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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.

13 mai 2008 2 13 /05 /mai /2008 22:33
London routemaster

When Boris Johnson was elected mayor of London beating Ken Livingstone, a group was set up on Facebook, 'Crips against routemasters' almost immediately.  It made me worried  - I am not a Londoner but I use buses regularly when I go there almost every week. My instincts were immediately that he cannot do this as it was by an EU directive that had made the buses accessible in the first place but then I read with a sinking heart this in Disability Now -

Disability, it seems, does not sit at the top of Boris Johnson’s list of priorities. When asked who he had been consulting with on his disability policies, he says: “With a wide range of relatives. Obviously, I’ve talked to various people. My team has talked to various people, but I am conscious that there is more I need to do to…” But when asked who his team had spoken to, he says: “I, I, I can’t say…I’m guided heavily by my mother.”

Before the elections, he had said last year in London's Evening Standard that he would scrap the bendy masters for the routemasters -

Boris Johnson has vowed that his first act as Mayor of London will be to scrap bendy buses and replace them with a modern-day Routemaster.

Mr Johnson said that the controversial buses were abused by fare dodgers and highly dangerous to cyclists.

Speaking at the first Tory candidates hustings meeting, the MP for Henley said that he would introduce a new version of the Routemaster bus that had been axed by Ken Livingstone. Their replacement would be fully accessible for the disabled and mothers with buggies.

I do not really see how he would manage getting the routemasters accessible. It would be really costly.
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10 mai 2008 6 10 /05 /mai /2008 12:25
This press release gives the UK stand on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. What can I say?


8 May 2008

UN Convention Campaign Coalition (UNCCC) calls for

‘Ratification without Reservation’



The Blair Government wanted to see the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) happen – now the Brown Government wants to reserve on some of the most important rights.

For five years the UK Government worked hard at the UN in New York and took a leading role within the European Delegation to ensure that the CRPD was written and approved. On March 30 2007 Anne McGuire, the Minister for Disabled People was among the first signatories. By the end of March 2008, twenty countries had ratified the Convention and on May 3 it became a live and functioning convention.

But not in the UK . Last December, McGuire made it plain that there would be reservations tabled before the UK could ratify. On Tuesday May 6, she issued a statement outlining those reservations. Outrageously, despite the DDA, the Life Chances Report and promises of full equality for disabled people by 2025, the Government has decided that disabled people are only fit to receive some rights – not the general inalienable, indivisible and comprehensive rights that are due to other people.

Despite the fact that the CRPD states clearly that implementation of rights contained within it are incremental, they could easily set a target for completion rather than reserve. But the UK Government is saying loud and clear that there are certain violations against disabled people that they should be allowed to perpetrate for ever:

It should be allowed to bang disabled people up in residential accommodation, even though evidence has shown that they are often abused and have no real choice and control over their lives.

It should continue to provide segregated education away from home and friends, despite the mounting evidence that fully supported inclusive education in their own communities is the only way that disabled children can attain some sort of equality.

It is perpetuating the discrimination of the DDA and allowing the armed forces to discriminate in the employment of disabled people – despite the disabled veterans that are going back to the war zones complete with their prosthetics.

And they are reserving the right for disabled people to have liberty of movement, nationality and immigration.

A meeting of the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum at the Commonwealth Foundation in London, on hearing of the UK’s intentions to ratify only with reservations, issued a public statement in which they expressed their shock and said:

“We wish to express our deep concerns that any Commonwealth country should not be whole hearted in their support of human rights for disabled people. We are united in our hope that the UK will take the leadership in ratifying and implementing the CRPD without reservations and that their leadership will be followed throughout the Commonwealth.”

Rachel Kachaje, a disabled leader said:

“Disabled people see that hope springs out of the Convention - hope for a new, inclusive world where disabled people can be seen as fully human.”

“Apparently the present UK Government does not share that view of the full humanity of disabled people”.


Notes to Editor:

The UNCCC is a coalition of 22 disabled peoples organisations and disability organisations campaigning to ensure that the UK Government ratifies the CRPD without reservations.

For further information contact:

Richard Rieser – r.rieser@diseed.org.uk 020 7359 2855

Rachel Hurst – Rachel.daa@btinternet.com 01666 837 671

Please add your name to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/noreservations/
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10 mai 2008 6 10 /05 /mai /2008 00:43
Update: Here is a movie of the conference - thanks to Nick Temple's blog

Look at the stairs ....but they mention its accessibility in the video - accessible in other terms.

I went to the Shine 'Un' Conference today (Friday). I had been looking forward to it - it was built as "an event dedicated to connecting, informing and inspiring hundreds of Social Entrepreneurs." It is being held at the OXO building not too far away from Waterloo station.
OXO building
I signed up for two of the sessions - with Ashoka and a session on branding thinking that I could then wander about and choose other sessions. 

