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My name is Paul Lindoewood and I have worked for three decades with the Disability Movement in both Britain and East Africa. During this period I have been interested in the connection between disability, how a society develops, and how we understand a generic objective of inclusion. The current Paralympic Games in Tokyo were opened with the age-old cry for greater inclusion. I find myself repeatedly asking if the idea that inclusion can be reached by demonstrating what a handful of disabled people can achieve is essentially flawed?


IPC President Andrew Parsons called for a more inclusive society in his speech at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Opening Ceremony ©Getty ImagesAndrew Parsons, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President, helped open the Tokyo 2020 Games with a call for greater inclusion of disabled people within general society. In doing so, he highlighted a fundamental weakness in the Paralympic Movement as a force for change, and indeed in how we often understand inclusion. Parsons identified three important drivers behind his call:

  1. “The Paralympic Games are for sure a platform for change.”  
  2. “But only every four years is not enough.”
  3. “It is up to each and every one of us to play our part, every day, to make for a more inclusive society in our countries, in our cities, in our communities.”

As we identify with the successes and failures of respective athletes, the hypothesis that this will encourage society to become more inclusive of disabled people is at best questionable. By putting a person on a pedestal and showing the potential, are we knocking down other people? Is this really a mechanism to promote inclusion?

In Britain as in so much of the world, we frequently develop “centres of excellence”, which are meant to demonstrate how to overcome problems. This is particularly so within the world of disability. Providing the centre is accessible to all concerned and gives effective advice, this may seem a good way to move an agenda forward. Despite the resources absorbed by the centres, society justifies this by saying, “it is there for everyone to use”. The key question is, is this always the case?

In Britain, where we have a high level of communication (e.g., social media and internet access), we still have a great number of people who don’t access the help and support they need and whose participation in social and economic life is subject to other peoples understanding. In other parts of the world such as Africa, there has been a tradition of creating ‘flagship’ projects to demonstrate what can be achieved. So often these ‘flagships’ appear to be out of reach for the rest of society, so disabled people get good support in these areas, but no support in a neighbouring county or over a regional border.

Such is the nature of vertical development and very often our understanding of inclusion. Vertical development assumes that we assist an individual or a cohort of people, often in a specific area, to get on in life. It is, by definition, limited and focussed and can be justified by measuring the needs of an individual or group and their progress towards a defined aim.

Alternatively, there is horizontal development which says we will facilitate discussion and debate between people who are facing similar or related issues. Individuals, communities, and countries are all at different stages in their understanding of how things should and could progress. There is no assumption that people are going to be on the same road or want to get to the same destination. We can learn from each other and how we have overcome our respective barriers.

I want a world to develop where disabled people are full, equal, and participating members of their society. An important part of this process is to encourage disabled people to discuss their lived experience and how they have achieved their respective goals. The focus of this debate will not be on what a handful of individuals have achieved, but rather on how disabled people have managed to secure participation within their respective settings. As disabled people learn from their global, as well as local partners, they can experiment with new ideas in their own context.

Horizontal development is complimentary to, not instead of, vertical development. It can share the achievements of projects and make information more accessible. Proponents of vertical development have recognised this for years. This has evolved into international professional conferences to which, more recently, disabled people have been invited. A question maybe, who is being invited and on what justification? However, for horizontal development to be truly effective the information flow needs to be at all levels of the system – from top to bottom.

Andrew Parsons’ call for more inclusive societies around the world was no doubt meant as a wake-up call on one of the few occasions when the needs and achievements of disabled people take centre stage. Even within the Covid bubble system of the Tokyo gamers, perhaps the Paralympics’ potential to promote an inclusive world is not by demonstrating what disabled people can achieve. It is rather by bringing them together to discuss and encourage each other through their ideas, experiences, and expertise. This flow of information can enable them to go back to their respective communities and countries with a stronger hand to negotiate with governments and development agencies.

As we watch the Paralympics on TV and cheer on our respective athletes, let us not go away with a view that this has somehow increased inclusion. For inclusion to happen, disabled people need to be actively involved in their societies, starting at the grass-roots level. Inclusion cannot be achieved by a few individuals achieving incredible feats. It can only be achieved by the mass of disabled people participating within their respective contexts. Indeed, we need to move away from the idea of congratulating disabled people when they achieve participation and towards asking, when disabled people are not there, “where are they?”

Community Health Support for Disabled Children

DWA supported the Community Health Support for Disabled Children (CHSfDC) project, initiated by Brecon Molo Community Partnership, used a Train the Trainers model to develop the capacity of Community Health Workers to identify, support and signpost disabled children within their area.

