Check out these books by or about Deaf and Disabled people on World Book Day!

Deaf and Disabled people are often not well represented in literature. Earlier this year, the Merton Centre for Independent Living made an effort ahead of World Book Day to crowd-source a list of books by or about Deaf and Disabled people.

Check out the list their members and supporters came up with here.

Are there any books you think should be added to the list? You can send your suggestions to info@mertoncil.org.uk or tweet them @MertonCIL

Disability News Service News Feb 28 2019

Government announces plans for extension of personal health budgets

The government wants to increase the number of people who use personal health budgets (PHBs) to choose their own health and social care support from 40,000 to as many as 200,000 over the next five years.

It has approved extending legal rights to PHBs to disabled people eligible for funding from NHS wheelchair services, and those eligible for aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act.

But it also signalled that these rights would eventually be extended to other groups, including people with ongoing social care needs who also make regular and continuing use of particular NHS services; people leaving the armed services who are eligible for ongoing NHS services; and autistic people and those with learning difficulties who are eligible for ongoing NHS care.

Read the full article here.

Katherine Araniello: Tributes to ‘force of nature’ and ‘creative genius’

Disabled artists and activists are mourning the death of Katherine Araniello, a “force of nature” who leaves behind a “hugely significant” disability arts legacy.

Araniello was a performance and video artist who used satire and subversive humour at the expense of “dehumanising and patronising” targets such as disability charities, the Paralympics and media representation of disabled people.

Tony Heaton, chair and former chief executive of Shape Arts, said Araniello was “an original and independent thinker” with a “wicked sense of humour and irony”, and her death was a “huge and devastating loss”. 

Read the full article here.

Concerns over growing number of ‘dangerous and discriminatory’ road layouts

Increasing numbers of local authorities are breaching the Equality Act by designing “dangerous and discriminatory” road layouts that put blind and partially-sighted people at risk of serious harm, say disabled campaigners.

The concerns have been raised by the user-led campaign group National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFB UK), which has grown increasingly concerned by schemes being introduced across the country.

Among those councils it has highlighted are Manchester City Council, Leicester City Council, and Enfield council in north London.

Read the full article here.

Government is failing on disabled women’s rights, UN is told

Activists have told a UN committee how the UK government is failing to address the significant barriers and human rights violations faced by disabled women in accessing social security, justice, jobs and health services.

Eleanor Lisney and Rachel O’Brien, from the disabled women’s collective Sisters of Frida, were among UK women’s rights campaigners in Geneva this week to brief a UN committee of women’s rights experts.

The committee was examining the UK on its progress in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Read the full article here.

DWP failed for years to meet legal duties on accessible information, says judge

he Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed for years to comply with its legal duties under the Equality Act by refusing to provide an accessible way for many disabled people to communicate with its staff about their benefits, a judge has ruled.

Judge Jeremy Johnson said in a high court ruling that DWP’s “systemic” failings pre-dated the Equality Act, which became law in 2010, and meant that some disabled people had been deprived of “essential” benefits.

His written judgment also revealed that DWP admitted that its creaking IT systems that deal with employment and support allowance (ESA) claims were not fit for purpose but that it was not worth spending £750,000 updating them because of the continuing roll out of universal credit, which has a new IT system.

Read the full article here.

Discrimination faced by disabled DWP staff leaps by half in four years

The proportion of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff who say they have been victims of disability discrimination at work in the previous 12 months has risen by about 50 per cent in just four years, Civil Service figures have revealed.

The annual Civil Service People Survey shows the number of DWP staff saying they had personally experienced disability discrimination at work in the past 12 months rose by 150 (more than 10 per cent), from 1,462 in 2017 to 1,612 in 2018.

And the proportion of all DWP staff reporting disability discrimination rose by about 12 per cent, from about 2.55 per cent of all employees in 2017 to about 2.85 per cent in the 2018 survey.

Read the full article here.

New Rough Guide to Accessible Britain

Packed with over 180 reviews of accessible and inspiring days out, there’s something for everyone in theRough Guide to Accessible Britain. The Guide aims to inspire and support people with diverse needs in enjoying the best of Britain’s attractions – whatever their disability.

The perfect tool for Motability Scheme customers wanting to explore the UK, the revamped Rough Guide to Accessible Britain is free to download or view online.

Now in its 10th year, the Guide is an ideal planning tool for anyone with access needs and now also includes information for visitors with more hidden conditions such as autism or mental illness. Every venue in the Guide is reviewed by Rough Guides’ team of writers, who either have a disability themselves or visited the venue with disabled friend or family member.

The Guide provides clear and helpful advice to highlight the very best inclusive and accessible days out for people of all abilities, from museums and art galleries, to wildlife parks and gardens.

