Guide to international news, December 2021

Disability day, new research, great dance moves: now with reader support

Hello Debriefers,

I've got a great edition for you today with important new data on children with disability, an eccentric spy-chief and some great dance moves. All before the news curated into around 30 topics, picking up from November.

Happy disability day!

December starts with the international day of persons with disabilities and so that means lots of great stuff comes out at the end of the year.

Catching up on climate. The final text from COP26 only included one mention of disability. We can critique this, but international disability organizations are taking a balanced view: “a firm step on a long road”. See these reflections on how to develop work at the international level through more collaborative and broad-church approaches.

Great news: you can now give me money.

Thanks all for the kind response to my message about keeping this newsletter going next year. You can now support Disability Debrief directly, with one-off or monthly contributions.

A bit less covid news than usual, but it's worth it

Slight lull in covid-related research but this pandemic is the gift that keeps giving, so I'm sure that will be back. The calm gives us a chance to dive into a a beautiful research project from Bangladesh and Libera done by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and partners…

Pandemic Portraits is based on photos and direct testimonies from persons with disabilities and their families. As well as bringing to life the all-too-familiar challenges in livelihoods and health, it shows the details of how people are getting through this time: exclusion, loss, faith, boredom, hobbies, nature. The only reason this isn't this month's must-click is because I'm concerned the images don't have an accessible alternative.

A great month for report lovers

A few doorstoppers have come out with all the graphs and policy recommendations you need to sleep at night. Each year we have better and better data and these reports make the most of it.

  • The World Bank's Breaking Barriers looks at data in all areas of life in Latin America and the Carribean.
  • The UN in Asia Pacific came out with Disability at a Glance 2021 which gets into disability-inclusive employment (it's a long glance).

A nice antidote to these reports is Inclusion International's Closing Institutions and living in the community which communicates directly and features the voices of self-advocates from around the world.

What about the children? I'm glad you asked: perhaps the most important report was about the children.

10% of the world's children are children with disabilities

And 10% is a more-or-less real number, not one of the ones we made up. UNICEF's report Seen, Counted, Included looked at a wide range of data that shows there are nearly 240 million children with disabilities around the world.

The report provides grim confirmation to our concerns that children with disabilities are worse off in health, wealth, education and family life. They're less likely to be in conditions they can thrive and less likely to receive support to do so. Headline figures are that children with disabilities are, in comparison to children without disabilities:

  • 42% less likely to have foundational reading and numeracy skills;
  • 49% more likely to have never attended school.
  • 53% more likely to have symptoms of acute respiratory infection;
  • 51% per cent more likely to feel unhappy;
  • 32% more likely to experience severe corporal punishment.

In addition to those I found particularly striking:

  • Of children of upper-secondary-school age, 80% of those with difficulties communicating or caring for themselves are out of school.
  • Toddlers with disabilities are 60% less likely to have children's books their household than toddlers without disabilities.

This is a fantastic extension of the available data we have on children and disability. It is based on analysis of data from over 100 sources, covering 84% of the children in the world, and measured through their functional difficulties. (We talked about functional difficulties in the interview last month).

However, among friends, we should be aware that the analysis is based on correlation: just because disability is associated with worse outcomes, doesn't mean it's the disability that's causing it. There could be a factor that causes them both, like poverty.

Dance Debrief

Dancing-while-disabled can change what dance means. I've been loving the wonderful Rose Ayling-Ellis, a deaf actress who's been smashing it on British TV in the celebrity reality show Strictly Come Dancing. She used silence in a dance for the first time in the show's history, last week's tango was magical and she's been furthering our disability agenda with absolute charm. She's a favourite to win the final this Saturday.

To get into a disability dance troupe pushing the limits of movement and meaning, see this fantastic profile of the wonderful Kinetic Light in video, audio and several accessible versions: “We are disabled artists, making work that nobody else would make for us.” As well as being tremendous dancers — using wheelchairs, barbed wire, flight, light, music — they are exploring the profound question of how “artistically equitable accessibility expands the art form".

Quick-fire highlights

Good to see someone else try to summarise disability news from around the world: Caroline Casey in Forbes on a month of disability inclusion hitting the headlines:

“as we have seen time and time again with disability inclusion, where there are steps forward there seem to be steps back.”

