Love, War and Talkshops
We’re picking up from January with this month's news on disability. We start off with the situation in Ukraine, get onto some sexytimes, and then talk about how global work on disability is changing. After that there's the curated guide to international news.
Disabled people in Ukraine
See rolling updates on the situation of people with intellectual disabilities in Ukraine, whose concerns showcase many issues that will affect persons with disabilities as a whole. This open letter gives some context:
“There are 2.7 million persons with disabilities registered in Ukraine. Our contacts in the country have confirmed that the situation for persons with disabilities is appalling. For example, shelters in Kiev are inaccessible, so people with disabilities are forced to stay at home, not knowing where they can go to be safe.
Persons with disabilities living in institutions, already cut off from their communities, risk being abandoned and forgotten. In Ukraine alone, at least 82,000 children are segregated from society, with countless more adults with disabilities permanently institutionalised.” (24th Feb, EDF)
I've collected further links on the current situation and some background reading to help understand the situation of disabled people in the country. They include links on how the government was moving forward on disability policy, and a UN report on what more it had to do.
Before this phase of violence, there were already grave consequences for disabled people displaced in the Eastern Regions, including difficulties getting health services or government benefits. For a longer-term view, there's material on the Soviet legacy of disability systems and how things had changed for disability and citizenship in postsocialist Ukraine.
See below for further links: scroll down or find in page “War in Ukraine”.
It's good news bad news time for love and relationships, and unfortunately the bad news is worse than me spending another Valentines Day single…
The good news is that Revival Disability Magazine built on their Cripplentines celebration, “rooted in the belief that all kinds of love should be celebrated, because love itself is a disabled and queer revolution”. They picked out your favourite lipstick and are searching for disability affirmative love:
“Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but most of the fish are ableist and would rather not wear a mask because 'the omicron wave is mild, ya'."
To crip up your love definitely take a look at these disability-inspired valentines cards (“I have special needs for you”) and Frances Ryan's radical love for a body the world says is wrong. If you need that little bit extra, there's a podcast on accessible sex-toys.
The bad news shows us why those efforts to claim our physical and sexual autonomy are so important. It was sad to read that the USA still has laws that allow forced sterilisation in 31 States. There isn't data on how much it is going on, but the latest of these laws was passed in 2019.
In a partially, but definitely not redemptive move, a Japanese court awarded some compensation to victims of forced sterilisation. There were 16,500 people, mostly women with disabilities, who went through this between 1948 and 1996 and this result gives less than $30,000 each to three of them. One representative of the victims and their families said:
“Our lives were completely destroyed. This is not about money. With this verdict, I want the government to bow in front of all of the victims and apologise.”
Participation and/in Talkshops
We had some of the best disability talkshops this month, with the Global Disability Summit and the Zero Project 2022. I'm borrowing the term “talkshops” from this provocation form Fredrick Ouko who raises the important concern that organizations working on disability rights,
“are yet to recognize the power of lived-experience and professional representation within their leadership ranks and thus continue making decisions around disability rights issues without the participation of disabled people”.
The Global Disability Summit in particular was working to address this, with one of its themes being the importance of participation of organizations of persons with disabilities. My impression is that this issue is, rightly, more present in international work than before (and I agree with Fredrick that the issue of representation also raises the question of how organizations working on disability employ persons with disability).
- IDA launched a discussion paper on engagement of organizations of persons with disabilities in development and humanitarian action.
- I helped CBM Global synthesise the lessons they learned from the extensive partnerships they have with organizations led by disabled people.
- The summit saw extensive commitments made for disability inclusion and the most visually beautiful presentation of these was by the World Bank, on an accessible future.
Having worked on disability in international cooperation for over 10 years, it’s striking how the events this month showed how far we’ve come. There is significant and continued growth in how widely disability is accepted as an important policy issue, and how our movement grows around the world.
How much disabled people themselves benefit is, of course, a different question. And you don't have to look further than one of this month's news items, a report on Georgia, to describe this dynamic: "despite these changes [to policy], little has improved in the daily lives of many persons with disabilities”.
For more of me on where we're at and how we go forward, see my fireside talk at the Zero Project: are good practices enough?
Before the news buffet…
Question for readers: Lauren asks for a recommendation of a TV show that portrays neurodiversity well. Let us know!
“You could throw a stone from my building and hit a road closure”: updates from disabled people in the middle of cities with protests against covid protections: from Ottawa, Canada, and Wellington, New Zealand.
Why we can't have nice things: Tangled in Red Tape, important details on the challenges of the disability id-cards in India, including a gendered analysis.
Reports reports reports…
- Evidence digest on social protection (SD Direct).
- Inclusive Education Resources and Toolkit (Save the Children).
- Mapping disability data in development in Asia and the Pacific (UNFPA)
Words of the month:
- Favourite phrase: "there's a tendency to see what's wrong, not what's strong" (h/t @daisyholder)
- Favourite title: “The Internal Police Officer Has Not Retired but Has Slowed Down”, Israeli women on their ageing experiences.
- Most impressive jargon: this landscape review proposes a “massive-small open innovation approach” (i.e. small innovations over a large scale).
A new welcome… No I haven't stopped talking about people who contribute to help the newsletter keep going. I was glad to get my first institutional subscription, from Disability Policy Solutions. If you use this newsletter for work and can expense a subscription, let me know. Your organization’s contribution will help this resouce continue and be openly available for all.
Speaking of topics I don't shut up about, I also had more stuff to say about living with covid, but let’s save that. For now, see this on being stuck in pandemic limbo.
About the newsletter
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.
Disability Debrief is supported by readers. This edition is produced with support from Center for Inclusive Policy. Do share this newsletter with friends (or enemies) who need disability news in their lives.
Question for readers: what shows do you recommend that are good portrayals of neurodiversity? Kana Chan, friend, and author of Tending Gardens, beautiful dispatches from rural life in Japan, asks:
My sister commented that there are many neurodiversity shows that get a lot of hype but are often misleading and disappointing - I wonder if there are shows/movies you recommends that highlight neurodiversity?
I haven't watched many of these myself, so let us know.
