Visual Artists with Disabilities and Voice Augmentation Tools

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Vanessa Castro and her 'Salsa Shoe' Painting

Vanessa Castro and her ‘Salsa Shoe’ Painting

Vanessa Castro and Tamar Mag Raine, visual artists with disabilities, talk about their paintings, assemblages, mosaics and other work.


They are two of the five artists with disabilities who are participating in the KPFA Crafts Fair, Dec. 20-21 in Richmond, California.  Keep reading for the names of the other artists and links to their websites.

Tamar Mag Raine

Tamar Mag Raine

The artists are assisted by two non-profit organizations that assist artists with developmental disabilities, Alchemia and Casa Allegra


Tamar Mag Raine is assisted by Lauren Hiltebeitel who uses a technique called echoing to translate her speech.  Her business manager, Meghan Dunn, was also on hand to talk about Casa Allegra’s program for hopeful entrepreneurs living with disabilities.


Mia Brown of Downtown Mia Brown, Julia Pozgai of Pansy Creations, and Day Marrow, three other artists with disabilities, will also be offering their work for sale at the KPFA Crafts Fair.

Then the ever-stylish Lateef Mcleod shows up to talk about his Alternative and Augmentative Communication (ACC) device.  He demonstrates what it is like to order a pizza with one of these marvelous pieces of technology.    This segment was originally produced for International Media Project / Making Contact, one of our sister programs on KPFA.  Lateef Mcleod spent time in their studios as a storytelling fellow earlier this year.

Lateef Mclead has been our guest before.  You can hear him discuss race and disability here and here.  He also read a poem for our mini-literary festival here.

Mary Berg

Mary Berg


Mary Berg, long-time music producer and host of Sunday morning’s “Musical Offering” of classical music died in her Berkeley home late last week.  We offer a tribute with some details about her late-life disability.


Finally, here’s a treat for you on-line readers.  A photo of the beautiful mosaic which covers a small wall in Tamar Mag Raines work room. 

The Joy of Leaves by Tamar Mag Raine.  Polymer on wood. Over 350 individual leaves, each one different in color and pattern.

This program was produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby, with production assistance from Doyle Saylor and Shelley Berman.

 Original air date: December 5, 2014
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The ADA Legacy Bus Rolls On!

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Justin Dart on the mic.

Justin Dart on the microphone

As the Magna Carta rounds the corner toward its 800th year of existence, The Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, (a mere babe of almost 25 years) will celebrate its birth as well.  

Photographer Tom Olin has been with those who wrote, supported and fought for the ADA since before its historic birth.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Olin is eloquent indeed.

When the ADA Legacy Bus and its small crew stopped in Hayward, California this week, Pushing Limits’ producer Sheela Gunn-Cushman captured the moment.  Listen for interviews with Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle, David Korth, Damary Bustos, Dorene Giacopini, Sheri Burns and others.

The ADA Legacy bus will also be at the Abilities Expo this weekend, Nov. 22-23, in San Jose.  For the Jan. – July 2015 tour stops, click here.

Produced and hosted by Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Adrienne Lauby.

Bus 2014

Air date: November 21, 2014
Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Americans with Disabilities Act, Community, History, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Seniors, Disability and Action

Listen 29 min

The Children’s March: A Demonstration in Support of the Domestic Workers Bill. (Left to right) Dorothy Tegeler (Hand in Hand organizer), unknown, Nicole Brown-Booker, Jessica Lehman, Lateef McLeod, Sascha Bitter.

The Children’s March: A Demonstration in Support of the Domestic Workers Bill. (Left to right) Dorothy Tegeler (Hand in Hand organizer), unknown, Nicole Brown-Booker, Jessica Lehman, Lateef McLeod, Sascha Bitter.

Eddie Ytuarte speaks to Jessica Lehman, executive director of Seniors and Disability Action in San Francisco about the intersection of the disability community and the senior communities.




Ms Lehman is a strong disability activist and this wide-ranging conversation will discuss such topics as In Home Support Services (IHSS), what older folks and people with disabilities have in common, labor unions, and the outlook for disabled activism.

Jessica Lehman (R) with Alice Wong

Jessica Lehman (R) with Alice Wong


How about that aborted effort by SEIU to get its IHSS training initiative on the California ballot? What happened to that?!!?