The CHSfDC project aimed to;

  • Train 10 Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs)
  • These CHEWs were then to train 100 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs)
  • Between the CHEWs and CHVs it was planned to reach 1,000 disabled children
  • The CHSfDC project was rolled out in 5 communities – Molo, Elburgon, Sachangwan, Turi and Marioshoni (and Keringet)


Fighting COVID-19 through hygiene

The COVID-19 Hygiene Hub is a free service to help actors in low- and middle-income countries rapidly share, design, and adapt evidence-based hygiene interventions to combat COVID-19.

Maintaining good hygiene is one of the most important things in fighting the spread of COVID-19. The Hygiene Hub brings together governments, international agencies, and NGOs along with key researchers in public health, behaviour change, and implementation science to enable effective hygiene programmes that curb human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) responsible for COVID-19 in homes, communities, schools, health care facilities, and other public spaces.

Jane Wilbur’s has written a Summary Report on considering disability in COVID-19 hygiene programmes.

News from ResponsABLE Assistance

ResponsABLE assistance’s FURSA project pilot has been awarded funding from the Welsh government. Meaning ‘Freedom’ in Swahili, Fursa is an initiative to assist disabled people to create their own sustainable enterprises in rural Kenya.

In partnership with the Kibwezi Disabled Peoples Organisation (KDPO) and Project Co-ordinator Dr. Cecilia W Nyaga we are undertaking a pilot starting January 2020 in order for three enterprises in this rural district of Kenya to be ready to trade by 2021.

Prior to trading, enterprises funded by our Fursa initiative will have been assisted in areas necessary to trade independently and compliant with local regulations etc. We understand the therapeutic, financial and community benefits enterprise can provide to people with disabilities. Fursa will then fund the enterprises start-up.

Since our explicatory visit to Kenya in 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7aUNlDLhiQ) a film put together by volunteers Vaughan and Katie upon their return to the UK) we have been partnering with the Kibwezi Disabled Peoples Organisation and Dr. Nyaga to improve the lives of disadvantaged disabled people in this region where social welfare as we know it simply does not exist. Fursa will provide the opportunity for the creation of correctly structured enterprises to encourage sustainable independent futures. Initially three enterprises will be funded and it is our intention to look into expanding our FURSA initiative to other regions in Kenya and beyond.

On Sunday 15th December from 7pm in Potters Newport there will be a ResponsABLE assistance benefit evening of live music from 7pm. Tickets £5 available at the door.

Nakuru County Paravolley Club visiting Greater Molo

Members of the Brecon Molo Community Partnership (BMCP) are celebrating a successful bid for a Wales and Africa grant. The grant enables the Nakuru County Paravolley Club sitting volleyball team tour around Molo, in Kenya, and surrounding communities. Twelve players and supporting members of the club will start their tour early in 2020 around the communities of Molo, Njoro and Kuresoi to help raise awareness of Paralympic sport in Kenya and the aspirations of disabled people amongst the non-disabled community.

The idea was first discussed by members of BMCP at a meeting with the Director of Nakuru County Social Services and the Paravolley Club during a visit in May 2019. Together with the newly-formed Mau Based Community Based Organisation and the Nakuru Branch of the Kenya Red Cross Society, the tour will feature several demonstration matches in schools and community venues, therefore acting as an empowerment tool for disabled people in the area.

Sitting volleyball is similar to standing volleyball, in the sense that there are 6 players in each team and the aim of the game is to get the ball on the ground of your opponents’ side.  However, in the sitting game players remain seated on the ground throughout the game. The net is just over 1m high, as opposed to just over 2m in the standing game. The court is divided into two sides of 5m deep by 6m wide, whereas in the standing game each side is a 9m square.

A spokesperson for BMCP Glyn Thomas, of Talybont-on-Usk says, “We are grateful to all the parties concerned in coming together to make this programme attractive and accessible. We are especially glad that Disability Sports Wales are able to donate nets and balls to the project.” He added, “We are working on some people travelling from Wales to Nakuru to help advise on outreach work and coaching. We will also be raising funds locally to help sustain the programme’s future.”

UK Disability History

UK Disability History – Leadership, Resistance and Culture

[embeddoc url=”http://www.dwanetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/UKDHM-2019-Broadsheet-final-A4-1.pdf” download=”all”]

If you are having trouble reading the article, you can read it directly from the UKDHM website here: https://ukdhm.org/v3/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/UKDHM-2019-Broadsheet-final-A4-1.pdf

UK Disability History Month takes place on:
Monday 18th November 2019
6 pm for 6.15 – 8.30

Website:  www.ukdhm.org

DWA pays tribute to Dr Mike Oliver

DWA wishes to pay tribute to Dr Mike Oliver who was a leading disability academic, who is most well known for his work developing the Social Model of Disability. His model has influenced thinking around how services for disabled people are developed and provided and has stimulated the disabled people’s movement worldwide.

Read more about Dr Oliver, on Unite magazine’s website here.