Guide to international news, March 2021
Welcome back to a curated tour of international disability news.
This edition rounds-up what's going on around the world since the update at the start of February.
New: search international disability news since 2020. As well as browsing back issues you can search the archive of Disability Debrief (add your term to this Google search).
If you missed it, also go back to the wonderful conversation I had with Stefan Tromel, “We are not the disability police” and continued in “We need to pay more attention to people”.
Disability Debrief is made by me, Peter Torres Fremlin, a freelance consultant. This edition is produced with support from Center for Inclusive Policy.
I love when people get in touch - on email hit reply, or find me on twitter @desibility. Subscribe to get this newsletter and share it to spread disability news further.
As usual we are all-in with on disability news. There's plenty going on and I've organized it into over 25 categories below. Unfortunately before that I have some sad news to share of memories of friends in the disability movement that passed away last week.
Put your masks on for plenty of COVID-19 News. Al Jazeera have a good documentary on COVID's Disabled Victims that gives a good overview. My country, England, continues to lead the world in a tragic statistic: 60% of those who died from COVID-19 were persons with disabilities. Most worryingly is that the reason we lead on this is that no other country — that I'm aware of — has gathered this statistic. Beyond that there's a bit more coming out on impact of the pandemic and plenty about vaccines as they roll out. As well as whether persons with disabilities are among priority groups there is the questions of accessibility coming through.
In politics, persons with disabilities are on the front lines. This month we see persecution of human rights defenders in Belarus and a call from disability organizations in Myanmar that we stand with them “and begin the process of overthrowing the military dictatorship”.
Discrimination against disabled people isn't just on the basis of disability. A report on workplace discrimination that teachers face in the UK has the important point that this isn't because of “innate prejudice” but “because of the general pressure on schools created by various performance targets”. We often call for attitude change, and this has an important consequence for what attitudes we might try to shift.
I loved this celebration of Criplentine's Day. Searching for an “accessible Valentine's day,” and much more, celebrated in a series of articles from India bringing feminist and crip notions of love together:
“Love is sensory; the way my disabled fingers interlock around an object of love; the way my hands learn the geography of my body, the rhythm in which my spine curves; the sound of my limp; the touch of blue in water. This is what I call love.”
More on that and some other steamy content in the relationships and sex section.
Not for me to guess what you're into, but if…
- you love policy: have a look at the new EU strategy on the rights of persons with disabilities.
- you're into corruption: see how the disability allowance is being embezzled in Bangladesh.
- you want to send yourself or a disabled friend into space: see the Parastronaut Feasibility Project.
In memory of friends who fought for inclusion
Last week I lost two friends to COVID-19 in Brazil. I knew Sheila Melo and her inseparable mother Raylda Melo from research I did in Rio de Janeiro.
The first thing about Sheila was that she was a fighter. Always combative, and often beyond what many of us felt was reasonable. I always remember the way she dealt with bus drivers who didn't want to operate the lift for her.
“I hope that you’ll never need to use a wheelchair,” she would say. Some would respond that she was cursing them. “Well, remember that you're a driver, and you could have an accident on the next corner.” I think she found time to add an “especially with the way you're driving”.
“They don't have a lot of time, Peter, to have a conversation” she explained in our interview in 2010. Much as I was uncomfortable with her style, it gave me some liberation as a disabled person. If I wanted to be rude, I could be rude. Or if I wanted to “conquer with kindness” as Rita, another in our group put it, I could do that too.
When someone passes their gift becomes clearer. Our friend Pedro called to tell me the news. I started joking morbidly that in her memory we should have a big fight with someone, but we quickly went on to see how she'd touched our lives.
I met Sheila at Guerreiros da Inclusão, Warriors for Inclusion, the NGO that she ran for several years. I went to watch the wheelchair rugby they played. Or so I thought — Sheila was having none of it.
You can play, she insisted over my denials that my arms were too weak to push the chair. As soon as I sat in the chair for the first time I felt the potential of what it could become. Soon I was one of the “athletes”, training with them for over 6 months and substituting on in our team's victory in the first Fluminense championship.
The unique experience in my own life is matched by Pedro's, who through Guerreiros started theatre — also something he never thought he could do — and carried on for many years in different ways.
Somehow Sheila held her NGO together with few resources, a lot of spirit, huge contributions of time from volunteers and donations of equipment and space. It's these years later that I understand more clearly what she told me about inclusion back in 2010. (All the quotes in this section are my translations from Portuguese.)
She understood what you get from convivência, being together:
I learned a lot with others. When you have a very eclectic group you learn more. You know, sharing life experiences. In experience, in convivência, in the learning. I think this humanizes people more.
Being combative was for us and what it could open.
I fight. It's not for me. It's for who's in the generations to come. I'm not going to enjoy the benefits of it. It's an evolution. It's still going to take a lot of time for Brazil to be an accessible country.
The transformation can be more “more than a gold medal” as the coach in this TV clip featuring Guerreiros de Inclusão says. Or as Guilherme, one of the athletes I trained with and who went on to play for Brasil in the 2016 Paralympics, says: “I don't want to walk again, I want to be in a wheelchair so I can play Rugby”.
