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  • : 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.

18 juin 2008 3 18 /06 /juin /2008 01:15
Rachel and I went to Paris by Eurostar. We set off quite early at 6am to catch the train to Euston - we nearly got locked up in the lift instead when the lift in my block of flats jammed. Luckily Rachel got it opened and we hopped off to the station.

Arriving at Euston, we managed to hop over to St Pancras  when we settled nicely down in the first class compartment. The only wheelchair seats available are in first class, we got served a nice hot breakfast and was in Paris Gare du Nord in a bit over 2 hours.

From there we took the bus to Pompidou Centre (discovering too late, it does not open on a Tuesday) and got on the bus again to continue to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame entrance

I unwisely decided that we would eat opposite the Notre Dame and had to pay the premium for the location - it was very expensive for a small plate of  plain sphegetti with sauce.

After visiting the Notre Dame, we set off to look for an accessible bateau mouch but did not find one and settle for the Hotel de Ville where we went off to do some shopping. So we went down Rue  de Rivoli into BHV just accross and went up to the nice cafe upstairs.
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16 juin 2008 1 16 /06 /juin /2008 22:49
My favourite local bar is in danger of closure by Coventry Council and we do not know why.  I am no normal bar propper, I don't really drink apart from the odd whisky - I go to meet people and chat to people in my neighbourhood.

As patron Steve Lucas says in the facebook group I formed againt the closure:

" Having so recently won the Godiva Award for 'Best Bar in the City" it would be a shame if we were to lose this place. Although the patrons are drawn from all around the city it still maintains a community feeling. The eclectic mix of customers means that it's possible to have an interesting conversation on almost any topic, and if peace and quiet is your thing you can curl up with a book or newspaper on the sofa! A great place to wind down after a busy day, and one that really deserves its tagline "A haven of tranquility in a sea of madness"

According to the Coventry Telegraph last week -

"It comes just two months after Warwickshire & Coventry Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned that independent retailers in Coventry city centre could become extinct by 2015.

 At a meeting staged at Liquid, a cafe and wine bar which itself is facing the threat of closure on June 23, and  attended by Cllr Jim O'Boyle (Lab, St Michael's), traders told the Telegraph that dwindling sales figures had left them struggling to pay rents and rates.

They also said the road layout around Ikea had not helped attract shoppers to the area."

I think it is a real shame that a multi national like Ikea should come and caused closures of independent traders if that is true. The one thing that I have come to appreciate  Coventry  for is its unique  brand of an English Midlands city which is very cosmopolitan  but has its indoor market  - chav  city as some people might say but  it has its own attitude and I feel safe here.

There is a neighborliness in the City Arcade I have grown to be rely on - Merlins  delivered  my telly  for me and even fix it up for me. I don't  ever expect  Argos  to provide such service. When I first moved here Liquid was where I went to meet local folks and I shall be very upset if the venue is no longer available - along with the poetry evenings, bookcrossing club.

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15 juin 2008 7 15 /06 /juin /2008 16:29
I went to the Mobility Roadshow 2008 in Coventry (this is where I live after all) and looked at the different types of wheelchairs, adapted cars and accessible travel on offer.

It was easy to get there - there were  accessible buses  from the  train station to the  site at Stoneleigh Park. 

My colleaque, Fiona, had a good time going on one of the action trikes -

Two guides offered me here at the stands which might be of interest to people  is the Access Guide for the National Trust (pdf ) and the new Rough Guide to Accessible Britain.

The National Trust protects and opens to the public over 300 historic houses and gardens and 49 industrial monuments and mills. This is a very useful access guide to those sites.

A quick skim of the Rough Guide made me realise it was not a comprehensive guide that I was hoping from the other other Rough Guides I have been using before but ideas for some great days out.

