I Remember This: I See a Disabled Person

Cartoonized image of Ingrid Tischer's eyes in close-up.I remember this:

I am eight. I am waiting alone for the little bus inside the doors of my school, White Sulphur Springs Elementary, in the Catskills. I glimpse a small girl not  far away – tired, leaning against the wall like it was holding her up. Seeing her, I feel a sorrow for her. The sorrow is bigger than me, it blooms out of my stomach and swallows me whole like a monstrous flower.  In the next instant, I see that I’m looking at myself in the reflection of a display cabinet’s glass doors. I am angry at myself – first, for letting myself look like that  – then, for looking like that. Then I know that I will never be faster than seeing is. It can get even me. This means that while I’ll empathize with strangers who feel sorry for me in decades to come – having done it myself – I’ll want them to snap out of it, too – as I did.

I’ve been the only (identified) disabled student in my classes in five schools since first grade, I see children “like me” at this clinic and on tv once a year during a telethon that makes me cringe. That’s it. I have a pronounced lack of images to work with and an inability to decipher the ones I do see.


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HAIL ZUKAS: “HALE” Profiles a Low-Profile Disability Rights Pioneer and Co-Founder of the Center for Independent Living (CIL)

Movie poster for the film "Hale" that has a b/w archival photo of Hale Zukas in profile, at work, and using his headstick to type. HALE is in large red letters over white type: Changing the world one letter at a time. Directed by Brad Bailey. Additional text is unreadable to me but shows 2 prestigious film hoors.

Copyright Brad Bailey 2017

I live in an unusual household: Hale Zukas is a household name in it. But that’s what happens when your spouse not only knows his disability history but many of its people (like Hale), and you happen to work with another transportation powerhouse.
Fortunately, filmmaker Brad Bailey has made an award-winning documentary profiling this low-profile disability policy pioneer, team player, and organizer for the 504 sit-in protest. But make no mistake — Hale’s low-profile comes from staying immersed in the details of policy and regulatory work. He has been — and this is key — a dreaded name by anyone who opposed accessible transit. For certain officials, there have long been six words they just don’t want to hear in connection to public accommodations: “Hale Zukas is on the line.”
BAMPFA included “Hale” in its “Visualizing the World” series last night on 1/22. I had been planning to see it but could not — and I missed a strangely satisfying opportunity to celebrate Hale Zukas on the eve of Ed Roberts Day — pre-gaming it, so to speak. Ed Roberts is often mistakenly credited with co-founding the original-flavor Center for Independent Living (CIL), but Hale really is a co-founder. He got there first.  Brad Bailey describes him as a workhorse of the disability rights movement. See the film and see why for yourself. 
Rumor has it the film will be show again in Berkeley again in February. I plan to be there.