I learned this month that a disabled person was the first boss of the MI6, the UK spy agency. As well as being an inspiration for ‘M’ in James Bond novels, Mansfield Smith-Cumming had a certain flair. From his wikpedia page:

“In 1914, he was involved in a serious road accident in France in which his son was killed. Legend has it that to escape the car wreck he was forced to amputate his own leg using a pen knife. Hospital records have shown, however, that while both his legs were broken, his left foot was amputated only the day after the accident. Later he often told all sorts of fantastic stories as to how he lost his leg and would shock people by interrupting meetings in his office by suddenly stabbing his artificial leg with a knife, letter opener or fountain pen.”

Reminder to be careful about the jargon: A critique of the phrase "inclusive design": it “has become so widely used that it's meaningless. Despite its good intentions, inclusive design often fails to treat disabled people as equals”.

The most disturbing thing I read was about abortion rights and reproductive health in India. That's a euphemistic headline for women being manipulated, coerced and unable to access information and services:

“I was asked to wait outside after the check-up while the doctor spoke to my mother-in-law.” After the visit, her mother-in-law gave her a few tablets. Within the next few days, Arpita began to bleed heavily and eventually lost her baby.

“I found out later that the pills my mother-in-law gave me were abortion pills.”

And just in case you think that this doesn't happen in other places, women with disability in Spain are pressing the government take further action against forced sterilization.

In better news, congratulations to Fabiola Campillai, elected to the Senate in Chile with the most votes of any candidate. She's a blind woman, losing her sight to police violence two years ago, and standing as an independent candidate: “I want to send the message that politics is for everyone – not just the usual suspects.”

What everyone's sharing on social media: an American Football team from a deaf school Takes California by Storm with an undefeated run: "They communicate better than any team I have ever coached against".

Question of the Month: Friends of the newsletter, CIP, have their question of the month hosted by none other than Judy Heumann: how can civil society and persons with disabilities work with researchers to make change towards inclusion?

About Disability Debrief

I'm Peter, and I make Disability Debrief to keep track of how the world is changing for persons with disabilities. You can see previous issues online or search the archive of disability news since 2020. This edition is produced with support from Center for Inclusive Policy.

I love when people get in touch - reply, leave a comment, or find me on twitter @desibility. Do share this newsletter with friends (or enemies) who need disability news in their lives. Or just give me money.


To new subscribers and supporters. We just reached 1000 people on the list before I press send on this. Thank you!

In partnership with readers

I've opened a page for readers to support Disability Debrief on a monthly or one-off basis. I'm a freelancer, and your contribution will help me keep this up next year. I'm humbled by the support that's already started coming in: thank you.

Reader support will be an essential complement to the support I can get from organizations. As well as providing a stable base, it also shows potential donors how much the newsletter is valued.

See below, in the section on digital accessibility, for I (tried to) check whether the donation page was an accessible site.

A new institutional partner: CBM Global

I'm thrilled to share that CBM Global will be contributing to support Disability Debrief in 2021. CBM Global itself is relatively new on the scene but many of you will know what the CBM-family of organizations does on disability and development.

CBM Global does important work and they're nice people. I've always enjoyed exchange with friends there, and learned a lot from the approach of their Inclusion Advisory Group. They are giving technical advice on disability, and doing so in a way that is based on partnership of organizations of persons with disabilities.

As well as some small pieces of consultancy work I've done with them, I've featured their work on this newsletter. In particular, they've made an important contribution to helping us understand better the links disability and climate change. It's characteristic that the important video summary they supported on this was done in partnership with European Disability Forum.


The topics covered below are:

  • Accessibility and Design
  • Assistive Technology
  • Black Lives Matter and racial justice
  • Climate Change
  • Civil Society and community
  • COVID-19
  • Culture, Entertainment and Media
  • Data and Research
  • Digital Accessibility and Technology
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and crisis response
  • Education and childhood
  • Employment, business and work
  • Global Disability Summit
  • Health
  • History and Memorial
  • Housing
  • Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees
  • Institutions and Deinstitutionalisation
  • International Cooperation
  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • Justice systems and Legal Capacity
  • Lived Experience and Opinion
  • Mental Health
  • Mobility, Travel and Transport
  • Policy and rights
  • Politics and Elections
  • Relationships, Sex and Reproductive Rights
  • Sign Languages
  • Social Protection and costs of disability
  • Space exploration
  • Sport and Paralympics
  • Violence and Harassment
  • Water and Sanitation (WASH)
  • Women and girls with disabilities

And in closing acknowledgements and farewell.