This guide is not available in the shops. To order a copy, go to: www.accessibleguide.co.u k

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2 juin 2008 1 02 /06 /juin /2008 21:22
Not in West Orchards, Coventry, certainly. I was there today by chance because the Post Office has moved to WH Smith's in West Orchards. And being peckish, I wandered in to the Terrace food court, decided to avoid the usual KFC's and McDonalds and saw Harpers with its Yorkshire Pudding. I love Yorkshire pudding from what I remember it to be from my days in Harrogate but what I got serve up is not Yorkshire Pudding...

Anybody can tell me where I can get good English grub this neck of the woods?

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1 juin 2008 7 01 /06 /juin /2008 00:45
From the DS HUM list serv, I was directed to the article below in the Heraldsun.com.au, with the heading
Beijing Olympics guide on Paralympians - 

DISABLED people can be unsocial, stubborn, controlling, and defensive according to an official Beijing Olympics guide.

The Olympic manual for volunteers in Beijing is peppered with patronising comments, noting for example that physically disabled people are "often" mentally healthy. Volunteers at the Olympics and Paralympics are instructed not to call Paralympians or disabled spectators "crippled" or "lame", even if they are "just joking".

(read the rest at Heraldsun.com.au)

The article then comments that "the document, which indicates the Chinese hosts could use a swift education in political correctness," because it "says the optically disabled "seldom show strong emotions".

I am not sure that it is a matter of  political correctness  since the guide/manual is directed at the Chinese volunteers and not the general public. I think it showed that the journalist does not seem to realise that disabled Chinese do not have a great standing in the community and they are often hidden away by their families and thought of as a source of embarrassment. The fact that

Volunteers are instructed never to "stare at their disfigurement".

"A patronising or condescending attitude will be easily sensed by them, even for a brain damaged patient (though he cannot control his limbs, he is able to see and understand like other people).

"Like most, he can read your body language," says the 2008 volunteer guide.

"Show respect when you talk with them.

"Do not use cripple or lame, even if you are just joking.

"Though life has handed many difficulties to them, disabled people are often independent and self-reliant.

"Volunteers should offer assistance on a basis of equality and mutual respect...

"Disabled people can be defensive and have a strong sense of inferiority."

this shows that the Chinese are paying attention to disability awareness to help the volunteers how to  understand  the athletes  - to avoid  incidents such as this:

China's treatment of the disabled has in the past angered swimming great Dawn Fraser, who cited it as one reason she won't be going to Beijing.

She said in April she had seen disabled athletes spat on in the streets in Beijing during university games in the mid-1990s.

I know I was apprehensive the first time I went to China myself about the sort of treatment I might receive myself as a wheelchair user but I was pleasantly surprised - because I was not overly stared at - even in Xinjiang - but was generally left alone and was given the same treatment as my non disabled friends.
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27 mai 2008 2 27 /05 /mai /2008 18:18
The Annual General Assembly of the European Disability Forum gathered more than 150 delegates from 29 countries in Ljubljana

 Ljubljana, 24 May 2008 – Three European disability movement leaders, among them the EDF Vice President, were denied to fly to Ljubljana for the Annual General Assembly of the European Disability Forum (EDF) due to discrimination on the ground of disability, announced the President of EDF Yannis Vardakastanis at the opening of the Assembly on 24 May.

They have been refused by the Slovenian national carrier Adria Airlines to board unless providing a medical certificate and traveling accompanied under the pretext of safety implications. As a result one of them was was prevented from attending both the Assembly and the ministerial conferencee "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – From Words to Reality?", organized by the Slovenian Presidency of the EU during the previous days.

 “It is unacceptable an EU national carrier not to respect its obligations under the new EU legislation. This is exactly a kind of situation which the EU citizens have to be protected from under the Regulation. We are going to take an action that the Regulation is respected”, stressed Mr. Vardakastanis, referring to the EU Regulation concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when traveling by air, being into application since July 2007.

