We are delighted to announce that we have a chat room on Slack. This can be accessed using a desktop browser or apps (android or iOS). This space is for women with disabilities only and you need an invite to join. Please contact us for more information.
Unfortunately due to technical difficulties we have had to temporarily close our chat room therefore all meetings and drop ins are cancelled.
Sorry for the inconvenience. We hope to have this resolved soon.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, GimpGirl will be resuming weekly online community meetings for members to discuss issues, find solutions and get support. Meetings are currently held every Sunday at 1 pm Pacific on our community chat room.
The chat room is always open for use, but meetings will specifically be held for women at this time. We look forward to seeing you there!
This blog is no longer being updated on a regular basis, but the articles are being left up for informational purposes.
Author Nicola Griffith and founder of the Disability Visibility Project Alice Wong will be hosting the fourth #CripLit twitter chat on Sunday, December 4 to discuss issues important to disabled writers of all types. Topics will include using writing as a form of resistance, increasing the visibility of your work, self-care and community.
On Monday, September 28, GimpGirl representative Katherine Mancuso participated in Adios, Barbie‘s #AdiosStigma Twitter Party, to discuss the issues surrounding invisible illness and celebrate Invisible Illness Awareness Week. The discussion included several panel members with both professional and personal experience, and covered a wide range of topics including confronting ableism and related caregiver issues.
In an effort to continue the discussion on invisible illness, we are sharing information compiled by the awesome folks at Adios, Barbie. To access the infographic image, click or select the thumbnail image associated with each infographic text.
- More than 125 million Americans are living with at least one chronic condition
- Over 95% of people living with an illness have an invisible illness
- 60% of those with invisible illnesses are between the ages of 18 and 64
- 4 out of 5 health care dollars in the US are spent on chronic or invisible conditions
- For 34% of people, the person closest to them with an invisible illness is a parent
- Rates of depression are 15-20% higher for people with invisible illnesses
By: @AdiosBarbie for #AdiosStigma
Infographic: “Mental Illness is the most common invisible illness on College Campuses.”
- Stigma is the number one barrier that stop students from seeking mental health services.
- 73% of students experience a mental health crisis while in college.
- Only 13% of students would rate their college’s response to mental health as “excellent”.
By: Adios Barbie for #AdiosStigma
Infographic: “Mental Illness On Campus”
- One in 10 students contemplates suicide
- 64% of students who drop out of school do so because of mental illness
- Nearly 75% of students experience a mental health crisis in college
By: Adios Barbie for #AdiosStigma
Infographic: “The Costs of Caregiving”
- 65% of caregivers have not had a vacation in the past year. 51% of caregivers report no time to take care of themselves and almost half (49%) said they were too tired to do so.
- The out-of-pocket costs for caregivers who are caring for someone who was age 50 or older was $5,531 in 2007.
- 40% to 70% of caregivers have clinically significant signs of depression. Elderly spousal caregivers (age 66-96) have a 63% higher mortality rate than noncaregivers of the same age.
Who is a Caregiver?
- 66% of caregivers are female
- Average age is 48
- 1/3 care for more than one person
- 46% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders caregive
By: Adios Barbie for #AdiosStigma
What is your experience with invisible illness? Do you these statistics reflected in your experience?
After much consideration, we will be shifting from having meetings once a week to having meetings once a month. This Sunday, 1st March will be the first monthly meeting. Generally, we intend to have regular meetings the first Sunday of every month. We encourage everyone to subscribe to our Google calendar to keep up with events. We did not take this decision lightly, and we will continue to review all the technology that is utilized or could be utilized as we move forward.
We would like members to know that you are welcome to use our Second Life and IRC chat room space for informal meetings anytime. Other members have showed an interest in continuing to meet every Sunday at 1 PM Pacific informally, so we encourage all members to continue dropping in during this time for casual conversation.
We would like to let everyone know we will be taking a break over the holidays. The meetings on December 21, December 28, and January 4 are canceled. Our support meetings will start again in the new year on January 11, 2015. We look forward to catching up with everyone again then. In the meantime, you can still stay in touch on our Facebook group and on Twitter.
We’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us the past year, all our members and friends of GimpGirl. We are very proud of our community.
We’d now like to ask you, what is your highlight from 2014? What achievements are you most proud of? Do you have any new year resolutions for 2015? Let us know in the comments below!
How do we function as an organization? People often ask about our somewhat unique way of getting things done. GimpGirl Community has been around for almost 16 years now, but because we often operate behind closed doors most people don’t understand how this community works from an “administrative” level.
We are a relatively well-known group in certain circles, and the prevailing stereotype of relatively well-known groups such as ours is that of a well-funded, corporate nonprofit with a full staff who often presumes to know more about the people they serve than the people themselves. I promise you we are none of those things.
