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Thursday, March 26, 2015

MediaWatch: Watching the right-wing media (E-Mail to me from Left Foot Forward)

Dear Left Foot Forward reader,

Apologies for the out of the blue email like this, but I wanted to make you aware of a new project at Left Foot Forward which aims to highlight and counter spin, misinformation and bias in the right-wing press.

Launching today, MediaWatch is being led by new addition to the Left Foot Forward team Adam Barnett, a highly experienced journalist with a passion for accurate reporting.

You can follow MediaWatch on Twitter here and access the MediaWatch page on Left Foot Forward here.

As an added bonus, you will get a Saturday email from Adam with a weekly round-up of MediaWatch stories (you can opt-out of that email by unsubscribing from it on a Saturday - you will continue to receive the LFF daily email).

Here's a taster of what we've done at MediaWatch so far:

Daily Mail says ‘beware’ of migrants hiding in your car

‘Better off’ with the Tories? Don’t believe a word of it

The Sun is a bit choosy about YouGov polls


We hope you enjoy the project.

All the best, James.

Follow Left Foot Forward on Twitter: @LeftFootFwd 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Benefit sanctions are a 'hard read' for Britain's learning disabled

you have the right not to be treated badly or
punished in a cruel way

—An Easy Read Summary of "Human Rights and Adults with Learning Disabilities" a Report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Why isn't Prime Minister David Cameron prosecuting jobcentre staff for undermining safety and welfare? Surely he is appalled that a jobcentre in the constituency of Wigan (a town in Greater Manchester, England) sanctioned a vulnerable and reclusive man with learning disabilities, who is unable to tell the time, because he arrived four minutes late for a jobcentre appointment. The man was therefore unable to afford food or electricity, and starved for five days.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy, shadow civil society minister, told fellow parliamentarians about how a vulnerable person in her constituency of Wigan suffered after having his benefits taken away under the controversial sanctions regime.

“Several times this year I have had to refer a gentleman with learning difficulties to Denise (the local Reverend) for food due to him having sanctions on him for turning up late," a local councillor had told her. "The gentleman can’t tell the time and is a recluse. He has been found sitting in his flat in the dark with no electric or gas. He won’t ask for help."

"Only for the old neighbours watch out for him and contact myself heaven knows what would of happened to him. I was informed he has to get a letter off the doctor for an electric card…The lad turned up at my door the other night. He hadn’t eaten for 5 days. He looked like he was dying.”

MP Lisa Nandy: "The man I am talking about is the fourth case of someone with learning disabilities being sanctioned that I have come across in my constituency office this month."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Influential Disability Studies Professor Tobin Siebers Has Passed Away

Dear UMInDS community, colleagues, and friends,

I am writing with great sadness to let you know our dear Tobin Siebers died
today, long-standing Chair of our Initiative on Disability Studies, V. L.
Parrington Collegiate Professor, and Professor of English Language and
Literature and Art & Design at the University of Michigan.

We have lost a great champion for disability studies at our university, in
the wider US academic ecology, and in the development of our discipline
worldwide. Tobin has been a field-builder, a mover and shaker, and a
tireless advocate for a discipline that developed under his and his peers’

Two of his recent books, Disability Aesthetics and Disability Theory, have
become field-defining, and can be found on reading lists around the world.
They present perspectives on disability’s cultural labor: how disability
appears in art, architecture, literature; how its presence and relational
web compels new insights into cultures, writing, and experience; and how
criticism can offer readers tools for thinking anew about bodies in public
space. One of Tobin’s first entries into the new canon of disability
studies was his non-fiction book Among Men: a beautifully elegant
essayistic book about what it meant to grow up into a disabled man, lover,
and father.

I have learned so much from my generous colleague and friend. I had the
great fortune to work with him as co-chair of our initiative, and as
co-teacher in our graduate classroom. His influence is everywhere:
countless scholars in our field have been mentored by him, and he has
validated so many of us in our shared quest to focus on disability as a
rich and exciting field of inquiry. His legacy lives on in his nourishing
critical perspective, his passion and presence, and it will continue to
thrive and grow in the thoughts his writings allow us to spin out.

Disability Studies lives both inside and outside the university, and Tobin
was always aware of multiple audiences, and of the need to think
capaciously about sources of knowledge and wisdom. Whatever your personal
relation to academic writing, I encourage you to re-read or read some of
Tobin’s moving and powerful work, and to take a moment to remember him and
his spirit through his lines.  Below are a few links. In these essays, you
can trace the imagination, heart, and intellect of a man who has given so
much to all of us.

My thoughts are with Tobin’s wife and children, and with the wider circle
of the many students who have made him part of their chosen family.

There will be a memorial service for Tobin followed by a reception on
Friday, February 6th at 2:00 pm in the Michigan League Ballroom.  The
public is welcome.

Before the memorial service, you are also very welcome to join the UMInDS
Symposium on Disability Studies, and the final sharing of the
international, national and local disability culture artists who are coming
together in the Duderstadt Video Studio on North Campus, honoring the
legacy of Tobin Siebers, from 10-1.

Some of Tobin Siebers’ writings:

My Withered Limb (Michigan Quarterly Review):

Disability Aesthetics (Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory)

Disability Theory (University of Michigan Press)

The Art of Disability: An Interview with Tobin Siebers by Mike Levin
(Disability Studies Quarterly)

Petra Kuppers
English, Art and Design, Theatre, Women's Studies
University of Michigan
Artistic Director of The Olimpias:
New Book October 2014: Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An
Introduction (Palgrave).

