turn up the lights in here
i admit that i am not at a place in my process of acceptance to execute this. YET.
but as i was writing about disabilities it just struck me how narrow the scope of public understanding is about what being disabled actually means. this is especially salient for mental illness that isn’t immediately apparent. although there is increasingly media attention for disability cases involving mental illness, like the recent ones involving a man who won a case against his employer after he was fired and the woman who won the right to legally masturbate at work (!), the belief that disability is something you can always see is still overwhelmingly popular. as a result, many times accommodations are only readily made when a disability is visible; otherwise people may take some convincing.
take, for instance, one of XBFs recent experiences. as i mentioned before he has traumatic brain injury and there are no exterior indications that he has any injury at all. he also has attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. to top it off, he has a heart condition that could potentially lead to sudden death and has a heart monitor implanted in his chest. all of these conditions are invisible to passerby.
for a while there, XBF was sick a lot. for like, weeks at a time. any given day seemed to be a shuffled up mix of migraines, dizziness, nausea, throwing up, and passing out. it was not pretty. in any case, he clearly could not complete his school work in that condition so he requested accommodations.
it’s not a problem for him to get doctor’s notes and yet sometimes this is still not enough for people. one particular
professor douchebag stands out. when XBF turned in an exam, this dickwad basically announces to the entire class that XBF has been absent too many times and will thus probably fail the class (a dick move even when you don’t take into consideration that sharing grades is ILLEGAL). when XBF asked to schedule a meeting, said dickwad refuses and says “he’ll let him know what he decides”…this is, of course, on the last day to add a class so if XBF is dropped, he can’t exactly get back in. and he hasn’t even had a chance to show medical documentation yet. come monday, XBF is still enrolled in the class but when he gets his exam back, there are a bunch of answers marked incorrect and he ends up failing the exam. he attempts, again, to meet with the professor but the asshat refuses, again.
no, i don’t know how this guy is a professor. yes, this is evidence in favor of abolishing the tenure system.
the thing is, it’s a law exam and if XBF knows anything, it’s the freaking law. both of his parents are lawyers (yes, meeting them was fucking horribly stressful but i made it). not that that makes him an immediate expert, but it also wouldn’t be difficult to call and double check with them and that is exactly what he did. indeed, his suspicions were confirmed and several of his supposedly “incorrect” answers were either not incorrect at all, or the question was too vague or unclear to elicit the desired response.
unfortunately, Professor Douchenozzle still refused to discuss the exam so XBF tried to go to the department head. Unfortunately, what he didn’t know is that the
Department Head Dick Head and Professor Douchnozzle were all buddy buddy like. The Dick Head didn’t even give XBF a chance, flipping through the exam but barely looking at it. he brushed off XBFs concerns like a speck of dust off his coat.
XBF also tried to discuss Professor Douchenozzle’s [illegal] announcement of his grade in front of the class. he points out that his absences are a) medically excused, and b) not grounds for dismissal because no where in the syllabus was such an attendance policy described. it is school policy that the grading system must be outlined in the syllabus and that it can not be adjusted after the fact. instead, he included a link to the university web page on class attendance, which simply said something along the lines of ‘the attendance policy for each class is determined by the instructor’. yeah, thanks for the obvious tip! this is essentially an illegal policy but students wouldn’t know that! fortunately i am a teacher and i do know that, so i told him to bring it up to the Dick Head. when XBF told him he had been absent due to being ill, Dick Head looked him up and down and said, “well, you don’t look sick” and then he had the fucking nerve to accuse XBF of LYING about his medical conditions. Understandably XBF saw red and chose to walk out of the office and over to the Dean’s office instead of continuing to deal with this toolbox.
before i go on, if you or someone you know is an academic asshole of this magnitude, please tell them to find different work. people like that make me hate academia. that’s right, i fucking HATE academics. and i am one, so that’s saying something.
i use this example to illustrate just how uninformed people are about disability. being disabled may mean you have visible impairments but it may not. i’m inspired to start a campaign (again, when i am at a more advanced place in my acceptance process) about what “disability looks like”. it can start with simple still photography of individuals doing various activities with the caption “I am disabled”. it would also be great to showcase not only what it can potentially look like, but what it means to be disabled. the range of accommodations requested by people with different disabilities.
i’ll probably honor Dick Head and Professory Douchenozzle by naming said campaign after them. hehe.
what do you think?