Gary Karp's Good Reading: Disability Awareness Information... and More.
Monday, July 11, 2011
In This Issue
The Paradox of Disability Policy
I'm an Elder Statesman!
More Free Webinars!
Latest Rave
The White House

The latest on the Obama Administration's disability policy efforts.


The White House will hold a Virtual Town Hall meeting with top disability policy advisors on July 14 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. eastern.


You can attend by simply going to 


You can submit questions now at this link. 

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Life On Wheels
The A to Z Guide to Living Fully with Mobility Issues

Disability & the
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Questions and Answers on the True Nature of Intimacy
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An Apparent Contradiction    
The Paradox of Current Disability Policy

Two polar perspectives bump into each other in the realm of disability policy. 

One says that disability is a condition that precludes working. We should take care of people with disabilities, since they are unable to take care of themselves. This is the Social Welfare Model.

It's also known as the Medical Model, because it entails having to make a clinical assessment of whether someone qualifies for benefits.

And so the Medical/Social Welfare Model sees people with disabilities primarily in medical terms, and requires them to prove as much in the doctor's office - if not the courts. It also creates an environment that invites fraud. 

The Civil Rights Model sees people with disabilities as fully human individuals with characteristics that may or may not limit them in given settings. It sees everyone as entitled to pursue what's possible in their lives, and that society should provide an environment free of artificial obstacles and attitudes which interfere with that potential.

Also known as the Independence Model, it's goal is social inclusion, and tapping the contributions these people have to make in their communities, families, and at work.

Here's where they conflict: in the Social Welfare Model, you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplement Security Income (SSI) benefits by saying you can't work. But the Civil Rights Model says that people with disabilities can work, and are entitled to protections from discrimination and provision of accommodations in the workplace.

So? Which is it? Yesterday you told the judge you can't work so you need benefits, but today you're saying you want the courts to protect your rights in the workplace. 

Some think this is a matter of people with disabilities wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. 

We're in a moment of historic transition. As I see it, the Social Welfare/Medical Model is the dinosaur which is in the process of being replaced by the Civil Rights/Independence Model. People were in fact unable to work, but often that was a matter of inaccessibility, doubting attitudes, and a pre-technology world in which work really was not an option for many people. They needed the social welfare safety net.

Now work is more possible than ever for more people than ever. So rather than get caught up in the "Well, which is it gonna be?" question, we need to invest in the people who are able and wanting to work. We need to adopt a social and workplace cultural view that focuses on potential rather than fearing costs.  

If we're going to continue to believe that disability necessarily precludes work and independence, then we're going to remain stuck paying unnecessary benefits. We'll be denied the real contributions those people are able to make - not to mention the taxes they'll pay, the less health care they'll need, and the consumer market they'll represent. 

Entitlement programs are currently being targeted in politician's efforts to get the budget under control. Our strategy needs to be to disengage from the brick wall of an apparent policy contradiction. We need to liberate the people who can and want to work from the trap of entitlements they neither want nor need.  

And then we can continue to provide the benefits and social safety net for those who truly do need and deserve them.   

It's Official    

Now I'm an "Elder Statesman"! 

Apparently it's a natural consequence of the passage of time - and more than a few grey hairs - that one gains the status of being, well, old.


So, thanks to New Mobility Magazine applying the term to me in their October, 2010 article about the Reeve Foundation, I apparently qualify as an Elder Statesman. 

Elder Statesman Article
New Mobility Magazine has made my new status official!


My first gut reaction, of course, was shock. Then I realized that it meant something. I have a long perspective now on the disability experience - my own and the huge, emergent population of people with disabilities of all kinds and degrees.   


This Fourth of July was, in fact, the 38th anniversary of my spinal cord injury. Perspective indeed!


My work, I realize, has already been influenced by my elder status. As a direct witness to the phenomenal emergence of people with disabilities, I'm in a unique position to speak and conduct training workshops on Modern Disability Awareness. 


It's an amazing story, and I get the pleasure of telling it to a variety of association, business, government, and advocacy group clients.


When will I have the honor of bringing this incredible and relevant story to your organization?  


Call me at 415.491.4280 or contact me by email to discuss your next event or your training goals. 

The Webinar Schedule
More Free Disability Insight


Here are the next dates for my two popular - and free! - online disability awareness webinars: 


New Paradigm of Modern Disability Logo Time to get current with the radical changes in the disability experience. Register now. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

10:00, Pacific; 1 p.m. Eastern


"Gary has an exceptional level of knowledge on this subject."

- Cal Jackson, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida    


Three Principles of Disability Etiquette logo A simple, clear approach that lets everyone relax and get the job done. Register now.  


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

11:00, Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern  


"Gary provides a refreshingly simple presentation of the philosophies we must embrace."

- Keri Simmons, San Jose State University 


Your organization can have a dedicated delivery of these excellent sessions. 


 Call me at 415.491.4280 or contact me by email to discuss setting a date - just for you.

 Latest Rave
 ...about My Half-Day Awareness Training
Merced County Logo

I recently gave a four-hour interactive workshop at the

Merced County Department of Workforce Investment.


What a lively and highly interactive session it was - on Cinco de Mayo, along with a delicious traditional homemade lunchtime feast of rice and beans and meats!


Here's what Executive Director Andrea Baker had to say about the training I led for her staff:


"We discovered that the way we generally think about disability no longer fits the reality of actual people living actual lives. Mr. Karp's special skill is to challenge his participants while creating an environment that is completely safe for the exploration of obsolete attitudes."


A Merced County staffer attended the above webinars, then campaigned to have me come in person. It's a great strategy - get the gist of it online, then have an in-depth, face-to-face learning experience! 

 Studio photos copyright,