A global overview of disability news, November 2020 edition

November 2020

Hey debriefers,

Welcome back to too much disability news! I've gone through to collect and organize hundreds of links so that you don't have to. We catch-up on non-COVID disability-related news since our mid-June edition and also connect with the COVID-related news since the update in September.

Like last time, see the news as a pdf collection of links. Or as a Word Document.

If you missed it, definitely see the last newsletter, which was a wide-ranging interview with Catalina Devandas. I'm still reflecting on what that conversation means for me and work on disability. Many thanks to Samaneh Shabani who kindly translated the interview with Catalina Devandas into Persian.

Disability Debrief is made by me, Peter Torres Fremlin, a freelance consultant. This edition is produced with support from Center for Inclusive Policy.


Well, it’s been a year, hasn’t it. Here we catch-up on general news from the past six months and also a bit of infection of COVID-19 news as well.

With the exceptions of a few reports, like the Disability Rights Monitor Global Report (link to pdf), there is less COVID-19 and disability news than before. This is definitely for better and worse. As that report urges, we need to “raise the alarm globally” on the catastrophic impact on persons with disabilities. As our last virus-update highlighted, many of the challenges have not been resolved. At the same time, we are living in the new normal and you can see COVID-19 related updates scattered through the sections in each topic.

Of course it hasn’t just been a big year for the virus. Some of you might have followed elections in the United States, and there’s a lot of material here on the participation and platforms relating to disability in that election – and many other countries political moves. The USA also saw the Black Lives Matter movement and there are many updates from the USA and other countries on the intersections between Black Lives Matter and disability. It certainly raises questions for our sector, and some disability organizations have made statements about this.

Culture is changing quickly, and disability is part of that. There is an extensive section on entertainment news, including a whole section on television and movies featuring persons with disabilities. Many of these are in English, and they show how quickly different ways of representing persons with disabilities are developing. The section on Culture and Entertainment also features the barriers that persons with disabilities still face to get into these industries.

While popular culture changes, there is also more attention to disability history. As well as memorials of persons with disabilities, there is more documentation of disability history – in this year, especially from the US and UK, which saw anniversaries of the American with Disabilities Act (1990) and Disability Discrimination Act (1995). As a disabled person from Britain I hadn’t known the stories of these “wheelchair warriors” that fought for the rights I had growing up. There’s also plenty on the Paralympics and the documentary on it, Rising Phoenix.

There’s plenty of technical work too. Whether you’re into accessibility, data on disability, education, employment, or international cooperation, there are further resources and developments in these and many other areas. In education there was UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, which is pretty massive, and moves to “widen the understanding of inclusive education”.

The year hasn’t ended, of course. There are plenty of events this week celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Among them is the UN Conference of State Parties happening right now, and a really extensive set of side events.

If you want to follow this week as it happens, you can keep up with disability news the way I do, on twitter. I’ve compiled an international list of people that tweet on disability news and you can browse what’s going whether you have a twitter account or not. (Thanks to everyone who shares updates.) Health warning though: there’s an awful lot of news! Either way I will send you another Debrief soon to capture what goes down these weeks.

See the pdf collection, or as a word document.

These are the topics covered:

  • Accessibility and Design
  • Anniversaries of laws in the UK and US
  • Assistive Technology
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Civil Society
  • Climate Change
  • COVID-19 Crisis and Response
  • Culture, Entertainment and Media
  • Data and Research
  • Digital accessibility and the internet
  • Education
  • Elections and Politics
  • Employment, business and work
  • Health and bioethics
  • History and Memorial
  • Humanitarian
  • Institutions and deprivation of liberty
  • International Cooperation
  • Lived Experience
  • Mental Health
  • Migrants and Refugees
  • Paralympics
  • Policy and Rights
  • Sign Languages
  • Social Protection and Poverty
  • Transport
  • Violence

As well as news of events and some jobs or fellowships going forward. I hope you can navigate quickly to what interests you!

Until next time

Enjoy disability day and all the events going on. Ciao,