View the Guide online.

Download your free Guide.

The EnAble Fund for Elected Office

Following a campaign by the cross-party group More United , the EnAble Fund for Elected Office was launched on 3rd December 2018, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The Fund is provided by the Government Equalities Office and is administered by Disability Rights UK. It is intended to cover the additional financial costs associated with a disability, that would otherwise prevent someone from seeking elected office.

To apply for the Fund you must have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

You must also have a genuine intention to seek elected office, for an election that takes place during the timescale of the fund. These will include Local Government Elections in May 2109 and Police and Crime Commissioner Elections in May 2020.

You can find out more about the Fund here.

Disability News Service News 21st Feb

Long-awaited Newton meeting confirms confusion over DPO engagement

Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have raised ongoing concerns about the government’s failure to comply with basic principles of the UN disability convention at a long-awaited meeting with the minister for disabled people.

Representatives of six of the UK’s leading DPOs met with minister for disabled people Sarah Newton and senior civil servants last week to discuss the government’s track record on engaging with disabled people and their user-led organisations.

It was the first time that Newton (pictured) had met with the group of DPOs – members of the UK CRPD Monitoring Coalition of Disabled People’s Organisations – since she took up her post in late 2017.

Read the full article here.

Council told to improve disability equality training after councillor’s ‘ignorant’ attacknull

A disabled politician has described the equality training given to fellow councillors as “a joke” after a Liberal Democrat rival was forced to apologise for posting a message on social media that accused him of using his impairment for political purposes.

The comments by Lib Dem Joe Naitta were targeted last June at fellow Derby city councillor Amo Raju, who is a Labour party member and also chief executive of the user-led organisation Disability Direct.

Naitta said in a Facebook post to his supporters: “This one uses his disability, get rid of labour in Blagreaves ward.”

Read the full article here.

Disabled residents play ground-breaking co-production role in major development

Disabled people have played a “ground-breaking” role in co-producing a major new redevelopment scheme.

The role played by disabled people in the planning application to redevelop Hammersmith town hall and the surrounding area in London is the first major product of a pioneering agreement to embed a genuine culture of co-production within Hammersmith and Fulham council.

A report last year by the Hammersmith and Fulham Disabled People’s Commission (pictured, the report’s launch) was accepted in full by the council and hailed as a blueprint for disabled people’s organisations across the country to push for change from their own local authorities.

Read the full article here.

Watchdogs’ comments boost hopes for rail access improvements

Powerful warnings from two watchdogs about the barriers faced by disabled passengers have been welcomed as a “wonderful step in re-instating access to rail for all” by a leading accessible transport expert.

One of the two watchdogs, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), warned the government and train operating companies that two major elements of the rail system could be discriminating against disabled passengers.

In a letter to MPs on the Commons transport select committee, EHRC chair David Isaac says the commission is concerned about the impact of “ongoing transport policies”, particularly the move towards running more trains without a member of customer services staff on board – driver-only operated (DOO) trains – and an increase in unstaffed stations.

Read the full article here.

Call for urgent probe into police passing DWP information about protesters

There are growing concerns and calls for an urgent investigation into admissions by two police forces that they have shared information about protesters with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Both Lancashire and Greater Manchester police forces have now admitted passing on information to DWP about people taking part in protests.

The admissions originally came following claims reported by Disability News Service (DNS) that police forces had been targeting disabled people taking part in peaceful anti-fracking protests across England.

Read the full article here.

DWP ‘refused reasonable adjustments for community recruits’

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) repeatedly failed to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people who were recruited to build bridges between jobcentres and the local community, it has been claimed.

But the department also appears to be set to discard all the disabled people they recruited from outside the Civil Service when their fixed-term contracts end.

It is feared that none of the scores of Community Partners taken on by DWP to build relationships between jobcentres and local organisations will secure permanent roles when their contracts end at the end of next month.

Read the full article here.

Jodey Whiting: DWP continued to phone woman who took her own life, inquiry finds

he Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continued to phone and write to a disabled woman who had taken her own life after having her benefits stopped, an independent investigation has found.

The report by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE), Joanna Wallace, concluded that the DWP has no system that immediately alerts all the relevant staff that a claimant of employment and support allowance (ESA) has died.

Because of that failure, DWP continued to phone mum-of-nine Jodey Whiting, and leave voice messages for her, and also wrote to her, after she had taken her own life in February 2017.

Read the full article here.

Jodey Whiting: DWP ignored five ‘safeguarding’ chances before WCA suicide

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed five times to follow its own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to the suicide of a disabled woman with a long history of mental distress, an independent investigation has found.

