Tag Archives: People with Disabilities

U.K. News | Underrepresented Communities

U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
  • 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
  • 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
  • The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
Read

Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)

The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)

Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)

(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)

U.S. Feature | Autism

The Growing Workforce Inclusion of the U.S. Autism Community

Companies like EY, Microsoft, and HP Enterprises have begun launching new neurodiversity initiatives at their firms, with a particular focus on recruiting people on the autism spectrum. The new outreach is welcome by advocates for the autism community, which faces a 58% unemployment rate despite having skills in high demand by employers in the knowledge economy. The Atlantic features an overview of industry efforts at inclusion, including innovation in recruiting, training, and management processes to ensure the successful identification and integration of people on the spectrum into organizations.

Read:
Why Some Companies Are Trying to Hire More People on the Autism Spectrum” (The Atlantic | December 2016)

Related reads:
Work in progress: An inside look at autism’s job boom” (Spectrum | July 2016)
Changing Employers’ Perceptions, One Autistic Worker at a Time” (Inc. | May 2015)

Resources:
Specialisterne USA

(Image Credit: via The Atlantic)

U.S. Feature | Prisoners with Disabilities

Seeking Justice for Prisoners with Disabilities in the U.S.


Source: Disability Rights Washington YouTube

The failure of prisons to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ruled applicable to prisons in 1998, has created a quagmire within the criminal justice system: although people with disabilities are incarcerated at rates far higher than their demographic proportion and comprise nearly a third of the total prison population, they are funneled into systems that refuse to follow the law when it comes to adapting their protocols and facilities to those disabilities. Beyond the mass incarceration of people with disabilities, once incarcerated, disabled people face longer sentencing, solitary confinement, inaccessible vocational training, poor education administration, and limited medical access, exacerbating the negative effects of physical and mental illnesses and creating cycles of re-marginalization and inadequate preparation for release.

VICE News examines the impact of incarceration on people with disabilities and attempts to advocate on their behalf given the numerous conflicts of interest present in the reporting and petitioning process.

Read:
Punished Twice” (VICE News)

Related reads:
Making Hard Time Harder” (The AVID Prison Project, June 2016)
Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons” (The Center for American Progress)
Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Disabled Prisoners (The American Civil Liberties Union)

U.S. Feature | Children with Disabilities

Failing Students with Disabilities in Texas

An extensive multi-part series by The Houston Chronicle has revealed the devious tactics the Texas Education Agency and school administrators have deployed to reduce the number of students with disabilities their schools serve, masking an alarming decrease in support beneath the glean of “improved pedagogy” and “early intervention.” An arbitrary, unscientific 8.5% benchmark was set across the state for the percentage of students taught in special education classes, which necessitated a dramatic and at times aggressive reduction in the number of students evaluated and identified as in need of special education. From stories of families trapped in bureaucratic labyrinths to data on the disproportionate negative effect on English-language learners, the Chronicle series investigates the broken system responsible for the education of children with disabilities and the political struggle to right the listing ship.

Read:
Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of kids out of special ed” (The Houston Chronicle)

(Image Credit: Marie D. De Jesús/The Houston Chronicle)

ClimateWatch: U.S.

ClimateWatch
The U.S. in the Era of Trump


Source: euronews YouTube

The conclusion of an election that saw an historic clash over the values of diversity, inclusion, and the meaning of “America” has brought with it a surge in uncertainty for minority and other historically disadvantaged communities in the U.S. The damage was extensive: the nearly year and a half of campaigning saw ethnic and religious minorities disparaged, immigrants targeted, women (including his opponent) subjected to misogynistic abuse, the mainstream press caught in the crosshairs of an anti-media campaign, and rhetorical and symbolic resonances in speeches and advertising that drew white supremacists and other far-right extremists out of the woodwork.

In what ways has Trump’s election reshaped the social and political climate for vulnerable American populations, including women, Latinos, black people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities? How is the post-election retreat from data showing racial resentment as the highest predictor of Trump support endangering reality-based solutions for vulnerable communities, politicians, and analysts? And how has his rise to power connected to and amplified similar right-wing, ethno-nationalist politics globally?

Whether and how American conservatives and the Republican Party—now set to hold power in all three branches of government—are able to manage a resurgent coalition of ethno-nationalist voters as well as the capacity for progressive and Democratic activists to create social, political, and legal structures to protect vulnerable communities will determine what life in Trump’s America will look like for the at-risk. This ClimateWatch rounds up a number of key news items, analyses, and commentaries providing insight on what has happened and what could be on the horizon. Continue reading ClimateWatch: U.S.

Japan News | People with Disabilities

Mass stabbing attack at facility for the disabled in Japan leaves at least 19 dead, dozens wounded
  • The Tsukui Yamayuri-en care facility in Sagamihara, an hour west of Tokyo, came under attack in the early morning hours by a former employee.
  • The knife attack was reportedly the worst mass killing in the country in decades, with additional reports of as many as 45 wounded.
  • The attacker allegedly indicated an anti-disability motive upon turning himself in.