Disclaimer: We all need to be careful about things we see online, even from brilliant newsletters. I organize things to show where they come from, which hopefully helps you to navigate and evaluate the information.

News by area

Accessibility and Design

The Zero project has announced its awardees on accessibility for 2022.

In the Netherlands, Using Artificial Intelligence to measure accessibility (October, Amsterdam Intelligence)

In New Zealand, Good design lies at the heart of normalising disability – NZ’s new Ministry for Disabled People must make it a priority (November, The Conversation)

In the United Kingdom, Accessible communication: A starting point to foster more inclusive comms (Charity Comms)

In the United States,

Assistive Technology

AT2030, Assistive Tech Impact Fund:

Assistive Technology during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic: The Roles of Government and Civil Society in Fulfilling the Social Contract. As in other areas, civil society stepped in to fill some of the gaps left by inadequate government response (November, Int Journal Environmental Research and Public Health)

A right to the frivolous? Renegotiating a wellbeing agenda for AT research (November, Assistive Technology)

AT Scale save-the-date for Mobilizing for Assistive Technology Towards the 2nd Global Disability Summit (14 January 2022 - 2-5pm CET)

In Africa, Balancing Volatility Emerging African Ecosystems (Global Disability Innovation Hub):

Companies must not only be an expert in AT (not an easy feat), but also need to master financing, hiring, logistics and distribution, warehousing, both physical and digital advertising, customer services.

In India, 25 years of joining hands for disability awareness partnerships for assistive technology (December, VF Rural Development Trust)

Black Lives Matter and racial justice

In the United States, Black Feminism And Its Legacy Of Intersectionality And Disability (August, Billion Strong)

Climate Change

The final text from COP26 is the Glasgow Climate Pact which only mentions disability once. See a critique of the omission of disabled people from key parts of climate change text (November, Disability News Service) More balanced reflections below.

At COP26:

Reflections on COP26:

  • 6 lessons to move Inclusive Climate Action forward (CBM Global)
  • “Not fear but hope” – what do the outcomes of COP26 mean for more inclusive climate justice? (November, CBM UK) This points to the limited participation of persons with disabilities:
Despite the increased numbers or organisations and networks represented, barriers including COVID, high costs and inaccessible remote access meant that very few people with disabilities or Organizations of Persons with Disabilities were present. Those who did attend in person found themselves stuck in lifts, unable to access the venue, or left without sign language interpretation. Those attending online encountered a virtual platform that was difficult to navigate, without captioning or signing, and with no potential to engage meaningfully, in any of the events or debates.

From the Lancet, Climate change and the right to health of people with disabilities (December)

Excluding the disabled in climate disaster response is an embarrassment (December, The New Humanitarian)

In Canada,

In Ireland, "Government needs to listen to people with disabilities before implementing legislation that impacts us the most": Climate as a Disability Rights Issue (December, Hot Press)

In the United Kingdom, Will eco-ableism compromise city centre green plans? a very practical look in Sheffield at the city centre design, transportation and how disabled people are involved or excluded from ongoing changes (December, Now Then)

Civil Society and community

In Chile, More inclusion: a community learning to include and create opportunities for a greater inclusion and effective participation of persons with disabilities (in Spanish, National Service on Disability)

In the United Kingdom, 10 tips for celebrating disability and avoiding tokenism (November, Acevo)

In the United States,

In Zimbabwe, a launch of the national association for people with psychosocial disabilities (November, Alpha Vision)



Long Term Care International report on COVID-19 and Long-Term Care a wiki-style report in development.

The Disability Studies Quarterly put out an edition on Disability And COVID-19. Articles cover a range of issues in the disability experience from around the world.

In Bangladesh and Liberia, Pandemic Portraits captures through photos and testimony the experiences of people with disabilities (link to pdf, October, RSTMH)

In Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, short video on impact of COVID 19 on Persons from a project by Disability Under Siege.


How Getting Organized has helped Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities (December, FP2P)

Disability, Inequality and COVID-19: How can we rebuild society inclusively? (December, OECD Forum)

In Australia, Leave No One Behind Disability inclusion in Australia’s COVID-19 development response (November, CBM and ADDC) Op-Ed in Pro Bono.