The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) concluded that DWP was guilty of “multiple” and “significant” failings in handling the case of mother-of-nine Jodey Whiting (pictured), who had her out-of-work disability benefits stopped for missing a work capability assessment (WCA), and took her own life just 15 days later.

The report is the latest evidence of the institutional failure of DWP to guarantee the safety of disabled people – and particularly those with a history of mental distress – within the “fitness for work” system.

Read the full article here.

Survey on UC for Disabled people and people with long term health conditions

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has launched a Universal Credit survey so that they can find out more about the experiences of Disabled people and people with long term health conditions

If you have applied for Universal Credit or tried to apply – the DBC want to hear from you.

You can take the online survey here.

The survey should take up to 20 minutes to complete and the results will be completely anonymous. This means your name will not appear in any reports produced by the DBC.

Please share your experiences with Universal Credit and add your voice thousands of other disabled people and people with long-term health conditions so the DBC can lobby the government and campaign for a fairer benefits system.

If you would like the survey in an alternative format or would like to complete it over the phone please contact the DBC here.

The survey closes end of February 2019.

Want to Start a Career in Broadcast Journalism?

Breaking into News is an initiative run by Media Trust, in partnership with ITV News to discover diverse new talent and identify top broadcast journalists of the future.

The competition, now in its eighth year, offers aspiring journalists with limited journalism experience from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the opportunity to create a local news report with support and advice from experienced journalists working in ten of ITV’s regional newsroom

Disabled people are the most under-represented minority group in broadcasting, according to a provisional report by Diamond, a project set up by the major broadcasters to monitor diversity in the industry. This is why, as members of the ITV West Country Diversity Panel, we would like to strongly encourage our members and any other Disabled people who are interested in a career in broadcast journalism to enter ITV’s Breaking into News competition.

Representation matters; we need Disabled people in the media to tell our stories and highlight the issues that we face. The video below is from one of last year’s winners, Steven Portman, reporting on the barriers Disabled people face when looking for employment.

If you have been dreaming of a career in broadcast journalism and you would like to report on the issues that matter to you, apply here by Friday 5 April 2019.

Bristol City Council Consultations – Libraries, Getting Your Voice Heard and A4018 Improvement Proposals

Libraries:

Have you got ideas or suggestions for your library and its building? Can you help make these ideas happen?

BCC want you to tell them about your ideas or suggestions for your library and its building. They are looking for opportunities for community-led activities and partnerships to create a library service for the future.

Ideas could include extending the service and use of buildings while also looking at the wider needs of the local community. These can be small ideas that could be started quickly, as well as bigger ideas which will make a significant difference to how a library service is provided in the future.

You can submit ideas up until the end of April 2019 at bristol.gov.uk/libraryideas

Getting Your Voice Heard:

Are you interested in becoming part of the Bristol’s Citizen Panel?

The panel has been running for over 20 years but BCC need to add new members! It’s an online Panel where residents of Bristol are asked about their views and opinions on a wide range of issues. You will be asked to complete surveys up to 4 times a year and can leave the Panel at any time you choose.

You can take part at bristol.citizenspace.com/business-change/bristols-citizens-panel

Do you live in Westbury or use the A4018 on a regular basis?

A4018 improvement proposals.

Take part in BCC’s consultation on proposed changes to the A4108 (Also known as Wyck Beck Road, Passage Road, Falcondale Road, and Westbury Road).

The A4018 is one of the most important routes into central Bristol; therefore it can be very congested throughout the day. Proposed developments to the Filton Airfield site will also increase the number of people travelling via the A4018 over the next few years. BCC have proposed several changes to improve current levels of congestion and meet the growing demand on the A4018.

You can give your feedback on these changes by filling in the survey below. If you want to talk to us about the A4018, you can attend a drop-in session on 23 and 27 February or 4 March. Times and revised venues for the drop-in sessions and more information on the proposed changes is available by clicking the link below. 


You can take part at bristol.citizenspace.com/growth-regeneration/a4018-improvements-proposals/


This consultation will close on 17 March 2019

Disability News Service News 14th Feb

Parents who home educate disabled children ‘scapegoated’ by commissioner

Families forced into home educating their disabled children because of the lack of support from mainstream schools are among parents who are being “scapegoated” by the children’s commissioner, according to a disabled mum and campaigner.

Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, published a report last week that calls for action to address the lack of knowledge about the standard of education and safety of the tens of thousands of children currently being home educated.

Research by Channel 4’s Dispatches, for a documentary presented by Longfield (pictured) last week, found that 22 per cent of children withdrawn from school to be home educated in 2017-18 had special educational needs (SEN).

Read the full article here.

‘Delight’ over breakthrough on Welsh independent living scheme closure

Disabled campaigners have welcomed measures that aim to address concerns over the imminent closure of the Welsh government’s independent living grant scheme.