Friday, December 12, 2014

[UK event] It’s Not Gibberish: ‘Disabled’ Voices in Literature for Young People

It’s Not Gibberish: ‘Disabled’ Voices in Literature for Young People

Prof. Chloƫ Hughes

Date: Wednesday 17th December 2014
Time: 2.15pm–3.45pm
Place: Eden 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK

What overt and subtle messages in children’s and young adult literature reinforce stereotypes or expand understandings of the social construct known as disability?  After briefly reviewing how disability has been a means in art, literature, and history to render individuals impotent, without identity, and ultimately voiceless, Prof. Hughes will focus on real and fictional voices of individuals and characters with unique communication patterns who claim and articulate their right to self determination.  Dyslexic, stuttered, “crooked,” interior, signed, and computer-generated voices, as they appear in recently published literature for young people, are illuminating and obscuring the boundaries of ability and disability.  How can teachers use such literature to promote inclusion in their classrooms?

ChloĆ« Hughes is Professor of Teacher Education at Western Oregon University where she teaches literacy and diversity classes.  Her research focuses on literacy learning among individuals with disabilities and on the portrayal of disability in children’s and young adult literature.  Her work has appeared in the Journal for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Rethinking Schools; War, Literature and the Arts; and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. She also chairs the US Board on Books for Young People Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities committee.

This seminar is part of the CCDS series, The Voice of Disability. Other dates include:

14 Jan 2015, It Must Be Simple: The Supreme Fiction at the Core of the Backlash to Access Debate, David Feeney.

11 Feb 2015, Authorship and the voice of disability in dance, Mathilde Pavis and Kate Marsh.

11 Mar 2015, Which Theory of Democracy for an Inclusive Society? A Pragmaticist Approach, David Doat.

13 May 2015, The Voice of the Disability Activist Movement in the US around the ADA:  A Hidden Minority or a Hidden Army, Lennard J. Davis.

17 Jun 2015, ‘Working together for positive outcomes’: The Appropriation of Voice and Participation in SEN policy, Claire Penketh.

Also, Disability and Disciplines: The International Conference on Educational, Cultural, and Disability Studies will be held 1-2 July, 2015.

For further information please contact:

Dr. David Bolt

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education

Director, Centre for Culture & Disability Studies

Editor in Chief, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Joint Editor, Literary Disability Studies

Telephone: 0151 291 3346
Office: HCA 012
Postal address: Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK, L16 9JD.

Recent Books:
Changing Social Attitudes Toward Disability:
The Madwoman and the Blindman:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Persons with Disabilities at Work: The Invisible Workers? Wednesday 10 December 2014 European Parliament | Room ASP 1E1 12:00 - 14:00


Persons with disabilities at work: 

the invisible workers?

Wednesday 10 December 2014
European Parliament | Room ASP 1E1
12:00 - 14:00

Gender, age, disability type and degree are factors that affect the extent of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market. Identifying these factors through data collection and providing a reasonable accommodation through different employment policy schemes are key conditions for overcoming a situation that has been aggravated by the economic crisis.

According to the latest EU data, there is still a 26% difference in rates of employment for persons with and without disabilities across the EU. This is 30 points lower than the Europe 2020 target of 75% employment for persons with disabilities. Despite the implementation of different national and regional policies aimed at increasing the participation of persons with disabilities in the labour market, overall the participation rate of persons with disabilities is significantly lower than for persons without disabilities, which reinforces social inequalities.

The European Disability Forum, within the framework of its involvement in the DISCIT project, organises a discussion with Eurostat and the main EU policy-makers to exchange information and data on this important topic and gather innovative ideas on the field. Please find enclosed the agenda of this seminar.  

We kindly invite you to join this discussion by sending back the attached registration form to EDF event organiser, Ann Vervaecke ( by 4 December.  
Lila Sylviti
European Disability Forum | nothing about us without us
tel +32 2 282 46 04 | fax +32 2 282 46 09 -

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

'Hate Figure' Iain Duncan Smith Sings His Version of Supertramp's "Give A Little Bit"

"Give A Little Bit"

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your hate to me
Give a little bit
I'll give a little bit of my hate to you
There's so much that we need to share
Send a tweet and show me your despise

I'll give a little bit
I'll give a little bit of my scorn to you
So give a little bit
Give a little bit of your timeline to me
See the disabled man with the lonely eyes
Take his hand, you'll be surprised
he's still alive under my reforms

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your contempt to me
I'll give a little bit of my loathing for you
Now's the time that we need to share
So find yourself on Twitter, I'm on my way back home
to my mansion.

Going home to my £2million Tudor country pile
Don't you need to feel at home in Austerity Britain?
Oh yeah, Glenda, we gotta sing 
So stop giving me vile looks
and tweeting #IDSMustGo

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Iain Duncan Smith: The 'quiet man' has become the 'Teflon man'. Nothing sticks.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, was sacked by Ed Miliband for sneering at a family home draped with England flags. Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe was sacked by Sainsbury's after saying David Cameron should resign for using his ‘dead son’ as a front to privatise the NHS.

So why wasn't Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, sacked in 2012 for his ignorant and heartless remarks after saying that disabled Remploy workers were “not doing any work... just making cups of coffee”?

Why wasn't Iain Duncan Smith sacked in 2014, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) publicly admitted it was wrong, that it should not have axed the disability benefits of Asperger's sufferer Mark Wood, who starved to death just five months later, weighing five-and-a-half stone.

I could cite additional examples, but suffice it to say that Iain Duncan Smith has committed more wrongdoing than Emily Thornberry and Jack Monroe combined—and astonishingly, has not been forced to resign.  The 'quiet man' has become the 'Teflon man'.  Nothing sticks.