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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.

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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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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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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30 septembre 2008 2 30 /09 /septembre /2008 03:52
Do I feel I have the same choice and control as a non disabled person? We examined this question at the Equality 2025 Walsall public meeting today.

On the face of it, it seems like a silly question. So much of my life is tied up with what I cannot do or how I organise my life so that I can do things that others might take on granted.

To give examples: housing - Finding accesible accomodation is so difficult, ah maybe I should say, finding accessible and affordable housing is a real barrier to having choice and control over where I can live. If I were not a wheelchair user, I can bag the loft, the top flat or that split level mezzanine.

transport: I can hop on the National Express wthout needing to give them extensive information on the type of wheelchair I use. And on any routes not the one single route which is accessible. Oh, I didn't mention the London Underground.

Leisure activities: I would be able to go swimming without worrying about the hoist. I would like to be able to use the machines instead of needing to set times to exercise with instructors who cancel because they have to give classes.

Social services packages: well, I wouldn't need this! I would be able to move accordingly to where there are jobs..

Jobs: did I mention employment? Maybe I should ask what job?

travel: would I have to book into 4 star hotels if I did not need level access? can I not go stay at that tiny little hotel in the latin quarter? upstairs, oh never mind...restaurants? oh, it has a ramp, great but the bathrooms are downstairs? oh dear....

As for relationships...I think i have made the point, what choice and control?
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2 août 2008 6 02 /08 /août /2008 11:56
Yesterday, an old friend invited me for lunch in a coutry pub and a walk in the park. He said I needed the fresh air and to get out of the country.

We went to some 16th century (I think) pub in Barston.  While we waited  for our food -  I ordered sardines  - and we got into discussion and I was incensed when my companion made excuses for one of his lady friends behavior (her behavior which was in question here was that of one who was rude and intrusive and being possessive) as being a result of the place she was brought up - which he complained ,  was predominantly black. According to him, her environment as surrounded by a black community which indulged on drugs, on social benefits and generally unemployed has had an impact on her and her unreasonable behavior could be excused on the fact she was a survivor from that kind of background. This woman is a white woman by the way, and he fears that her daughter would end end up as a social misfit as a teenage mum (by having a baby with a black man). He told me that she ended up on the unemployment heap because she likes (his words ' a black cock') I told him I have never heard such nonsense and I cannot believe that he could harbour such ignorance. I cannot believe I was hearing this.

Do I excuse his racism on the fact that he is an Italian? This is just me being sarcastic and facetious- none of my other Italian friends are racist. Or on his age because he is nearly 70 and that would be ageism - being old does not excuse you from being ignorant. Maybe the fact that he left school very early and came to UK to work and never had formal education. Whatever it is, that conversation sickened me and I lost my apetite. Is there some way I can change his attitute? Or is it prevalent?

No. That conversation spoilt the whole afternoon for me.
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30 juillet 2008 3 30 /07 /juillet /2008 20:29
I found these two short video clips about what it means to be Chinese in Britain. Sometimes we integrate or appear to integrate so well, that people do not realise that there is a big cultural difference. It is not a question of not being able to speak the language, the people in this videos are very articulate but the feeling of not quite belonging and wondering if we ever would really belong........

And there are subcultures among the Chinese themselves, and if I am hard pushed, I would say I am more Malaysian than Chinese. I was born there, I happened to be ethnically Chinese. Which is not to say I am not also proud to be British which I am, more so, I reckon, than the man I married (and subsequently divorced) who never seemed to cherish his own birthplace nor his own birthright.

However, it could be that people who take their birthright as a matter of course do not cherish as much as those who have left their homeland and know that nationality can be a privilege. But then I am an immigrant of a sort, and a child of immigrants. Home is where I hang my hat.
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