Julie Morgan, the deputy minister for health and social services, has written to council leaders to ask for an immediate “pause” in the closure programme and its replacement with a system of council-funded support.

There will now be new independent assessments for any former recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme who are unhappy with the new support packages allocated by their local authority.

Read the full article here.

‘Disability Confident’ Arts Council England’s job stats shame

The Arts Council has admitted that only two per cent of its directors – and just three per cent of its managers – are disabled people, despite having achieved “Disability Confident Employer” status under the government’s discredited disability employment scheme.

Arts Council England (ACE) has now become the latest employer to achieve the top two levels of the Disability Confident scheme – including government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions – despite their own troubling records on disability employment.

The figures came in ACE’s fourth annual diversity report , which showed figures for 2017-18.

Read the full article here.

MP speaks of pride at being dyspraxic at launch of Neurodivergent Labour

A disabled MP has spoken of her pride at being able to speak openly about being dyspraxic, after having to hide her diagnosis from employers for years before she entered parliament.

Emma Lewell-Buck (pictured) was previously a social worker but was “acutely aware that if there were any job cuts that would come around, it would be used against me and I would be the first one in the dole queue”.

She said she used to take work home with her at weekends, work late into the evening and start early in the morning because, like many other disabled people, she felt she had to “go the extra mile” and “work that little bit harder to prove yourself or keep up”.

Read full article here.

Launch of Neurodivergent Labour ‘could be milestone in fight for rights and equality’

The launch of a new user-led political organisation is set to be a “landmark event” for neurodivergent people in the Labour party.

After three years of lobbying, discussions and consultation, disabled party members launched Neurodivergent Labour in central London on Saturday.

Janine Booth, co-chair of the TUC disabled workers’ committee, who played a key role in its formation, told the launch event it would be “a milestone in the fight for acceptance, rights and equality for autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic and otherwise neurodivergent people through the Labour party”.

Read the full article here.

User-led sector ‘faces threat of extinction’

User-led organisations across the country are continuing to close, with the sector even facing a “real threat of extinction”, leading networks have warned this week.

Those user-led organisations that have found a way to survive are increasingly being side-lined from government consultations and government-funded projects, they said.

The National Survivor User Network (NSUN) estimates that about 50 more user-led organisations that were previously NSUN members have been forced to close in the last year.

Read the full article here.

MPs hear of ways to save benefit claimants from harm… or even death

Disabled activists and shadow ministers at a parliamentary meeting have been told of ways they could help to reduce the appalling damage caused by the government’s hated “fitness for work” assessment and other social security cuts and reforms.

Academics, researchers, politicians and campaigners spoke at yesterday’s (Thursday’s) meeting (pictured), which was hosted and organised by Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell as part of a lobby of parliament.

The First Do No Harm lobby focused on the continuing refusal of ministers to ensure that sufficient medical evidence is gathered before decisions are made on claims for out-of-work disability benefits, particularly for people with mental distress.

Read the full article here.

Ministers block release of ‘no deal Brexit’ social care recruitment plans

Ministers are refusing to release information that would show what extra plans – if any – the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has put in place to deal with an adult social care recruitment crisis in the event of a “no deal Brexit”.

With just 43 days until Britain faces the possibility of leaving the European Union without a deal in place, DHSC claimed that “premature” release of the information could put at risk “effective policy formulation and development regarding our exit from the EU”.

Instead of releasing its records, it has pointed to “high level” plans published just before Christmas, but they suggest that ministers have no plans in place to deal with an adult social care recruitment crisis.

Read the full article here.

Tory conference police force admits sharing information on protesters with DWP

Disabled activists have demanded an inquiry after a police force that has patrolled four Conservative party conferences since 2010 admitted sharing information about protesters with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has now become the second police force to admit sharing information about people taking part in protests with DWP, following a similar admission by Lancashire police.

But GMP has also admitted having a “sharing agreement” with DWP, even though the department explicitly stated two months ago that it had no such arrangements with any police force.

Read the full article here.

Make the Bristol and Bath Railway Path Accessible for All

Cyclist riding through Bristol and Bath Railway Path Tunnel

As part of their ‘One Path Initiative‘, Sustrans are working local communities and the Councils of Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Council to explore ways in which behaviour on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path (BBRP) could be improved.  

The One Path initiative engages with path users, listen to their concerns, analyse the issues and then work with them to find a solution. Please follow the link below to take part in an online survey to have your say on how you feel the path could be made accessible for all.

Bristol and Bath Railway Path Questionnaire: https://bit.ly/2HPWI1n

For any extra information:

Link to the ‘One Path’ Facebook page

Information on the project: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/onepath

Sign up to the mailing list: http://eepurl.com/gfAoHP