Reflections on inclusion in humanitarian action. I was chatting with another friend of the newsletter, Tom Palmer, on how disability fits into the emerging trends in humanitarian work, and he told me:
It's important to think about disability inclusion within the context of systemic trends at the same time as trying to make headway on more specific stuff like engagement of organizations of persons with disabilities, reasonable accommodation, and access to assistive devices. But I think it can be difficult for disability advocates to break into conversations about localisation and anticipatory action, particularly when they are still quite incipient. We have to pick our battles but these system-wide issues do occupy a lot of reform-related attention and funding will come eventually so we have to find ways to 'mainstream' disability there.
Tom, who's an advisor on humanitarian issues with CBM Global, adds that there are still key questions disability inclusion faces in the complexities of humanitarian response:
What knowledge does every humanitarian worker need to have on disability? What are the roles of specialists and of people with lived experience who are not humanitarian professionals? What is the ideal set up with a given institution based on a realistic assumptions about resources? How can we convert knowledge which is captured in a 200-page textbook into operational skills? We need to know what really works in practice to include the full diversity of people with disabilities in assistance, protection and decision-making.
Definitely questions that face us in other areas too, as we try to find the technical solutions to our ambitions on disability inclusion.
I'm a big fan of people saying nice things about me. Thanks to Aapurv Jain for these kind words on twitter:
After many of years of writing from my policy documents, glad to have somewhere my heart can peep out from behind the curtains.
Say hello: I love when people get in touch - reply, leave a comment, or find me on twitter @desibility. So here's to sharing the interesting and lovely things people write me…
All-you-can-eat news buffet
We have 216 links from 42 countries and regions, organized by these topics:
- War in Ukraine
- Accessibility and Design
- Assistive Technology
- Civil Society and Community
- Climate Crisis
- Culture, Entertainment and Media
- Data and Research
- Digital Accessibility and Technology
- Disaster Risk Reduction and Crisis Response
- Education and Childhood
- Employment, Business and Work
- Financial Inclusion
- Global Disability Summit
- Higher Education
- History and Memorial
- Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees
- Institutions and Deinstitutionalization
- International Cooperation
- 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, Poverty and Costs of Disability
- Sport and Paralympics
- Violence and Harassment
- Water and Sanitation (WASH)
War in Ukraine
People with intellectual disabilities mustn't be abandoned: A page with rolling updates, noting that current priorities include provision of basic supplies, especially medicine, and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the 80,000 children and the further adults with disabilities in “care homes”. (Feb, Inclusion Europe)
An open letter appealing for protection and safety of persons with disabilities in Ukraine See also a page with resources on inclusive emergency response. (Feb, EDF)
For the latest on the humanitarian situation in general, see the ReliefWeb page. The UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief has mentioned persons with disabilities as among the most in need. (26 Feb). As I'm writing, the latest update is the Situation Report of 27 Feb, which reports: “Many elderly people and people with disabilities found themselves trapped in [Kyiv], due to the challenges of evacuation.”.
- See this profile on a family unable to leave Kyiv or access the shelters (27 Feb, CNN)
- On twitter, a disability lead at the British Foreign Office, has written some notes on considerations for inclusion in humanitarian response.
In terms of those leaving the country. Over 350,000 Ukrainians have crossed into neighbouring countries and the number is growing quickly. While men 18-60 years old are prohibited from leaving, exceptions are made on their own medical grounds as well as if they maintain a child with disability.
Particularly concerning is the pandemic context:
“The recent escalation in conflict comes as Ukraine deals with an Omicron driven surge in COVID-19, which saw active cases increase by a staggering 555 per cent between 15 January and 25 February, 5 a figure that may actually be much higher due to a lack of testing.” (26 Feb, OCHA)
In terms of organizations to support, I don't know anything about these beyond their websites:
- A crowdsourced list of organizations led by disabled people in Ukraine (initiated by @jenbo1 of DRF)
- Fight for Right. A Gofundme is running in their name by Avery Horne.
- A linktree of further links by @Somesaylezzels
Also as I publish, EASPD are doing a webinar on support services for persons with disabilities.
As for sport and the Paralympics:
- Ukraine's 20 Paralympic athletes have yet to arrive in China (28 Feb, WPXI)
- IPC calls for peace ahead of Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games (24 Feb, IPC)
Policy Recommendations to the Ukraine government. The document notes that as the government develops plans to implement its Strategy for Barrier-Free society:
"At the same time, many Ukrainians living with disabilities remain trapped in their homes, restricted in their access to transportation, health care, social services and public buildings. Ukraine continues to apply medical and charitable approaches to persons with disabilities, rather than the human rights-based approach of creating favourable conditions to the enjoyment of all human rights on an equal basis." (Dec 2021, UN)
Briefing Note: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities. "The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing institutional, attitudinal and environmental barriers that persons with disabilities face in exercising their rights and accessing basic services." (Oct 2020, UN)
National Strategy for a Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine presented "We set extremely ambitious goals". See also the government reporting on the first steps towards a barrier free environment in Oct 2021. (April 2021, Cabinet of Ministers)
As conflict reignites, a Ukrainian family knows all too well 'the collateral damage of war' a case study of a family affected by the previous violence. (24 Feb, CTV News)
Ukraine's inaccessible cities "Ukraine’s urban accessibility issues are part of the country’s Soviet inheritance." (2021, Atlantic Council)
Situation assessment of rehabilitation in Ukraine As of September 2020: "The rehabilitation sector in Ukraine is rapidly evolving and many examples of good practice are emerging." (2021, WHO)
For more detailed ethnographic research on persons with disabilities, Sarah Phillips 2010 book is Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Postsocialist Ukraine. See a detailed review by Cassandra Hartblay.