In Canada, a challenge claims federal government's COVID-19 relief for workers discriminated against workers with disabilities (November, Toronto Star) See also CERB helped Canadians during COVID-19 — but not the most vulnerable (December, The Conversation)


Nothing about us without us: vaccine decision making must involve disabled people: "Across Canada, national and provincial Covid-19 vaccine prioritization guidance and strategies have failed to appropriately include people with disabilities." (December, OSF Preprints)

Culture, Entertainment and Media

Time to Act report from 42 countries on How lack of knowledge in the cultural sector creates barriers for disabled artists and audiences (November) While there are some, limited efforts, to make performing arts more accessible for audiences, there is less knowledge or efforts on disabled people being performers themselves.

Raymond Antrobus’ collection of poems, All the Names Given, offers poems of quiet power, beauty and raw frankness (November, Disability Arts Online) Definitely recommended, and his earlier collection Perseverance blew my mind.

I enjoyed Cyborg Rituals digital imagery made from medical archives, implants and medical objects (November, Disability Arts Online)

In Australia, a Disability Reporting Handbook to guide better newsroom reporting of people with disability. (Media Diversity Australia)

In Brazil, Ableism: campaign discusses prejudice against persons with disability with photoessays (in Portuguese, November, Globo)

In the United Kingdom,

In the United States, Kinetic Light Dancers Take Disability Arts to New Heights (November, KQED)

Data and Research

Last month we went deep into data with Jennifer Madans. We explored what's behind the 15%, explore nuances of using the Washington Group questions, and reflect on the pressures put on disability data.

Center for Inclusive Policy's question of the month is on how civil society and persons with disabilities can work with researchers to make change towards inclusion. And it's facilitated by none other than Judy Heumann. (December)

Participatory Research in Disability in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: What have we Learnt and what Should we Do? Shows inclusion in research in a number of projects and highlights that “inclusion in analysis steps is potentially more challenging.” (SJDR)

The OHCHR is doing a report on statistics and data collection related to disability. See the submissions from governments, UN and civil society.

Visible in advocacy but missing in data: Migrants and persons with disabilities (November, Migration Data Portal)

The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics developed standardized data tools to support rehabilitation services for people with lower limb absence.

In Australia, $12.5 million awarded by Australian Government to fully establish an National Disability Research Partnership. (December, NDRP)

In Kenya,

In Nepal, enumerators and supervisors with disabilities are helping conduct the national census (Google translate from Nepali, November, Ekantipur).

In Pakistan,

Inclusive approaches to leaving no one behind: learnings from Pakistan

(November, UN Stats)

  • Govt mulling options to include persons with disabilities in the next national census (November, The Nation)

In Turkey, Disability among Syrian refugees living in Sultanbeyli, Istanbul: Results from a population-based survey: The overall prevalence of disability was 24.7% (November, PLoS ONE)

Digital Accessibility and Technology

Artificial Intelligence

Collective power for Rights-Based and Just AI “The impact of AI systems on marginalized groups is overlooked way too often and this pattern deepens existing systemic problems and inequalities” (November, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law)

In Europe, calls on the European Union to ensure that artificial intelligence is trustworthy and accessible for persons with disabilities (November, EDF)

Online Accessibility

A11y myths: online accessibility myths debunked (A11yMyths)

How to write better link text for accessibility (Big Hack) This is something we can all get better at: many disability organizations are not aware of this. I try to keep my links descriptive, and what I learned from the article is to make sure they don't get too long. The links being too long, I mean. It doesn't say anything about your newsletter being too long.

Policymakers, experts, industry and consumer representatives discuss how to ensure accessible digital services and platforms for persons with disabilities (December, EDF)

Accessible Video Toolkit - Digital Accessibility Training session (EDF)

In the United States, This Company Tapped AI for Its Website—and Landed in Court attempts to use artificial intelligence to make accessibility features didn't work (November, Wired)


Apple iPadOS 15 accessibility features let people with disabilities control iPads with their eyes (November, 9to5Mac)

How I checked the accessibility of my crowd-funding page

I couldn't share a page for readers to support the newsletter without checking its accessibility. Sadly the platform I wanted, Ko-Fi, does not have an accessibility statement in the way that Patreon does.

Either way it would need checking, and there I started getting a bit lost as I'm not a specialist on web accessibility. That said, I’ll share what I did as it might be useful for others and I can learn from feedback.