Inclusion wasn't about us becoming more like her. Inclusion was that she created a space and examples for exchange, for inspiring, needing and demanding things from each other. Inclusion changes what's possible in your life. It allowed us to “guide our own lives”, as she put it. To become more like ourselves.
I sadly never got to know Raylda in the same way. I knew her as mãe de Sheila, Sheila's mother. She had clearly dedicated her life to support and assistance of Sheila, right from moving to the big city when Sheila acquired her disability at one years old. Where Sheila was often spiky, Raylda was as gentle as she appears in the picture. She passed a couple of days after Sheila, and friends wonder if she could have supported life without her daughter.
I last saw them in 2019. It was just before Sheila graduated, as she was due to turn 50 years old, from her university degree in social assistance. I commented to our group that she was fighting less than she used to, they laughed and started listing recent cases where she had confronted someone for our rights.
She turned 50 last year, in this senseless pandemic which went on to take her future from us. If there is an afterlife, they will be there, and Sheila will be fighting. When we arrive, she’ll have made a space for us.
I hope we can fight in their memory, for the generations to come.
The topics covered below are:
- Accessibility and Design
- Assistive Technology
- Black Lives Matter
- Civil Society
- Climate Crisis
- Culture, Entertainment and Media
- Data and Research
- Digital Accessibility and Technology
- Disaster Risk Reduction
- Education and childhood
- Employment, business and work
- History and Memorial
- Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees
- International Cooperation
- Lived Experience and Opinion
- Mental Health
- Policy and rights
- Politics and Elections
- Relationships and Sex
- Sign Languages
- Social Protection
- Space Exploration
- Violence and Harassment
- Water and Sanitation
And in closing there are some events and vacancies.
Do keep in mind that these collections are mainly just little ol’ me getting links off social media - and we all need to be careful about information we get off the internet, even if they do come in such brilliant newsletters. I mark the source and date and try to organize by importance to give you a good start.
“The world can only contain the virus and its impacts if every person has access to accurate, reliable information. That’s down to all of us.” — Verified, a UN initiative
News by area
Accessibility and Design
In Australia, Australian housing needs mandatory accessibility standards to create 'homes, not just accommodation', advocates say (February, ABC)
In Canada, Proposed regulations under the Accessible Canada Act, (February, Canada)
In Bangladesh, National Human Rights Council and Brac sign agreement to ensure welfare, protection, accessibility (February, Dhaka Tribune)
In India, Public buildings a no-entry zone for the disabled (February, Times of India)
In Poland, a new Library of Smells (February, Poland:In). Also on Newzhook.
From the United Kingdom, Writing an Effective Brief for Accessibility Research (February, RiDC)
In the United States,
- Nike got attention for its new FlyEase Sneakers. The Nike FlyEase As A Metaphor For Business Growth (February, Forbes) However: Why Won’t Nike Use the Word Disabled to Promote Its New Go FlyEase Shoe? (February, Slate) Also on MSN. See previously The FlyEase Journey (Nike, 2015)
- Kiosk ADA Checklist 14 Point Checklist For Accessible Self-Service (February, Kiosk Industry)
- Accessible housing still tough to find 30 years after Americans with Disabilities Act (January WXXI News)
Up to £200k of funding available to make assistive tech accessible in Africa (February, AT Today)
From AT2030, New economics of assistive technology: A call for a missions approach (link to pdf, January) - “use tools such as market-shaping and stakeholder co-creation to set an agenda”.
Black lives matter
In the United States,
- Disability Rights in Black - a series of profiles to “to recognize the remarkable contributions of past and present Black disability rights advocates” (National Disability Rights Network, February) I enjoyed Ever Lee Hairston's poem, with the line "I can’t see your smile, but I can feel your glow.
- Understanding the Policing of Black, Disabled Bodies (February, Centre for American Progress)
- The Power of Black Disabled Representation During Black History Month (February, Rooted in Rights)
- Black Deaf Culture Through the Lens of History (February, DCMP)
- Black History Month Personal Reflection by Ketrina Hazell (February, Respect Ability)
- Twitter thread on ways to show up for Black Disabled People (February, Tinu Abayomi-Paul)
- I Am Black, Disabled And Beautiful. Here’s Why I Speak Up For Others With Disabilities. (February, Huffpost)
The Her Abilities prize announced its 2020 award winners, celebrating three women with disabilities from New Zealand Nigeria, and Turkey (February, Her Abilities) See also on LFTW which features short videos to get to know each of the winners.
From Atlas Alliance, report on Organisational Capacity Development of DPOs and other activist driven civil society organisations (October 2020)
In Latin America, Declaration for an anti-ableist Latin America and no more Teletón (In Spanish, March, CLACSO)
In the United Kingdom, two reports on Hidden Leaders: Disability leadership in civil society (February, ACEVO) “Something isn’t working, and as a result civil society is losing out on disabled talent.”
From the United States,
- What To Look For In A Disability Organization (February, Forbes)
- 4 Important Things Disabled People Disagree About (February, Forbes)
In terms of evaluation, Reframing Evaluative Processes to Build Equity and Inclusion (March, DRF)
In terms of training on disability awareness, Into Inclusion has adapted the Game of Life exercise for online use.
See a nice new website from Disability-Inclusive Climate Action Research Program (DICARP), which “brings together scholars and activists from around the world” It includes a podcast Enabling Commons.