A very useful book for the region and Soviet context is Disability in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: History, policy and everyday life. It includes a chapter with Sarah Phillips research in Ukraine, who gives the then-position of disabled people. At a very outside view, it seems that the presence on the political stage may have increased since she wrote:
"Interviews with persons with disabilities in Ukraine and a review of the available literature indicate that quality of life for most mobility disabled people has improved considerably since perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some improvements in infrastructure and life possibilities, however, are accompanied by a range of injustices that compel many people with disabilities in Ukraine to feel as if they live in a “parallel world” where their rights to full citizenship in the new Ukrainian state are circumscribed (Phillips 2002, 2011). This parallel world is constructed at the intersection of public discourse and institutional infrastructure. The “unknown population” of the disabled is made further invisible by a hegemonic discourse that refuses to acknowledge the presence of the disabled on the political stage." (2016)
In Eastern Ukraine,
- Ukraine frontline: disabled and elderly people threatened after 7 years of conflict (Oct 2021, Fair Planet)
- “We Live Like We Are Homeless” The Consequences of Conflict for Displaced People with Disabilities in Eastern Ukraine (Mar 2020, Human Rights Watch)
- People with Limited Mobility Can’t Access Pensions Challenges those who live in nongovernment-controlled areas had to access their benefits. (Jan 2020, Human Rights Watch)
- How People with Disabilities Live in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts Based on a survey in both government and nongovernment-controlled areas. (2019)
- Access to health-care services for older persons and persons with disabilities living in Eastern Ukraine along the "line of contact". "In the two oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, where health indicators were among the lowest even before the conflict, the situation has grown worse, leaving those living in the area to face increased health expenditure, including transport costs and out-of-pocket payments for services that are supposed to be free." (2021, WHO)
Accessibility and Design
The Zero Project 2022 Conference on Accessibility was held in Vienna and online. As well as the talks, including one by yours truly, see the 2022 report which describes the innovative practices and much more. (Feb)
In Australia, How accessible is Melbourne for people with a disability? (Feb, The Age)
Baseline Report for the Decade of Healthy Ageing. It's striking to see how this summary avoids mentioning disability when its first page is basically an illustration of an adapted social model of disability. (Jan, WHO)
In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Loneliness and Social Isolation Among Older People (Jan, UNFPA)
In Israel, “The Internal Police Officer Has Not Retired but Has Slowed Down”: Israeli Women Reframe Their Ageing Experiences in the Second Half of Life (Jan, Journal of Applied Gerontology)
In Middle East and North Africa, Can review of the Madrid Plan on Ageing (MIPPA) Benefit the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region? (Feb, Population Ageing)
A new book Disability Interactions: Creating Inclusive Innovations "focuses on the interactions people have with their technologies and the interactions which result because of technology use" (Dec, Morgan Claypool)
In Australia, Impacts of new and emerging assistive technologies for ageing and disabled housing. Exploring smart home assistive technologies.. (Dec)
In Canada, Outcomes in patients with and without disability admitted to hospital. "Patients with a disability who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 had longer stays and elevated readmission risk than those without disabilities." (Jan, CMAJ)
In New Zealand, How will disabled people cope with Omicron in the community? (Jan, RNZ)
In the United States,
- "COVID-19 Likely Resulted in 1.2 Million More Disabled People by the End of 2021" More information would be needed to substantiate the claim about 1.2 million disabled people, as it’s not clear whether higher numbers are due to changes in individual circumstances or changes in the environment. (Thanks to Jennifer Madans for background on this., Feb, American Progress)
- Employment Consequences of COVID-19 for People with Disabilities and Employers. "The pandemic adversely affected employment of PWD as reported by workers and employers. Findings parallel the experience of the non-disabled workforce, but reveal vulnerabilities that reflect disability consequences and the need for job accommodations." (Jan, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation)
Key Concepts: Human Rights and the Economy a series on human rights on the economic recovery from the COVID crisis. (Not about disability - but maybe useful context, Feb, CESR)
In Canada, Quebecers with disabilities struggle with rapid tests, say advocates after the province ran out of PCR tests for the general public. (Jan, CBC)
In the United States,
- Disabled Deaths Are Not Your “Encouraging News” '“Comorbidities” is a weaselly, cruel, violent word.' (Jan, Disability Visibility Project)
- Blind people need more accessible at-home coronavirus tests (Feb, GBH)
Living with COVID
Pandemics disable people — the history lesson that policymakers ignore Why the complacency over possible long-term effects of COVID-19? (Feb, Nature)
In the United States, The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo 'Each individual infection is its own high-stakes gamble. [...] Over the past year, as many Americans reveled in their restored freedoms, many immunocompromised people felt theirs shrinking.':
'As the coronavirus moves from a furious boil to a gentle simmer, many immunocompromised people (like everyone else) hope to slowly expand their life again. But right now, “it’s like asking someone who cannot swim to jump into the ocean instead of trying a pool,” [...]'
