Tag Archives: Europe

Disability in Filipino women

For one school of thought, women with disabilities face “double discrimination” because of their gender and disability. Another see it as a “triple discrimination” since women with disabilities also have to live in poverty as a result of inequality in hiring, promotion rates and pay for equal work.

In the Philippines, in particular, women with disabilities are more likely to be institutionalized. They experience difficulty in attaining access to adequate housing, health, education, vocational training and employment. There were conventions—the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the General Assembly resolution 63/150 of 18 December 2008, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to name a few—that ensure their rights and urges states to pay special attention to their needs but it hadn’t been enough.

Among of the disabilities common in Filipino women are poliomyelitis, blindness, and deafness.

Poliomyelitis—or simply polio—is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It can lead to paralysis and debilitate a person’s brain and spinal cord. It didn’t dishearten Gracia Cielo “Grace” Magno Padaca, though. She has become the governor of Isabela since 2004 and has received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 2008.

A lack of vision brought about by a severe reaction to over-the-counter medications affected the eyesight of Roselle Rodriguez Ambubuyog when she was six years old. Despite her blindness, Roselle graduated with the highest honors from the Holy Infant Montessori in 1986, Batino Elementary School in 1993, Ramon Magsaysay High School-Manila in 1997, and Ateneo de Manila University in 2001. She is currently an access technology specialist working for software and hardware companies in Europe and North America while here in the Philippines.

Deafness is the complete inability to hear sound. Its only method of treatment is a hearing aid, a device worn in the ear that amplifies the volume of sound electronically. It’s what had afflicted Ana Kristina Arce when she was born, a class valedictorian at the Philippine School for the Deaf, a magna cum laude at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (CSB), and a degree holder at the Gallaudet University. She is currently the graphic artist in CSB.

Also deaf, Gilda Nakahara uses pen, paper, and the Filipino Sign Language to run the Nakahara Lodging and Travel Agency, a travel and tour business primarily for deaf people around the world. She has been recognized at the Go Negosyo Caravan for People with Disabilities in De Salle –College of St. Benilde in 2007 and has helped establish a deaf organization in  Eastern Samar.

“Everyone experiences disabilities one way or another; mine is just more obvious than yours. We are all fortunate to have loved ones, who help us bear the burdens brought about by our weaknesses. We may find ourselves in the dark, but we should not be afraid to move forward, because we have the light of our stars to count on, and to be thankful for.” ~ Roselle Rodriguez Ambubuyog

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Osmosis

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Molly Burke

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Howcast

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Help in Serbia

The National Organization of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia (NOOIS) has these objectives in mind when it was established in Belgrade last June 22, 2007: centralize the republic’s PWD organizations, develop partnership with the “decision-makers” in the country, and establish cooperation with other PWD organizations in Europe and the world.

Under it are “full member organizations” that have as many as 450,000 members. These are the Deaf Union of Serbia, Union of the Blind of Serbia, Muscular Dystrophy Association of Serbia, Association of Paraplegics and Quadriplegics of Serbia, Union of Associations for Assistance to Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Association of Labor Disabled Workers of Serbia, Association of Cerebral Paralysis and Polio of Serbia, Multiple Sclerosis Association of Serbia, Association for Assistance to Persons with Autism of Serbia, Association for Assistance to Persons with Down syndrome, and Center for Independent Living Serbia.

The NOOIS has helped in formulating the Law on Social Protection and its by-laws, the Law on the Use of the Serbian Sign Language, the Law on Rehabilitation and Employment, the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, and the National Disability Strategy.

It also assists the Council for Persons with Disabilities of the Republic of Serbia as well as in the Council for Persons with Disabilities of the Ombudsman’s Office in monitoring the implementation of the adopted regulations. It watches out for cases of discrimination for the Commissioner for Protection of Equality to solve as well as to the Ombudsman’s office.

Furthermore, the NOOIS has worked to inform the public of Serbia about the status and rights of PWDS in its midst through these publications: The Guide through the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, The Strategy of Development and Promotion of Socially Responsible Business in the Republic of Serbia for the period 2010-2015, The fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (proceedings),  The Proceedings of the Summer School, The Prohibition of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, General Comments 1 and 3 of the Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and project proposals in accordance with EU rules.

“Life is all about balance. Since I have only one leg, I understand that well.”  ~Sandy Fussell

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the International Labour Organization

Poland

Eight years from now, the country bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia will be hosting an “event that redefines handball” with the nation of Sweden.

Will the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland be able to participate? How are they being treated there?

Only after the 1978 Census was the Medical Board for Disability and Employment able to legally classify the number of PWDs in Poland. It was totaled to 2, 485, 0011 or 7.1% of the entire population.

Last 2009,  the Association of Friends of Integration together with the Administrative Office of the country organized a competition to find out which building “are best suited” for PWDs. Those that won were the Opera House in Wroclaw, the Town Hall in Dabrowa Gornicza, the Public Library in Koszalin, the Sport and Exhibition Hall in Gdynia, and the Cable Car to Kasprowy Wierch in Zakopane.

Then last May 9, 2013, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) launched a “crucial component” that would (1) ensure that PWDs are able to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others and (2) address and assess the needs of PWDs better.