In Europe, What is the European Union? Watch our easy-to-understand videos (March, Inclusion Europe)
In Mali, Malian Linguists Translate Bambara into Braille (February, VoA)
In the United States, Braille in the 21st Century: How Far Have We Come? (January, AFB)
Reporting on COVID's Disabled Victims
Al Jazeera have a two-part documentary on COVID's Disabled Victims. Features many importance voices, from the UN and disability organizations. Highlights cases of discrimination and neglect. Many cases drawn from European countries.
Persons with disabilities more likely to die of COVID-19
In what continues to be a shocking oversight, it appears, to my knowledge, that United Kingdom is the only country in the world that researches systematically how many persons with disabilities died of COVID-19.
That said, it is only part of the UK, this time an update on deaths in England. The statistics agency shared updated estimates of coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by disability status in England between January and November 2020:
The risk of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) was 3.1 times greater for more-disabled men and 1.9 times greater for less-disabled men, compared with non-disabled men; among women, the risk of death was 3.5 times greater for more-disabled women and 2.0 times greater for less-disabled women, compared with non-disabled women.
Dive into the analysis to see the statistical adjustments that can be made. As the analysis shows, when you do the analysis of socio-economic exclusion, institutional status, age, and health challenges persons with disabilities face you can explain most of the difference with persons without disabilities.
When you look at persons with learning disabilities:
The risk of death involving COVID-19 was 3.7 times greater for both men and women compared with people who did not have a learning disability; after using statistical models to adjust for a range of factors, a raised risk of 1.7 times remained unexplained for both sexes.
If this wasn't bad enough, a damning indictment of how little pandemic response has been able to change this, even when the results were known clearly in the summer:
Patterns in excess COVID-19 mortality risk experienced by disabled people remained largely unchanged between the first and second waves of the pandemic.
See further coverage on the BBC: “Disabled people account for six in 10 deaths in England last year”.
Our tragedy in the UK is an urgent call for other countries to gather this data.
In the United States,
- Analysis of COVID-19 mortality risk for Californians with disabilities (link to pdf, January, DREDF) People with intellectual or developmental disability “have between 3.6 and 4.8 times the mortality risk from COVID-19 as people in the same age group”.
Impact on persons with disabilities
See the Aljazeera documentary COVID's Disabled Victims.
In China, The Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons in a Pandemic: Findings from Two Studies Conducted in China (February, Raoul Wallenberg Institute)
In South Korea, Legacy of Cheongdo Daenam Hospital’s COVID-19 Outbreak (February, Hankyoreh)
In the United Kingdom,
- Locked Down and Abandoned Disabled People’s Experiences of Covid-19 (February, Inclusion London) Based on survey of over 550 people, a “continuing bleak picture of marginalisation where governmental failure has led to anxiety and hardship”. “Over 81% of Disabled people told us that they experienced problems accessing healthcare.”
- The impact of disability on employment and financial security following the outbreak of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in the UK (January, Journal of Public Health) “Working age adults with disability were particularly disadvantaged by the financial impact of the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.”
- 'Disturbing' hallucinations increase during lockdown for blind people (February, BBC)
In the United States,
- COVID-19 and Employment Losses for Workers with Disabilities: An Intersectional Approach (February, SSRN): “the disability employment gap increased during the pandemic” partially because of occupations affected and partially because of potential discrimination.
- Deaf People Face Unique Challenges as Pandemic Drags on For many, gaps in communication have only worsened (January, The Verge)
Long COVID and Disability
In the United States, When Does COVID-19 Become A Disability? 'Long-Haulers' Push For Answers And Benefits (February, NPR)
From WHO, In the wake of the pandemic: preparing for Long COVID (February) Maybe relevant although probably not from a perspective respecting disability rights approach: “Long COVID is an emerging condition that is not yet well understood but that can be severely disabling”.
Internationally, a report on Financing rights and social justice for persons with disabilities in the era of COVID-19 and beyond. (February, Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities). See also on IDA.
It explores two themes for how disability relates to international economic policy:
The first theme is that global economic solutions to tackle the crisis are a disability rights issue.
The second theme is that all proposed economic policies should be assessed for their potential impact on the enjoyment of rights and social justice by persons with disabilities, taking an intersectional approach.
Policies and response
Confronting COVID: How Civil Society is Responding Across Countries (February, CESR)
- EDF calls the EU Parliament to investigate the impact of COVID-19 in residential institutions and prioritise deinstitutionalisation (February, EDF)
- Surveillance data from public online national reports on COVID-19 in Long-Term Care facilities from ECDC (February, LTC Responses to COVID-19)
In Serbia, Serbian woman promotes rights of people with disabilities during COVID-19 (UN).
In South Asia, a summary of social protection responses to COVID-19 for persons with disabilities. (IDA) Important report showing the limited social protection response in the region and opportunities to make social protection inclusive of persons with disabilities going forward.