'Beyond equitable access to treatments, the people I spoke with mostly want structural changes—better ventilation standards, widespread availability of tests, paid sick leave, and measures to improve vaccination rates. Above all else, they want flexibility, in both private and public spaces. That means remote-work and remote-school options, but also mask mandates for essential spaces such as grocery stores and pharmacies [...] But in terms of what individual people can do for them, the most common request I heard was: Just have a heart. Regardless of your own choices, don’t jeer at us for being mindful of our higher risks, and definitely don’t tell us that our lives are worth less.' (Feb, The Atlantic)
Civil Society and Community
In the United Kingdom, Tickboxes and Tokenism? Service User Involvement Report 2022 (Feb, Shaping our Lives)
Disability and Climate Justice an overview of the current situation and recommendations to take forward (link to pdf, Dec, Open Society Foundations)
In the United Kingdom,
- For disabled environmentalists discrimination and exclusion are a daily reality (Jan, Greenpeace)
- Up to the Challenge report examining the National Disability Strategy and how it addresses climate change. "Disabled people across the country are excluded from the important work to tackle climate change." (Feb, Oxford)
In the United States, How heeding disabled people can help us survive the climate crisis. (Jan, Slate)
Culture, Entertainment and Media
A Different Narrative: Text within Disability Art. "Help the Normals". (Feb, Disability Arts)
Review of Disability Studies special issue on disability, film and media. A wide ranging set of articles from self-presentation on instagram, radio in Kenya and disability metaphors in Korean news. (Feb)
Latest issue of Ability Magazine features the actor Greg Grunberg and articles from around the world. (Feb)
In Canada, #CripRitual exhibition of art exploring disability culture and ritual (#CripRitual)
In Sri Lanka, Atrocities of the Civil War Through the Eyes of Artists profile of artists with disabilities. (Ground Views)
In the United States,
- Disability Justice from A to Z A Coloring Book For Our Communities (Jan, Sins Invalid)
- Sofía Jirau Makes History as the First Victoria’s Secret Model With Down Syndrome (Feb, Glamour)
TV and Film
In Europe, The European Blind Union is disappointed at first MEDIA calls for proposals 2022 European Commission calls for proposals to support the audiovisual industry did not live up to good practices on promoting accessibility. (Feb, EBU)
In the United Kingdom, ‘It’s time for us to live our lives to the full’. Line of Duty’s Tommy Jessop on changing the world for people with Down’s syndrome. (Feb, the Guardian)
Data and Research
Workshop on Innovative methods for researching disability & COVID19 in the Global South for academics and practitioners, on 3rd March. (Disability Under Siege)
Addressing the dearth of disability-inclusive data in COVID-19 (Jan, Data Values Digest)
All children count: Fostering inclusion through data. (Feb, Data 4 SDGs)
Why Disability Data Matters Review of Leonard Cheshire’s latest disability data and the Disability Data Portal. "Where disability data does exist, it can often remain unused. " (link to pdf, Feb, Leonard Cheshire)
Much remains to be done to improve inclusive data collection (Feb, Devex)
In the Asia-Pacific, Are persons with disabilities included in the effort to leave no-one behind? An overview that shows the gaps in countries' ability to monitor the situation of persons with disabilities. See accompanying resource, Where are we?, questions to aid understanding of disability data and inform advocacy, and a blog post on lessons learned. (Feb, UNFPA)
In Bangladesh, Improving disability data in Bangladesh Access Bangladesh Foundation’s leading advocacy. (Feb, DRF)
In Colombia, Colombia’s journey to produce disability statistics (Feb, Data 4 SDGs)
In the United Kingdom, Outcomes for disabled people in the UK: 2021 detailed statistics from a range of datasets. (Feb, ONS)
In the United States, More inclusive research practices needed to expand data on people with disabilities (Feb, Healio)
Digital Accessibility and Technology
In Europe, The European Accessibility Act's June 2022 Deadline "the member states of the European Union must create their own digital accessibility law per the European Accessibility Act" (Feb, BOIA)
In the United States,
- Fulfilling our commitment to accessibility and inclusion reports from a recent "digital forum" (Feb, Microsoft Industry Blogs)
- Why Americans With Disabilities Use The Internet Less Frequently (Feb, BOIA)
Policy Brief on Ageism in artificial intelligence for health (Feb, WHO)
In the United States, In Our Tech Reckoning, People with Disabilities are Demanding a Reckoning of their Own (Jan, Tech Policy Press)
How creating an accessible product helped Stark build an inclusive team "You can’t build an accessible product without breaking down internal silos first" (Feb, The Drum)
The case for describing race in alternative text attributes (Jan, Tolu Adegbite)
The Hidden Image Descriptions Making the Internet Accessible a feature on alternative text for images (Feb, NYT)
In the United States, How to Create Accessible & Inclusive Digital Platforms for Those With Mental Health Disabilities (Feb)
Twitch streamers campaign for Disability Pride Month (Jan, Euro Gamer)
Accessibility on Twitch: the complications of streaming (Feb, Euro Gamer)
In the United Kingdom, As a disabled person, social media has been a lifeline “The internet bypasses what keeps us apart: inaccessible transport, a lack of appropriate care, pain and fatigue. [...] The real power of the disability community, [comes] in the slow accumulation of knowledge that accrues from bearing witness to each other’s lives.” (Jan, Financial Times)
Disaster Risk Reduction and Crisis Response
High Risk in Conflicts for Children with Disabilities “Armed conflict takes a devastating toll on children with disabilities, yet governments and the UN have not done nearly enough to protect them.” (Feb, Human Rights Watch)
Working paper on the The Risks and Outcomes of Getting Help for Marginalised People: Navigating Access to Social Assistance in Crises. Includes a section on persons with disabilities. (Feb, IDS)
A brief on Inclusion of Marginalised Groups in Social Assistance in Crises (Feb, IDS)
UNDRR page on disability inclusion in disaster risk reduction including description of how disability is included in its Strategic Framework 2022-2025. (Jan)
In Bangladesh, Interview with CBM Programmes director on how peer groups have enabled disabled people to participate in disaster risk reduction (Feb, CBM Australia)
Education and Childhood
A landscape review of ICT for Disability-Inclusive Education (link to pdf, Jan, World Bank)
Further events on the CaNDER Seminar Series engaging seminars bringing researchers and practitioners together. (Feb)
Students with disabilities hardest hit by school closures (Feb, University of Gothenburg)
An in-depth Inclusive Education Resources and Toolkit “reference for all staff working in education programming to mainstream inclusion in their work” (Jan, Save the Children)
When All Truly Means Everyone: Fulfilling the Right to Education of Children with Disabilities in Our Global Education Crisis Response. ECW is "committed to reaching 10% of children with disabilities across our investment portfolio. " (Feb, Education Cannot Wait)
Researching Disability-Inclusive Education: Perspectives from Researchers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