 Listen in for the answer to this and other questions.

Jessica Lehman suited up for a power soccer game with her team, Kryptonite Pride.  Lehman played with the World Cup Winning national team in 2007. (George Lavender/OAG)

Jessica Lehman suited up for a power soccer game with her team, Kryptonite Pride. Lehman played with the World Cup Winning national team in 2007. (George Lavender/OAG)

Posted in Activism, Eddie Ytuarte, IHSS, Politics, Protest, Seniors | Tagged , | | Leave a comment

True-to-Life Horror Stories

Listen 29 min

theater w chairOn Halloween people go out and about wearing zombie-ghost-vampire costumes, but the disability community knows the true-to-life reality of terror.  In this program, we invited callers to tell stories of medical mistakes, bone-rattling trauma and nightmare drugs.

We also talk to Larry Hall, a homeless advocate in Santa Rosa, about “The Day of the Homeless Dead,” a procession honoring the many who have died unsheltered and alone in Sonoma County.

The veil between the worlds is thin as the Day of the Dead slowly emerges.  Today, we honor the experience of homeless deaths and our many horror stories.  

Sheela Gunn-Cushman, Shelley Berman and Adrienne Lauby led the parade of specters.

Original Air Date  10-31-14

Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Call In Program, Community, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Shelley Berman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged | | Leave a comment

Getting Credit for Buying Toothpaste

By Jacob Lesner-Buxton

Jacob Lesnor-Buxton

Jacob Lesnor-Buxton

Yesterday, I had a first in my life. It happened at exactly 9:10 AM and about 35 people participated in the occasion. At that point in time I received a standing ovation for, well, for just being me.

I didn’t discover the cure for cancer or land a major account for my job. I didn’t track my girlfriend down at the airport and beg her to marry me instead of moving to Paris. I didn’t even make a great omelet for my roommates. Instead, all I did was make my usual thirty-second speech which includes my name, agency, and what services we offer. I must make this speech 8 times a week in public. However, on this particular occasion — a middle school career day— the audience stood and applauded.

The ovation wasn’t from the students. Instead, it was given by the other professionals in the room. We were all hanging out before we went to talk to students, going around the room, talking about our jobs. Lo and behold, after my presentation I received a loud round of applause. Neither Mark the landscaper nor Sally the banker were so honored. Minutes later I was introduced to an English class by another career day speaker who called me an inspiration. This guy met me a few minutes before, and already he’s using the “I” word. I laughed and thought about telling the students that I was a ambassador of the Cuban Government sent to Santa Barbara to start a Marxist revolution. How inspiring would I be then!

However, I am on my best behavior; and did the normal spiel about my background and job, mixing in a few details about cheating on a few high school spelling tests, and about my arrest record for protest. Apparently this didn’t make me less inspiring. Do I need to tell them about my preference to smoke a little medicinal stuff on a summer night, or my trips to convenience store to buy Playboy, to get them to stop finding me inspirational?

If I had shouted out all my vices, I may have been kicked off campus, but my tale of working a 9-5 job made me seem super-human to them (though I know lots of people with disabilities who do the same thing). It’s kind of scary to hear people say that I am helping them see humanity in a new way. It’s scary to think that I might be able to open someone’s heart in 5 minutes. What if I had never met them. Would their hearts remain closed? Would they remain callous towards other people?

My guess is no, that you and a lot of folks are wonderful people with big hearts offering me a compliment. But your flattery puts a hell of a lot on my shoulders. You set a standard for me that I have to live up to. What if you saw me at a bar drinking margaritas and talking like a sailor with friends downtown — would you be disappointed in me then?

Feedback cartoonAlong with this “hero worship,” I don’t understand why people expect me to be interested in hearing about how their uncle or cousin works for Special Olympics, or how they volunteer with Best Buddies every weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about other experiences with disabilities, but I don’t need to hear these stories to know that someone’s a good person. I am not asking for the “story” about how you identify with the community in every “small talk” conversation — we can talk about the weather too.