I made the mistake of not checking for access with the organisers.  I had just assumed that for an event like this it must be accessible. It was, to a certain extent. Ben Metz explained and he was apologetic and took charge of making it as smooth as possible - because the stairlift did not work properly and there was no accessible loo in the building.
They got the building without charge "We’re working within the constraints of an old building, which has been provided for SHINE at no cost."  I understood all that and while I appreciated the good stuff that was going on and the good intentions of all that social enterprising and talk of ethical higher ground, I was acutely aware that by having this in an inaccessible building, disabled people were written out of the equation - the acoustics would have made it very difficult for somebody who is hearing impaired too.  I supposed I thought maybe so few disabled people are actually engaged in such dialogues - would they have accepted a venue if people of BME community were denied entry?

Maybe we should make compromises? I actually asked for my money back and I did get a refund and I was asked if there were sessions I had wanted to attend-they would have got the people for me to meet me downstairs but I did not really want to be singled out like that. I think some people would have seen this gripe as unfair because they did not mean to be excluded disabled people intentionally and I had gone there to seek allies and network not to battle for my access rights - it feels so churlish.  I remember what Bob Guter had said once in his Bent  editorial (sept 2004, now lost in the cyberspace ) -

In our desire to be accepted we are far too often quietly grateful for what others choose to bestow on us instead of acting, sometimes noisily, for what we know we need, for our rights. As we grapple individually with each separate disability and accessibility issue we face emotional discomfort and exhaustion. On and on it goes, and far too often it seems easier to go along to get along. 

In this 21st century, with all the legislation, we still do have to be battling for our rights. Just this week, Keith Armstrong complained in his local newspaper about a dinner advertised with Michael Palin which had said explicitly that there was no disabled access for wheelchair users. He wrote-

“Sorry” is not a good excuse for denying people equality. 
Carlton Primary School might be currently housed in an old Victorian building, however this is no excuse, as people have been using wheelchairs in this country since the 17th century. 
There has been over 300 years to resolve this issue of equality. 
It is well known that children of primary school age can easily be influenced by the adults around them and especially by their teachers. 
Adults holding this event are giving a lesson to these children that it is acceptable to discriminate against disabled people in 2008. A bad lesson for the many disabled people living in the borough and 
a bad lesson for humanity. 

While social entrepreneurs are agonizing over what is ethical and being community minded, nobody really remarked about the lack of access. I am sure the organisers will try very hard and I was told that access issues would be resolved by a lift next year and I have offered my services to help with access auditing. I just think it is a shame that I did not get the contacts I would/could have made and did not just mingle like everybody else. I was promised free entry next year but by next year I might be well set up in doing something else and might not need to go to such a conference. I might be a conference junkie at times but I do not go to conferences for the hell of it!

 Having said all that, here is a very useful powerpoint about blogging - a session by Nick Temple which I really enjoyed and meeting other bloggers. I think it inspired me to write this entry while in reality, I much rather be tucked up in bed!
bloggers at Shine unconference
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15 avril 2008 2 15 /04 /avril /2008 23:00
Tonight I found out about the passing away of John Slatin last month on March 25th.  I had an internship with him at  the University of Texas  at the Usability  Lab  and  sat in on  his accessibility classes  with Ana  Boa Ventura. 

I still remember going to lunch with him at a Japanese cafe on the drag near the University and his guide dog Dylan. He started me on the path of web accessibility - I remember his passion, his patience and my admiration at how he can listen to JAWS and the radio at the same time.

 He died of leukaemia - I think now who next, in the past 6 months, there was Xavier, Veronique and now John.

But there is a project for remembering John at Knowability

John Slatin was an important person in many of our lives. He had a unique ability to connect the disconnected, find the common ground and bring us all together. John brought an energy to accessibility that inspired us all. He was an engineer. He was an artist. He was a friend.

The John Slatin Fund Accessibility Project matches accessibility experts with companies that would like a brief review of their site for accessibility. In return, the site owner is asked to contribute a minimum of $500 to The John Slatin Fund. The John Slatin Fund was established to help John’s beloved Anna offset the medical expenses incurred during John’s long illness.

Good bye John.
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14 avril 2008 1 14 /04 /avril /2008 23:39
They're killing the pub trade in Coventry

PUB owners say the traditional English boozer is under threat of extinction.

Landlords have spoken out as latest figures show that four pubs a day nationally are closing.

Source Coventry Telgraph

This was in the papers today - they say its because of the smoking ban and the rise in prices. I hope not, I do not drink much alcohol (I go for my coffeesand fruit juices) but I like going to the pub. Its such a English thing to do - right from university days in Canterbury where we used to play cards in the pub and I would nurse one drink all night.

They also said that pubs which offer food also do better. I am very fond of Liquid Bar Barrington's mutton curry and rice!