“Northern scholarship has long dominated the policy discourse on disability-inclusive education. The continued absence of Southern scholarship and overreliance of evidence and perspectives from the North is impeding contextual understanding and action on disability-inclusive education. While the lack of robust evidence is a concern, in parallel, there is an increasing acknowledgment that researchers based in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have limited opportunities to undertake, engage and publish their own research. This impedes their ability to contribute meaningfully to the disability-inclusive education agenda, both at a national and international level.” (Feb, IEI)
In Africa, A needs assessment of School Violence and Bullying of Children with Disabilities in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region. I hadn't heard of this before, in Zambia, one informant reported:
“There are traditional beliefs, that having sexual relations with a person who is disabled helps you to become cured from a particular disease such as HIV and AIDS. That persons with disabilities can be used as avenues for cleansing and that takes a step further from bullying into sexual violence, sexual abuse, and so on.” (link to docx, Leonard Cheshire)
In Bangladesh, Over 500,000 special needs children affected by school closure “As many as 1,700 private and 77 government special needs schools were closed all over Bangladesh, impeding the mental and physical growth of special needs children.” [Since March 2020] (Feb, Dhaka Tribune)
In Colombia, Mother says teacher offered her money to take her autistic daughter out of class (in Spanish, Feb, Blu Radio)
In Egypt, First e-library for blind people launched in Alexandria (Feb, Disability Insider)
In Kenya, Are ALL Our Children Learning Uwezo Learning Assessment 2021 "1 in 5 girls with disability dropped out of school due [to] Covid-19 enforced schools' closure". (Feb, Usawa Agenda)
In South Africa, Digital technology should be prioritised in schools for pupils with learning disabilities (Feb, Sunday Times )
In Tajikistan, Including Children with Disabilities in Early Grade Math Assessments (Feb, Inclusive Development Partners)
In the United States,
- Cost of Heaven a moving exploration through graphics and text on the closure of a deaf school and importance of its heritage. "The cultural strength of the Deaf schools enable children to learn without the constant pressure to 'overcome' disability." (text transcript also available, Adrean Clark)
- I Gave My Child a Smartphone and It's Been the Best Thing for Her. More screen time has been beneficial for my disabled 10-year-old daughter. Here are five rules that make it all work for us. (Feb, Wired)
Employment, Business and Work
The upcoming G20, hosted by Indonesia will promote employment for persons with disabilities. (Jan, Antara News)
A spotlight on Inclusion Breakthroughs in 2021 (Feb, Valuable 500)
In Kenya, Safaricom in partnership to offer internships for People with Disabilities (Feb, KBC)
In Spain, Persons with intellectual disabilities and public sector job openings (in Spanish, Feb, Discapnet)
In the United States, How Employees With Disabilities Are Influencing Workplace Trends In 2022 (Feb, Forbes)
Key sheet on Women's Economic Empowerment and Disability Inclusion in Financial Services. (link to pdf, WOW Helpdesk)
Global Disability Summit
The Global Disability Summit closed. See the co-chair summary. Watch recordings from both days or browse the portal of commitments made. The Summit reiterated the 2018 charter for change.
Preceding the Summit was the GDS Youth Summit 2022 which launched a call for action for organizations and youth with disabilities to commit to.
Discussion Paper on engagement of organizations of persons with disabilities: "OPDs are more consulted than before, levels of participation remain insufficient. " The paper explores the gaps as well as good practices, particularly around investment in supporting representative organizations.
"While progress [on disability inclusion] is significant, it takes a lot more effort to turn these promises into action, and initiatives often fail to engage and consult with persons with disabilities themselves. Reasons vary but usually relate to gaps in understanding disability from a rights-based perspective or prejudice regarding OPDs’ capacity to contribute, limited knowledge of and contacts with OPDs, gaps in ensuring inclusive and accessible venues, information and methods to support active engagement of OPDs. This significantly reduces the relevance and impact of disability-inclusive investments and perpetuates paternalistic approaches whereby persons with disabilities are only recipients of aid. The Covid-19 global pandemic brutally recalled and exposed pervasive discriminations, with dramatic consequences as lives of persons with disabilities are not considered of equal importance. " (Feb, IDA)
Global Disability Summit 2022: another talkshop? Raises concerns, referring to concrete examples, about initiatives for disability inclusion "without the direct involvement of disabled people". Organizations working on disability rights "are yet to recognize the power of lived-experience and professional representation within their leadership ranks and thus continue making decisions around disability rights issues without the participation of disabled people". (Feb, Fred Ouko)
The next summit will be hosted by Jordan and Germany scheduled for Berlin, 2025.
- Upcoming disability summit must be a turning point, position from President of Ghana, PM of Norway, chief of WHO, and president of the International Disability Alliance. (Feb, BMJ)
- 3 things to expect from the Global Disability Summit "The answers are there already – use them!" - agree with the sentiment that we have under-used solutions, but disagree we know "what it takes to implement the CRPD". (Feb, LFTW)
- Sightsavers’ campaign petition for the Global Disability Summit hits 30,000 signatures from 111 countries. (Feb, Sightsavers)
On the summit:
- Guterres opens Global Disability Summit with inclusivity call. Strange to see 'handicap' used in this article. (Feb, UN)
- Recommendations from the Thematic Workshop on Inclusive Education (Jan, Global Disability Summit)
- Four priorities in inclusive education for the Global Disability Summit 2022 Collection of evidence in each priority. (Jan, Cambridge)
In Africa, People with disabilities have been forgotten. Not any more. (Feb, African Arguments)
In Europe, On the European Regional Disability Summit and positive participation of European leaders. (Feb, EDF)
First day of Global Disability Summit results in ground-breaking commitments to disability rights from global leaders. (Feb, IDA)
An Accessible Future for Persons with Disabilities a beautiful multimedia feature on the World Bank's work on disability around the world, and their commitments for the summit. (Feb, World Bank)
We must commit to inclusive education for people with disabilities (Feb, World Education Blog)
- Able Child Africa on their commitments and the Importance of the Global Disability Summit (Feb)
- CBM Global's Disability Summit Commitments See also their expectations and commitments. (Feb)
- Data and the Global Disability Summit: how to make sure commitments lead to change (Feb, Sightsavers)
- Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development Commitments (Feb)
- Girl's Education Challenge Leave No Girl Behind Updating our commitments to the most marginalized girls. (link to pdf, Feb)
- Light for the World committing to change. (Feb)
- Humanity and Inclusion (HI) commitments And call to action. (Feb, Humanity and Inclusion)