Another thing I don’t understand is when people tell me how glad they are that I don’t feel sorry for myself. Most people with disabilities I know aren’t the “woe is me” kind. I wonder if the people they’re talking about as “feeling sorry” for themselves are actually the people who are fighting the evils of this capitalist society every day. I guess I failed in my presentations yesterday to expose my true socialist tendencies. I need to work harder next time so people will stop saying ‘Jacob is an inspiration” and instead say, “Jacob is another liberal nut job from San Francisco, but we better watch out because he’s a damn good advocate ”

I was so tired from being called a damn inspiration that day that I found myself pining to be back in my office getting a good lecture from my boss. Surely a report I submitted had too many typos; or perhaps I had contacted a community person whom I shouldn’t have for some advice; or maybe I was throwing my ego around a bit too much. Now I think highly of my boss and hate to disappoint her, but i was ready to be brought down from that inspirational high to the happy medium of critique and praise that comes with my job.

The day before I got my standing ovation, I received some good-natured ribbing for forgetting to do a job (putting on the music at our organization’s open house). “It wasn’t my fault,” I protested, “I couldn’t find the right password for our computer.”

“Yeah buddy, whatever!“ my co-worker said, “We still have twenty minutes left, and I want to hear classic rock.”

My favorite critique came two months prior when I complained about the bus company not e-mailing me back. “Are you sure you used spell check” the person I was complaining to said. Then she added, “You make so make so many typos sometimes I don’t understand your e-mails at all.”

These critiques help me got better at my job. All the clapping at the event was nice, but it didn’t feel as genuine as that complaint from my co-worker.

I know I sound ungrateful criticizing people who find me inspiring, but I just want to live my life as a person with a disability, who pays his rent, goes the movies and buys toothpaste without people being amazed. I see my job as helping to work for a day when people with disabilities are not ignored by society, but are also not put in the position of being role models. Then again, I probably wouldn’t mind being an inspiration if people who met me were inspired to give $100 to my organization.


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Spoken Word by Writers, Musicians and Radio Artists with Disabilities

Listen 58 min KPFA

Avotcja with Modupue.

Avotcja with Modupue.

Guests include Jean Stewart, Lateef Mcleod, Beatriz Herrera, Leah Gardner, Leroy F. Moore Jr, and Avotcja.   See their photos below, illustrating Lateef’s poem.  This is a fund drive program.  Don’t miss the depth and passion of our community spoken word artists!


This poem is part of A Declaration of a Body of Love, a collection written by Lateef McLeod, available on Amazon



Absence of routine

Slender grey lines
on jacket sleeves
that musty smell on my clothes
drool is all over me
and you think it is disgustingLeah Gardner and Vander

“Just swallow”
you say to me
and I really do try
catch and force down
pools of drool
from coming out of my mouth
cuz I be wearing tight fits
like Rocawear jeans, bick Ecko
shirts, Gap hoodies
or fresh to def in tailor-made
and drool does not go
with tailor-made suits
you know I try to look suave
so at a party I can get my
grown man on

LeRoy F. Moore Jr.

LeRoy F. Moore Jr.

So there shouldn’t be a problem
with me swallowing, right?
Well I have to remember to
every minute
every hour
every day
that means when I roll down
the street
whenever I talk to someone
when I exercise
when I go to school
cuz I don’t want anyone to see

me drool

Beatriz Herrera

Beatriz Herrera (L) and Asthmatic Friend

you always say
it makes me look gross
and it is not my intention
to disgust you
so I try to swallow
like a mad man




try and
consciously do something
that everyone else

Barbara Ruth

Barbara Ruth – Coming soon to Pushing Limits

does unconsciously
and you still

can’t understand
can’t I
to swallow all

Jean Stewart.  Photo by Scott Braley

Jean Stewart. Photo by Scott Braley

the time
it is like

to toss you a tennis ball
telling you
to throw it
in the air and catch it

every 15 seconds
and yell at you
when you drop the ball

—Lateef McLeod


Lateef McLeod

Lateef McLeod


Hosted and produced by Shelley Berman, Adrienne Lauby, Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Josh Elwood.

Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Josh Elwood, Leah Gardner, Music, Poetry & Prose, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Shelley Berman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Sally Zinman on Forced Treatment of People with Mental Disabilities

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Information on the danger of current psychological drugs.
Madness Network News.  Documents from the early days of the consumers-survivors movement.

