Gary Karp's Good Reading: Disability Awareness Information... and More.
December, 2009
In This Issue
Good and Green: Computers for PWDs
Stuck in Sympathy
Punctuation Follies
Latest Rave
Advocacy Corner
CASSA At Last?

For over ten years, the disability advocacy community has worked like crazy trying to change Medicaid and Long Term Care policy to spare people from what is essentially unnecessary imprisonment in nursing facilities. Community-based services are feasible and cheaper-sometimes only a third of the cost.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY introduced an amendment to the current health care bill that says:

"Creating choices for disabled individuals - The modified Chairman's Mark would create Home and Community Based Service (HCBS) alternatives to nursing home care for disabled individuals who are eligible for Medicaid."

Read the text of the Community Choice Act of 2009.
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What a Deal
Life On Wheels
The A to Z Guide to Living Fully with Mobility Issues

Gary Coat Juggling

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Hoping your holidays are off to a grand, joyous, and affordable beginning!

Here's the latest from Good Reading, with all my best wishes.


Good and Green

Donate Your Computers for PWDs

At the Abilities Expo in Atlanta where I spoke last month and signed books, I met Lamar Polly. He is quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury, an engineer, and had prided himself on never having touched a computer.

Now through his non-profit, Touch The Future, Lamar is putting computers into the hands of people with disabilities around the world.

Touch the Future Logo

They don't simply collect them and pass them on, they refurbish them, and if they can't get them up to an acceptable standard, then they recycle them properly.

Touch The Future's Reboot™ Services program provides computers, training, support, and installation so people can have access to technology at the same level of quality as everyone else.

Putting technology into the hands of people who can't otherwise afford it helps them gain the skills they need to be employable. Some of them start businesses of their own.

In our information economy, where work is much less about physical labor than ever before, employment possibilities for people with disabilities are huge. Computer skills make all the difference. Lamar et al make it possible for so many to achieve these real potentials.

Got some old computers, monitors, printers, hard drives, or software that could be of use? Contact Touch The Future to find out more, no matter where you are.
Why Aren't We Embracing Workers with Disabilities?

We're Stuck in Sympathy
People with disabilities are more able than ever, yet unemployment rates for PWDs are still astronomically high. They have barely improved, in fact, since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1992!

Holding hands against cloud backgroundWhat's the problem here?

Well the problem is that we are big-hearted, well-meaning, compassionate beings. We're wired for generosity.

Compassion and sympathy are good things, of course. In their place. But when it comes to viewing people with disabilities, who they are, and what they truly, objectively have to offer, the compassionate lens is blinding, not enlightening.

Compassion for a person with a disability is a totally appropriate FIRST response. When someone first hears that I broke my back when I was 18, of course they have a visceral, sympathetic reaction.

But we need to move on from our natural, sympathetic first response to finding out who the whole person is, what they are capable of, what they dream about.

Ask anyone with a disability who has adapted (more the rule than the exception) or who has had a disability since birth (they've always seen themselves as whole) and you'll learn that they don't need sympathy and don't want to be seen only through the lens of their disability. They'll tell you that people who are stuck seeing them in terms of loss and suffering are missing who they are as people, sometimes depriving them of their potential.

The "Stuck in Sympathy" problem leads to public policy that promotes research to the exclusion of independence (both are important), where funding falls short of giving people what they need to excel (a serious lack of wise investment), and to hiring managers who are hard pressed to imagine that someone so "compromised" is capable of performing at a high level on the job.

However well-meaning, our compassionate response to disability needs to be understood as just a first reaction. Look further and you'll find whole people and the immense potential they have in this age of Modern Disability.

This is among the key points I discuss in my talks and trainings on disability & employment. Call me at 415.491.4280, email or go to the web site to learn more.
Writing Tidbits

Punctuation Follies

Use an apostrophe for "it's" only when it means "it is." Its proper use is NOT when it's possessive.

"The period or comma always go INSIDE the quote mark," says the Punctuation God.

Vintage Typewriter Keys

An en-dash (option or CTL-hyphen) is used for date ranges, i.e. December 1-2, 2009.

The ellipses (...) indicates missing text from a quote. "Four score and seven years...," began the Gettysburg Address.

It's OK to use a comma for a pause, I believe, as though you are hearing a voice speak your words.

And, personally, I prefer to always use the last comma in a series, as in one, two, three, and four.

Got any other favorites? Email me at
Latest Rave
Gary Karp speaking at Abilities Expo Atlanta, 2009

Following the Grand Rounds presentation I gave at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA, Dr. Steve Wiesner, Chief of the Occupational Health Department, shared these evaluation responses to the question, "Would additional education and training on this topic be helpful to your practice?:
  • "Everyone - medical assistants, nurses, reception staff, and all providers - need to hear this talk"
  • "This talk was particularly clear, engaging, informative and very well presented"
  • "I'd like to see him present to other education venues"
To learn more about my programs for clinicians and medical facilities, contact me at 415.491.4280, or

Go here to view testimonial letters from my clients.
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