Jane offers food and soup at Liquid Bar/cafe and they have live music at the weekends.
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31 mars 2008 1 31 /03 /mars /2008 21:24

I did not have time to comment on this when I saw it in the Coventry newspaper so I am glad I found it online. I must say that I live in Coventry city center and have never had that level of abuse myself apart from teenage mums on the bus who refused to fold up their pushchairs for me.

And as for the fact that nearly half of the people who gave him insults were from the ethnic minorities is not surprising since Coventry has a good ethnic population and many of the taxi drivers are Asian.

Source: The Coventry Telegraph

Disabled man tells of abuse in Coventry

WHEELCHAIR-BOUND Ed Lowe has to endure regular torrents of abuse.

Shockingly, the 24-year-old admits he has come to accept the tirade of swearing and insults as part of everyday life.

Whether he is trying to flag down a taxi, get on a bus, or simply shopping in the city centre, he says he receives endless insults and put downs.

The abuse has happened all his life and comes from different people, who mostly use the "F" word.

Ed, of Robin Hood Road, Willenhall, told the Telegraph:  "Because I get it so often I have become used to it. But it hurts. "

He described how he got in a taxi in Broadgate where a taxi driver swore at him aggressively, demanding to know why he was in the wheelchair.

He said: "I shouldn't have to tolerate that - no one should."

Ed has recently graduated from Coventry University with a degree in communication, culture and media, and is also a publicity officer for gay telephone helpline Coventry and Warwickshire Friend.

He says the public assume he is helpless just because he uses a motorised wheelchair.

He added: "The best way to sum it up is people think that because you are in a chair that you have no brains - that you are not doing anything with your life.

"People don't assume you live independently if you are disabled. That is not the case at all, I live in my own bungalow and I have the best friends around me."

Ed is fully backing the police campaign to stamp out hate crime against disabled people and has been involved in the initiative for two months so far, working with Sgt Lee Burns.


Read also the hate crime dossier on Disability Now.
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30 mars 2008 7 30 /03 /mars /2008 22:43

When the French do a demonstration - they really go to town....from Yahoo News

Sat Mar 29, 4:44 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - Thousands of disabled people demonstrated in the streets of Paris to demand higher benefit payments, while separate protests unrolled across France against proposed pension reforms.

Protestors in wheelchairs and on crutches, wearing red shirts, were joined in Paris by HIV positive patients, blind demonstrators with guide dogs and others, behind a banner urgently demanding "income to survive."

Arnaud de Broca, president of Fnath, one of around 100 campaign groups in the demonstration, said they wanted an increase in the disability allowance -- currently 628 euros (990 dollars) per month for a disabled adult.

"You can't live on that," he said.

"I had to call my bank to increase my overdraft to 700 euros" in order to cope, said one participant, 57-year-old Edmond Thomas, who has been paraplegic for 35 years after a car accident.

Organisers said nearly 30,000 people took part in the Paris protest: police put the figure at 16,500. A delegation of demonstrators delivered a petition to the presidential Elysee Palace.

In the capital and elsewhere meanwhile, thousands of people, according to police and organisers, protested against government plans to raise to 41 the number of years a person must work to qualify for a full state pension.

Organisers said Saturday's marches, called by three leading unions, aimed to draw attention to the issue ahead of April, when the government has said it will make initial proposals on the plan. They also threatened further protests.

"This is just to get things up and running, a necessary move so that the debate becomes public in France," said Bernard Thibault, head of the major union CGT.

Police said 4,600 people joined the pensions protest in Paris, while organisers put the figure at up to 15,000. Hundreds joined linked protests in cities across France, from Lille to Marseille, police and organisers said.

Thousands of disabled people demonstrated in the streets of ...

Sat Mar 29, 4:44 PM ET

Thousands of disabled people demonstrated in the streets of Paris to demand higher benefit payments, while separate protests unrolled across France against proposed pension reforms.

(AFP/Mathieu Genon)
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30 mars 2008 7 30 /03 /mars /2008 18:12
I was in Belfast for a meeting last week. Apart from the fact that Michelle, my mate, was refused a seat on Air France, I had a quite a good week.

Michelle also recommended me to go on a historical tour with an accessible taxi. The Northern Irish troubles, Sinn Fein and IRA was not so long ago. It was very much in the headlines and the hunger strike with Bobby Sands - I remember it. However, it seems like history now and I am glad I had the opportunity to visit the places where I used to hear about.

The walls are still there and I am sure the memories still live but there is peace there now and Ian Paisley is working side by side with Gerry Adams (from about this time last year) - who would have thought it possible before?

Belfast mural

I also signed on the peace wall.

writing on the peace wall

These were the type of rubber bullets which were used - plastic bullets

In my own life time, I saw the Berlin wall down and then peace in Northern ireland, upon reflection, it gives me hope for other conflicts in the world.

