There’s No Cure for Gretchen Lowe: Whoever Wrote the Regs Was a Frigging Genius

When the new Beetles came out, Gretchen had kicked around the idea of ditching all of the cab business and getting a car. Since cars came with lots of options but none that made the car driveable by her, she and the Recluse realized the car would have to be modified. Gretchen heard that lots of disabled people got financial help for such things through Voc-Rehab.


Look. You work. You’re not really eligible to be disabled. Air-quotes.


One sleepy post-lunch hour in her clinic office, she gave in to an impulse and looked up the number. When no one picked up at the main number, she worked her way through the extensions until a deep, annoyed voice said hello. That one call into the San Francisco office of Voc-Rehab pretty much cured any hope she had of even minimal financial assistance. The call also showed how employment was a universal solvent on the human stain of disability, at least where government agencies were concerned.

The counselor had more to say, nasally, on the overall lack of money available and went on to say that he himself was legally blind and had been waiting five years for a computer he could use. To do his job. Voc-rehabbing people who were legally blind, for example. So complaining to him was not really something he would be real open to hearing. If she didn’t mind.

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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.