In the United Kingdom,
- Britain must do better for disabled people (February, Financial Times)
- Fury at ‘do not resuscitate’ notices given to Covid patients with learning disabilities (February, Guardian)
- Employers need to consider whether long COVID is a disability or risk disability discrimination claims (February, ICAEW)
- Planning failure ‘meant government had to start shielding scheme from scratch’ (February, Disability News Service)
- Disabled people and the impact of COVID-19: four urgent messages for the government (February, LSE Blog)
- ‘I feel abandoned’ Disabled people going without food and heating as ministers deny them Covid uplift (February, Independent)
In the United States,
Communication Boards on COVID-19 related issues and more (Global Symbols)
IDA and IDDC Call to Action: Priority, Accessibility and Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities in COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout (March, IDA)
This illustrated report from the US is useful in showing access issues at each stage of getting a vaccine: How Inequity Gets Built Into America’s Vaccination System (March, ProPublica)
- People with developmental disabilities should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine say advocates (February, CBC)
- People with disabilities put at risk by COVID-19 triage and vaccine priorities (February, The Conversation)
- Vaccine news in the EDF newsletter. (January, EDF) “the WHO has not identified people with disabilities as a priority group, so countries must do so themselves.”
- Easy to read information on the vaccine (January, Inclusion Europe)
- Severe mental illness and European COVID-19 vaccination strategies (February, The Lancet)
In India, ‘Scrap age bar for the disabled, include all categories of disabilities’ (March, The Indian Express)
In the United Kingdom,
- ‘Horrifying’ death toll prompts calls to prioritise jabs for disabled people (February, Financial Times)
- People with learning disabilities to be prioritised for vaccinations (February, Disability Rights UK) See also "the story behind the headline" (March, Sheffield)
In the United States,
- Johns Hopkins launches vaccine prioritization dashboard for people with disabilities (February, Hub JHU)
- COVID-19 vaccine websites violate disability laws, create inequity for the blind (February, Los Angeles Times)
- Where’s the Vaccine for Ableism? (February, New York Times): “the rollout is flowing through the familiar tributaries of ableism, ageism, sizeism and racism that have been feeding the ocean of death in this country all along”.
- 2021 Vaccine Valentines cards for vaccine equity with resources (February, Disability Visibility Project)
- Disabled Advocates Demand Better Vaccine Access: interview with Alice Wong and Juan González (February, Democracy Now)
- In California, New Plan Moves People with Disabilities to Front of COVID Vaccine Line (February, LA Sentinel) Before that: Californians with disabilities are outraged (February, LA Times) 'So Angry, So Scared': (February, KQED)
Culture, Entertainment and Media
Why Disabled People have been forgotten by the Fashion Industry (February, Euronews)
In Spain, How a Spanish town pioneered dolls with Down's syndrome (February, Guardian)
In the United States, True Newsroom Diversity Must Account for Disability Status (February, Nieman Reports) “I am one of a handful of openly disabled journalists. I have had to actively find every other disabled journalist I know.”
The Barbellion Prize dedicated to ill and disabled voices in writing was won by Golem Girl: A Memoir by Riva Lehrer.
Children's Books That Feature Characters With Disabilities (February, Huffpost)
Film, Music and TV
Annenberg Inclusion Initiative releases study of representation in Netflix original productions: “people with disabilities rarely see themselves reflected on screen.” (February, Annenberg) See also Netflix to Invest $100 Million to Improve Diversity (Variety).
How Slamdance and other festivals are working to acknowledge disability (February, Screen Daily)
A Short Review of “Feeling Through” "made history as the first film to star an actor, Robert Tarango, who is both deaf and legally blind." (February, Respect Ability) See also Marlee Matlin talk about it on the The Daily Show (With ASL interpretation, March)
Yiana Pandelis, making waves as star of new film ‘Unsound’ (February, Greek Herald)
The pop star Sia says sorry to autism community (February, BBC) "Music’s depiction of autism will likely upset even its early defenders." (February, Slate)
- One response to Sia's film is LISTEN a short film made by and with nonspeaking autistic people (February, Communication First)
As More Deaf People Are Seen on TV, Others Want to Be Heard (January, New York Times) “for many who use devices like cochlear implants or hearing aids, onscreen representation still falls short by not reflecting enough of their experiences.”
In Kenya, Two Kenyan DJs living with disabilities thriving amid COVID19 (February, CGTN Africa)
Data and Research
Who Counts? Measuring Disability Cross-Nationally in Census Data (February, Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology) Examines disability measurement across 65 countries: “questions that included potentially stigmatizing language were associated with lower rates of disability reporting, but questions that listed specific limitations were associated with higher rates”.
Usefulness of Internet Surveys to identify people with disabilities: a cautionary tale (February, Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology)
Social Research and Disability new book on Developing Inclusive Research Spaces for Disabled Researchers (December, Routledge)
In Bangladesh, Lack of data hampering progress (February, Daily Star)
In France, An undignified lack of data (in French, February, Observatory of Inequalities)
In the Middle East and North Africa, Developmental Disabilities in the Arab World (December, Handbook of Healthcare in the Arab World) “This chapter describes various disabilities and rights of the disabled with developmental deficiencies in the Arab region.”
In the OECD, The extra costs associated with a cognitive impairment Estimates from 15 OECD countries (February, European Journal of Public Health) “Results suggest that caring for a person living with dementia can lead to considerable expenses.”
In Nigeria, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities has plans to enumerate the growing number of persons with disabilities in the country (February, Vanguard) “we realise that the number must have risen to about fifty million if not more.”
