Weekly Global Disability News

Sesame Access are not only a disabled access lift manufacturer but we are also advocates for an accessible and inclusive society. We create products which change peoples lives and ensure they can access the buildings and places they WANT to go to and not just because it is accessible.

The news stories below demonstrate the struggles and obstacles the disability community face everyday. Raising awareness is essential to combat the issues and make a change.

14-20th November


Reigning Miss Wheelchair SA - Tamelyn Bock - lost the ability to walk at age 8 and uses a wheelchair as an assistive device.

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa is currently marking Disability Rights Awareness Month with the theme “Empowering Persons with Disabilities through resourceful, sustainable and safe environments”.

Eyewitness News caught up with Miss Wheelchair SA - Tamelyn Bock, to talk about what disability awareness means to her.

Bock was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy - a genetic condition that affects the nerves and weakens the muscle. The condition led to her losing the ability to walk at the age of eight. She now uses a wheelchair as an assistive device.

“Disability Awareness month means knowing, accepting, and acknowledging individuals with various disabilities. Raising awareness and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities,” said Bock.

She says she has focused on changing the negative perspectives society has towards disabled women, and breaking stereotypes and barriers.

“Society can be more mindful and familiarise itself with the various invisible disabilities and provide more support,” said Brock to Eyewitness News.

She adds that she would like to see transportation and working environments accessible for disabled individuals, as well as permanent employment opportunities disabled people.

“Public transportation simply doesn’t cater for individuals with disabilities and if one needs to use public transportation it is extremely uncomfortable. I would like to see all public transportation be accessible and to cater at least two wheelchair users at a time.", said Bock.

This is disability inclusion - making sure that adequate policies and practices are in effect in a community or organisation.

Bock, who hails from the small town of Nababeep in the Northern Cape, recently represented South Africa at Miss Wheelchair World in Mexico.

“The other contestants were very humble and strong in character. I learned that every one of them is a fighter and wants to change the world,” said Brock of the competition.

Bock said she was disappointed that she wasn’t given the same recognition and opportunities as Miss SA.

“Some of the barriers I faced was a bit of discrimination. I don’t feel I received the same treatment as Miss SA, I think that was a huge barrier for me. Not being treated equally, being treated with the same respect and dignity, and not receiving the same opportunities. That was heartbreaking for me.", she said.

Read the full article here: https://ewn.co.za/0001/01/01/n...

Instagram and TikTok star: 'We're not used to seeing disabled people as sexy'

Sophie Butler had just received her university results in July 2017 when she decided to squeeze in a workout before a night of celebrations.

She was using a squat machine at a gym in Basildon, Essex when she slipped and the heavy weight fell on her spine.

Aged 21, Sophie was told she was paralysed from the waist down.

As she learned to use a wheelchair, Sophie started sharing her story and gained thousands of followers on Instagram and TikTok, where she posts about everything from disability awareness to self love, fashion and fitness.

Here in her own words, she talks about her new life in the capital, where she recently modelled during London Fashion Week.

After my accident, I was in hospital on complete bedrest for months. But I was determined to make my graduation ceremony. I crammed double the amount of physiotherapy into a very short time to build up my strength. My graduation was one of the first times I had left the hospital.

It was like I had been hidden away from the world after a life-changing, traumatic event and then I was suddenly on a stage.

After that, everything felt like it had been put on hold. I just had to focus on getting through each day after waking up.

Growing up, I had a dream that I would live in London one day. I used to walk to school with my walkman on listening to Madonna, imagining myself living in the city.

But I accepted it was something I wasn't going to be able to do. For a lot of disabled people, London is not a welcoming environment, due to inaccessibility and unaffordability.

I started to believe again because, as I started to post more content, brands started wanting to work with me, and I was coming in to London for work.

The first time I got the train in on my own, it gave me so much confidence and eventually I decided to move here and I love it.

I still get nervous using the Tube but you have to deal with things when they happen. I won't let the fear of things going wrong stop me from doing things.

