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Message no. 1
From: shadowrn@*********.com (Hahns Shin)
Subject: The differently aware/mobile in 2060(Was Re: Ritalin and ADHD)
Date: Wed May 2 17:45:01 2001
> On that note, I'll continue with the 'screwups in the 2060s'
series of
> questions by asking...What's going to happen with the disabled?
> say, the blind? Same as previous questions, jump in if you even have
an idea.
> Hahns?
>From the UCAS/CAS perspective, probably not much. Advances in medicine
can only benefit those who can pay for it. Despite the advances that
are predicted in the area of cybernetics and neurosurgery, there are
some disabilities that simply cannot be corrected. Sometimes paralysis
in the spine results in a degeneration of nerves that cannot be
repaired, so the patient is paraplegic for life. Or there is a gradual
destruction of the entire nervous system, as in diabetic
neuropathy/encephalopathy. Though I also imagine that for many,
cyberware, neurosurgery, and gene therapy will be a godsend; but
again, it can only help those who can pay for it, so most SINless are
out of luck. I remember back to the introduction by Hatchetman in
Cybertechnology, how his family purchased his first 'ware for him...
cybereyes to restore his lost sight. That, IMHO, is the perfect
example of the medical miracles in store for the future. Another
example would be Red Wraith's partial restoration of movement because
of an experimental Move-by-Wire implant.

I could also see a patient suing a doctor for implanting cyberware in
the first place! They could convince a jury that "the doctor, through
shameful neglect has 'condemned' the patient to carry this goddamned
piece of metal for the rest of his life". It could be worse if the guy
was magically active. Heck, he could sue the doctor just for not using
"holistic medicine." I've heard of lawsuits in the US today that
fought over less (The doctor MADE me wear a pacemaker, things like

I imagine that the disability laws in place would be maintained in the
UCAS/CAS, but maybe not in the NAN or the Tir. Also, there are
disabled people who might even take advantage of the disabled welfare
lifestyle and refuse corrective surgery (I'm being very cynical here,
just to cover all the possibilities. This is, of course, Shadowrun.).

As far as corporations, they hire people for their talents. If the
candidate is a wizzer decker, but is paraplegic, they might plunk down
the nuyen for the cyber-replacement operation (while at the same time
implanting a cutoff remote signal so the hapless worker can't "run
away", so to speak). Gotta protect their investment. Health care is
probably taken care of at the corporate level (the corporate HMO, the
corporate pharmacy, etc.), and the corp will probably also encourage
healthy behavior, as well as provide birth control (which can
mysteriously "fail" and bring the couple to have a child, another
lever that they can use) and "safe" vices (corporate bunraku parlors,
corporate "recreational drugs", sold to the sararimen by corporate
sponsored pimps/drug dealers). I'm getting off topic, but the point is
that the corporation will provide as long as the worker is helping the
bottom line.

Some disabled people consider their "disability" (I use caution with
that term) as part of their identity and cannot dream of life
otherwise. This has been exploited in corny movies such as "At First
Sight" (Val Kilmer and Jennifer Aniston), but I've run into a case of
a deaf parent not wanting her deaf child to undergo hearing
restoration surgery. Living without hearing was so much a part of
their lives that the parent thought she would lose her connection with
the child if the kid was able to hear again. There was a movie made
about this case, recently, though I think it's an indi flick.

Magic also provides another possibility with the subject of the
disabled. Perhaps a blind mage learned to see in the astral first
BECAUSE he is blind, and his belief in his Power is grounded in the
fact that he is blind. Or there would be a deaf adept who uses his
other senses and a highly developed sense of touch (he can feel
breezes and sound waves) to help in combat. Or a Bat Shaman ('Nuff
said). Healing magic can patch up crippled limbs before they are at
the point of amputation, while healing magic therapy can possibly help
with chronic illness. However, again, cost and availability become a
factor with Magic... Magically actives are supposedly rare (HA!), and
the chance of having one nearby in the field is slim to none
(especially since you geek them first).

However, to summarize, I believe that as long as people are around,
there will be those who are differently aware/abled/mobile. I haven't
even delved into other possibilities (black IC frying a decker's motor
cortex, a rigger who destroys her cerebellum and thus cannot function
WITHOUT being rigged), but suffice to say, the sequelae might be
different, but the results are still the same.

> Oh yeah, a related but off-topic question. Me being partially
sighted, I'd
> like to compensate for my...utter lack of ability to pick up body
> to say the least (What CRUEL part of nuerology causes that, Hahns?
Or am I
> *gulp* unique?) learning sign language, which I honestly

Partially sighted? Describe, please... do you have tunnel vision or
just bad vision in general? Is it neurological, or a result of retinal
damage? A childhood illness, perhaps? There is an area of the brain in
the dominant part of the hemisphere that governs language and
communication. Opposite from that area, in the other hemisphere, is
what is known as the "prosody" area, which governs emotional context
and body language. A lesion in this area often manifests in different
ways, such as a failure to use inflection when speaking (monotone
professors come to mind), and a failure to read body language, among
other things. Each case is unique, but there are others like you, rest

If it is a function of sight, however, it is probably a lesion in the
connection between the optic center of the brain (WAY in the back of
the head) and the prosody or language area. Your brain simply doesn't
make the connection between body language and interpreting the intent
of others.

> learned years ago, and now wonder if it shouldn't be taught as part
of the
> regular curriculum in schools. Anybody know any good resources on
the net to
> start with? I once had that book 'Joy of Signing', from when I was
little and
> nobody knew if I'd be able to talk (now I can't shut up, see?:-)),
but it ran
> away on me.
I have a problem with "running books", too. :-) The Joy of Signing is
a good starter book.
Here are a few quick resources:
AWFUL popups, but it has animated demonstrations of many ASL words.
Another resource
Another animated dictionary.

Hope this helps.

Hahns Shin, MS I
Budding cybersurgeon

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