Read more:
Man fatally stabs 15, wounds 45 in predawn attack at Kanagawa care facility, is arrested” (The Japan Times)
Japan knife attack: 15 killed and dozens wounded in stabbing” (The Guardian)
Knife Attack Kills at Least 15 in Tokyo Suburb” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: via The Japan Times)

U.S. Feature | People with Disabilities

The New Segregation

Long-term care for people with chronic illnesses and certain physical and cognitive disabilities has become an important civil rights battle ground over the last two decades. While media attention has focused on government responses to civil rights issues including anti-LGBT legislation and racial inequalities in the criminal justice system, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened more than 50 investigations into what it reports has been the segregation of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities in nursing facilities. Effectively institutionalizing people with disabilities, nursing facilities have detached an estimated 250,000 from economic opportunity and social life, despite a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that people with disabilities should only be placed in nursing facilities if medically necessary. The New York Times analyzes the push for home-based care and the DOJ’s active investigations into violations of protections secured under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s 1999 decision.

Read:
South Dakota Wrongly Puts Thousands in Nursing Homes, Government Says” (The New York Times)

Additional:
Feds: Relying On Nursing Homes For Those With Disabilities Not OK” (Disability Scoop)
Letter on results of investigation into South Dakota’s healthcare practices (U.S. Department of Justice)
Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin Releases Report Showing ADA’s Promise of Integration is Not Being Met for Many Americans with Disabilities” (U.S. Senate press HELP release, July 2013)

(Image Credit: Thinkstock, via Disability Scoop)

Kenya Feature | Mental Illness

The Struggle to Treat Mental Illness in Kenya

Healthcare in Kenya has struggled to reach the portion of the country’s population afflicted with mental illness, particularly those in rural communities. With around one psychiatrist for every 500,000 people in the country, families struggle to find professional support services, and services that do exist are overtaxed and underresourced. Rather than seek medical help, religiously devout communities often turn to faith healers to treat what are commonly accepted as spiritual rather than medical diseases.

People with mental illness find their conditions compounded by poverty and diseases that go unidentified and untreated, facing significant HIV infection rates and vulnerability. Recent efforts by Kenya-based mental health advocacy organizations and foreign investments in the country’s mental health services have created hope for broader treatment and enfranchisement of the community in Kenya, which, like many developing countries, shoulders some of the highest mental health burdens in the world.

Read more:
The taboo of mental illness in Kenya” (Al Jazeera)
Mental Health Care Still a Challenge in Rural Kenya” (Voice of America)
11mn Kenyans suffer mental disorder – WHO” (Capital News)
Double-edged stigma for people with mental illness and HIV” (Key Correspondents)
Kenya benefits from $6.1 million fund for mental health” (Standard Digital)
Fighting the ‘funk:’ How one Kenyan battles her mental health problems by helping others” (Public Radio International)

Resources:
Africa Mental Health Foundation

(Image Credit: Osaman Mohamed Osaman/Al Jazeera)

U.S. Research | Black & Children with Disabilities

Disproportionate Suspension Rates in U.S. Charter Schools

A new study has found that black students and students with disabilities are suspended at considerably higher rates than their peers in charter schools at both the elementary and secondary level. At the secondary level, Latino and Native American students join them in disproportionate suspension. The report from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project spells particular trouble for black students with disabilities and has troubling implications in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline.

4.1% (all students) vs. 9.7% (with disabilities) vs. 3.7% (without disabilities)

Suspension rates at the elementary level by ability

4.1% (all students) vs. 8.7% (black) vs. 2.1% (white) vs. 2.4% (Latino) vs. 3% (Native American)

Suspension rates at the elementary level by race/ethnicity

11.6% (all students) vs. 20.8% (with disabilities) vs. 10.6% (without disabilities)

Suspension rates at the secondary level by ability

11.6% (all students) vs. 22% (black) vs. 5.6% (white) vs. 9.1% (Latino) vs. 10.9% (Native American)

Suspension rates at the secondary level by race/ethnicity

7.8% (charters) vs. 6.7% (non-charters)

Suspension rates at the K-12 level

15.5% (charters) vs. 13.7% (non-charters)

Suspension rates of students with disabilities (K-12)

7% (charters) vs. 5.7% (non-charters)

Suspension rates of students without disabilities (K-12)

50+%

Suspension rate of students with disabilities at 235 charter schools

Years studied: 2011-12

Read more:
Charter Schools, Civil Rights, and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review (The Center for Civil Rights Remedies)
Students With Disabilities Suspended More Often At Charters” (Disability Scoop)

