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People We Love: Ingrid Tischer, Berkeley, CA

A fabulous excerpt/extended quote by Ingrid Tischer, Director of Development, DREDF, on telethons, ‘inspiration porn‘ and their impact on girls with disabilities (published in an article titled, “I’ll Trade You the Pink-Ribbon Teddy Bear for Jerry Lewis Any Day” on November 2005 for Bay Area Business Woman).

This is the second in our 4-part series on people talking about the MDA telethon and specifically the portrayal of people with disabilities as objects of pity.

Image of a dim room with two people facing each other, with their fists bumping together. A white woman in a wheelchair is on the left and an Asian-American woman in a wheelchair is on the right.
Two ungrateful uppity crip chicks! Left: Ingrid Tischer. Right: Alice Wong

It being less than a month before the next MDA Telethon, I’m now donning my Ungrateful Crip bonnet, adjusting that chip on my fragile yet annoying shoulder, and quoting myself from past years. And thinking fondly of other Ungrateful Crips no longer with us: Harriet McBryde Johnson, Barbara Faye Waxman, Laura Hershey.

Minutes after I tuned in this year, a little girl was profiled in a video montage before she and her parents joined the host on stage. She sat listening quietly as her parents talked about how their little girl didn’t have a future.

Unlike “normal” children, she was “confined” to a wheelchair and could be “struck down” at any moment. You couldn’t see how these dramatic statements affected her because a “Call Now” graphic covered the lower portion of the screen — right where her face was, and where the face of of any person who uses a wheelchair would be expected to be.

Here’s the thing: Little girls who hear they don’t have futures become women who don’t have jobs. And people will never care that women with disabilities are excluded from their work places if they think of us as faceless bodies with special needs instead of women with equal rights.

Black and white image of Jerry Lewis holding a toddler boy who has a large button that says he is a Muscular Dystrophy Association poster child. A wheelchair is in the background.

Black and white image of a girl in a wheelchair wearing a sash. She is surrounded by four older white women. A poster of the young girl is featured encouraging people to donate.




About Ingrid Tischer

Ingrid Tischer became DREDF’s Director of Development in 2011. She’s been a Bay Area-based fundraiser, non–profit manager and activist for nearly 20 years. Her staff and consulting work has supported free healthcare services, human and environmental health policy, gender and LGBT anti-discrimination, employment civil rights, and disability rights. She got her start in 1992 in a grassroots women’s clinic before moving on to cutting–edge advocacy organizations Breast Cancer Action, Equal Rights Advocates and the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center. Her media advocacy experience has involved working in coalition with the Labor Project for Working Families, MomsRising and The Impact Fund. She has served on the Women’s Community Clinic Advisory Board, is an alumna of the Women’s Health Leadership (WHL) Program for emerging women healthcare leaders, and has been a faculty member of the California Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) program. Her writing has appeared in The Progressive, Ragged Edge, off our backs, and other outlets. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy from The American University in Washington, D.C.

About Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)


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Twitter: @DREDF




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