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Friday, October 18, 2013

Wonderful disability film, When I Walk, screening at 4 PM Sunday in New York City


2013 | 85 minutes | U.S., India
Director in Attendance/**

**Sunday, October 20, 2013/4 – 6 pm/ Linder Theater/

American Museum of Natural History/ 79th and Central Park West
Click here for tickets:

*For* *Discounted tickets*
call the Museum’s ticketing dept at (212) 769-5200 and mention the NYU
Council for the Study of Disability

Seven years and 3,600 hours of footage after being diagnosed with multiple
sclerosis, Jason DaSilva brings us an intimate portrait of his own physical
transformation. Through his cinematic talents, DaSilva sheds light not only
on his struggles with the disease, but its impact and influence on his
creative process and his relationships. *When I Walk* is an intimate
depiction of a disability that is rarely portrayed on film, and a rousing
example of storytelling at its most direct, personal and affecting.

*Copresented by New York University’s Council for the Study of Disability*



When I Walk i*s my personal journey, filming myself transforming from
able-bodied to disabled over seven years. Obviously, the main reason why I
started this project was to document my progression. When I first started
this journey, I found there to be a deficit in films that explored the
social model of disability. Most often, media around disability is created
under the guise of the more traditional medical model. As an artist and
media practitioner, I felt it important to honestly portray my thoughts and
emotions, and not only the physical transformation*.
*—Jason DaSilva | Director, When I Walk*

Monday, October 14, 2013

Centre for Culture & Disability Studies Seminar Series: The Voice of Disability

CCDS Seminar Series:
The Voice of Disability

The last CCDS seminar series ran at Liverpool Hope University over a number of years and culminated in Changing Social Attitudes Toward Disability: Perspectives from Historical, Cultural, and Educational Studies, an edited book that we are now completing for Routledge.

Building on this success, we are hosting a new series entitled The Voice of Disability and can now confirm a number of guest speakers:

18th Dec – Cleavings: Critical Losses and Deaf Gain. Prof Michael Davidson (University of California, San Diego) 

15th Jan – Creative/Critical Research: The Poem sequence ‘Phantom/Sex Ontology’. Dr Cath Nichols (University of Leeds)

12th Feb – Oneself as Another:  The Problem of ‘Voice’ in Alzheimer’s Life Writing. Dr Lucy Burke (Manchester Metropolitan University)

12th Mar – Narrating Disability Inside and Outside the Clinic: Or, Beyond Empathy. Prof Tom Couser (Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York) 

21st May – The Reality and Rhetoric of Pupil Voice: Exploring the Educational Journeys of Young People Labelled with Behavioural, Emotional, and Social Difficulties. Dr Marie Caslin (Liverpool Hope University)

25th Jun – Young DaDa: Evaluating Participation in the Arts. Dr Claire Penketh (Liverpool Hope University)

These Wednesday seminars will all be held at 2:15-3:45 in EDEN 109, Liverpool Hope University, United Kingdom. 

Admission is free and all are welcome.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. David Bolt

Senior Lecturer, Education and Disability Studies

Director, Centre for Culture & Disability Studies

Editor in Chief, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Editor, Literary Disability Studies

Founder, International Network of Literary & Cultural Disability Scholars

Telephone: 0151 291 3346

Office: HCA 0100

Postal address: Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK, L16 9JD.

New Book: The Metanarrative of Blindness: A Re-reading of Twentieth-Century Anglophone Writing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

UK Government wrongs, Human Rights and a call for evidence from UN Special Rapporteur Raquel Rolnik

Re-blogged, with some changes, from

[Note from Samuel Miller] I am a 57-year-old Disability Studies specialist and disability activist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to senior United Nations officials on the crisis for the United Kingdom's sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and "sham" means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this mix.

The below should be considered an open letter to all sick and disabled persons in the United Kingdom—especially disability campaigners, whom I am requesting to re-blog it.  Thank you for your cooperation and assistance.

