Friday, August 28, 2009

Mission 4: Health Checks Now

This mission was brought to Oz Squad's attention by squad member Monica. Monica spotted a few poorly-worded articles about Down syndrome on a health info site called healthchecksnow. The articles aren't intentionally or overtly offensive, but they do contain statements that some may find offensive and over-generalized. Several OS members posted comments with thoughtful suggestions about how the articles could be rewritten to make them more accurate and sensitive. If anyone else would like to read the articles and respond with comments of your own, here are a few links:

What is Down Syndrome?

The Face of Down Syndrome: Physical Characteristics

This is a great example of how Oz Squad can serve as an Internet watchdog. Changing a few phrases on a site like this one may not seem like it makes much of a difference. But there's a lot of bad info online. A poorly chosen word, an old statistic, a negative tone in what should be a neutral article – these are things that matter. They can subconsciously affect people's attitudes toward people with Down syndrome. They can have subtle influences on a doctor's choice of words at a critical time. They can perpetuate myths and stereotypes. They can make life a little bit harder for every one of us.

So when you spot something like this, please take a few moments and send a comment to the author. If that doesn't help, let us know about it. We can work together to educate the public, clean up these frustrating little problems, and make the world a little bit brighter for our kids.

Thanks again, Monica!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tech Tip

A few people have let me know that they are not receiving Oz Squad emails. I'm guessing this could be related to the fact that we have lots of people on our email list, and our emails are getting tagged as spam. The solution? Check your spam folder and look for Oz Squad emails. If you see them, mark them as "not junk mail" or "safe sender" or whatever your particular email service uses. That should take care of the problem.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mission 3: Shame on - Update

sannse, of Wikia's technical support team, has emailed me to say that has decided to remove the offending page. Thanks to all of you who went after this one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mission 3: Shame on is the parent of several wiki websites (sites that use wiki software to enable collaborative content development) including a wiki called and this website hosts a page titled, HowTo:Get Downs Syndrome.

(Warning: wait 45 minutes after eating before going to read this page. Otherwise, you will puke.)

I realize that since this is a wiki, any one of us, and everyone of us, can go there and alter this horrific content, however, I wanted to have it removed the polite way. So I contacted and explained that having a web page that encourages abducting, torturing, and raping (and killing... that’s the part under the blackout) individuals with Down syndrome is highly inappropriate, and um... even illegal, and certainly in violation of the wikia terms of use.

Their response? An unconvincing definition of dark humor for my edification... Here is an excerpt:
“The humor is often dark, mocking, satirical, and sometimes offensive. But, at its best, it can also be very funny as well as thought provoking and enlightening, giving a new twist to an old subject.”

I am guessing that sannse, the tech team responder to my complaint, did not actually read the page because you just can’t connect what is sitting on that page to anything “funny, thought provoking, and enlightening.”

sannse wrapped up with a suggestion to contact the Uncyclopedia folks with this caveat... “But please be aware that Uncyclopedia is not often amenable to removing articles due to offense alone and the atmosphere of mockery can often carry over into discussions.” Yeah, thanks for the warning and the brush off, sannse.

So guys, visit wikia’s special contact page and let them know that their condonation of the Uncyclopedia - HowTo:Get Downs Syndrome web page is intolerable. If you have other ideas for taking down this garbage, post them in the comments or, ahem, covertly do what you must.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Don’t Tell Me I Can’t

Don’t tell me I can’t
when I’ve already proven to so many that I can and have

Don’t tell me I shouldn’t be here
when so many people would not have learned the things that I have taught them

Don’t tell me I have no value
when I have given so much joy, laughter, and love to so many

Don’t tell me I’m different
when everyone in the world is their own unique person

Don’t tell me how to live my life
when there are so many possibilities for me to try

I can do things!
I was put here on this earth because of my value and difference
Possibly to even teach you how to live a better life

written by Suzie Smith of Lily's Life Is Great
(posted with permission)