Tag Archives: Persons with Disabilities

Moldova

It’s simple. Persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Moldova just have to use a perforated sheet of thin plastic and—voila!—their votes will be casted.

With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Moldova has introduced the “sleeve envelope.” It was piloted and tested in a polling station in Chisinau during the 2010 elections and could let those with visual impairments to vote their chosen political party by counting the openings in the sleeve and then marking on the specially designated space.

The UNDP has sponsored 7,000 voting booths and 10,000 ballot boxes to ensure that the upcoming elections would be more inclusive and up-to-date. Even PWDs in wheelchairs would be able to cast their vote in a special booth.

The UNDP was able to do this through its Moldova Democracy Programme funded by the governments of Sweden and Norway (the electoral equipment amounted to $436,000 all in all!). The programme aims to enhance the capacity of the Parliament and the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) in carrying out its main functions such as in bringing gender and human rights aspects into the formal political process.

As of this writing, the programme has helped compile gender-disaggregated data like number of women and men voters, improve access to elections for persons with disabilities, turn CEC an ISO-certified elections management body, and create a valid voter register.

“I was very happy and proud that as a citizen, I can now really vote secretly, that I can express my opinion without the help of any another person, even the most trusted one.” ~ Nicolae Ciobanu

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the UN Moldova

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+Infocomm

Specific initiatives on infocomm and assistive technology – that’s what Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development, has promised in a meeting in the Singapore Parliament.

A total of S$30 million strategic initiative from the Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative Grant will generate new solutions for persons with disabilities (PWDs). It will be carried out over a period of five years, in partnership with the SG Enable and National Council of Social Service.

The Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative has been supporting non-profit organizations through pilot and evidence-based programs as well as cross-sectoral collaborations. The Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) sectors will also be in the picture.

Meanwhile, the country’s Ministry of Education has committed to help Singaporean students with special needs through funding assistive technology devices and support services. The Special Education Needs Fund will also enable students in Institutes of Higher Learning to purchase devices to facilitate their learning, and Tan’s ministry will be increasing the lifetime cap and subsidy coverage of its Assistive Technology Fund.

“The changes will help more persons with disabilities and provide them greater support to defray the cost of purchasing or repairing their assistive devices” ~ Tan Chuan-Jin

Windsor

Even through the summer heat, the outdoor city pools in Windsor will be open for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The Atkinson Pool, Central Pool, Lanspeary Pool, Mic Mac Pool, Remington Booster Pool, and Riverside Centennial Pool would be setting up lifts for them, anyway. There would also be amenities such as heated pools, wade pools, skateboard facilities, walking trails, and soccer pitches, among others that PWDs and non-PWDs alike can enjoy.

Lifts or elevators have been a legal requirement in some countries for some time now. It is followed by this state as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Aside from that, Windsor supports the employment of PWDs by maintaining a website that lists the programs that could assist them. These programs include employment preparation, one-to-one assistance, job coaching and maintenance, job trial and volunteer activity placements and vocational life skills training including mobility training and computer training.

It also has services that protects the rights of PWDs in the area. Among these is the Citizen Advocacy, Easter Seals Ontario – Windsor/Sarnia, and Learning Disabilities Association of Windsor – Essex County – PACE (Parents Advocating – Children Excelling).

“Loneliness is the most terrible poverty.” ~Mother Teresa


Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Kevin McShan

Pi Kappa Phi (Southern Team)

On a mission, riders and crew from Washington, Texas, New York, Ohio, California and Michigan has cycled across the United States of America to raise funding for the awareness on people with disabilities (PWDs).

They started in Long Beach, California last June 12. Then they continued towards Barstow, Pahrump, Las Vegas and Lake Havasu. After stopping in Parker, they still travelled to Wickenburg, Tempe, Dallas, Atlanta, Carolinas, Virginia, and Washington.

The men are members of the Pi Kappa Phi, a fraternity known before as Push America. They have a charitable arm—The Ability Experience—that planned the Journey of Hope. It has raised $556,000 to date to assist and work with people with disabilities.

Among the men are Pat Lynch, a sociology and mass communications major at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York; Matthew Sutter, a communications major at the University of Toledo in Ohio; James Woolridge, an industrial management major at Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana; and Stephen Bendziewicz, a biology major at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Aside from the Pi Kappa Phi (Southern Team), there are two other teams that are scheduled to reach Washington, D.C. on Aug. 8. The three teams will cover a total of 32 states and 12,000 miles of biking. Each of the riders will average 75 miles per day.

“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.” ~ Pat Lynch

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity – PiKapp UMass

Turning One!

Preposterous it will sound if The PWD Forum would claim a hand on how the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs) throughout the world has improved in the last 12 months.

In my home country, various sectors have realized that the disaster risk reduction and management programs currently in place there should be more responsive.

The PWD Forum has written about how necessary these kinds of plans are in the Philippines since the country is almost always plagued by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis last July 14, 2014. It has 726 readers there.

In the place where I am now, a team has been sent to the United Nations to organize a series of events concerning PWDs and highlight the country’s policies.

The PWD Forum has reported how the United Arab Emirates provides an environment conducive for PWDs like Feras and Wael Al Moubayed last October 28, 2014 as well as Kaltham Obaid Bakheet last April 28, 2015. It has 212 viewers there.

