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  • : freewheeling
  • : Blog on being a disabled person, different cultures, diversity, equality, disability, travel, being diaspora Chinese and disabled travel.
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Here are some of my photos. This shows some of my travels.


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Books I am reading

Xiaolu Guo
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
A love story - cultural differences, misunderstandings and yes, I see what she is saying.
Su Tong
Binu and the Great Wall

Binu and the Great Wall

Binu And The Great Wall is a wonderful myth retold in the words of Su Tong, the author of ‘Rice’.  The myth of Binu and how her tears washed away the Great Wall have been passed down through the ages. It is a tale of hardship, brutality and undying love. Su Tong’s version of the myth, brings to the reader the harshness and brutality that led to the constuction of the wall and the terrible effects it had on the common people.

21 décembre 2008 7 21 /12 /décembre /2008 02:21
I ve had been chatting with friends back home in Malaysia - because its the Christmas festive season and because class of '76 had a reunion and I was not there.

I grew up with many of my classmates, from age 7 we were in the same class until 17/18 years old. We knew each other's families and our siblings also grew up together. We might all have gone our separate ways or even countries abroad but we would not forget those formative years. I was in a mainstream school, my colleagues here in the UK now tell me I was lucky not to have gone into a special school.

Where I came from, I had to tell them, there were no special schools. It was not like I had a choice. Special schools would be equivalent to a charity orpanage placement. Thank God my parents did never leave me to go into one of those places. My parents wanted me to have as high an education as possible. However this means that I had never had any role models, my classmates accepted me and tried to beinclusive as possible but that did not mean I was often often left not being able to join in to PE classes or extra curricular activities.

To come back to present reunion, I find it more and more difficult as I get less mobile as the years get on to be able to negotiate the barriers at home. I find it difficult to plan a trip home even to see my family  I am fiercely in need of maintaining the independence of movement - I use a power wheelchair which means I can more or less wherever I wish to go - dependent on the accessibility of the built environment.  In Malaysia, I cannot see it easy to use a wheelchair on my own. In fact it is well nigh impossible. The built environment is hostile with practically no ramped access, dropped curbs or wide doors. There are many uncovered monsoon drains and steep steps. My colleagues in Malaysia such as Peter Tan have much reason to lament.

As I get into inclusive travel, I do not feel I can recommend Malaysia to other wheelchair users - which is a shame because I would love to. I am not even sure I know if Singapore which prides itself as an accessible and wheelchair friendly capital in S E Asia.
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6 décembre 2008 6 06 /12 /décembre /2008 21:18
Recently I've come across so many services, information sites etc purporting to help disabled people
and making independent living more accessible. And yet upon examination, they are many geeks who love to use their PR to 'help' us. I should not be cynical - most of them do mean to be helpful but not many have disabled people actually involved in the design. They might have a disabled person who is said to be the driving force but its not clear if they are in touch with other disabled people.

I am so conscious that being a disabled person, a wheelchair user, does not make me a spokesperson for other disabled people.  It does mean that I have first hand experience and my training gave me more insights on finding solutions but thats it.

But not all disabled people work from the social model and many are so used to making do that they do not bother to complain. Take my dentist's surgery for example, it has a ramp for one of its 2 steps but there is still one step. Upon my complaint, I was told that no other disabled person has complained - making me feel like a real trouble maker!
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10 novembre 2008 1 10 /11 /novembre /2008 18:40
I just left one disability forum - I think it was the proverbial straw - when somebody remarked on the Obama victory such:

I'm not American, I don't live in America and America isn't what
  it used to be. And disabled was pretty far down Obama's list
  (right after young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and
  Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay
  and straight). At least FDR was a wheelie.

I felt this guy just did not see the achievement and could not rejoice for others. Being disabled is a big part of my life but it is not my only identity. And Obama stood for that - that we are one people not segregated into our individual silos. I felt I had no room for such narrow minded people - not even their messages in my mail inbox.
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5 novembre 2008 3 05 /11 /novembre /2008 23:01
I am so tired today. I sat up to watch the live broadcast on the BBC of the election coverage. And I wished I wass back in the US to celebrate it with my American freinds.

He mentioned disabled people - I did not believe my ears-for the first time, not only would we have a black President of the USA but one who mentioned disabled people in his first speech as Presiden elect.Wow!

Thanks to Scott, he pointed out this blog entry to me - Andrea's Shettles's blog entry thanking Barrack Obama.

Quoting Barrack Obama from his speech:

"It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
"We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Let us see what he will be able to deliver.

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4 novembre 2008 2 04 /11 /novembre /2008 19:39
Yesterday I went to Equality 2025 Annual Public Meeting at the ICC. There were more people than last year - just about over a hundred. I don't think there was enough time allocated to 4 hot topics - some of them, like Individual Budgets were too complex to be discussed in less than an hour.

The food was good and it was also good to catch up with some friends. I look forward to their report on the event.  Pete Millington did a good write up of the event. He works for the West Midlands Regional network.
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30 octobre 2008 4 30 /10 /octobre /2008 21:04
Peter Tan in his blog wrote about the inconsiderate drivers in Malaysia who park in bays marked for disabled people. He said its one way for them to catch notoriety and be marked by their behavior and be splattered over different blogs for being shown to be inconsiderate. Shame on them!
photo from yk's stuff

Well we think they obviously need disability equality training but here's a twist from Brighton, one would think this s a politically aware city - and on top of that - from a "Coun Theobald, cabinet member for transport, has led a series of campaigns against the abuse of disabled parking badges and said earlier this year it was important to “make sure disabled parking is available for those who really need it”. He was caught to have parked in exactly one of those spaces designated for disabled people.