My entry point was concerns  around how blind people or others with visual disabilities can access the site. I'm aware that web accessibility goes beyond this and we should be aiming for more usability for all. One of the reasons I chose the platform was that it could be easily used without setting up an account and other palaver.

The most helpful things I did were try to use it myself using voice-over software and ask a friend if he could use it on his screen-reader:

  • Trying it myself. On the Mac, there is VoiceOver screen-reader technology built-in. With a tutorial on how to use that to evaluate web accessibility I found I could navigate the site with the keyboard and read the text I needed to. It's definitely not perfect as some images didn't have alternate text, but the main features seem workable, and I hope would be more so for someone used to getting around our wild web with this software. For example, two important buttons didn't say they were buttons and you would have to tell by guessing.
  • Asking a friend. Real user feedback is the most important guide. I took advantage of the kindness of Mostafa Attia, who uses a screen-reader and who also helped me checked Substack's accessibility when I started the newsletter. He tested it using his iPhone and could navigate it correctly. As he pointed out, these things can render differently in different screen-reader software, and so a fuller test would have compared across different screen-readers.

Getting to the most helpful things involved other experimentation:

  • There is a long list of accessibility evaluation tools from the Web Accessibility Initiative, who develop the technical guidelines for web accessibility. I used some at the top of the list…
  • WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool has useful reports side-by-side with the webpage, and the reports are helpful in showing how critical the error is. But it's a good thing that it shows the webpage it's evaluating, as when I put in the address it ends up evaluating a page redirecting the browser not the page itself.
  • Web Accessibility by Level Access gave the site a 88% health score and showed an image preview of the site, confirming it was assessing the page it should, albeit perhaps not in an accessible way. This is the same as an equivalent page on Patreon gets so, not ideal, but also not worse than the main alternative.
  • Accessibility Insights for Web gives developers tool to check a site's accessibility, and it gives detailed report of errors in the browser window itself (for Chrome or Edge). Perhaps too detailed for my purpose, and with my low level of knowledge it was hard to evaluate how critical each error was. Worryingly a number of them showed up in the important parts of the page.

Disaster Risk Reduction and crisis response

Integrating disability inclusion in disaster risk management: the whys and hows (December, World Bank)

Education and childhood

UNICEF's new report Seen, Counted, Included finds that there are nearly 240 million children with disabilities: 10% of children.

For World Children's Day, "I am a child" - a poem by Cleric Tembwe in Zabia (December, UNICEF)

The Special Envoy of UN-SG on Disability Accessibility Decalogue of Good Treatment from Students with Disabilities to their Classmates (December) I had to look that up: “Decalogue” means 10 commandments.

LFTW and Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme launched CapAble a "one-stop shop for tools, resources and educational materials on disability inclusion in higher education. "

Save the Children: Children with Disabilities Have a Right to be Heard blog for international day of persons with disabilities (December)

World Vision: Providing children with Disability - access to Education (December)

In Asia-Pacific Status of Inclusive Education Commitments Made by National Governments (December, Global Disability Summit)

In Europe, Why we care about education. New position paper (Inclusion Europe)

In India, Impact Of Guaranteed Admission On School Enrolment Of Disabled Children impact of India's Right to Education Act: led to a 60% increase in school enrollment in disabled children within three years (October, Research Gate)

In Lesotho, Gender and Disability Inclusive Education Training Manual for Teachers (November, Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled)

In Namibia, Navigating COVID19 without sight short podcast "explores how children with disabilities are coping with COVID19 in Namibia." (no transcript that I see, December, UNICEF)

In Rwanda, Challenge awardee launches teacher training to increase access and learning opportunities for children with disabilities in Rwanda (November, All Children Reading)

Employment, business and work

In Asia Pacific, Disability at a Glance 2021: The Shaping of Disability-Inclusive Employment in Asia and the Pacific (December, ESCAP). Explores the available data, policy responses and shifting approaches on employment in the region.

Valuable 500 Global Trends Report on making employment accessible for peolpe with disabilities (link to pdf, November)


In Australia, Disabled talent drive innovation, shareholder value and business performance (November, ABC)

In Canada, Making it real: an update on the implementation of “Nothing Without Us” – Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada (Government of Canada). A detailed and balanced look at progress.