He called the Slovenian government to undertake measures towards the company which did not respect the Regulation and added that “that is why we need to put the UN Convention in practice as soon as possible, so that people with disabilities can enjoy their full citizens’ rights”.

In a message, addressed to the Assembly participants, the Slovenian Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Marjeta Cotman expressed the support of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU for the preparation and adoption of legislation on the basis of Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty to prohibit discrimination on the ground of disability.

“The Slovenian Presidency has put this down as an expectation. This directive is very important in our view, in particular linked to the transport problems, encountered by members of the EDF board. This proves the significance of such a legislation to avoid any further discrimination of this and any other kind”, stated the message of the Minister.

The Slovenian Member of the European Parliament Ljudmila Novak, a member of the Disability Intergroup, also expressed her sorrow for the problems with Adria Airlines and assured that EP is on the side of the disability movement.

The human rights and their implementation in the light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were the main topic, discussed during the first day of the Assembly. A number of case studies from different EU countries were presented on “Equal Recognition before the Law” of disabled people, one of the key articles in the Convention, soon to be ratified by the European Communities. On the second day the leaders of organisations of disabled people will also debate practical ways to further promote social inclusion of disabled people.

More than 150 delegates from 29 countries arrived in Ljubljana to participate in this key meeting.


For more information, please contact: Irina Papancheva, EDF Communication and Press Officer; Tel: (+32 2) 282 46 04; Mobile phone: (+ 32 ) 485 64 39 93; E-mail: irina.papancheva@edf-feph.org    


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26 mai 2008 1 26 /05 /mai /2008 20:09
In the UK, disabled parking is allowed by a system known as the Blue Badge system. The government has released a Blue badge map where you can search for parking etc on an interactive map. This includes airports and train stations and shopmobility centres. A shopmobility centre is a wheelchair/scooter lending facility in a city for the less mobile to facilitate shopping and walking distances.
Overview of the Blue Badge map

The Blue Badge map can be used to find:

* Blue Badge parking bays in 101 towns and cities across the UK
* Red Route parking bays in London
* petrol stations and their service facilities on major routes in the UK
* accessible public toilets in 101 towns and cities across the UK
* railway stations and their accessibility
* Underground stations and their accessibility in London
* taxi ranks
* shopmobility centres
* accessible beaches
* wheelyboat locations
* mobility centres
* locations of interest, like town halls, hospitals, museums and tourist attractions
* parking rules for all councils in the UK

The people who did this map (Pie Guides) also have other useful maps which can be bought.

I'll be interested to try it out and judge its accuracy. So far it seems to be accurate for Coventry.
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21 mai 2008 3 21 /05 /mai /2008 23:05
Tonight I went to Artspace for the open studio invite from Laura who is the coordinator. I did an access audit for them and it is really cool to see they have put some of my suggestions to work.

They are busy trying to get funding for a lift to go down to the basement. So we had a few presentations from different artists and exhibitors and I started a conversation with Gaelle Roche who specialises in her artwork on glass. Gaelle is originally from Normandy and she explained her work to me.

Her work is lovely and she puts them to a practical application. They can be incorporated into interiors - such as dividers, bathroom fixtures, splashbacks in kitchens etc.

More of her artwork can be found at her website .

I really like this one of Venice canal - it is with apague glass, she said.

Many thanks to Laura who organised the event -and for inviting me!

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21 mai 2008 3 21 /05 /mai /2008 02:38
Recently, I have become more and more reliant on my power wheelchair and I am very reluctant to fly because I am pertrified something might happen to my chair (Qatar airline managed to leave my manual in Heathrow one Christmas holiday ago). But also because it seems like disabled passengers have been discriminated agains (such as in the case of my friend, Michelle, by Air France) and Peter Tan in Malaysia.

I was notified about this piece of information about air travel in India -   http://accessability.co.in/AirTravel-Know-Your-Rights.pdf

I was alerted to the loophole - airlines to charge for, "any human assistance rendered." I guess this means that we should be grateful that we got this ' special' service. I was once told that by the guy who took me off the plane - he said I should be grateful for people like him to help me off the plane. Best to bring the right change - who is going to make the charge? I do not think I am going to India in the near future.