Tut tut, surely you think he should have known better?
You can read the full story from The Argus

On another note, there is going to be action on the abuse of disabled parking permits here in the UK according to the TimesOnline.
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12 octobre 2008 7 12 /10 /octobre /2008 18:29

Equality 2025, UK Advisory Network on Disability Equality is having its second Public Meeting in the ICC, Birmingham.


Tell Us

Equality 2025: taking your views on disability equality to government
Monday 3rd November 2008, International Convention Centre, Birmingham

Please make a note in your diary for an event taking place on Monday 3rd November 2008 at the International Convention Centre, in Birmingham.

Purpose of the event

Equality 2025 is a body set up to advise the Government on issues affecting the everyday lives of disabled people across the United Kingdom.  They want to know what issues you think the Government should be aware of.  For more information about Equality 2025, please click here to go to our website.

Who should attend?

Equality 2025 would like to talk to as many disabled people as possible, from every part of the United Kingdom.  To try and make sure there is a diverse group of people attending the event, we will give priority to people who have not been to a similar involvement event before, making sure we include people from each region of England, plus Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

How to register

Go to our website http://www.officefordisability.gov.uk/equality2025/ and click on the link to register for a place. This will take you to the online registration pages. Applications should be made by Wednesday 15th October 2008. If you are successful, confirmation of your place will be sent out during week commencing Monday 20th October 2008.

Late applications to attend the event will be considered after this date, as a reserve list will be held so that places which become available at the last minute can be reallocated.

The online registration site includes a copy of the agenda, information about the venue and speakers, and a list of frequently asked questions. If you have problems accessing any of the information please contact the conference office.

If you have difficulty registering online please find attached a registration form, which you can complete and fax back to us on 020 8481 2020, post to us at the address below, or you can telephone our conference office who will be happy to help.


Please click here to view the agenda. You will see that two topics for discussion have already been chosen:

 A.  Independent Living, Individual Budgets and Employment; and

B.  Education and Skills for Life and Work.

A further two topics will be discussed, but we would like attendees to choose these based on what they think is important to disabled people.

When registering for the event, you will be asked which topic you would like to talk about in the morning out of the two choices above. You will also be asked to suggest a topic for the afternoon session.

Post event information

If you are not selected for a place at the event we would like to keep your contact details on our database to send you a copy of the Conference Report, and details of any future events you might wish to attend. Please let us know during the registration process whether you are happy for us to do this.

We will be in touch again shortly to let you know if we can offer you a place at the event.  If you have any queries in the meantime please contact the conference office on 020 8481 3319, using Typetalk on 18001 020 8481 3319 or e-mail equality2025tellus@livegroup.co.uk.
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11 octobre 2008 6 11 /10 /octobre /2008 22:16
Coventry did not have any of its money in Icelandic banks luckily but neighbouring Nuneaton and Bedworth did. I was wondering about the impact of services if the Council has lost so much of its money. I read in their council website -

In light of the recent news coverage on the collapse of Icelandic Banks here is a statement regarding Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council’s position:
The Council has a range of short term fixed period investments, including £3m invested in one of the 3 failed Icelandic Banks, Landsbanki.  The Council has made 3 separate deposits of £1m with the bank which were due to be returned in October and November.  During the period of investment the money has accumulated at an average rate of 6% which has helped to support the Council’s revenue.  Other investments are spread across a number of banks in order to reduce the risk.

Councillor Marcus Jones, Council Leader, said:
“I am concerned at the potential loss of this money but, having spoken to Council officials, I understand there will be no impact on Council services.  I will be working with officials to assess the full impact on the Council and call on the Government to ensure that taxpayers do not lose out when the Council has simply been following Government advice to maximise its investments.”

Where is the government going to find the money to cover all that loss? Do governments have something like a professional indemnity insurance, to insure them against giving bad advice?
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11 octobre 2008 6 11 /10 /octobre /2008 21:22
Lately all the news is full of the global economic disaster, its fightening. I cannot even think what will happen to resources for disabled people, benefit recipients because their councils have had their bank deposits frozen.

I went back to look for Malaysia news, why? I think part of me still think of Malaysia as home and I want to keep  up with its politics and news. Its like reading the monthly supplements not the daily tabloids or broadsheet newspapers.

I found a good way of catching up on the Malaysian scene at Malaysiakini on youtube. Okay, its more like the editorials than really catching the news - for that I read The Star online - but it is good to hear voices of lecturers at universities, proffesionals ..somebody mentioned an 'educated voting public' - that has such a resonance in the US elections now...but then, I don't think education has any impact on intelligent voting there...ah well.....

it is so good to hear Malaysian voices.

p/s I was told that the one of the places to really catch up on Malaysian news is Bernard Khoo's blog.
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10 octobre 2008 5 10 /10 /octobre /2008 22:47
According to Coventry Council website today -

Coventry City Council is providing adequate services to safeguard adults and some services to support older people, and its capacity to improve these services is promising, according to government inspectors.

it goes on to say:

In its report published on Tuesday 7 October and discussed by councillors at Cabinet, inspectors praised the Council’s “clear vision with very supportive political leadership and an ambitious and visible senior management team”. The report also highlighted a number of strengths in the way the Council worked to safeguard adults, including some good frontline practice and the Council’s promotion of older people's independence through extra care housing.

I think the key word here is ' adequate services' - what does that mean? They get washed, fed and watered, got into and out of bed at regular intervals? and ' safeguard adults' - that conjures all sorts of images, hardly a dignified existence.

Maybe I got it all wrong, this council has 'clear vision....ambitious and visible senior management team'..but for what?

My PA who works in one of the local residential homes tells me of the conditions there with short staff, many of whom work sometimes close to 10 hours shifts, who bearly speak English who are badly paid. I would not want to be adequately provided for in those homes.
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