How can I allow you to go to church?

Shackling in Ghana, Israel-Palestine, and much more

Dear Debriefers,

Today we start off with some heavier updates, including the harrowing conditions some people with psychosocial disabilities face in Ghana, and an update on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

After that it's relatively lighter. We explore the world of work, see why one advocate scolds the children of the elite, find wheelchair companies “profiteering” and how to make a racing game accessible.

There are controversies on whether disabled people should have different employment conditions, and on how to measure disability data. And, closing, we can take heart from features on disabled activists around the world.

These are highlights from a fresh instalment of curated news, bringing over 200 links from forty countries. Browse the contents below or go directly to pages that organise it by subject or by country.

Disability Debrief is supported on a pay-as-you can basis. Thanks to the Disability Rights Division at Human Rights Watch for a new contribution.

How can I allow you to go to church?

From Ghana there's a harrowing update from Human Rights Watch on how people with psychosocial disabilities continue to be imprisoned and tortured.

These cruelties are practiced in so-called “prayer camps” and continue despite Ghana having banned shackling in 2017. In some cases people are shackled, limited to a world the width of the metre-and-a-half long chain on their ankle.

In a heartbreaking reencounter, Elizabeth Kamundia found Pamela (a pseudonym) in the same place she'd been locked up in a year previously:

‘Pamela was just as I last saw her, only emaciated, her eyes enormous on her gaunt face. When I asked her about life at the camp, her face crumpled, and she started to cry. “They don’t allow us to go to church,” she said. “That pains me. I want to go to church.” I was astounded: this was a prayer camp after all. A staff member told her: “But look at you, Pamela. How can I allow you to go to church?”’

Human Rights Watch urges the government to resource enforcement mechanisms. But people in these camps also need support and different places to be. Even with this public attention, the camps and wider society haven't yet been able to come up with those alternatives.

There is no one to help

From Palestine, there's relatively extensive coverage of the situations of disabled people in Gaza. Maha Hussaini, a Gazan journalist, writes about families trying to get out with disabled people after losing their homes. CNN reports on a range of struggles including the impossible dilemma of a director of an orphanage for disabled people: “Where will I leave these children, on the street?”

As well as the investigation from Human Rights Watch, Time has explored the additional barriers disabled people are facing in conflict. Aljazeera offers some short videos on the hardship faced and the experience of a deaf couple: “The planes bomb us. We are deaf so it scares us. There is no one to help us and [we] cannot hear.”

In Israel, one estimate suggests over 50,000 people with disabilities have been evacuated from areas close to the border, to get further from rocket fire. The war is challenging for disabled people, but one hotel is hosting disabled and elderly evacuees for free, and the Shalva National Center has also become a refuge. The so-called “Special in Uniform” unit of the Israeli Defence Forces have been packing and distributing supplies.

For further news, see the Debrief library page on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, including some of the conflict's ripples beyond the Middle East.

Work makes me a better person

“Work makes me a better person”. A nice profile of Rafael Martirosyan in Armenia and what employment means to him. He is a senior packer at his family's bakery business, and has down syndrome.

No trade. In Nairobi, Kenya, hundreds of street vendors with disabilities have protested neglect and harassment by county officers. See photos of the protest which included over fifty staying overnight outside the city hall.

Level of disability. In the US, Amy Lutz argues for the importance of vocational programs to pay a sub-minimum wage to disabled people, like her son Jonah. Lutz's counterpoint to rights-based positions are an important illustration of the complexities of this subject. In her view, disability advocates are “intent on denying that people with [Jonah's] level of disability exist and require extensive accommodation and care.”

Linking in. Also in the US, LinkedIn has used the information it has about professionals to see how declared disability status relates to employment and leadership trends. The biggest effects it finds are disabled folk being more likely to be consumer services, government administration and education.

Scolding children of the elite

Scolding children of the elite. Back in Ghana, Sophie Boakye Acheampong talks about stigma she's faced as a little person. “I avoid going to the shopping malls, on many occasions I have had to scold children of the elite at the malls, they usually mock me or act in a way that is displeasing,”

Data discussions. Internationally there's a wide consensus on the idea that a set of six questions, called the Washington Group questions, are the way to measure disability prevalence. But the proposal to bring them into the American Community Survey has led to heated discussion. The US disability community doesn't love that they might lead to a lower figure for the number of disabled people.

Making a racing game accessible for blind gamers. I was impressed to see accessibility reviews praising Forza Motorsport. The game designed blind driving assists to give audio feedback on where the car is in relation to the route, edge of the road, and much more.

“Wheelchair profiteering”. Erik Kondo has done a series of posts on “wheelchair profiteering” in the US, showing how the market drives cheap commodity models on one end and very expensive customised models on the other, with not much in between.

Don't tell me you're not looking forward to the US election next year. In the US, disabled people this year were over three times more likely than people without disabilities to have difficulties voting in-person. In Southern States, New Disabled South have made a Plain Language Policy Dashboard, which they did with assistance from artificial intelligence. And a new organization, Disability Victory is setting to bring more disabled progressives into politics.

LGBT persons with disabilities. A statement from two UN experts calling on governments to eradicate violence and discrimination. “A pervasive perception is that, unless they are ‘cured’ or ‘corrected’, they are lesser or somehow inferior to other human beings.”

Reframing Disability. Writing from India, friend of the Debrief Priti Salian has launched a new newsletter on reframing disability, “untangling disability-inclusive narratives”.

United in action

Leading change. Human Rights Watch have an interactive feature on disabled and older people leading change around the world, showing the challenges they've faced, and celebrating their leadership and how it transforms us.

In Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF profiles girls and young women raising their voice. And BBC's annual list of one hundred inspiring and influential women features many disabled activists.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) starts tomorrow. For background, see the Debrief hub on climate change and disability and in particular Áine's reporting last year on COP27.

United in action. The disability movement around the world will be also be celebrating the international day of persons with disabilities on the 3rd December. The UN has suggested the theme of “united in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities”.

Let me know if you can rescue that jargon, and what you get up to on the day. Cheers,


Recent News

This update has 217 curated links from 40 countries and regions, organized across 42 subjects.

You can explore it organized by subject or by country.



Please share this with friends, as that's how people find the Debrief. On socials we're on Linkedin, twitter at @DisDebrief and I'm @desibility. And hit reply to say hello!


Many thanks to readers and Sightsavers for the support that keeps this going. News curation is done with support of the Center for Inclusive Policy.

The Debrief is produced by me, Peter Torres Fremlin. Opinions or mistakes are mine.