Assume that I can hit harder

Guide to recent disability news from 50+ countries

Dear Debriefers,

Here's the April guide to disability news from around the world. We drink a Margarita, meet disabled women in Nepal, learn about the experiences of indigenous people with disabilities and much more.

As well as the highlights below, find the full guide of 176 curated links, which you can browse by the 50+ countries or the 40+ subjects they're organised across.

Disability Debrief provides this resource with support from the people and organisations that use it. Thanks to Erica and Nancy for new contributions.

Assume that I can hit harder

Assume that I can is a wonderful campaign from CoorDown in the US. It challenges the negative assumptions made about people with Down syndrome:

“If all your assumptions become reality,
then assume
that I can drink a Margarita.
So you serve me a Margarita.
So I drink a Margarita.
Assume that I can live on my own.
So I live on my own.
Assume that I can hit harder.
So I hit harder.”

Madison Tevlin's mesmeric voice, banging video and liberating message have made it an instant classic in awareness-raising videos. It hits at the heart of challenge we face through our life as disabled people and all our work on disability issues.

Ideas that something isn't for you, that you can't do something independently or that you won't improve become self-fulfilling. Expectations become reality, especially when they're expectations of a limitation. Our work, and the fight of our daily lives, is to turn “no” into “maybe”, and “can't” into “can, if”. The more we can hold possibility open, the more we get to “yes”.

“We always win”. Another antidote to negative assumptions comes from this profile of Valentina, a 22-year-old in Chile who plays rugby and has Down Syndrome. She likes playing rugby because she has friends “and we always win”. And she likes having Down Syndrome “because I'm happy”.

At the crossroads

Crossroads is a powerful and personal documentary about blind women in Nepal. It explores family life and relationships, with stories of never getting married and those whose husbands left them. There's hardship, hope, and collective efforts of activists working to change. It was filmed by Sita Sah, herself a visually impaired woman, with the Disability Justice Project.

Also from Nepal come feminist visions for disability liberation, featuring women leaders with disabilities and their comments around a new Intersectional Feminist Forum.

My grandmother's spit

In New Zealand, Ruby Solly has made Risk, a visual poem “exploring the intricacies of indigenous, disabled pride”. “Woof woof motherfucker” the poem barks, “I can smell my grandmothers spit on your hands”. Lying in bed she wonders if she is a risk to herself or others:

“Ah well, another day, another eighty cents of the dollar
Another blood test
Another medication compliance phone call
Another woman calling my qualifications a symptom of mania
Because a Māori woman is more likely to be insane
Than a doctor in their eyes”

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, Minority Rights Group and partners are advocating for indigenous people with disabilities:

“Persons with disabilities within indigenous communities experience disproportionate disadvantages because of the intersectional discrimination they face on account of multiple axes of oppression. Many disability activists from indigenous communities stress the importance of analyzing the historical context and its ongoing impacts, specifically slavery and colonialism. Within indigenous communities, disability cannot be extricated and analyzed outside the context of psychosocial disabilities and intergenerational trauma caused by colonial violence and oppression.”

Continuing protests

Last year I shared news on protests held in Poland and South Korea. Since then, there's a new government on Poland, celebrated as a big win for democracy. Disabled people are still protesting though, as pre-election promises have not been fulfilled:

“The group’s main demand is that the so-called “social pension”, which is paid to people who are unable to work for health reasons and currently stands at 1,781 zloty (€413) per month, is raised to the level of the minimum wage, which is currently 4,242 zloty (€983) gross per month.”

And in South Korea, the extraordinary group Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination – who have faced arrests and a ban from protesting in the subway – are now suing the Seoul Metro for their constitutionally guaranteed right to assembly. Follow along on their Twitter to see their protests continue.

Facing indifference

In the Israel-Palestine conflict, there are a series of painful updates. Alongside the misery of conditions in Gaza and attacks against disabled people, there is a feature on para-cyclists in Gaza. As well as delivering aid within the strip, they are mobilising solidarity internationally.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine. Some Ukrainian veterans with disabilities “abandon all hope” as explored in this feature from Kyiv Independent. Facing medical bureaucracy there are fights to get treatment and pay. One injured veteran reflects on the saying “war is hell”, by adding “the hell is when you return from the war (to face) the indifference. It is very demotivating.”

The other side of the complications in medical bureaucracy are the many ways it isn't working from the bureaucratic point of view. Worries that people are misusing a disability status to get out of military service has led to a decision to re-examine assessments since 2022. And in the city of Zaporizhzhia, police exposed a corruption scheme issuing certificates of fictitious disability.

A more successful story of reintegration after war injury comes from Oleksandr Popyk in an article from disability coalition, League of the Strong. He comments on the importance of advice from other disabled people.

Explaining the surge in employment

In the US headlines have shown a “surge” in employment of disabled people. The proportion of the workforce reporting a disability has increased by almost a third of what it was before the pandemic. Is this because work is more accessible, or more folk are becoming disabled?

A study on postpandemic labor supply finds that it's a change in the reported disability status of those already in the workforce, more than new people finding work. And the stats themselves don't tell us whether it's because they got new disabilities or are just reporting them more.

The concept of flow

“The concept of flow”. Action on Disability and Development (ADD) International have a new strategy trying to shift away from traditional models of international development towards increasing “the flow of resources and opportunities to those who have the vision, agency and right to lead change”.

Arguing over access. In a worrying case from France, a company making software for websites successfully sued accessibility leaders who said it didn't work.

“Zero to Heathrow.” Have you wondered how much airports are charging in their failures to assist disabled passengers? The Accessible Link studied the the data from UK airports.

“I often feel very lonely.” In Australia, a study looked at loneliness over a period of two decades:

“the prevalence of loneliness was greater for people with disability, such that people with disability were 1.5 to 1.9 times more likely to experience loneliness than people without disability”.

Speaking of negative assumptions, an awful view of the pain that they can cause is shown in this feature from the US on parents whose children are taken away from them on the basis of an IQ test. Parents with cognitive disabilities face “disproportionate scrutiny from child welfare agencies”: “About two-thirds of state codes consider intellectual disabilities a factor for termination of parental rights.”

Football dreams. A feature from South Sudan on blind football and how it connects people.

“Sight is only one of our senses”. An intriguing look at accessible experiences of the total solar eclipse in North America. An Eclipse Soundscapes project collects sound and other observations to see the impact on wildlife. And NASA helped created tactile graphics to explain the eclipse through touch.

Everyone is good at something. In India, this project features the photos and stories of disabled people from all over the country. I found it via Reframing Disability, who spoke to the photographer behind it. And from Europe, see a photo competition on stories and voices of women and girls with disabilities.

In case you missed it. Here are the recent editions of the Debrief:

As ever, let me know what adventures you find in recent disability news.



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Recent News

This update has 176 curated links from 52 countries and regions, organized across 42 subjects.

You can explore it organized by subject or by country.




Many thanks to the readers and organisations whose support makes this work possible.