UK Government wrongs, Human Rights and a call for evidence from UN Special Rapporteur Raquel Rolnik

My hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark) mentioned the legality of the Government’s legislation. Let me be clear that our Governments have been condemned by the International Labour Organisation and other international organisations for two decades now because of their trade union legislation.
It is not just about the right to strike; it is about certain basic and fundamental trade union rights. The clause, yet again, imposes further duties that I believe to be completely contrary to ILO (International Labour Organization conventions).
 Yet again, this country will be isolated in the world and condemned for its attack on trade union rights, which are incorporated in all those international statutes and conventions as a basic human right” -John McDonnell.
This was the third day of Parliamentary debate regarding the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill: it breaches human rights, specifically articles 8 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
An additional concern for me was the lack of transparency and opportunity for pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill. The Government deliberately withheld details – the Electoral Commission had not see the draft Bill, nor had the Select Committee seen it in full.
Cameron is also attempting to limit judicial review. If Select Committees are excluded from the legislative process, a case can be challenged under judicial review as that means the legislation is being created on an undemocratic and procedurally unfair basis. Select Committees are part of the constitutional area of law-making, they simply cannot be ignored.
The withholding of key details of drafted Bills from Select Committees means that effective and organised challenging from the opposition is stifled, too. We most certainly have an authoritarian Government that arrived unannounced and unauthorised, one that has very clearly spent some time out of Office spitefully planning an attack on civil society, and the dismantling of the means of redress. The contents of the Lobbying Bill highlight this further.This was a carefully calculated move, and such tactics have become increasingly common since this Government took Office. It would be an enormous mistake, if not academic dishonesty, to pretend that we now live in a first world liberal democracy.
As I have said elsewhere, the purpose of Government in any democracy is to reflect the needs of a population. This Government seems to believe that the population are here to fulfil their own needs, and they are exploiting the vulnerable, stealing lifeline benefits from them – which we have all paid for via taxes – to profit the very wealthy. This is authoritarianism, and not democracy.
The disclosure from the opposition of yet another contravention of our human rights in Government policy-making comes at a time when the United Nations (UN) have found that the welfare reforms are also in breach of international human rights statute.
The bedroom tax constitutes a violation of the human right to adequate housing in several ways. If, for example, the extra payments force tenants to cut down on their spending on food or heating their home.  There are already a number of legal challenges to the bedroom tax under way in British courts. In principle the judiciary here takes into account the international human rights legislation because the UK has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The right to adequate housing is recognised in a number of international human rights instruments.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. It states that:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”.
Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) also guarantees the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities CRPD was ratified by the UK on 8th June 2009. With the possible exception of European treaties, the CRPD is the most important international treaty on disability.
The Government welfare “reforms” (cuts) undermine the right to live independently and to be included in the community - Article19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights conducted an enquiry and found that CRPD did not have a significant role in the Coalition development of welfare policy and legislation, as is required by the Convention.
I heard Grant Shapps attempt to trivialise the issue of the Government’s breach of our human rights with their Bedroom Tax policy by pointing out that other countries are breaching human rights. The Government here have breached International human rights standards and law, regardless of whether or not other Governments in the world have done so.
The fact that this Government have been found to infringe upon our fundamental human rights by an independent assessor, using international legal standards didn’t seem to faze him one bit. His response and anger was directed only at the fact that the assessment had happened at all.
People are dying here, many are made homeless, we are seeing a massive increase in food poverty, and people are committing suicide because they are so very desperate. This is because of the Government’s welfare “reforms”. Human suffering, loss of dignity and death may have many facets, but all of them are equally unforgiving, and when imposed by humans on fellow humans, all are equally unforgivable.
Unabashed by this, and the fact that this Government are actually found to be guilty of human rights violations, Shapps made an outrageous and personal attack on UN envoy Raquel Rolnik. The right-wing media have followed in pursuit, using shameful racism and diversionary character assassination techniques to try and discredit Raquel.
Raquel Rolnik, UN special housing rapporteur has made an initial recommendation about a number of issues – all of which have been highlighted by the media, politicians and advocates working on housing related matters, in particular:
(1) the bedroom tax breaches human rights
(2) regulation of the private rent sector is needed, and
(3) social housing stock needs to be increased.
She also expressed concern about the impact of welfare reforms and austerity measures on the most vulnerable and highlighted that she had seen signs retrogression in the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing.
The UN aide also wants the Bedroom Tax to be investigated fully, as the scheme was never piloted and already constitutes an assault on human rights.The Bedroom Tax is an unfair piece of legislation which has disproportionately negative consequences on disabled people, and those already on the lowest incomes and is therefore discriminatory, as outlined in Labour’s Equality Act, 2010.
She said: “If one life is lost because of these reforms it is one too many“.
