the earth's water is suitable for drinking. Many countries are already struggling to get enough, and in the U.S. water is getting to be a major source of competition between municipalities, states, and farms for limited resources. Water from The Great Lakes, The Colorado River, and the Sierras of the Northwest are coveted by more people than they can supply.

Here in Northern California, despite heavy rains this winter, reservoirs are at 60% of normal capacity.

We have some control. We can manage our use better (don't keep the tap running while you brush your teeth, scrub a pot, or wash your hair!), and we can contribute to causes that help people in developing countries get better access to clean water.

Matt Robertson, a high school student in Marin County, CA visited Africa, and put together a stunning video that tells the story as well as anyone could. Take a look!!

Then learn more at*

* I'm not endorsing the Nestle boycott one way or the other. That's up to you.

 Studio photos copyright,