Read the full article here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-...

Disability Employment And The Modern Corporation: How To Partner For Joint Prosperity

Vincenzo Piscopo is CEO of United Spinal Association, having been a corporate social responsibility and DEI leader in the private sector.

When I was paralyzed 12 years ago and embarked on a return to work at the Coca-Cola Company following rehabilitation, I was certainly operating on new terrain. I had to help form an employee resource group (ERG) from scratch. I was extremely fortunate that my manager was sympathetic to my situation and had an unshaken belief in my ability to return to full productivity—but he was also working within unfamiliar territory.

Now, new employees with disabilities at many major corporations have established business resource groups (BRGs) and ERGs they can rely on for support. More and more companies have formalized protocols to request accommodations and are taking the need for fully accessible work environments more seriously. The recent renaissance of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives has led to an explosion of hiring of DEI professionals, who can help shepherd companies toward better disability hiring practices and foster a culture of disability awareness.

However, this is only the beginning. People with disabilities aren’t just a mass of equals on a level playing field. We are also leaders, intellectuals, trailblazers, inventors and virtuosos. It’s in everyone’s interest to build a corporate culture where people with disabilities can excel. Now, the corporate world and the disability community have to take it to the next level—together—and ensure that people with disabilities can have their seat at the table as valued employees and leaders in the business community.

The nonprofit I currently lead, United Spinal Association, has nurtured its Pathways to Employment (PTE) program for many years—and through PTE, has nurtured our community’s potential to make a collective breakthrough. We mentor members returning to work after spinal cord injury and work closely with corporations on recruiting, accommodating, integrating and lifting up their employees with disabilities. We are always looking for that win-win where people with disabilities can express their talents and to stoke corporate growth and innovation.

We know that people with disabilities aren’t exceptional simply because we are a minority. It’s about mindset. Navigating a world that’s not built for you means you’re conquering challenges as part of your second nature. Consider the classic characteristics of great employees and leaders: resilience, perseverance, creativity and problem-solving skills. We come by them honestly through everyday victories.

Start with education and awareness.

A key objective should be to improve awareness and knowledge of people with disabilities. The paradigm shift will happen with greater inclusion of people with disabilities in our society, as our peers, and as our leaders. I know from my work with United Spinal, and my days with the Coca-Cola Company, that raising awareness also takes authenticity, education—and powerful storytelling from those with the lived experience of disability. I also know that our collective destiny lies in inclusion.

Read the full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/f...

The group fighting for disability justice in British museums

‘Museums and galleries are really interesting spaces, but they’re not always the most accessible,’ says Amie Kirby, a 23-year-old museum assistant at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery.

According to the most recent ‘Time to Act’ study from Disability Arts International, which brought together data across 42 European countries, only 24 percent of museums and cultural festivals have front-of-house staff who are trained in disability awareness. Many activists view the pandemic has having been detrimental to any progress that was being made in the sector.

Aged ten, Kirby was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes – a condition that affects her everyday life. ‘In September, I was visiting the Tate and my diabetes was playing up,’ Kirby says. ‘I was feeling quite dizzy and out of it, but I kept saying to myself that I’d wait until I reached the end of the gallery. I had to go and sit down and treat my blood sugars with this little orange juice carton.

‘I remember thinking: this feels really crap, I feel so alone right now. I wonder if anyone else has the issues I have, just trying to visit gallery spaces on a day-to-day basis?’

Shortly after, she founded Crip Culture Collective: a grassroots support and networking group for chronically ill, disabled and neurodiverse people to discuss disability justice and organise visits to cultural sites across the UK. ‘My initial motive was to set up a group for people to visit galleries and museums together, slowly, with lots of breaks and sitting down,’ she says. It has grown into a wider platform and online solidarity group to talk about disability justice in the cultural sector, with members from Manchester and beyond, the youngest being 18 and the oldest being around 40.