Raquel has also hit back at the aggressive behaviour and language of the UK Government following her criticisms of the “bedroom tax”, or “spare room subsidy”, which she recommended be immediately suspended in a press release yesterday. Shapps has claimed Ms Rolnik of being “politically biased” but of course UN Officials are apolitical when it comes to applying the LAW, which is the same, regardless of whether or not a person investigating a breach of that law is liked by the Government, our media, and regardless of alleged personal characteristics.
Raquel Rolnik acted within her remit and did meet the members of the Government, despite the Tory chairman’s claims to the contrary. Although Shapp’s complaints about Ms Rolnik’s failure to meet face-to-face with the ministers responsible for welfare and housing – and hence an alleged lack of balance in her statement – seem somewhat ironic and grossly misplaced, given that it was the Government who did not act on her pre-visit request for those meetings.
She also pointed out at a press conference she held yesterday that she was invited by the Government to be here and that she did speak to Government ministers, including David Foster, Eric Pickles, officials from the Department of Work and Pensions, and she had a list of all the meetings.
She has rightly criticised the deplorably aggressive behaviour of the UK Government:
It was the first time a Government has been so aggressive. When I was in the USA, I had a constructive conversation with them accepting some things and arguing with others. They did not react like this.”
Nor did Croatia, Algeria, Maldives, Argentina, United States, Israel, Rwanda, Palestine, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. In none of these countries did she experience the same level of hostility and aggressiveness from the Government, Raquel informs us.
This truly is a Government of bullying authoritarians that shame us internationally, and this lady was a guest in our Country. It’s atrocious that the Government could not extend courtesy, respect and good manners to this UN envoy. The utter disregard the Government showed the findings of this inspection shows the world how little regard our Government has for vulnerable citizens, how little concern they have for their welfare and rights, and that they couldn’t even put up a pretence of “best behaviour” and polite engagement with an international audience.
Raquel Rolnik wants to hear about all of the human rights abuses currently occurring in the UK, particularly those related to the welfare reforms. She is also interested in any experiences involving suppression of a right to free speech and protest. I wrote to the UN Human Rights Council recently about the implications of legal aid reform and also about the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. Previously I have written about the welfare reforms, and had some discussion with the Commission, who have condemned the whole raft of reforms as “retrogressive”.
At her press conference in London, Raquel Rolink once again criticised the Government regarding the the bedroom tax and the benefit cap, and said that Government are clearly violating our human rights, attacking those who needed the support. She has called for an immediate suspension of the bedroom tax and the benefit cap. She said the bedroom tax was not piloted, either.
She mentioned the personal testimonies of people affected by the bedroom tax, the lack of affordable housing the long waiting lists for social housing. Raquel recognises that people cannot move, and cannot afford to pay moving costs. She acknowledged that people with both mental and physical health conditions were dreadfully affected, and that low income workers are also desperately struggling. She can see that those affected are at substantial risk of their health deteriorating as a consequence of the stressful circumstances raised by the bedroom tax, and she acknowledged that people are dying because of the terrible impact of these measures, and that people cannot afford to eat, and heat their homes in order to pay it and keep a roof over their heads.
Raquel stated clearly to the representatives from the media that the policies introduced by this Government do contravene our human rights. She then asked for an immediate suspension of the bedroom tax, for more social housing and private rental housing to be built, for rents to be lowered so people can afford to live and the rents to be capped.
Representatives from Atos Miracles asked if Raquel would look at evidence regarding Atos Healthcare and the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) and the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) related deaths. The numbers of the people who have died due to a deterioration in their condition and all of the related suicides within 6 weeks of their ESA claims ending were mentioned. Racquel Rolnik said she would examine all of the welfare changes and welcomed personal stories about the WCA and how it is affecting people.
Therefore Raquel wants to collate accounts from everyone affected, and this evidence will be presented to the United Nations General Council in March. Personal stories will be included in the report she presents.
Raquel was made aware of the Parliamentary debate regarding the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill currently going through parliament. She made it clear that the people of the UK have a democratic right to protest and to freedom of expression, as the Government signed the agreement at the UN Convention to allow this freedom.
The UN will not permit the UK Government to prevent people from speaking out, as is their democratic right. Racquel is interested in any experiences you may have regarding any prevention you have experienced in exercising democratic rights. These experiences, for example, may include being stopped from speaking out on the streets at events or meetings, as well as being restrained or curtailed during a protest or demonstration.
Towards the end of the conference, campaigners handed Racquel two boxes of personal testimonies and accounts amounting to well over 2,000, from people adversely affected by the bedroom tax. She was shocked by the sheer volume of accounts. Raquel said that she will read every single one.
You can email Raquel Rolnik regarding Atos and the WCA and any other issue related to welfare reform. She also wants to know about any experiences that have happened when you have not been allowed or able to speak out, as is your democratic right. I think that the poll tax-styled council tax benefit cuts are also having a dire impact on many people and this would be worth including, too. As would any experience with difficulties accessing legal aid, as that reform also breaches  Article 6(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights: the right to a fair trial.
Raquel Rolnik’s email address is:
You can also write to:
His Excellency Mr Ban Ki Moon
United Nations Secretary-General
UN Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Issue of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Please share!
A new issue of The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies is now live.