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

One of the hardest things in the world is to be… is a long-time activist who is both successful and principled. I am proud to say that we are bringing one such person to you in this program.

Sally Zinman’s biography in the mental disability movement dates from the late 1970s when she founded and coordinated a client-run organization that developed a community center and residence program.

Apparently it was a success, because Sally Zinman never looked back.  She has been working in peer-run organizations ever since.

Currently, Ms Zinman works with the California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations and is a consultant with Alameda County’s Behavior Health Services, Consumer Empowerment Department.

As a young woman, Ms Zinman was locked up and tortured in a so-called mental health institution.  After discovering others with similar histories, Ms Zinman became a passionate and ground-breaking activist in the militant madness movement.

As the Founder and Coordinator of the Coalition for Alternatives in Mental Health, aka Berkeley Drop-In Center, Sally Zinman led efforts for state and national funding for recovery peer-based models of mental health treatment.

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

Today she is part of the resistance to the regressive mental disability law AB 1421, also known as Laura’s Law.  That law will be challenged in court this fall by Disability Rights California (DRC).  This, according to DRC staff attorney Pamela Cohen.

AB 1421 is a statewide ordinance which allows the government to force people who’ve been diagnosed with mental illnesses into treatment programs even though they are living in the community and do not require hospitalization.   It shifts money from prevention and support to policing and coercion.

We’re proud to bring the thoughts of this elder in the mental disability and the consumer/survivor movement to Pushing Limits listeners.

Produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby.

Original air date: Sept 19, 2014
Posted in Activism, Adrienne Lauby, Individual disease and identity groups, Mental Disability, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Biography of Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

(as published by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Committee.)

Sally was born in 1937.  She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in English with honors. She also has an M.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania.  She is a single mother.

From 1977 to 1983, Sally was the Founder and Coordinator of the Mental Patients Rights Association in Palm Beach County, Florida. She administered this client-run organization which developed and operated a community center and residence program.

From 1983-1985, Sally was the Co-editor of Madness Network News, which was the journalistic voice of the mental patient movement from 1973-1987.
From 1983-84, Sally was the Founding Member and first staff (Coordinator) of the California Network of Mental Health Clients.

In 1989, Sally was the Founding Member of the Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients, a self-help umbrella organization for county self-help groups.

From 1983-1993, Sally was the Founding Member of the Self-Help Committee of the California Network of Mental Health Clients, serving as Facilitator from 1987-1989, and remained an active member until 1993.

From 1985-1997, Sally was the Founder and Coordinator of the Coalition for Alternatives in Mental Health, aka Berkeley Drop-In Center. This Center, run for and by persons with mental disabilities, consists of a drop-in component, providing socialization, support groups, information and referral, food service, and phone use. The Center has an advocacy services component, which includes money management and a payee representation program, and assistance in obtaining benefits. The Center has a housing program consisting of a client-run housing compound and 60 plus subsidized units of supportive housing. The Center also provides job training and experience through a trainee program.

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

From 1997 to 2007, Sally was the Executive Director of the California Network of Mental Health Clients, a statewide self-help and advocacy organization run for and by mental health clients/survivors.

Sally has been on numerous Boards and Committees including:
• Mental Health Law Project (Now called Bazelon Center), Board of Directors, 1980-1983
• Editorial Board, Psycho-Social Rehabilitation Journal, 1982-1994
• Berkeley/Albany Mental Health Commission, 1986-1995
• Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients, 1990-1997
• California Network of Mental Health Clients, off and on, 1984-1996
• National Association of Psychiatric Survivors, 1985-1994
• Center for Self-Help Research, 1990-1993
• National Planning Committee, Self-Help Live, 1991-1993
• National Empowerment Center, 1992-1993
• Coalition on the Media Stigma of People with Psychiatric Disabilities, 1992-1993
• Berkeley Cares, 1995-1997
• South Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation, 1995-1997
• Disability rights Advocates Distribution Committee, 1996 – present.