In Paraguay, consolidating the inclusion of persons with disabilities in its data and statistics with plans for the 2022 census (Bridging the Gap)
In the United States, Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.
Digital Accessibility and Inclusion
See the ILO and Fundación ONCE report on an Inclusive Digital Economy for persons with disabilities (February, ILO). The report highlights the opportunities and challenges of the technological economy and proposes a roadmap going forward.
Overcoming the Digital Divide to Ensure Disability Inclusiveness (February, UN DESA)
Ensuring biometrics work for everyone (February, Raconteur)
In Sweden, Time to Act! Make Digital Inclusion in Procurement a Habit in Sweden (March, G3ICT)
Software and Technology
Will Butler of Be My Eyes Shares His Journey to Personal Acceptance (February, Inclusion Hub) “I've learned every blind person has a different relationship with independence, and with what it means to be supported.”
Microsoft UK Accessibility Champions Tips & Tricks.
The sexual exploitation and abuse of deaf and disabled children online (February, We Protect Global Alliance)
- Part of the challenge: “Child protection networks often fail to include the protection needs of children with disabilities in their strategic planning and operational implementation. This is particularly evident when it comes to ensuring online safeguarding and protection work is inclusive of disabled children’s needs.”
- Part of the solution: “There is an urgent need to develop a coherent and integrated global response to the risk and vulnerability of children with disabilities to abuse and exploitation online.”
On Social Media:
- Why Is Facebook Rejecting These Fashion Ads? denying advertisements of clothing for people with disabilities (February, New York Times)
- Clubhouse Is A Club So Exclusive It Excludes Disabled People By Design (February, Forbes)
- Disabled TikTokers demand captions as the app is still inaccessible to them (February, Indy100)
- The disabled influencers making their mark on social media (February, BBC)
- New Accessibility Guidelines for UN Websites.
- Creating inclusive and accessible online events (February, BDF)
- Virtual Conferences Aren’t as Accessible as You Might Think (February, Scientific American)
- Zoom adding automatic closed captioning for all free accounts tarting this week you can manually request the feature (February, The Verge)
- New to LinkedIn Live: Auto-Captions (February, Linkedin)
- How we created a reporting tool to improve the accessibility of GOV.UK (February, Data in Government)
- Podcast Accessibility what does that mean, exactly?.
- A developer's perspective: the problem with screen reader testing (January, Jake Tracey)
Disaster Risk Reduction
A proactive approach: Examples for integrating disaster risk reduction and mental health and psychosocial support programming (February, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction)
Education and childhood
See the Inclusive Education newsletter from February 2021 for an overview of news in Inclusive Education.
Turning the tide on the global education emergency features disability alongside other issues (February, Send my Friend to School)
In Low- and Middle-Income Countries, a review of the School to Work Transition for Report Adolescent Girls (link to pdf February, Real Centre, University of Cambridge)
The European Committee of Social Rights made its decision on Belgium and inclusive education: Belgium failed “to promote the inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities in mainstream primary and secondary education”. (February, Council of Europe)
- Increased awareness of developmental disorders can reduce stigma, research in Ethiopia finds "Family and community support is vital to offset the damaging effects of stigma" (February, NIHR)
- Mekdes: a COVID-19 learning hero for deaf children (January, World Education Blog)
In India, Persons with disability also have right to higher education ruling from the Kerala High Court (February, 2021)
In Jamaica, Signs of Success Teachers stepping up to improve the English literacy of deaf and hard of hearing students in Jamaica (February, USAID)
In Paraguay, Ministry of Education receives materials produced by Bridging the Gap to advance inclusive education (Bridging the Gap)
In the United Kingdom, Disabled teachers face significant workplace discrimination despite drive for more inclusive schools (February, Cambridge Network) Includes this useful point that discrimination doesn't necessarily come from attitudes on disability:
Disabled teachers continue to experience discrimination not because of the innate prejudice of colleagues, but because of the general pressure on schools created by various performance targets, which makes it difficult for them to accommodate staff with different needs. This may explain the fairly overt discrimination that some interviewees recounted: including a case where one teacher was told to ‘grit her teeth and get on with it’ when she requested time off work, and another in which a staff member was disciplined after devising workarounds for systems that she couldn’t use.
In West Africa, “Being a Girl and Disabled”, research from Humanity and Inclusion (in French).
Employment, business and work
The Zero Project 2021 Conference was on Employment and ICT. See the Zero Project Almanac 2021 (link to pdf). Also summaries from first, second, and third days. “The Covid-Virus brought the Zero Project Conference 2021 to a new level. The great outcome motivates us-a-lot for 2022 and the coming years.”
The Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN) 2020 Annual Report.
Disabled scientists’ networks call for more support (March, Letter to Nature)
4 tech innovations that support people with disabilities working from home (February, World Economic Forum)
In Australia, Jobseekers with a disability are often asked to declare it, but more firms are moving away from just 'ticking the box' (February, ABC News)
- Return to work strategy for injured workers: taking implementation forward (February, Daily Star)
- TV series on education, skills and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. (In Bangla, link to facebook, Bangladesh Business and Disability Network).