If you have a few minutes this afternoon, please have a look at the first article in the issue, Kate Rossiter and Annalise Clarkson's "Opening Ontario’s “Saddest Chapter”: A Social History of Huronia Regional Centre." This article acts as a great primer for the historic class action lawsuit beginning this coming Monday in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Then, come back and read the other excellent articles in the issue as well, including:

Disability and Poverty: Stories that Resist Attitudinal Barriers to Inclusion
Randy Johner

Reflections on Personhood: Girls with Severe Disabilities and the Law
Sheila K. Jennings

Buying time: The S/pace of Advocacy and the Cultural Production of Autism
Anne E. McGuire

Commentary: When Bureaucracy and Policy Leave Ethics Behind: Our Nineteen-Day Battle with Alberta Health Services to Save Our (Independent) Lives
Heidi Janz

Review of Disability Politics & Theory by A.J. Withers
Jaime R. Brenes Reyes

As always, the CJDS is free, open access, and accessible.
In just over a year of existence, we have had over 8000 unique readers, and articles published in the CJDS routinely get 2000 reads/downloads.  So submit your own scholarship, too!


Jay Dolmage, Ph.D
Editor, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies
Associate Professor of English
University of Waterloo
Department of English
Hagey Hall of Humanities Building
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Tel: 519 888 4567 x31035
Fax: 519 746 5788

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Prayer for Sue Marsh, British Disability Campaigner (@suey2y on Twitter)

May the One who was a source of blessing for our ancestors, bring blessings of healing upon Sue Marsh, a healing of body and a healing of spirit. May those in whose care she is entrusted, be gifted with wisdom and skill, and those who surround her, be gifted with love and trust, openness and support in her care. And may she be healed along with all those who are in need. Blessed are You, Source of healing. Amen.