A bill was filed in its Senate last April 18, 2014 “to boost welfare benefits for parents who leave their jobs to care for their disabled children.” The latter will receive $431 by 2016.

Social security in Poland includes insurances in retirement, disability, sickness, and accident. All employees in the country are covered by the compulsory pension and disability pension insurance. They may continue the insurance on a voluntary basis after it expires but not if they already have a title to another form of insurance.

Its surroundings are “user-friendly” to PWDs. Entrances to its establishments are stairless. Doorframes were regulated to be at least 80 cm wide so that a wheelchair can be taken inside a room. All sounds and alarms must be audible, all stairs must be rough, and all doors and signs must be lettered or numbered.

Tourism For All is a website that lists these attractions to PWDs based on the type of restrictions such as wheelchairs, prosthesis, or crutches. Another website does the same thing for the PWDs of the Kaszubian District.

Poland also has activation workshops, physical rehabilitation centres offering spa treatments, forms of active and passive recreation, and group bonding events. The gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools, and water parks here offer discounts and special assistance. The Polish Association of Disability in Sports has the program “Start,” which aims to organize and develop the common physical culture, sport, the rehabilitation of movement, tourism and recreation for PWDs.

A travel agency in Krakow would organize excursions for PWDs to Europe. Wooden platforms have been laid in the beaches in Wladyslawowo, Cetniewo, Ustka, Sopot and Mielno. In Swinoujscie, Dziwnow, and Pobierowo, the descents to the beach are gentle so that PWDs can still move around.  In Rewa there is a pier for wheelchair users and Gdynia has a playground that includes a sandpit with raised edges and a swing in the form of a basket.

Poland signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. About 3.8% of the Polish population can work there now.

“Funds for social benefits, especially for the young generation, need to stop being considered a wasted expenditure. This is smart money. If we can improve someone’s health condition, providing for him in the future will be much less expensive. Moreover, if we can educate these children and help them become independent, we will have a good citizen and taxpayer in the future.” ~ Broda-Wysocki

1 Based on The Polish National Census in 1978.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of polcham

THOC2

Judging from how persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Moldova can still study, defend themselves, and live independently, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) reported that the said country ’has made significant strides to further advancing the rights of children and adults with disabilities in the country’. Its education system has become more inclusive and community-based services have been developed.

Many, however, continue to be denied the support they need to be fully included in the Moldovan society. Many processes regarding the educational system and community-based programs are far from complete, too. In particular are the 1,716 children with mental or intellectual impairments that remain in segregated educational institutions. Not all of them are receiving support they need to access inclusive schooling.

About 3,000 to 4,000 Moldovans are ‘stripped of the right to decide for themselves, and are under the control of guardians’. Many were reported to be leaving PWDs in closed institutions against their will, using the disability allowances of the latter, controlling their assets, and prohibiting them from basic socio-legal acts.

The PWD Forum could only hope that the finding of Dr. Raman Sharma from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute will lessen cases of intellectual disability. Together with some researchers from Europe, he has discovered the “novel gene,” which when mutated, causes intellectual disability in 1 in 50 individuals.

“We have identified four mutations in the THOC2 gene in four families. The defected gene is found in males who have an intellectual disability – females in the families are carriers of the gene mutation but are not affected by the condition. Protein coded by the THOC2 gene is part of a large protein complex that is fundamental for all living human cells and essential for normal development and function,” Dr. Sharma, lead author of the paper, was quoted in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

To date, Dr. Sharma is poised to know more about familial gene mutations.

“But that’s just the first step. Before we can develop a treatment for a condition, we first need to understand what is going on in the body and discover how a specific defected gene causes a particular disease.”

“Advanced genetic technologies have accelerated the discovery of genes responsible for diseases like epilepsy, autism, intellectual disability and other neurological disorders. But the number of genetic conditions in which we have functional understanding of the mutated genes can be counted on two hands.”

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Biology Videos

Shaun Webster: the believer

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are neither scroungers nor superheroes, a 43-year-old man in Rotherham, South Yorkshire maintains.

His name is Shaun Webster, the international project worker of Change, a human rights organization led by PWDs. He has visited the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Moldova to train health- and social care professionals on ‘de-institutionalisation’, community living, and community-based care.

With a learning disability himself, Webster has called for the closure of long-stay institutions for young people with learning disabilities through Lumos, a children’s charity founded by JK Rowling.

“They’re doing it faster in Europe, building small group homes and getting people into the community, here they’re dragging their feet, still putting money into care homes. Other countries are less scared, ready to work with people with learning disabilities,” Webster was quoted in a report.

Webster also believes that PWDs, which number about to 1.4 in the United Kingdom, should be more visible in communities ‘to challenge the status quo’. Politicians must be engaged, and a political party of PWDs ‘might be an idea to get our voice across to government because we’re the experts in real life.’

To date, Webster would champion ‘the fact that people with learning disabilities can, should, and do have the same “real life” as everyone else, with a job, home and family life’. He had three children with his childhood sweetheart before they separated. He is now a grandfather of two toddlers and lives in a community-based supported housing.

“It’s starting,” he says, “but we need to make it louder … people want to have proper jobs, to live in the community and not be vulnerable or patronised.” ~ Shaun Webster

Video posted with permission from lumoscharity