In India, Blindness, disability no bar to being judge judgement from the Supreme Court (February, Times of India)
In the United States,
- ‘We Still Need Accommodations’ finding work and remote working in the pandemic (February, The Cut)
- 5 Ways to Improve Diversity Training According to a New Study (not about disability) (January, Kellogg Insight)
- 4 reasons why hiring disabled workers is good for business (February, Fast Company)
- How To Recruit Disabled Talent: Making It Safe To Disclose (February, Forbes)
In Uruguay, news feature on Uruguay Valora on promoting inclusive labour practices: “visibilizing, and spreading these practices to other organizations” (in Spanish, February, Canal 10)
In the United States,
- Minimum-Wage Misfire Also Harms Disabled People (March, Prospect) Before: It's time to end subminimum wage for workers with disabilities (February, USA Today)
- How Ableism Shows Up in the Freelance World (February, Indy)
In Uzbekistan, the disability NGO Sharoit+ has launched a telegram channel to help disabled people find decent jobs. (February, Sharoit+ on twitter).
World Health Organization (WHO)
- Launched a World Report on Hearing (March) See also post from CBM.
- Launched a Rehabilitation Competency Framework (February)
In South Africa, Framing the debate on how to achieve equitable health care for persons with disabilities in South Africa (South African Health Review 2020)
In the United States, Many doctors have negative perceptions of patients with disabilities — and that impacts quality of care, study finds (February, CNN) “More than 82% of American doctors say they believe patients with significant disabilities have a worse quality of life than people who don't have disabilities.”
History and Memorial
In the United Kingdom,
- A History of Disability from a Disability Arts perspective (February, Disability Arts Online)
In the United States,
- Engineer behind TTY died in Portland, leaving a legacy of helping the deaf communicate with the world (February, Oregon Live)
Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees
In Bangladesh, Age and Disability Inclusion Needs Assessment Preliminary Findings (February, Reach) Disability prevalence is 20% among adults.
In Latin America, video guides to inclusive humanitarian action (February, RIADIS)
In Lebanon, the 2020 Vulnerability Assessment for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon includes use of Washington Group Questions to measure disability status (February, UNHCR) “Among the population, 9% of individuals were found to have a disability.”
In Libya, A shell blast, and an asylum seeker's life changed forever (February, Thomson Reuters Foundation)
For Palestinian refugees in different countries, Disability Inclusion Annual Report of UNRWA 2020 (December) One of the challenges highlighted: “Apart from the financial constraints being experienced by the Agency; generally, there is inadequate budget allocation to disability inclusion within the programme and project budgets, at both the HQ and field levels.”
In Syria, Guidance Note on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the COVID-19 CCCM Response (February, GAN)
In the United States, Still in Texas personal experience from the snowstorm and power outages (February, Disability Visbility Project)
In Yemen, The nine-year-old war-zone school teacher "Ahmed, a nine-year-old boy who has been blind since birth, steps in to take classes when the teachers can't make it. " (March, short video, BBC)
The Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network had its 2021 annual general meeting. See some of the key interventions: road to global recovery must include Persons with disabilities. See also Spain shares its commitment to disability-inclusive development (Bridging the Gap)
See the new United Nations Special Rapporteur's report to the human rights council which includes a vision for his mandate. “Treaties, no matter how eloquently expressed, are not self-executing”. As well as law reforms and better systems, culture change is needed:
The culture shift embodied by the Convention cannot be taken for granted. The challenge is to find ways to continually advocate that cultural shift. Additionally, it is clear that old systems such as service structures persist and will need to be fundamentally reset to give the culture shift a fair chance of success.
The Rapporteur sets out three broad thematic areas for work:
- “The key existential threats that face humanity”: COVID-19, resilient and inclusive recovery, climate change and more.
- “Hidden or underanalysed intersectional factors”: including old age and indigenous origin.
- “Specific rights, issues or groups” that have received less attention. For instance, deinstitutionalization or “harnessing artificial intelligence positively”.
The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development did the Voluntary National Reviews for 2020. See a summary of how disability fits in: SDG implementation and disability inclusion (February, Elizabeth Lockwood) 44 out of 47 countries referenced persons with disabilities.
Global Disability Summit shares the Highlights of December 2020 Consultations in 15 countries (February, IDA). Ownership and accountability are seen as “perhaps the most powerful aspect of the Global Disability Summit process, as a convener of stakeholders from the grassroots, national and international spaces, in a way that makes true collaboration and accountability possible.”
From Disability Evidence Portal, a brief on How can we promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in programme design?
On the UN Security Council, actions the Irish government can take to strengthen disability rights (February, CBM).
Reflections on The importance of networks for positive change (February, European Foundation Centre)
In Egypt, Consultation workshop on COVID-19, SDGs report and Global Disability Summit (February, IDA)
In Europe, IDDC - EDF joint statement on disability-inclusive programming of EU funding for external action (February, EDF) Regarding the EU's Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).
In Kenya, The impact of the Amplifying Voices Project on Women with Disabilities in Kenya with LFTW (February, United Disabled Persons of Kenya)
From Norway, Mapping of Norwegian Efforts to Include Persons with Disabilities in Development Assistance 2010-2019 (January, Norad)
- “There has in general been limited correlation between policy commitments and priorities - and actual disbursements.” More correlation is seen when funding was earmarked.
