Two podcast episodes, four months apart, closed the circle.
I love how things come full circle sometimes.
For example, in March, my buddy Zeke texted me a link to a Radiolab episode called The Right Stuff.
The Right Stuff (ASL Translation) | Radiolab Podcast
When I looked up what the episode was about, I was so excited.
Essentially it asks the question: “Who gets to be an astronaut?”
And follows a crew of disabled people (called Ambassadors) on a mission to prove that they have what it takes to go to space.
So, in this episode of Radiolab, reporter Andrew Leland joins crew members from Mission AstroAccess to Long Beach, California, where they get on an airplane to take a flight that simulates zero-gravity. It is the kind of flight that NASA uses to train astronauts. And here is a twist, Andrew, Radiolab’s reporter, is legally blind himself. Which I thought was brilliant because who better to report this story than someone with a disability?
It’s a great episode, and I encourage you to listen to it.
Here is the full circle part.
Sometimes when I don’t know what to write about, I’ll scroll through my podcast feed. You don’t want to know how many podcasts I subscribe to. Way too many to listen to.
But this past week, I was feeling a little lost. On the top of my feed was a podcast called How Sound. It’s a joint project of Public Radio International (PRX) and Transom - on radio storytelling.
Yeah, yeah. Super nerdy. But I love it and always learn something.
For this episode of How Sound, host Rob Rosenthal interviewed a reporter from Radiolab. Yep! The same reporter from The Right Stuff episode.
Andrew explained the challenge of recording in zero gravity and how they had to get creative. Not only did Andrew use some fantastic recording techniques, like taping a microphone to his head, but he also talked about the difficulty of figuring out his identity on the flight. Was he a reporter or a member of the flight crew?
This concept of identity is something that I think about a lot, especially when it comes to how to represent disability in my writing and our work promoting inclusive schools.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from the episode. Andrew is talking about his observations in the lead-up to the flight about how nondisabled people related to disabled people.
“You know, it's in that moment...in the very beginning, when the former astronaut says to me, like, oh, so you're obviously one of the Ambassadors and there was a lot more of it, that didn't make it into the story of just like tons of these interactions between the nondisabled people who are there to help and the disabled people. And it's something around how to negotiate unnecessary help and low expectations from people who look at a disabled person and think like, oh, that person is definitely going to need help. And is definitely not here, just like in the normal capacity that everybody else is here.”
So how does this relate to inclusive education?
I think there is some truth to be uncovered here in Andrew’s reflections about this flight.
Disabled people aren’t “supposed” to be training to fly to space. And I’m sure some nondisabled people, have no idea what disabled people can or can't do. So, when the astronaut looks at Andrew, with all the outward signs of being Blind, they automatically assume he is one of the Ambassadors.
Isn’t this exactly what we do in schools? When we see a student with autism or Down syndrome or a learner with multiple disabilities? Someone will inevitably say, “What are they doing here?” “What are they going to get out of it?”
And so, the ableist attitudes continue for the Ambassadors, “what are they going to get out of training to go to space?”
As much as we can, as educators, we need to fight against low expectations. And listening to Andrew's reflections just confirms it for me.
When I heard the episode of How Sound I texted my buddy, Zeke. Isn’t it great when things come full circle?
Make sure to check out Radiolab and How Sound in your favorite podcast player.
As always, if you ever have questions or comments email at email@example.com or go to mcie.org to learn more about how we can partner with you and your school or district.
Thanks for your time, everyone. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another edition of The Weeklyish.
Have a great week!
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Liz Weintraub & Kenneth Kelty | Using Content Creation for Disability Advocacy
Inclusive Language is Not Enough
10 Ways to Flex Your Social Media Advocacy Skills
Around the Web
The unexpected star of NASA’s Webb images — the alt text descriptions
OPINION: If you really want more equitable schools, you must first ask some questions
“All Are Welcome Here” Our Journey Toward Inclusion at Rockwell Elementary
New Guidance Helps Schools Support Students with Disabilities and Avoid Discriminatory Use of Discipline
What I’m Reading
From the Institute on Community Integration on Facebook.
Impact is the Institute on Community Integration’s flagship publication. Published three times per year, the magazine contains strategies, research, and success stories in specific focus areas related to persons with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. Impact provides useful information to various professionals, including educators, community service providers, policymakers, and advocates, as well as people with disabilities and their families.
The online version and your first print copy is free. Subscribe now.
What I’m Watching
Only Murders in the Building Season 2 | Trailer | Hulu
What’s in my Pod Feed
When Will Met Grace (Revisionist History)
Teaching Truth to Power (Intersectionality Matters!)
EduTip 15: Set aside time to set norms. (Cult of Pedagogy)
Eugenics w. Eric Michael Garcia (You’re Wrong About)
What I’m Listening To
AWOLNATION - Passion (Official Video)
What’s in my Timeline
From the Wayback Machine
Pause and Consider: Ableism and Autism
The Godmother Of Drumming Plays “Down With The Sickness”
The Weeklyish is written, edited, and sound designed by Tim Villegas and is a production of MCIE.
Our intro stinger is by Miles Kredich.
And our outro is by REDProductions.
For information about inclusive education visit mcie.org and check out our flagship podcast, Think Inclusive, on your favorite podcast app.