In Hungary, tailored support to help thousands of people with disabilities to find work (December, European Social Fund Plus)

In India, Building businesses back in India (November, Leonard Cheshire)

In Indonesia, Omnibus law discriminates against people with disabilities - the new law on job creation "is a huge step backwards" (December, The Conversation)

In Spain, Ilunion: the Spanish group leading by example on disability the group "boasts that it is the world’s chief employer of people with disabilities: they now represent 40 per cent of its total staff of more than 37,000, and the majority of its board of directors and management committee. " (November, Financial Times)

In the United Kingdom, Still Locked Out reports that as 69% of disabled people have had their work impacted by the pandemic. (link to pdf, November, LCD)

In the United States,

You have a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach to accessibility. Accessibility isn’t an accessory. It’s not something that will just stay in place once you’ve made the initial effort to obtain it. It’s part of the machinery that keeps your business moving, and it needs constant maintenance

Global Disability Summit

The Summit has launched its menu of commitments that stakeholders are invited to make (deadline for submission 15 Jan) See a blog post on three things you should know about the upcoming summit.

Ahead of the summit will be the First Summit for Youth with Disabilities on 14th February, the Civil Society Summit on the 15th and then the summit itself on 16th and 17th February.

If your organization is interested to hold a side-event at the summit, the deadline is 14th January.

Humanity and Inclusion calls for more inclusion "HI is calling on States to commit to a more inclusive world." (December, HI)

In Europe, a Toolkit for DPOs involvement in the Global Disability summit (November, EDF)


The Disability Inclusion Helpdesk did an evidence digest on Health and Disability Inclusion (link to pdf). See also easy-to-read version.

WHO factsheet on disability and health.

Achieving equity: Why inclusive, participatory and human rights-based approaches are needed to #beatNTDs (December, International Coalition for Trachoma Control)

In Bangladesh, Healthcare for persons with disabilities: Coping with the pandemic (November, Financial Express)

In Europe, Testimonials on healthcare services in the EU (EDF)

In Kenya, Wrong Prescription a report on the impact of privatizing healthcare in Kenya, highlights the “disproportionate burden” it places on persons with disabilities and other groups. (November, CHR&GJ)

History and Memorial

Neil Marcus passed away, and people are sharing his poem Disabled Country, which starts:

If there was a country called disabled,
I would be from there.
I live disabled culture, eat disabled food,
make disabled love, cry disabled tears,
climb disabled mountains and tell disabled stories.

I didn't watch this yet, but a 1996 performance of his play Storm Reading is available on youtube.

In Austria, “Don’t forget about self-help” the fight for disability rights in Austria in the 1920s and 1930s (October, Disability And Society):

The aim of Braun and his colleagues was to move away from being considered objects of charity – a role imposed by the Austrian welfare policy. The organisation did not only demand compliance with contemporary equal and human rights but also actively organised peer counselling, representation, and regular employment in their own businesses. In the 1930s, Braun maintained an active and reflexive role despite the economically and politically difficult times leading to National Socialism. After 1938, he was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and ghetto (today Terezín Memorial), where he organised educational programmes as a form of resistance, before he was murdered in Auschwitz.

In the United Kingdom, we are in the middle of Disability History Month focussing on Hidden Impairments as well as Sex and Relationships.

In the United States, Senator Bob Dole passed away (Time). Acquiring a disability age 21 he was advocating on disability in the senate from 1969 up to and beyond the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Also on USA Today.


In the United Kingdom, How Disabled People Are Shut Out of Housing "Too many people with disabilities already face life in unsuitable homes, and not enough suitable homes are being built." (November, Vice)

Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees

Video summary of How to include organisations of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action based on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines, a comprehensive resource (November, EDF)


CBM: New features for tools in Humanitarian Hands-on & Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (November, CBM Global)

On the partnership ICRC has with Adecco: Employment-Readiness is the path to dignity and inclusion for All (December, Adecco Group)

Uprooted and Overlooked: Why people with disabilities fleeing conflict and violence are among those most at risk (December, IDMC)

In Australia,

In Bangladesh,

In Kenya, For refugee with visual impairment, inclusion brings goals into focus. "she is now among the top in her class." (December, UNHCR)

Institutions and Deinstitutionalisation

Inclusion International report on Closing institutions and living in the community Global self-advocate report (December) Features the voices of self-advocates in very clear presentation.

OHCHR short video on supporting persons with disabilities to live in their communities.