GimpGirl has never been — and never will be — a well-funded corporate nonprofit. We have never been the recipient of any grant, and we do not have a regular source of funding aside from occasional member donations that cover the cost of incidentals like travel and computer equipment. We have always relied on “in-kind” donations of services from supporters (mostly friends of those within our “staff” circle) and individual members. They donate technical services such as server maintenance and computer repair, and various professional services such as editing articles and consulting on the best way to create healthy environments. We also partner with other organizations on services like web servers in order to save money.
Aside from our beginnings as part of a very small nonprofit (which is now defunct), and a brief partnership with another very small nonprofit, we have never been independently registered as a nonprofit. One of the main benefits of being a registered nonprofit is the ability to apply for grants and various other funding. For some organizations, a reliable money stream is essential to carrying out services. However, going down that path also means that a large percentage of human resources must be redirected to continually seeking new and better funding sources.
The U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporate structure comes with legal requirements, as well as additional provisions required by funding sources – stipulations we are not willing to accept. As women with disabilities, our lives are often subject to the whims of medical and bureaucratic institutions. Our members sometimes deal with homelessness, neglect, abandonment in life-threatening situations, and physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The organizations and bureaucracies that are in place to deal with these situations are often not set up to handle disability needs. As a collective, we have the flexibility to help our members deal with these situations in ways that we would not be able to if we incorporated as a nonprofit.
Even though GimpGirl technically has an internal hierarchy, we often function more like a democratic collective. The hierarchy was established to create a structure to deal with potential conflicts, and to centralize individuals who have clearance to speak for our community and coordinate volunteer efforts. Because we are a community by and for women with disabilities, it is highly beneficial to have a flexible structure that allows individuals to contribute in a way that works for them. Our volunteers not only deal with the barriers that the bureaucracy around disability causes, but they also deal with the complications that many adults deal with – jobs, children, family, relationships.
There are times when we refer to the contributors as “staff,” but we have never paid anyone any amount of money to work for this community. All “staff” hours are donated by individuals, including those who officially have titles such as myself. Our core volunteers also often collaborate with other organizations on projects related to women with disabilities and technology, but they generally do not receive monetary compensation for their efforts even when the project is funded. Volunteers are invited to conferences around the world to represent our community and to talk about the issues we confront, and when we are lucky the organizers pay for travel and accommodations. We are all volunteers working towards a common goal – not because we are paid, but because we are passionate.
The real magic in what we do happens when we bring members together. The women with disabilities that facilitate and participate in this community work together to create the space that makes everything that we do possible. Many members have never had the opportunity to talk to other women with disabilities because of barriers or a lack of people in the local community. A kind of natural co-mentorship forms when you bring people together who understand the lived experience of each other. Our members come from all over the world, and represent a wide variety of different backgrounds and levels of experience. They also have a wide range of disabilities.
Young students come to us struggling with the complications that come with being successful in college to speak to older professionals who have been where they are. Individuals in abusive situations at home come to us to speak with women who have made the transition to their own environment. Women who are pregnant come to speak with other mothers who understand how society treats mothers with disabilities. People simply wondering how to get from here to there to accomplish something they want to accomplish come to ask about accessible transportation. We all have some story or learned lesson that we can share that is meaningful to others.
Involving a wide range of women with disabilities also helps ensure that our community stays accessible to a wide range of people. Our contributors strive to create online spaces that are inclusive to all of our members, because our members make us who we are. Additionally, contributors are all people with disabilities who have their own needs. Instead of thinking about accessibility as a vague idea or a checklist, we think about accessibility as a constantly evolving collective responsibility to work together to make sure everyone can participate. We are successful because we work together with inclusivity in mind from the beginning.
If you have access to an academic library and would like more information about how this community functions, please check out our article in New Media and Society entitled GimpGirl grows up: Women with disabilities rethinking, redefining, and reclaiming community. Everyone can access additional information about this community on this website under the About Us tab, as well as in the numerous articles found here.
Community Liaison Katherine Mancuso and I will also be discussing how our community works today — January 27, 2014 at 6pm Pacific — at the online event Leading Accessible Online Communities. It is open to everyone!
— Jennifer Cole, Director, GimpGirl Community
There have been a lot of big changes behind the scenes at GimpGirl in 2013, but the people who make up our amazing community – you – are still as wonderful as ever. We make connections, we educate, we share stories and successes and failures, and we grow what we are capable of together. As women with disabilities, all the things that we do together to create community benefits us all, and we are all endlessly grateful for it.
We were unable to do a holiday party this year due to technical issues, which we hope to have sorted out by our 16th anniversary in February. Stay tuned!
2013 In Review
We have posted many amazing articles this year, including Domestic Violence Support for Women with Disabilities, Hiring Aides, and When to Say Goodbye to an Aide.
We have also updated our blog roll of amazing blogs by women with disabilities, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t already!
… And there is much more to come in 2014!
Do you have any favorite stories to share from 2013? Feel free to comment below!