Kazakhstan Feature | Mental Illness & Disability

Discovering Opportunity Beyond Illness in Kazakhstan

With an estimated 200,000 registered in the country as afflicted with chronic psychiatric illness, Kazakhstan has a significant population that has suffered under punitive models of psychiatric care inherited from the Soviet era. Psychiatric professionals and advocates are battling the ward-to-grave pipeline and wasted human potential through new efforts to provide visibility for a community that often languishes behind walls in the Central Asian country. In addition to political and medical reforms, work initiatives have given birth to opportunity through businesses like the Training Café, a restaurant in Almaty that employs people with learning disabilities and other mental illnesses. EurasiaNet profiles ongoing efforts to de-institutionalize and integrate Kazakhstanis with mental illness into productive society.

Read more:
Kazakhstan: Cafe Dispels Disability Stereotypes” (EurasiaNet)

Additional reading:
Kazakhstan to eliminate discrimation against disabled persons” (Tengrinews, March 2015)
Business Centre for Disabled Opens in East Kazakhstan” (The Astana Times, June 2015)

(Image Credit: Joanna Lillis/EurasiaNet)

South Africa Feature | Autism

Parenting Autistic Children in South Africa

In South Africa, parents of children on the autism spectrum struggle to find support as they attempt to manage the difficulties of parenting children with special needs. Part one of an SABC News special report highlights challenges facing both children and parents, including abandonment, institutionalization, symptom management, controversial treatments, and a lack of resources in the country.

View the video on the SABC Digital News YouTube channel.

Indonesia Research & Feature | Mental Illness

Disrupted Minds, Shackled Bodies

Despite its criminalization, the practice of pasung, the physical shackling of people with mental illness, has continued throughout Indonesia, with an estimated 18,000 subjected to the imprisonment according to a new Human Rights Watch report. Families in the poor, rural regions of the Muslim-majority nation often turn to faith-healers and other pseudoscientific practices as mental health services are severely lacking throughout the country. Psychological and social divergence from societal norms are conflated as disruptions to community relations land “violators” in squalor in Indonesia’s poorly maintained mental hospitals.

Read more:
Living in Hell (Human Rights Watch)

Summaries:
Thousands of Mentally Ill Indonesians Are Imprisoned in Shackles, Report Says” (TIME)
Indonesia’s mentally ill languish in shackles” (AFP via Yahoo! News)
‘Living in hell’: mentally ill people in Indonesia chained and confined” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: via Yahoo! News)

U.K. News | People with Disabilities

More than 13,000 in the U.K. see mobility cars taken away under new disability assessment protocol
  • Some in the U.K. disability community have begun to worry and push back as the government transfers from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a program for people aged 16 to 64 with disabilities due for nationwide implementation in 2018.
  • The new scheme requires new applicants as well as historical DLA recipients to apply for the new allowance, which requires a face-to-face assessment by a program official to determine whether they qualify for the highest rate and the opportunity to appeal should they not.
  • Those without sufficient points to earn the highest rate (to date, 13,900 of the 31,200 former DLA recipients reassessed for PIP) lose access to the allowance rate that enabled them to lease a car through the Motability Scheme.

Read more:
Nearly 14,000 disabled people have mobility cars taken away” (BBC)
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Motability (Motability)
Girl who had leg amputated told she’s not ‘disabled enough’ for Motability car” (The Daily Mirror)

(Image Credit: BBC)

U.K. Feature | People with Disabilities

Bodybuilding with Disabilities

After having been born with physical or mental disabilities or suffered a life-altering injury, a small but growing group of men with disabilities in the U.K. have begun taking on a sport reluctant to create space for their inclusion: bodybuilding. The Guardian profiles a few of the competitors, who discuss their road to bodybuilding, challenges faced by the disability community, and what they hope to see as the future of the sport.

Read more:
Pecs appeal: the rise of disabled bodybuilding” (The Guardian)
Bodybuilding and Disabilities (Facebook)

(Image Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith/The Guardian)

Turkey News | People with Disabilities

MHP members call for investigation into conditions facing people with disabilities in Turkey
  • Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputies called on the Turkish parliament to confront the problems facing Turkey’s 8.4 million–strong disability community, including illiteracy (36.34% of the community) and unemployment (77%), according to a 2002 survey.
  • As state positions set aside for people with disabilities have gone unassigned, accommodations gone unfulfilled, and high financial burdens continued mounting, advocates have criticized the government’s slow response, fueling the MHP’s motion.
  • Women with disabilities face particularly difficult circumstances including public harassment and domestic violence, but have seen their concerns take a backseat in disability advocacy organizations largely run by men.

Read more:
MHP calls on Parliament to investigate problems of the disabled” (Today’s Zaman)
Women with disabilities facing double challenges” (Andalou Agency)

(Image Credit: Sunday’s Zaman)