I used to have to remember to have that cash with me when I used to land at the Fort Worth airport when I was a student in Austin. I used to be asked for tips for getting me off the aircraft and once I was even wheeled to the cash point in order to get some cash out for the assistance staff. At that time, I did'nt even think of complaining. I am getting so much more bolshoi in my old age.

This idea that it is a 'special assistance' put out at a certain inconvenience is all too common. I was told that just last week at Euston that I should inform them as required (time given is 24 hour's notice) to make sure I had the help to get on and off the train. To ask for special asssistance. I should feel so specially priviledged. The thing is I have done that before and the amount of difference to help and attention is not that great. I travel such a lot that very often I do not know the precise time I can travel. I know when I can I do ring ahead.

Actually most of the rail workers are kind to me and they deal with me efficiently and without a grumble and I have the Coventry station folks in mind. They have been unstintingly cheerful and helpful and I truly appreciate them.
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20 mai 2008 2 20 /05 /mai /2008 22:58
In the UK, previous campaigners before me have fought hard and won the Disability Equality Discrimination legislation - it gave us certain rights such as the right not to be refused access ( with " reasonable  accomodation"  thrown in as a loophole) . As someone who arrived in the UK after the battle, so to speak, was won, I am thrilled by it and think what a wonderful right. It is a not perfect as a piece of legislation but it is there - like democracy, enshrined in legislation. And all the other legislations like the Disability Equality Duty, enforceable since December 2006 on public bodies. This means there is a legal duty on all public sector organisations to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people.

But of course, very often, it is the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law which is enforced and too often, this right of access is not challenged by disabled people when their rights are abused - such as where a building or service is ' non compliant' with the DDA. It is not easy, it is up to the individual to fight the case for her/himself very often. Advice lines are available such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission helpline but not many know the process and feel intimidated by the complications and fearful of the expense of a legal case or going to court.

Scott Rains (of Rolling Rains Report) had picked up my blog entry about the Shine Unconference  - he  wrote

I would have expected better of organizer and participants like Ashoka. Clearly, if they do have Fellows or staff with disabilities they are not being put in positions of authority sufficient to represent the community they are part of. If the temporarily able-bodied social entrepreneurial class in London had been onboard with the project of social inclusion and accessibility this post could have been about all the good accomplished at the Shine UnConference.

As it stands, I haven't a clue what was accomplished because "I" couldn't attend.

I understand that these social entreprises (like Ashoka and UnLtd) are not  public bodies so I cannot  expect them to have Disability Equality Schemes and involved disabled people in their  design of programmes and organisation  but  it still leaves me disappointed when I read that  the in the NoLimits the Unltd magazine - the quarterly magazine for Millenium Winners - where the lead is on How to organise and run  successful events, there was no mention of  accessibility  and  not much  more on  health and safety. 

Am I on  sour gapes when I  ask if all these  social entrepreneurs  are  on their shining armours  but they do not think to include disabled people like me? They would say but we did not mean to exclude you - but surely, then they should be more pro active in  the provision of facilities.

I know  UnLtd  have  awarded  grants to  disabled people and they  have been featured  but  who wouldn't  want to  be seen as having benevolent to  ' the disabled'  but  why do I  catch a whiff of  the odour of colonisation?  All  I know is that it stops me from asking  them for  funding for myself, stupid I know but I would feel uneasy about taking their money - yes, I know I should rant and let them know but I am weary and maybe I am not hungry enough....there is a point when you get fed up of saying hey, you forgot me....it might be time for me to go fight different types of battles. Not to spoil it for others who do not see what I am ranting about. Its easier to fight big bad wolves we know than those individuals " with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change."

We should have no fight with them. They are our allies.

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