- Save the Children commits to ensure children with disabilities get fairer treatment. See also discussion of meaningful engagement. (Feb)
- USAID commits to a Disability-Inclusive Future (Feb, short youtube, EducationLinks)
Lessons from Long COVID: working with patients to design better research:
"Scientific research sets the medical and care agenda for patients with chronic illnesses. It also influences the wider social and economic agenda for people living with these conditions. The more socially and economically disadvantaged people are, the greater the potential influence on their lives. This is a huge responsibility that researchers are only able to fulfil with sharp awareness of the power structures involved in conducting research, with humility and with an openness to see things from different perspectives." (Feb, Nature)
In India, Can a Blind Doctor Become a Psychiatrist? discussion of a case that has reached the Supreme Court. (Feb, The Wire)
In the United States, Students push for Persons with Disabilities Cultural Center (Feb, Yale News)
History and Memorial
The Historians magazine: The LGBTQ+ Edition 6 has an article on Disability and LGBT History, seeking out stories that show the intersections. (Feb)
Complicating Disability On the Invisibilization of Chronic Illness throughout History (Feb, Playtpus)
Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees
Give people with disabilities better protection in conflict and crises (Feb, The New Humanitarian)
"No One is Spared" Report on Older People at Heightened Risk in Conflict. Including disturbing examples of violence. (Feb, Human Rights Watch)
Disability-inclusive data in migration: How far have we come? (Jan, Migration Data Portal)
Data on disability and migration – what do we know? estimates of 12 million displaced persons around the world being disabled, and emerging practices on data. (Feb, Data 4 SDGs)
In Bangladesh, Tip sheet on inclusion in the Rohingya Refugee Response (Feb, Relief Web)
In Italy, How a photo of a Syrian father and son led to a new life in Italy (photo shows father and son both with physical disabilities) (Feb, the Guardian)
In Madagascar, Crisis in Madagascar worsens following massive storms (Feb, CBM Australia)
In Pakistan, Afghan refugee removes obstacles barring kids with disabilities from school The Afgahn Refugee Disabled Union provides wheelchairs to help kids get to school. (Feb, UNHCHR)
In Somalia, study from IOM on disability inclusion in Internally Displaced People sites in Kismayo. Among other barriers:
"Access to information remains a critical barrier preventing persons with disabilities from accessing services within the IDP site and broader community. Door-to-door or shelter-level information engagement is recommended for all organizations providing support in IDP sites to ensure greater service knowledge of persons with disabilities" (Feb, Relief Web)
In South Sudan, Towards a Disability-Inclusive Humanitarian Response in South Sudan? See also the full version. While "tangible progress is being made", "serious gaps and challenges to disability inclusion remain":
"Humanitarian organizations still do not recognize the diversity of disability and lack strategies to include persons with intellectual and psychosocial impairments. Moreover, persons with disabilities rarely participate in the project design phase and seldom contribute to programme development due to persisting attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers. Furthermore, the Humanitarian Country Team in South Sudan has no systematic approach for the collection, analysis and use of either disability-disaggregated data or information on risks, capacities and unmet needs of persons with disabilities. This results in important information gaps on barriers to inclusion. In addition, communication barriers and lack of ‘reasonable accommodation’ in consultation meetings hinder the full and effective participation of persons with hearing, visual and other types of disabilities and make them dependent on family members and caregivers. " (links to pdfs, February, IFHV)
Institutions and Deinstitutionalization
In Europe, A Call for Change Role of the European Union funding in supporting deinstitutionalisation around the world. "The EU is in a particularly strong position to promote deinstitutionalisation reforms during the process of EU enlargement. " (Feb, EDF)
In New Zealand, Chief Ombudsman scathing of environment at Wakari Hospital ward "We're mixing in this facility – not just patients who are mentally ill and need caring for – but we’re mixing them with those who come from a different forensic stream who have been involved in criminal offending and who are there for a very different reason; it’s not safe." (Feb, 1 News)
In the United Kingdom, My Freedom A retrospective on the 10th anniversary of abuse reported at residential facility Winterbourne View. "My freedom means I go to bed when I want. " (Bemix)
Lessons learned from partnerships with organisations of persons with disabilities (CBM Global)
Discussion on how development partners can ensure engagement of organizations of persons with disabilities in CIP's question of the month. (Feb, CIP)
Celebrating MIUSA's Story | Mobility International USA "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. They are where they should be. Now put foundations under them." (MIUSA)
A new issue of Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development featuring a lively editorial on the need for local solutions. (Feb, DCIDJ)
In Kenya, Short video on participation in development projects Inclusivity in Kenya Meru Inclusive Trachoma (MINT) Programme (Jan, CBM Global)
In Norway, Norway launched a new strategy for disability-inclusive development 2022-2025. (Feb)
In Senegal, Raising awareness of albinism in west Africa See Maroussia Mbaye's instagram for the series of photos. (does not appear to have alt text, Feb, the Guardian)
In Switzerland, The Swiss Government responded to the concerns of the CRPD and this is a response to that from civil society in relation to Swiss international cooperation and humanitarian action. (Jan, SDDC)
In the United Kingdom, Launch of a new development policy, FCDO disability inclusion and rights strategy 2022 to 2030. See a blog post welcoming the new strategy from CBM UK. (Feb, Gov UK)
In Vietnam, A project officer with disability reflects on his experience in CBM's project (Feb, CBM Australia)
Justice Systems and Legal Capacity
In Canada, A new book Disability Injustice - Confronting Criminalization in Canada "Ableism is embedded in Canadian criminal justice institutions, policies, and practices, making incarceration and institutionalization dangerous – even deadly – for disabled people." Edited by Kelly Fritsch, Jeffrey Monaghan and Emily van der Meulen (Feb, UBC Press)
- Singapore urged to halt two executions over disability concerns (Feb, the Guardian)
- Singapore courts set to consider executions amid fears authorities want to clear backlog Case of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who has learning difficulties, among four to be heard next week (Feb, the Guardian)
In the United States, Discussion on When an Intellectual Disability Means Life or Death revisiting the case of Pervis Payne and how a disability claim reduced his death sentence to life in jail after over 30 years. (Jan, Undark)
Lived Experience and Opinion
A powerful tribute to her body from Frances Ryan: Living in a woman’s body: this body is a genetic mistake – but it is sex, laughter and beauty too.
"This body is a genetic mistake, a pitiable stare, the scan on a mundane Tuesday lunchtime with a doctor speaking in hushed tones by the bed.