In Canada, Some young adults with disabilities are stuck in long-term care 'Without proper support to live at home, they have no choice but to stay in "medical prison cells"' (November, Broadview)

In Europe, petition to end institutionalisation of disabled people (

In Finland, Boy Tied and Abused for Years in Finnish Care Home (November, Human Rights Watch)

In the United Kingdom, Autistic people are being locked away in institutions. A radical change is needed (November, Guardian)

International Cooperation

In Asia and Pacific, Partnering with Persons with Disabilities for an Accessible and Sustainable Post-COVID World (IISD)

In Guatemala, Count me in: Working together for disability inclusion in Guatemala (December, UN SDG)

In Latin America and the Caribbean an important new report from Breaking Barriers that looks at available data, poverty, health and education, and gives policy guidance "towards a more inclusive region". (World Bank)

Inclusive Futures has a new portal on how to make your work more disability inclusive featuring a video on the 10 excuses for not including persons with disabilities. And including yours truly in the useful resources section (thank you!).

The UNFPA Disability Inclusion Strategy 2022-2025: We Matter. We Belong. We Decide. (December)

The 14th World Down Syndrome Congress was a virtual congress in Dubai (November)

Minority Rights project evaluation of Disability/minority intersectional discrimination project (December)

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

From the UN:

IDA information on the Social Media Campaign.

From international organizations:

The Purple Light Up campaign "draws attention to the contribution of the 386 million disabled employees around the world". This year it featured Leader to Leader conversations, such as this one from Sightsavers. I was intrigued to see that the UK spy agency, Mi6, also lit up in purple.

In Australia, Australian Network on Disability celebrations.

In Europe,

In India,

The United States White House: "My Administration will continue to take domestic and international actions to make democracy more accessible around the world."

In the Australia, Supported decision-making experiences of young people with cognitive disability activating agency, choice and control (Southern Cross University)

In Bangladesh, Let people with disabilities into our judicial service (December, Daily Star)

In the United States,

Lived Experience and Opinion

In Australia,

In China, I will not let blindness define me Bi Qiting, known as ‘Small Wolf’, is now training to become a swimming instructor in Guangzhou. (December, ILO)

In Europe, an episode from Inclusion Europe Radio with László Bercse a Hungarian self-advocate (December, Inclusion Europe).

In France, 'Aimable': a podcast about the romantic life of a woman with disability (in French, November, Causette)

In South Africa, Surviving and thriving with a disability in South Africa street talk video featuring persons with disabilities (November)

In Uganda, Naome talks about her lived experience of disability (Youtube, November, Make 12.4% work)

In the United Kingdom,

  • We are all frail "We should be able to acknowledge that disabilities can cause pain and suffering without disabled people feeling dehumanised" (November, Tom Shakespeare on Aeon)
  • Disability Politics Are Anticapitalist Politics 'The social model exposes the brutal way capital treats people who can't be exploited for profit. ' (November, Novara Media)

In the United States,

Mental Health

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights statement on calls for mental health care to be based on human rights (November, Human Rights Council):

“Historically, people with psychosocial disabilities and with mental conditions have been  wrongly deemed dangerous to themselves and others. They are still commonly institutionalised, sometimes for life; criminalized and incarcerated because of their conditions.

Would you seek mental health support from a system that denies you choice and control over decisions that affect you, lock you up and prevent you from having contact with friends and family? If you managed to overcome these challenges, could you go back to this system?”

In Canada, Canada Program Leads the Way in Addressing Mental Health Crises: "Supportive Community Response, Rather than Law Enforcement " (December, HRW)

In Russia, The return of Political Abuse of Psychiatry in Russia (Link to pdf, September, Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP)

In Thailand, Addressing psychosocial disabilities in the conflict-affected deep South (December, World Bank)

In the United Kingdom, When getting into the room is the first hurdle lack of wheelchair access in therapy services (December, Spokz People)

Mobility, Travel and Transport

Airbnb improves accessibility search filters for its accommodations (November, The Verge)

A partnership between Fundación ONCE and Alstom to support "innovation with the urban and metro platform at global level" (December, Alstom)

In Europe, highlights from the wonderful Kamil Goungor's #EUYearofRail travel.

In India, "I had to start a travel company to travel." How one agency is making tourism more inclusive and accessible. (December, Lonely Planet)

In the United States,

Policy and rights

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative annual survey of human rights experts highlighted risks to rights of persons with disabilities in countries around the world.