Re-Membering: Putting Mind and Body Back Together Following Traumatic Brain Injury

I wanted to announce the publication of my memoir, Re-Membering: Putting
Mind and Body Back Together Following Traumatic Brain Injury.  Here is a

Re-membering is a memoir about being congenitally physically disabled and
experiencing traumatic brain injury.  Millett-Gallant recounts her accident,
recovery, and discoveries by engaging multiple genres of research and
writing. Each chapter is composed of: personal narrative, research on brain
injury and art therapy, disability studies and other critical theory,
information from medical records, and voices from other relevant memoirs, as
well as examples of her artwork.  She underscores the vital roles of her
family and friends, as well as art, in her recovery and provides hope and
direction for others with a brain injury, based upon one survivor's
first-hand experiences.

And here is a link to the book on

Please let me know if you would like more information or if might be
interested in writing a review of the book.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Transablism in the Reverse?

An article I wrote, titled "transablism in the Reverse" was recently published on
In the article, I explore how the concept of transness can apply to disability, and I describe the mismatch between my sighted brain and blind body. Typically, transability is used to refer to people without disabilities who feel that they need them, but I argue that it can be applied to people with disabilities, who, for whatever reason, form an internal representation of themselves as an able-bodied person. This is not an academic post,  but I am hoping that it can be used to generate  curiosity and  dialog. I am aware that some of the statements I make are controversial, and I appologize in advance if what I wrote is triggering or off-putting to anyone. The post can be found here:
Please feel free to share it with anyone who would be interested.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Human Rights Essay Award 2014

This annual competition sponsored by the Academy on Human Rights and
Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law seeks
to stimulate the production of scholarly work in international human
rights law. The 2014 topic is Persons with Disabilities and
International Human Rights Law. Participants have the flexibility to
choose any subject related to the assigned topic. The best articles may
be published in the American University International Law Review.

The Academy will grant two Awards, one for the best article in English
and one for the best article in Spanish. The Award in each case will
consist of the following: a scholarship to the Academy's Program of
Advanced Studies, travel expenses to Washington D.C., housing at the
university dorms and a per diem for living expenses. For detailed
guidelines about the award please visit:
<>  or contact us at: <>

Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

American University Washington College of Law

E-Mail: <>

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Countdown to COSP6 CRPD, 17-19 July 2013

Sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 17-19 July 2013, UN Headquarters
(Webcast and coverage at:

16 July, pre-Conference Civil Society CRPD Forum

TODAY’S SUMMARY: Tuesday, 16 July

Today at United Nations Headquarters, CSOs (civil society organizations) including DPOs (organizations of persons with disabilities) met in a Forum along with other stakeholders to discuss issues on the agenda of the sixth session of the Conference of States Parties, as well as the forthcoming High-level meeting on Disability (23 September 2013).

The Civil Society CRPD Forum was co-ordinated by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) with the support of Disabled People’s International (DPI), Disability Rights Fund (DRF), the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the International Development and Disability Consortium (IDDC) and Rehabilitation International (RI), co-sponsored by the Governments of Australia, Bulgaria, Mexico and New Zealand, and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

This year’s civil society forum focused on mainstreaming disability in the development agenda. Panelists and participants engaged in a lively debate on a number of thematic issues, which presented one over-arching theme that the post-2015 development agenda must ensure that it is inclusive of the rights and participation of persons with disabilities. The agenda is available at:

The morning sessions discussed the mainstreaming of disability in the Post-2015 Agenda thus far: the positive outcomes from Rio+20, Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, World Bank Safeguards, the High-Level Panel Report and continued efforts of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development. Panelists spoke on the next steps of the negotiation processes, noting that a human rights-based agenda requires the participation and commitment of Member States and UN agencies to include persons with disabilities and disabled persons organizations (DPOs) in every step of the process.

The afternoon sessions turned their focus to practical steps for the inclusion and participation of the disability community in the Post-2015 Agenda: exploring the experiences of DPOs in the Global South and shared lessons from various national and regional projects; how to ensure the inclusion and effectiveness of disability targets and indicators in the Agenda; the demand for disaggregated disability data and how it will work in practice; and importance of being inclusive within the disability community itself.

The forum concluded by noting that the participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities is not something that should begin with the launch of the Agenda in 2015 — it needs to begin now. The discussion and consultation process should incorporate persons with disabilities and DPOs at all levels of society and at all stages, from grassroots discussion and Government consultations, to the United Nations international forum.