For accessible tours either call Paddy (as in the photo) at (+44) 7990955227
or fonacab at (+44) 90333333 email dmcm@hotmail.co.uk (+44) 7747198818
remember to say you want a wheelchair accessible tour.
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28 mars 2008 5 28 /03 /mars /2008 23:04
We are in Belfast and Michelle arrived telling  us of her ordeal with Air France. She had suggested I travelled with her  - good thing I  did not!  We would have to both track off to Heathrow, not a good place to fly from at the moment.  Anyway-here's  the  report on it on Sky News.

Anybody else who had similar experience with that particular flight is welcomed to add their voices by commenting below and I will let Michelle know for adding to the complaints.

Add comments where it says ajouter un commentaire. I am sorry but I cannot change the French  there into English.(Over-blog  is a  French  blogging  service)
Air France Grounds Wheelchair User
A wheelchair user has accused Air France of "blatant discrimination" after they refused to allow her to board her flight, reportedly telling her she posed a health and safety risk.
Michelle Daley

Michelle Daley, who works on the Government advisory committee Equality 2025, was travelling to Belfast on business.

But as stewards were wheeling her across the tarmac towards the plane in a specially-designed aircraft chair, Miss Daley told Sky News Online she was stopped by the pilot who asked her if she was able to walk.

"I said 'no' then the airline staff, stewards and the pilot were all having a conversation over me as I sat in this aircraft chair," Miss Daley said.

"You are already disempowered by being in this chair, it's very difficult to move at all.

"They told me: 'We can't allow you on this flight because you are a health and safety risk'."

She added: "It was just humiliating and degrading. Just blatant discrimination."

A week earlier, Miss Daley said she spoke directly to the booking agent and was assured the airline had been made aware of her access requirements.

And when she arrived at the Air France check-in desk at London City airport, the staff arranged for her to move into a specially-designed seat, in which she could be transferred directly onto the aircraft.

"Why put me in that chair? Why go so far?" the 36-year-old asked.

"They must have known at the time I booked my ticket and then when I checked in at the desk.

"I'm advising the Government on disability equality and ironically I was prevented from doing my job properly. That type of discrimination is just not on."

Air France planes
Air France planes

Describing the airline's treatment as "outrageous", she added: "Disabled people experience discrimination on a daily basis but I have rarely experienced blatant discrimination of this type."

A spokeswoman for Air France told Sky News Online that their flights between London City Airport and Belfast were operated by Scot Airways.

She added: "Scot Airways uses a 38 seater Dornier aircraft on this route which means that due to the aircraft configuration, the company can not carry lift-on lift-off passengers in wheelchairs.

"Having investigated the matter with its call centre, Air France is certain that correct proceedure was followed regarding the booking.

"Air France is now investigating the matter directly with the travel agent who made the booking. Air France is sorry to hear of any embarrassment and inconvenience caused to Mrs Daly as a result of her experience."

Eventually Miss Daley made it to Belfast on a BMI flight from  Heathrow.

Source: Sky News

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19 mars 2008 3 19 /03 /mars /2008 18:06
I must  hunt up my Chinese sign  and see if there is a conflict for me this year of the rat. 

According to Yahoo astrology-

Dog Overview

This year may be a bit more challenging than the last, but it still has the potential to be very favorable. The Dog is more comfortable with the Pig, which symbolizes endings, rather than the Rat, which is associated with new beginnings. If you are willing to leave your comfort zone, you can make significant progress towards your objectives and also achieve one or more notable successes. As with most things, your attitude is likely to determine just how well you do.

Dog Rating

58% (8 favorable and 4 unfavorable months)

Dog Career

If you have been considering a change in occupation, this could be the year to try something different. This is a time for action, not delay, so be decisive whether it is change you seek, or simply advancement in your current role. Spend time promoting yourself and your skills and make sure that those above you on the company ladder are able to recognize the good things you are doing this year. Your coworkers will be more valuable than ever this year, so pay close attention to what they have to say to you.

Dog Relationships

You will find the most comfort in your family relationships this year, be it with you parents, children or loved one. There is a chance someone in your immediate circle will need a good friend and you will need to find the time to step up and take care of them. The single Dog will find good fun and mental stimulation this year. You should have plenty of chances to meet new friends and explore new love interests.

Dog Health

Be alert for signs of increased stress or burnout. This will be an active year for you, which means you are at an increased risk for physical injury. Always be sure to exercise proper caution when out and about and you should be just fine. Your health, in general, should be good as long as you avoid stress related issues.

Dog Wealth You should see a significant improvement in your financial situation this year. There is a good chance that the Year of the Earth Rat will be favorable towards your new savings plans and investment decisions. Your tendency to trust those around you too much might get you in trouble, this year. The wisest thing to do when considering a financial decision involving someone you trust is to get a second opinion.

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