- Programmes on disability have risen to 0.6% of the aid budget, and only 2.8% of overall programmes are “disability inclusive”. The increase is correlated with advocacy of the global disability movement.
Lived Experience and Opinion
- ‘If Self Is a Location, So Is Love’: Disability, Love & Dating (February, The Quint)
In Ireland, You’re Not Special. "A letter to my sixteen yeard old self" (February, It's My Life)
In the United States,
- What it’s Like Being Deaf (February, Cassie Josephs) Essay explores “Hearing Energy”: “You only have so much Hearing Energy every day, and different things use different amounts of it”.
- I always enjoy and learn from sitting_pretty, Rebekah Taussig's instagram. Particularly this post on her baby Otto's relation with her wheelchair: “Right now, Otto and I are the only two people I know on earth who experience my chair as a natural, easy living extension of me.”
- Discrimination against people with disabilities is being ignored or exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. (February, CT Mirror) “Want to see my mental health improve radically? Listen to what I am saying”
- How To Talk To Your Kid About Disabilities (March, Huffpost)
Useful webinar on human rights, mental health and the intersections with disability rights (with transcript, United for Global Mental Health).
Let’s talk about mental health – with CBM’s Julian Eaton (February, CBM) “I have been fortunate to live and work through a period of revolution in global mental health.”
In India, India wants to improve mental health care, but has no data on mental health practitioners (February, Scroll)
Policy and rights
A "Reparations Approach" to the CRPD Consultation on Deinstitutionalization proposed by Tina Minkowitz (February)
Submissions to the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. (January)
- Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark (DPOD)
- By Italian Disability Forum
- By Validity Foundation, on Hungary
In Australia, Shameful detention of people with cognitive disability must stop (February, UNSW)
In Canada, more on the assistance in dying legislation:
- Canada is plunging toward a human rights disaster for disabled people (February, Washington Post)
- The Right To Die Is Coercive Without Giving Support To Live "inadequate and dehumanizing supports, terrible living conditions, and horrifying abuse" might lead to more people with disabilities ending their lives. (February, Passage)
- Bill C-7 Devalues the Lives of Disabled Canadians “Disabled Canadians need accessible healthcare, not just MAiD” (February, McGill Daily)
- Union of Equality: European Commission presents Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 (March, EU) Focusses on themes of rights, independent living and autonomy, and non-discrimination and equal opportunities. Includes proposal of a European Disability Card.
- Taking stock of the Disability Intergroup work in 2019 and 2020 (February, EDF)
- Activists Slam Govt for Lack of Budgetary Allocations for Disabled Persons (February, the Wire). Also covered with detail on Newz Hook.
- People with leprosy fight over 100 discriminatory laws (February, Times of India)
In New Zealand, Disabled Kiwis plan ‘Hikoi of Hope’ to Parliament (February, Stuff)
In Pakistan, President for extending benefits of modern technology to persons with disabilities (February, The News)
In Peru, protests at the annulment of the previous law for persons with disabilities. (In Spanish on twitter, February, Sociedad Peruana de Síndrome Down). See previously more than a 100 associations against the new law in congress for persons with disabilities (in Spanish, Pan America, 2020)
In the United Kingdom, “serious concerns and disappointment” on the government's consultation for a national disability strategy. (February, Disability News Service)
In the United States,
- A documentary about Britney Spears focussed on the system of guardianship she is under. It shines a light on Problematic Guardianship Systems. (Human Rights Watch) “The documentary and #FreeBritney movement treat the pop star’s conservatorship as strange and exceptional. The truth is much more troubling.” (February, New Republic) Also on the Guardian.
- Related to guardianship, but about a different Netflix documentary: '99% of the world has no idea': inside the shocking legal guardianship industry (February, Guardian)
Politics and Elections
In Belarus, persecution of Belarusian disability rights defenders (February, EDF)
“Sergey Drozdovsky and Oleg Grablevsky of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, have been intimidated, detained and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in the hands of state authorities on the basis of unfounded and arbitrary accusations.”
Why the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is so necessary for Belarus (in Russian, Imena Mag). Testimonies from people that know the office.
- The European Court of Human Rights fails to protect the right to vote of persons with disabilities (February, EDF)
- UN experts urge European Court of Human Rights to rethink vote ban for those with cognitive disabilities. (March)
In Myanmar, disability organizations press release on the military's coup. (Link to facebook, February, Myanmar Independent Living Initiative):
We, people with disabilities, are participating in resistance to the coup with fellow Myanmar citizens across the country and supporting a civil disobedience movement to our utmost capacity.
Furthermore, they urge support from international actors working on disability “to stand with us and begin the process of overthrowing the military dictatorship.”
In the United States,
- Disabled People Had An Easier Time Voting In 2020 But Millions Still Had Issues (February, Huffpost)
- "Representative Madison Cawthorn has misled the public" about training for the Paralympics (January, the Nation)
Relationships and Sex
In India, a celebration of “Criplentine’s Day”, for an “An accessible Valentine’s Day” that goes beyond an “able-bodied kind of love between two heteronormative lovers”, with a series of articles by Revival Disability Project. (February, Feminism in India).