The entire Forum was webcast live from the United Nations and included for the first time, International Sign interpretation and closed-captioning.


10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Opening of the Conference of States Parties (agenda item 1)

Election of the President and other officers of the Conference (item 2)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, President of the Conference, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kenya

Adoption of the agenda (item 3)

Organization of work (item 4)

Opening statements:

- President of the Conference
- Secretary-General (delivered by DESA)
- Department of Economic and Social Affairs
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

General Debate (item 5(a))

3 - 6 p.m.
Round Table 1: Economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies (item 5 (b)

Chair for the Roundtable: H.E. Mr.  A.K. Abdul Momen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh


- H.E. Ms. Silvia Bersanelli (CONADIS, Argentina)
- Ms. Josephta Mukobe (Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Kenya)
- Ms. Barbara Murray ( International Labour Organization, ILO)
- Mr. Javed Abidi (Disabled People International)
- Mr. Joshua Goldstein (ACCION)


The following side-events will be held tomorrow, 17 July:

Measuring Disability (organizer: UNICEF)

Persons with Disabilities' role in Developing Accessible Environments (organizer: Government of Israel; co-sponsors: Israel’s Commission for Equal Rights for Persons with Disability, and the International Disability Alliance (IDA))

Intersectionality between the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention Against Torture with relation to persons with disabilities (organizers: Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of UN: María Soledad Cisternas Reyes; Chairperson of the Committee against Torture of UN: Claudio Grossman; co-sponsor: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations)

Economic empowerment of persons with disabilities: where are we now and the way forward post-2015 (organizer: Government of Austria; co-sponsors: Governments of Finland, New Zealand and Thailand, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  (OHCHR), United Nations)

Social protection and empowerment of persons with disabilities(organizer: Government of Kenya)

Accessible for All: Examples from Russia, the US, and Europe(organizer: Human Rights Watch)

Destinations for all(organizer: Kéroul; co-sponsors: UN World Tourism Organization, European Network for Accessible Tourism, International Organization of Social Tourism)

Transforming communities for Inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities (organizer: World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry; Disabled People's International; co-sponsors: BAPU Trust (India) and Nepal Mental Health Foundation Stichting Mindrights, Netherlands)

ICTs for disability-inclusive development efforts (organizers: ITU, Broadband Commission, G3ICT, International Disability Alliance, Microsoft, Foundation and UNESCO)

Film screening of ""Colegas"" (Buddies) (organizer: UNICEF, PM of Brazil, Gatacine Films)

List of side-events, venue, timing:

Friday, July 5, 2013

[UK] AN URGENT MESSAGE July 10: Critically Important debate and vote demanding a Cumulative Impact Assessment

Could you all contact your MPs about this and use it as a template adapting it as you think fit.  (For further information, please read


On Wednesday 10 July, Labour will bring Ministers to the House of Commons to debate the changes they have made that affect disabled people, and at about 16:00 they will force a vote to demand a Cumulative Impact Assessment by October 2013 at the latest – and we are calling on MPs from across the House to support it.

I am asking you to respond.This government is failing to support our disabled people. It’s time for Ministers to come clean, admit where they are getting things wrong and change course.

It’s time to start making rights a reality for disabled people.

Here’s the motion in full:

“That this House believes that the Government should publish a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by this Government that affect disabled people (to be published by October 2013).”

Please support the motion on behalf of your constituents.

Kind regards

Atos Assessment Appointment Room Wait Causes Claimant Unbearable Suffering

Since January 2012, I have been reporting frequently and voluntarily to senior UN officials on the crisis for U.K.'s sick and disabled.  I therefore receive many e-mails from benefit claimants detailing their plight.  I have obtained written permission to post one of them, the below, as an anonymous letter.

I am extremely concerned that ATOS healthcare U.K. is rejecting requests for home assessments even if a claimant’s GP supports one. (See, and am distressed by the misery that lengthy Atos assessment appointment room waits are causing some claimants
(see, who would clearly benefit from a home assessment.

