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The Language of Mental Illnesses, Brain Disorders, and Disabilities

This guest blog by Alan Johnson, organizer of Widening the Welcome, asks how we talk about mental illnesses. He writes, "Language can be tricky. It can elucidate things or muddy things. So what can we do? Keep on keeping on working on language seeking to describe how things are. Perhaps the best thing is to talk with the person who is affected by a “mental illness” or a “brain disorder” or a “disability” to see how they see it themselves. This is all about relationships anyway."

Disability Concerns
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Why Do We Have a Limited Idea of "Diversity"?

When we envision the diverse church, in our minds' eye, we see a diversity of skin colors, foods, ethnic identities, and languages. Usually, we also see we see the young and the old, male and female. But in our vision of the diverse church, we rarely see a boy who uses a wheelchair, woman who lives with mental illness, a girl with Down Syndrome, a man who is blind, or a woman who is Deaf and uses sign language. Why?

Disability Concerns
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A Little of God's Work in Kenya

Mark Stephenson led several workshops on inclusion of people with disabilities in church life at a conference in Limuru, Kenya. At the third and final session of his workshop, a pastor stood up and said with great passion, "Brothers and sisters, we must do something about this. The time to act is now." Everyone then applauded!

Disability Concerns
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Guest blog: Inclusion and Excuses

With Rich Dixon's permission, I've copied an entry from his blog, Bouncing Back. In it, Rich applies an excuse analysis to physical accessibility of church buildings. The same analysis could be used to consider accessibility and inclusion in church communications, language used in worship and other settings, educational programming, youth group, small groups, outreach activities, work projects, and all other church related activities.

Disability Concerns
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I Have a Dream for the Church

In my wildest dream for the church, I dream of the day that churches are so welcoming, so eager to have people with disabilities use their gifts, that the percentage of people with disabilities in the church is greater than the percentage of people with disabilities in the population at large.

Disability Concerns
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Different Isn't Bad

Usually different is bad. I don’t see miniskirts in retirement villages, kelly green sport coats at bill signing ceremonies, or polyester dress slacks resting on Harley-Davidson seats. People steer clear of a person who is different.

Disability Concerns
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Interpretation For the Deaf Without a Human Interpreter

A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students from their Fluid Interfaces Group created a combination of hardware and software which allows people to use the movement of their hands in the air to interface with a computer. A wearable computer would allow a person who uses ASL to sign to a hearing person, and the computer would interpret the message into spoken English. 

Disability Concerns
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Meeting Code Vs. Accessibility

I visited a church recently. They worship in a beautiful, newly renovated facility. Every aspect of the facility meets code for accessibility: all on one level, pew cutouts, wide doorways, sloped surfaces, accessible parking spaces, accessible restrooms. Unfortunately, code doesn’t always square with the reality of living with a disability.

Disability Concerns
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Lawsuit against Arkansas Raises Questions

According to an AP article, the US federal government is suing the state of Arkansas because, it is claimed, Arkansas "illegally segregates hundreds of individuals in institutions across the state and places hundreds more at risk of needless institutionalization." The first question will be, what is really provided?

Disability Concerns
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Breaking More Barriers

The Reformed Church in America is just beginning to catch on—and catch up—to the Christian Reformed Church’s prophetic focus on disability concerns. After giving occasional consideration to disability issues over the past several decades, we in the RCA are grateful to be welcomed by the CRC in this promising partnership of inclusion...

Disability Concerns
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Identity or Intruder

I’ve wondered why many older people who live with significant disabilities do not identify themselves as disabled, and even take offense at being called disabled. Yet, other people who live with disabilities not only embrace the term but even talk about “disability pride.”

Disability Concerns
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Bill C-384 Defeated by Canadian Parliament

Good news!  Bill C-384, which would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, was defeated on April 21 by a vote of 228 to 59. Thank you for raising your voice about how this bill would have impacted people with disabilities. Please continue to advocate for better palliative care throughout Canada, and for changed attitudes and improved services for people with disabilities.

Disability Concerns
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Sniff a True Wit’s Bare Pit

Every year at Christmastime, to my great pleasure, my wife gives me a puzzle-a-day calendar. Recently, one of the puzzles substituted each word in a familiar proverb with a rhyming word. The puzzle was to guess the proverb. For example, “Many guys sound ghoulish,” becomes “Penny wise, pound foolish.” Another was “Sniff a true wit’s bare pit.” Know the proverb? I’ll tell you the answer at the end of this post.

Disability Concerns
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On Finches, Disability, Business, and the Kingdom

A few weeks ago, my wife Bev found three tiny birds’ nests in the small maple tree in our front yard. A few days later, I saw finches hopping about the branches. So we decided to get a finch feeder to hang in the tree. Bev bought a feeder prefilled with Nyger seed which soon had gold finches gathered on its perches. What a gift from God!

Disability Concerns

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