According to the ‘Time to Act’ study, having wheelchair-accessible toilets is the primary priority for cultural venues to improve audience access: 72 percent of respondents reported having accessible toilets, followed by 48 percent which offered free or discounted tickets for personal assistants. But Kirby pointed out that there are smaller, practical steps which could be implemented to make cultural spaces more enjoyable for people with disabilities.

‘Just having more spaces for people to sit and have a break without leaving would really help,’ she says. ‘There should be more refreshments on hand. Galleries sometimes have to be a certain temperature [due to the works on display], but some spaces can be really hot and others can be cold. This can have an impact on a lot of disabilities and chronic illnesses.’

In the longer term, cultural spaces should be consulting directly with disabled communities to improve accessibility – something that many galleries and museums already do. ‘More sort of collaborations and co-production could also be really valuable,’ Kirby says, referencing a recent exhibition by The People’s History Museum in Manchester which was created by a group of disabled people.

The collective has now had its first meet-up: a visit to a show at the Contact Theatre in Manchester. After visiting, a ‘review’ of the venue is shared on the group’s Instagram, discussing everything from space accessibility and availability of BSL interpretation to the general vibe. Further down the line, Kirby is hoping to secure funding to help cover costs for visits, and to set up a crowdsourced library of fiction and non-fiction works relating to disability justice and art.

Read the full article here: https://www.timeout.com/uk/new...

Disability History Month at the House of Lords

Campaigning for the rights of disabled people

Baroness Grey-Thompson has packed getting things done into her life from the get-go. From studying for her degree while travelling the world to become a world-class athlete, to playing a key role in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and having 30 things she wants to achieve in the House of Lords to affect change. Inspired by her parents who battled to get her a place in mainstream education, she has never been afraid to take on arguments and uses her voice in the House of Lords to focus on rights for disabled people and sports policy. Learn more from Baroness Grey-Thompson about what drives her achievements in sports, campaigning and politics.

Diverse membership

The House of Lords is made up of a diverse group of people with different abilities, experiences and expertise. Discover House of Lords members and their roles, and find out what topics members are speaking about in the chamber on any sitting day.

Addressing current challenges

Members often use their knowledge and experience to speak on issues impacting the lives of disabled people through daily questions and debates. Catch up on recent government scrutiny from the Lords on:

British Sign Language Act 2022

British sign language (BSL) is the most commonly used sign language in the UK and is considered culturally important by the Deaf community. Although it is recognised as a language by the government, this was not set out in law. Introduced by Lord Holmes of Richmond as a private members' bill in the Lords following its passage through the Commons, the British Sign Language Act became law in 2022 and gives BSL full legal recognition as a language in England, Wales and Scotland.

A history of fighting for disability rights at the House of Lords

The 1970 Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act was the first step towards equality for disabled people in the UK. Put forward by Lord Morris of Manchester, then an MP, the bill required councils to provide certain services to disabled people living in their communities. During the main debate of the bill in the House of Lords, several disabled members shared their experiences, raising issues such as the extra costs of living, segregation and mobility barriers for wheelchair bound people.

Lords scrutiny of the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act became law in 2010 and brought together many pieces of disability and equality-related law. A House of Lords committee under the same name later investigated the Act and found that government inaction was failing disabled people, stressing that improvements to housing, public spaces, transport and more, needed to be addressed.

Since the Equality Act 2010 and Disability Committee report, improvements to meet accessibility standards have been made in areas such as transport, but in June 2021 a reinvestigation of the law by the House of Lords Liaison Committee found that the government had not carried out a number of provisions from the Act. In its September 2021 report, the committee asked the government to speak to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and disabled people’s organisations about the work they need to do, and to publish a timeline detailing how it plans to make provisions in the Act work.

Read the full article here: https://www.parliament.uk/busi...

Disclaimer- We do not own/write any of these article extracts, we are simply sharing to our audience in order to raise awareness and increase coverage. Credit is always given.


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