In Egypt Egypt’s Al-Sisi Calls for Fund to Support Egyptians with Disabilities (December, Egyptian Streets)

In Europe,

In India, exploration of the relationship of law and emotions in the context of Disability Rights jurisprudence (November, Jindal Global Law Review)

In Mozambique, Mozambique still does not have a law to promote the rights of persons with disabilities (In Portuguese, December, O Pais)

In Nigeria, 31 million PLWDs suffer as 23 states neglect disability rights (December, Guardian NG)

Politics and Elections

UNDP policy guide on Political Participation of Persons with Intellectual or Psychosocial Disabilities (November)

In Chile, Fabiola Campillai, standing as an independent, was elected and got the most votes of any candidate nationwide. She is blind, losing her sight to police violence two years ago. (November, the Guardian)

In Mexico, People with Disabilities Underrepresented in Politics "Today the Mexican Senate is holding its first ever hearing for people with disabilities." (December, HRW)

Relationships, Sex and Reproductive Rights

In India, India’s Laws Fail To Uphold Abortion Rights Of Women With Disabilities (November, Behan Box) “I found out later that the pills my mother-in-law gave me were abortion pills.” Harrowing stories of forced abortions and limited access to sexual and reproductive health services.

In Spain, Women with Disability ask for "more research and data" about forced sterilizations in Spain (in Spanish, December, Fundacion CERMI Mujeres)

Sign Languages

In Kenya, Kenya to create sign language banking app the software will aim to support bank employees to learn basic sign language. (October, The Star)

Social Protection and costs of disability

In Australia, Lack of career prospects driving community and disability workers away (November, Pro Bono)

In Canada, The disabled are choosing to die because they can’t afford to live (November, iPolitics)

In the United Kingdom, DWP urged to reveal algorithm that ‘targets’ disabled for benefit fraud (November, Guardian)

In the United States,

Space exploration

'It was magical' - meet the first disabled crew to fly in zero-gravity (December, BBC)

Sport and Paralympics

Disabled people in sport hit harder by COVID-19 as pandemic widens existing inequalities (December, ESPN):

A “study by Special Olympics reflected that around 42% of their registered athletes with intellectual disabilities, approximately 2.5 million people globally, lost access to its sports programmes in 2020.”

Impact of sport development on people with disabilities (December, International Paralympic Committee)

In the United States, Underdog No more, a Deaf Football Team Takes California by Storm Undefeated team from a deaf school: "They communicate better than any team I have ever coached against" (November, NYT)

Violence and Harassment

World Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women:

Mobility International USA Women with Disabilities Leading the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence During the Pandemic (December, Youtube)

In Bangladesh, Bangladesh barber can't afford treatment, puts his daughter in cage (November, Big News Network)

In France, Disability: women victims of abuse remain invisible (in French, November, 20 Minutes)

In New Zealand, Violence and abuse against disabled people at ‘epidemic’ proportions says Commissioner (November, NZ Human Rights Commission)

In the United Kingdom,

  • The everyday assault of disabled women: “It’s inappropriate sexual touching at least once a month”. And sadly, none of the major women's organizations that the reporter speaks to "can comment on the particular problems faced by disabled women" (November, Guardian)
  • Poor Police Response Report: Disabled Victims of hate crime (November, Inclusion London)

Water and Sanitation (WASH)

In Cambodia, Behind The Scenes: Researching Disability Inclusive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Cambodia (November, Wateraid)

Women and girls with disabilities

The Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older
persons report on Human rights of older women looks at the intersection between ageing and gender and to some extent includes mention of older women with disabilities (UN)

The BBC List of 100 Women 2021 includes Abia Akram, an activist in the disability movement in Pakistan.

The Creation of the Inclusive Generation Equality Forum "a network of feminists with disabilities and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities" (November, DRF)



Thanks to readers who have come forward to support Disability Debrief carry on next year, it's humbling and much appreciated. And thanks to Mostafa Attia for helping me check the accessibility of the new page where people can support.

The source for news here is all of you sharing disability news, especially those sharing on twitter. Thanks to everyone for spreading the word about what's going on.

These newsletters are produced by me, Peter Torres Fremlin. Any opinions or mistakes are mine. Many thanks for Center for Inclusive Policy's support to this edition.

All best for the holidays, and here's hoping for 2022! I'm looking forward to share more with you on this newsletter,