It is glorious too, thanks. It is deep-in-the-bones laughter at 2am with people who love you; only strangers care that it is sitting in a wheelchair while doing so (“Have you got a licence for that thing, sweetheart?”). It is straight-As, promotions and beating expectations as much as the odds. It is being buckled over from the pain, clutching a public toilet bowl, pills and dignity rattling at the bottom of a handbag. It is sex, fevered goosebumps and kisses to the skin like magic. It is warm summers with friends, sunshine on bare legs and 90s dance music ricocheting through the air. It is fucking knackered." (Feb, the Guardian)
Jane Waithera′s fight against the stigma of albinism (short video, no subtitles, Feb, DW)
In Kenya, Kenyan activist Ashura Michael fights for disability and gender rights (short interview, no transcript, Feb, BBC)
In Sweden, Help to live before help to die powerful personal testimony on why end of life decisions shouldn't be left to medical professionals (Feb, Adolf Ratzka on Facebook)
In the United Kingdom,
- “No you’re not” collection of profiles of autistic women (Feb, Wellcome Collection)
- I'm treated differently depending on what kind of wheelchair I use - on the difference between using a manual and powered wheelchair. (Feb, Metro)
In the United States,
- If you're interested in controversy about Autism, see this Position Statement on Language, Images and Depictions Concerning Severe Autism This statement criticizes "vocal activists and autism self-advocates" in ways that I don't agree with, but I provide this FYI and because there are important issues in play. (Feb, NCSA)
- An interesting twitter thread from @cmmhartmann on "feel[ing] torn about the trend of people describing their physical appearance during meetings for those who are blind/low vision. [...] I am uneasy with the assumption that visual details are better." (Feb)
- Q&A With Lainey Feingold, Disability Rights Lawyer on structured negotiation and "negotiating instead of suing". (Equal Entry)
- Ableism Is More Than A Breach Of Etiquette — It Has Consequences (Feb, Forbes)
- Disabilities are not binary. Why do we treat them that way? (Feb, AAMC)
- NPR Life Kit: Don't be scared to talk about disabilities. Here's what to know and what to say, feature with Emily Ladau, with links to further resources. (Feb, NPR)
In Zimbabwe, Being a deafblind child in Africa: My personal experience
"Unlike most fellow children with deafblindness, I was lucky enough to have an educated, working and caring father who supported me in my education. By the time he died, when I was doing my junior secondary school, he had built a foundation for my upbringing. My disability nevertheless haunted him. I would hear my parents whisper their helplessness and despair when I lost a great deal of my hearing and sight at the age of 10 and 15 respectively. It was a miracle to them that I continued to pass at school despite my deteriorating senses of sight and hearing. This is what encouraged them to keep me in school. They concentrated on enhancing my ability, rather than limiting me because of my disability. " (Feb, Thought Leader)
Entry points for mental health and wellbeing a brief on how international cooperation can incorporate mental health. (Feb, Bond)
Mobility, Travel and Transport
Fostering an inclusive urban transport system. Survey on inclusion from 20 public-transport operators around the world. They found that there were initiatives for inclusion but they were usually not integrated. (Feb, McKinsey)
Policy and Rights
The CRPD committee will be electing nine new members: deadline for nominations 13 April 2022. (Feb, OHCHR)
A paper exploring how Fiscal policy needs a focus on disability: how to make this possible? (in Spanish, Feb, Principles for Human Rights in Fiscal Policy)
In Australia, Australia’s disability strategy 2021–2031 (Dec, APO)
In Bangladesh, Advocacy on Disability Inclusive National Budget 2022-23 (Jan, The Daily Star)
In China, Disability Inclusion in China an overview helpdesk report. "The disability movement in China has been disproportionately affected by the Charity Law and Overseas NGO Law, which have necessitated a move from advocacy towards service provision. " (link to pdf, Nov, SD Direct)
In Europe, Joint Briefing for United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities regarding the review of the implementation of the CRPD by the EU. "The EU has not taken enough measures to address equality and non-discrimination in its legislation and policies, and in particular to address intersectional and multiple forms of discrimination. " (Feb, EDF)
In Georgia, Situation Analysis of the Rights of People with Disabilities Describes legislative and policy progress but "despite these changes, little has improved in the daily lives of many persons with disabilities in Georgia". (Jan, UNDP)
In New Zealand,
- Disability advocates frustrated over feedback process for accessibility legislation (Jan, Stuff)
- Why is a non-disabled person leading the establishment of a disability ministry? (Feb, The Spinoff)
In South Africa, South African Autism community says 'government has overlooked us for long enough' (Feb, News 24)
In the United Kingdom, Bristol appoints disability equality commissioners to tackle inequality Interesting to see this at city-level. (Feb, Bristol)
In Zimbabwe, Include PWDs in politics, governance, govt urged (Feb, News Day)
Politics and Elections
In Canada, Convoy Occupation's Politics Pose Unique Threat to Disabled People
"People who required support could no longer access it; streets were no longer being cleared of snow in some areas; and sidewalks had vehicles parked on them. Public space was overrun by those whose interpretation of “freedom” left no room for social responsibility to others and treated someone else’s choice to wear a mask as a provocation." (Feb, The Maple)
In Europe, Action needed on voting rights, disability rights and free movement (Jan, European Interest)
In Japan, Interview with Eiko Kimura "the first person with a severe disability who is a member of the House of Councillors in Japan" (Jan, Equal Entry)
In New Zealand, A disabled person's view of the Wellington occupation (Feb, RNZ)
In North Macedonia, President walks bullied 11-year-old girl with Down syndrome to school (Feb, CNN)
In the United Kingdom, ‘Deaf’ Liz Truss – a curious choice of insult reflecting on the Russian Foreign Minister's comments. (Limping Chicken)
Relationships, Sex and Reproductive Rights
Between Vulnerability and Sexual Agency recent history discussion in the US and UK contexts. (Feb, History Workshop)
In India, An impressive series of collaborations for Cripplentines Week 2022 "Cripplentines is rooted in the belief that all kinds of love should be celebrated". I particularly enjoyed picking out my favorite lipstick for you: "We deserve rough sex, slow sex, sex that makes us forget the ableist world for a while, sex that is loving, sex that values our disabled bodies." And the article on the space to dream of disability affirmative love:
"As single disabled young adults navigating (or trying to navigate) dating during a pandemic, there is so much despair and frustration. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but most of the fish are ableist and would rather not wear a mask because 'the omicron wave is mild, ya'."