Sally has credits in writing, film, and video, including:
• “Dangers arising from Mental Health Legal Advocacy, Advocacy Now, the Journal of Patients Advocacy, 2:2, June 1980.
• “A Patient-Run Residency”, Psycho-Social Rehabilitation Journal, 6:1, 1982.
• “Self-Help: The Wave of the Future”, Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 37:3, March 1986.
• “Maintaining Our Roots: The Challenge for Self-Help Development”, Self Helper, 6:2, Spring 1991. (with Howie T. Harp)
• “Crazy Women, Madness, Myth and Metaphor”, Midwest Films, 1990.
• “Museums of Madness”, BBC/PBS, 1991.

Sally has received several awards from mental health associations and from elected officials including former Congressman, now Mayor, Ronald V. Dellums, former Assemblyman Tom Bates, and former Mayor, Loni Hancock.

Posted in Activism, Cognitive Disabilities, Mental Disability, Protest | Leave a comment

Dangerous Drugs; Dangerous to Stop

word cloudResearch currently demonstrates that most people live better lives over time if they are not using psychological drugs.  The short and long term trade offs are extreme.  Current use of drugs for those with mental disabilities deserves much more attention and research from the medical profession.

It is nearly impossible to achieve informed consent because information as to the danger of these drugs is not accepted by most psychiatrists, much less passed on to patients.

People with psychosis (schizophrenia and other psychosis) tend to do better in the long run off medications, or with greatly reduced medications. Antidepressants disrupt the Central Nervous System through “down-regulation” of Serotonin receptors (i.e., the body stops making as many receptors because the system is overloaded with too much serotonin).”  That’s what most anti-depressants do.

Poster from the Cramps, a punk rock band that once did a concert at the Napa State Hospital.

Poster from the Cramps, a punk rock band that once did a concert at the Napa State Hospital.

Antipsychotics disrupt the Central Nervous system through “up-regulation” dopamine receptors (i.e., the body/brain makes too many dopamine receptors to compensate for the dopamine blockade effect of most anti-depreesants.  That leaves the body/brain super-sensative to dopamine and all wigged out, basically.

Both of those things — serotonin up-regulation and dopamine down-regulation — happen in combination with other complex neurotransmitter effects, which can cause serious withdrawal syndromes when people go off these drugs abruptly, and even when they reduce them gradually.

There are self-help manuals for those who want to decrease or stop these medications.  Unfortunately, it is rare to find a doctor who will help.  One of those self help manuals comes from The Icarus Project and Freedom Center:  Coming Off Psych Drugs – Harm Reduction Guide

This editorial from JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, has some of the details:

JAMA Editorial – “AntipsychoticMedication During the Critical Period
Following Remission From First-Episode PsychosisLess Is More

Posted in Individual disease and identity groups, Mental Disability, Research | Tagged , | | Leave a comment

Radio Activist Living with Terminal Cancer

Friday, September 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm PST on KPFA

Donna Dibianco, a community media activist and consultant, came to Iowa to help organize the Grassroots Community Conference this August.  Donna With the KHOI team, she organized a four-day participatory event for 150 people.  She helped provide the food, shelter, entertainment and technical support for two intensive sessions and nearly 50 workshops.  She did it for less than 20 dollars per person per day.  And, she did it while living with metastasized Stage Three B cervical cancer.

Adrienne Lauby asks Donna Dibianco how she manages to have such an active life and take care of herself as well. 

The Prairie Chicken, logo of the 2014 Grassroots Radio Conference

The Prairie Chicken, logo of the 2014 Grassroots Radio Conference


Dibianco, who is also known as the radio goddess, says people with disabilities are regular participants at community radio stations and talks about how to tackle some typical issues that arise.


According to the KHOI website, community radio is fundamentally not a technical enterprise, but a venture into building humanity. [Community radio] returns media to treasured and traditional person-to-person connections – especially as new technologies increase isolation. It reminds us that radio remains relevant  even in the digital age.

Community radio is when local people produce and broadcast their own programs and participate in operating the station. It is community space for people to meet and collaborate. It is extraordinarily fun and often life-changing. It typically leads to individual creativity and self-empowerment. Participants find it extraordinarily satisfying, not just to make radio in this unique fashion, but to also help transform community life.  (More)

 Adrienne Lauby produced and hosted this program with major editing work by Sheela Gunn-Cushman.


Posted in Activism, Adrienne Lauby, Community, Sheela Gunn Cushman | Tagged , | | Leave a comment