Elsewhere, some corporations have called for “an inclusive society” together with the PWDs. Some educational institutions have taught job skills to them, and some politicians have taken it upon themselves to provide assistive devices.

The PWD Forum has been seen in 43 other countries. Among these are the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, India, Lebanon, Germany, Australia, Japan, Jamaica, Belgium, Singapore, Switzerland, Pakistan, member states of the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa, Jordan, Bhutan, Spain, Indonesia, South Korea, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Turkey, Thailand, Kenya, Bahamas, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Israel, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Austria, Poland, Vietnam, and Moldova.

Early on, The PWD Forum has wanted special education for all. But after sometime, it began to wonder if what it is advocating for is plausible especially in the third-world countries where PWDs are plenty. It has then thought to compromise: just another kind of special education for non-PWDs if they couldn’t be put together with the PWDs!

But Ashish Goyal didn’t learn numbers in a specialized school. Apolinario Mabini was able to study in two prestigious universities in the Philippines and had even set up a private school on his own. The mother of Tatyana McFadden had still enrolled her daughter in various sports activities even though Tatyana was born with spina bifida.

Special education must really be imparted to everyone then. Even the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has thought so. Disability rates are significantly higher among groups with lower educational attainment among its members, which include 14 countries.

Moreover, the United Nations Development Program found out that 80% of the PWDs in the world live in developing countries. People also spend 8 years of their life span living with disabilities. The aim of The PWD Forum from the start should still hold after all.

 “The PWD Forum aims to increase the awareness of the ‘normal’ people—particularly those in governments—to the true situation of people with disabilities (PWDs). It would just be a plus if there would be PWDs and non-PWDs alike who would join the discussions and/or initiate the conversations themselves.”

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Perkins Vision

Sisters of Invention: the challenged pop group

To change the ‘normal’ people’s perception on persons with disabilities (PWDs), five women with learning disabilities formed the first pop girl group in Adelaide.

Aimee, 28, has Williams syndrome. Jackie, 25, has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Annika, 28, is blind with a mild intellectual disability. Both Michelle, 24, and Caroline, 29, have cerebral palsy and, like Annika, a mild intellectual disability.

Every track in the 10-song alternative pop album is the girls’ own story. Chaos And Serenity, for one, is about the “mixed messages” Annika would hear at school: her parents believe she could succeed while her principal won’t. Another track, Tsunami Of Kites, is about Jackie’s cousin who committed suicide.

The Sisters of Invention first performed in 2010 after the singers met through the Tutti Arts, a South Australian organization that supports disabled artists. Michelle said the band’s name was derived from the members’ treatment to each other and their mission ‘to change people’s view of people with disabilities.’

“And that’s where The Sisters of Invention differ from what your average listener or viewer might expect of a ‘disabled band’: this is no parade of trite ~inspirational anthems~. Rather, they are top notch pop songs that, like any other artist, deal with the emotional truths of life; it just happens that for these women, that involves living with disabilities (and living with people’s prejudices about those disabilities),” Clem Bastow, broadcaster and music critic currently based in Melbourne, Australia, wrote in her column for the Daily Life.

The Sisters of Invention would perform 20-30 paid gigs every year. The band’s producer, Michael Ross, has been working with them ever since “to get them to the point where their natural musical talents have created broadcast standard records.” Together, they are already preparing for the Sisters of Invention’s upcoming album. The second video, in fact, is already underway and would be shot at the Luna Park in Sydney.

All of members were influenced by Stella Young, a comedian, journalist and disability advocate in Australia. Her humor was the one that spurred them to change their own thinking about disability and in turn to attempt to do the same for their listeners.

“We’re here to challenge people … and just to get the music out there and where we should be.” ~Aimee Crathern

Video permitted to be posted by the ABC News

SPED for All

Special education (SPED) refers to classroom or private instruction involving techniques and exercises for persons with disabilities (PWDs) whose learning needs cannot be met by the standard school curriculum.

Its inclusion in the United States started after the Second World War. Then it was introduced in the Philippines by David Prescott Barrows, an American anthropologist who had established the Insular School for the Deaf and the Blind in Manila (later renamed as School for the Deaf and Blind).

In the United Arab Emirates, an agreement was signed with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in November 2006. There’s also the Federal Law 29/2006 that assures every PWD in the country, and the UAE Disability Act that promises its nationals with special needs of ‘the same rights to work and occupy public positions, special facilities at airport and hotels, access to public vehicles and parking, and equitable access and facilities into all new property development projects,” among others.

It also mandates both public and private schools to accept a child with special needs (SN) who wishes to enroll in them. There would be vocational and rehabilitation centers and every effort would be made to take in special needs students in mainstream educational settings.

One of its emirates, Abu Dhabi, has partnered with the New England Center for Children to establish a comprehensive education program in either English or Arabic. Its fourth largest city, Al Ain, has a sports club that could train PWDs for the Special Olympics.

I still think, though, that integrating SPED in the basic and secondary curriculum is necessary, beneficial, and practicable. I had hinted about that in my first post and mentioned it particularly in the introduction of this blog.

“I discovered early that the hardest thing to overcome is not a physical disability but the mental condition which it induces. The world, I found, has a way of taking a man pretty much at his own rating. If he permits his loss to make him embarrassed and apologetic, he will draw embarrassment from others. But if he gains his own respect, the respect of those around him comes easily.” ~ Alexander de Seversky

 

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of GreatSchools