See further in the collaborations with Feminism India and Gaysi. Featured on New India Express and Mid-Day. (Feb, Revival Disability Mag)
In Japan, Japan court awards damages to victims of forced sterilisation for first time three plaintiffs, in their 70s and 80s, receive payouts. (Feb, the Guardian)
In Rwanda, Dative's Story "I am a role model for Persons with Disabilities" (Jan, short video on Youtube, UNFPA)
In the United Kingdom, Do accessible sex toys exist? Podcast (no transcript, Feb, BBC)
In the United States,
"Done right, prenatal testing could allow parents to prepare well for the birth of their children. But without broad social acceptance of people with disabilities, without a medical establishment that conveys the positive social situations of many people with disabilities, and without funding for accurate and up-to-date information in the face of a prenatal diagnosis, more and more women will face decisions about their pregnancies without the support they deserve." (Feb, NYT)
- Forced Sterilization of Disabled People in the United States: "Laws allowing forced sterilization exist in 31 states plus Washington, D.C." The latest were passed in 2019. (Jan, NWCL)
- Disability-inspired Valentines Cards "The illness may be chronic but together we're iconic" (Feb, Squeaky Wheel on twitter)
Draft Guide to Publicly Available Influencing Toolkits a blog post collecting guides on influencing. (Not disability related, but maybe relevant for some of you.) (Feb, FP2P)
In Europe, I appreciated this newsletter from Inclusion Europe updates on inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in Europe albeit the subscription link is broken (Feb, Inclusion Europe)
World Federation of the Deaf celebration of international mother language day: "by specifically recognizing the right of deaf people to have access in all areas of their lives to their Mother Language, sign language." (Feb)
In Israel, The Vulnerability of Emerging Sign Languages. An article on how Kufr Qassem Sign Language is merging with Israeli Sign Language as its users show a preference towards ISL. (link to pdf, Feb, MDPI)
In the United Kingdom,
- Why everyone should learn some sign language (Jan, New Scientist)
- British Sign Language to become recognised language in the UK (Jan, the Guardian)
Social Protection, Poverty and Costs of Disability
Evidence digest focus issue: Social Protection and Disability See also easy read.
'Approaches by governments with schemes labelled for “poor people with severe disabilities who can’t work or care for themselves” have been widely internalised by disability rights activists, who often perceived social protection as demeaning expression charity rather than as rights-based support. In countries with very minimal social protection systems, leaders of many organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) would rather focus on employment and livelihood programs with the argument “jobs not charity”, not always taking into account challenges faced by those with high support needs, children with disabilities and their families, or older persons with disabilities. As a consequence, in many low- and middle-income countries, the disability movement and their allies did not engage significantly in framing the emergence of social protection systems. ' (links to pdfs, Feb, SD Direct)
In Bangladesh, Deal inked to introduce ‘Bangabandhu Suraksha Bima’ for people with disabilities a health insurance introduce for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities. (Feb, Business Insider BD)
In France, Salaries for disability professionals to increase but unlikely to be enough to calm a crisis. (Feb, Faire Face)
In India, Tangled In Red Tape, The Disability ID Card Process Is Steeped With Gender Barriers. As well as some of the expected implementation issues, this in-depth article discusses how "these problems multiply for women and transgender persons with disabilities." This includes a striking gap in disability card holder percentage of men and women. (Feb, Behan Box)
In Kenya, Social protection for disability inclusion in Kenya See also synthesis paper that compares Uganda and Kenya. (Dec, Inclusive Futures)
In Uganda, Social protection for disability inclusion in Uganda. See also synthesis paper that compares Uganda and Kenya. (Dec, Inclusive Futures)
In the United Kingdom,
- Secret DWP report reveals unmet needs of disability benefit claimants (Feb, Disability News Service)
- New data shows food insecurity major challenge to levelling up agenda "People who are limited a lot by disability are approximately 5 times more likely to be food insecure (in the past six months) than people who aren’t living with a disability." (Feb, Food Foundation)
- Rising living costs will push more disabled people into destitution "Benefits are falling far behind the extra costs associated with disability," (Feb, New Statesman)
In the United States, Millions of disabled Americans could lose federal benefits if they get married (Feb, NPR)
Sport and Paralympics
Channel 4 presenting team for Winter Paralympics will all be disabled people (Feb, the Guardian)
The Para Equestrian Digest a new monthly digest "building inclusion, one story at a time " (Feb, FEI)
In Brazil, Great pictures of Paraskating (no image description, Feb, @Aurch, Instagram)
In China, Beijing 2022 promotes accessibility for Paralympians (Jan, CGTN)
In the United States, Deaf Performers Were Not Included At The Halftime Show: Separate is Not Equal. See a more positive article on inclusion of deaf rappers. (Feb, Access Vine)
Violence and Harassment
In Australia, Changing the landscape: a national resource to prevent violence against women and girls with disabilities (Feb, Our Watch)
In Rwanda, UNABU’s advocacy at the intersection of gender and disability (Feb, DRF)
Water and Sanitation (WASH)
Reflections on barriers to inclusion of older people with incontinence and their caregivers in humanitarian settings (Jan, Amita Bhakta)
In Bangladesh, Accessible Sanitation in the Workplace Important Considerations for Disability-Inclusive Employment in Nigeria and Bangladesh (Jan, IDS)
In Nigeria, Accessible Sanitation in the Workplace Important Considerations for Disability-Inclusive Employment in Nigeria and Bangladesh (Jan, IDS)
IDA has several staff positions and one consultancy open.
The OHCHR is hosting Disability Rights Law Moot Court for law students. (Deadline 6th March).
Thank you to the new supporters who made contributions to keep this going. As well as Disability Policy Solutions, thanks to Thomas, Dawn, Emily, Lauren, Joe, Emile, Ashton, Mary, and Mosharraf.
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 to the Center for Inclusive Policy's support to this edition. And to Tan Kuan Aw for the newsletter logo.
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