“As we celebrate Criplentine’s Day, I am hoping to challenge set doctrines and lovemyself and others in my own ways, irrespective of who they are to me, each day, every day.” in Challenging Capitalist, Able-Bodied Notions Of Love From the intersection of love and disability
“Love is a revolution. When I choose to love a woman, I want to hold her hand as a mark of resistance. I want to feel the taste of war and freedom when I kiss her.
Love is sensory; the way my disabled fingers interlock around an object of love; the way my hands learn the geography of my body, the rhythm in which my spine curves; the sound of my limp; the touch of blue in water. This is what I call love. “
The Rebellious, Radical Act Of Queer, Disabled Love.
In South Africa, a new, open access book on Physical Disability and Sexuality Stories edited volume (January). One of the participants sharing their story says “For me it is the first time to share my feelings about my disability. I’ve never shared my story with anyone even my family never had time to listen to my feelings.”
In United States, Steve Way on the Maddening Injustices of Dating While Disabled (some explicit language and content) (February, GQ)
If you are hungry for more disability news updates in your inbox, see Disability News Digest by Raul Krauthausen.
World Deaf Federation has updated its mapping of the legal recognition of sign languages (February, WFD) See also their celebration of World Hearing Day: Let's Remember to Sign (March, WFD)
The COVID Zoom Boom Is Reshaping Sign Language "Deaf people are adapting signs to accommodate the limitations of video communication while working from home " (February, Scientific American)
From India, short film on How sign language started? (Indian Sign Language and English, February, Boonary)
In Spain, the right to have a mother tongue (in Spanish, February, Letras Libres)
In Australia, Locked out of the disability support pension -- experiences of indigenous Australians living with Disability on Newstart (February, Economic Justice Australia)
In Bangladesh, estimates of between 24% to 67% of the disability allowance embezzled based on a Transparency International Bangladesh study (February, Dhaka Tribune) Study indicates range of bribes that might be given. See also in Bangla, on Prothom Alo.
- persons with disabilities more at risk at poverty or social exclusion than persons without disabilities (February, Eurostat)
- People with disability struggling to make ends meet (February, Eurostat)
In Spain, response to the Eurostat data: 29% of Spaniards with disabilities have difficulties by the end of the month (in Spanish, February, Inserta)
In the United Kingdom, Time to think again: disability benefits and support after COVID-19 (February, Social Market Foundation)
The European Space AgencyParastronaut feasibility project. “Because we believe that exploration is the matter of a collective effort, we need to extend the pool of talents we can rely on in order to continue progressing in our endeavour.”
See also On the BBC.
Report on physical activity and sports under article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (January, OHCHR) See also Para sport as a driver for human rights Q&A with Facundo Chavez (March, IPC)
Investigating a new era of accessible snowsports "the world of adaptive ski is making the magic of the mountains accessible for an increasing number" (January, National Geographic)
In Tennis, Tennis Australia Serves up World-First Accessible Audio Stream (February, Tennis)
In the United Kingdom, For Disabled People, Inclusive Transportation Is About Much More Than Lifts And Ramps (February, Forbes)
Violence and Harassment
The 1st March was marked as Disability Day of Mourning remembering people with disabilities murdered by their families (Disability Memorial). Gathers cases from the US and around the world.
In Europe, Violence and harassment across Europe much higher than official records featuring persons with disabilities (February, FRA)
In the United Kingdom, “Because I’ve Got a Learning Disability, They Don’t Take Me Seriously:” Violence, Wellbeing, and Devaluing People With Learning Disabilities (February, Journal of Interpersonal Violence)
Water and Sanitation
In Vanuatu, Water, women and disability: Using mixed-methods to support inclusive wash programme design (March, The Lancet Regional Health)
- Webinar on Launch of The Global Disability Summit +2 Years: Progress on Implementation of Commitments. (1pm GMT)
April 19th to 23rd:
- Business and Disability Forum Global Symposium 2021.
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities asks for submissions on article 27, the right to work (Deadline March 15, OHCHR)
The Independent Expert on the Human Rights of Older Persons calls for input on thematic report on the human rights of older women (Deadline 22 March, OHCHR)
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health call for papers for special edition Measuring Disability and Disability Inclusive Development (Deadline 30 April)
An Eye for Inclusion: GDI Hub partners with NIUA for global photography competition (submission by 13 March)
Call for Papers Special Issue of 'Sustainability' journal to be guest edited by GDI Hub (deadline 31 May)
The Institute for the study of human rights looks for advocates working at the grassroots level (Deadline 15 April)
Melbourne Disability Initiative offer a doctoral scholarship to investigate issues of disability, technology and society (Deadline April 2)
The EDF and Oracle have a scholarship for students with disabilities studying in the field of Computer Science and related fields at an EU university (Deadline 31 March)
CBM UK has two opportunities — one on Advocacy and another on Evidence. (deadline 11 March)
Council of Europe, Positive Action Programme for Trainees with a disability (deadline 15 March)
EDF is recruiting a funding and grants officer (Deadline 8 March)
UNICEF Call for Disability Inclusion in Emergencies Consultants Roster in UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, Thailand (Deadline 15 March)
Thanks as ever to all of those who have been in touch with links, feedback and thinking through this project together. In particular thanks to Kathy Guernsey who had the idea of searching back issues and to Mostafa Attia for sharing a link collection.
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.
And thanks to you, for getting this far. Until next time,