I will be writing the DWP ministers, the CEO of Atos Healthcare UK, and senior UN officials regarding this matter.  (I can be contacted at

I have a stenosis of the spinal canal that is unstable. It will never improve, sadly it will only get worse. The Orthopaedic surgeon who last operated on it advised me that I, and I alone, can judge what is good or bad for my well being, simply by monitoring the pain that it causes. Do something, get new pain, don't do what ever it was again, and so on. I take various meds all day and night, Morphine Sulphate and high doses of Codeine with paracetimol. I am in constant pain. Walking and standing are out of the question and sitting upright for longer than 30 minutes or so is the same. Most of my time I spend at home so I can adjust my posture from sitting to laying down as and when I need to so I don't cause more nerve damage or pain. I live with the constant fear of being totally dependent on carers if my spine crushes the nerves completely.
I've made all this very clear on the forms that I've filled out for Atos. I've made it clear that I can't travel far or sit for long without doing damage and therefore causing pain. They either don’t believe me or don’t read the endless forms I fill out for them.
I was called by Atos to book an assessment appointment. I repeated the above facts and said I couldn't accept any date without talking to my wife, who was at work, first. (She works full time, and is also my sole carer when she is at home). I was bullied into accepting a date for the assessment, as this date could be changed, but ONLY changed once, if it was not OK for her to take time off work. The fact that my wife’s job might be at risk if she takes too much time off apparently is tough! The appointment will NOT be at my nearest ‘clinic’ because I use a wheelchair. So I have to travel twice the distance because I’m disabled?
This was the start of the stress and anxiety caused by Atos.
It continued with the drive to the appointment, it took over an hour. After parking we got to the door of the office at 20 minutes before the appointment.
There was an elderly mother and her obviously disabled, adult daughter outside the Assessment Centre door talking to the intercom system, pleading to be let in, but she was not given access as she was a few minutes late for the appointment as the taxi driver could not find the address. This lady was very distressed and the receptionist, although not actually being rude, had the wrong tone of voice and was clearly bored with the situation. I heard the receptionist say you can’t come in as you've missed you slot. However, later I found out that the appointments were running nearly two hours late, so why was she turned away so brutally?
Once she gave up and went away we were let into what was in fact a near derelict building. The waiting room smelled stale and dirty, the carpet had very large stains and the chairs were covered in fluff, hair and more stains. The toilet was cleaner than the waiting room! This place is vile.
The receptionist handed me a form to fill out the first three lines and sign, I was already stressed and uncomfortable after the drive, so my wife offered to do it for me, but was told in the same tone that I heard on our arrival on the intercom, that you have to do it yourself, she added “it’s not our fault it’s the DWP”.
My wife asked for the form to fill out to claim our travel costs and was told we could not do this until after the assessment? Later I realised why.
We sat waiting, my appointment time came and went. I am now in a lot of pain as my wheelchair is built for lightness and fold-ability, not comfort. After 1 hour my wife asked the receptionist if there was somewhere that I could lay down as I was now in a lot of pain but was told “No, all the offices are in use”. I asked how much longer we would have to wait and was told “I don’t not know”. She did however explain that it could be up to another hour or so more as the doctor had to write a report after each assessment. She then went onto blame the customers who don’t put all their problems on the form that they filled out which makes their appointments run over and all sorts of other excuses. Now my stress levels are through the roof. I just manage to keep my polite head on, even when she insisted on talking over me at every point I opened my mouth. She said that as she worked for Atos she could not give her own opinion of Atos. She also said that how did we know that she was not ill or disabled in some way, but what that had to do with our situation I failed to see. Also it seemed that the only thing she was interested in was whether we were leaving or not, so she didn’t have to cancel someone else. This made clear why the poor woman was turned away so brutally on our arrival for being only a few minutes late. And why we weren’t allowed to fill in a travel expenses claim form on our arrival. I also now realise why the waiting room is so filthy and revolting. Their aim was to make things so nasty that no one but the strongest of people would wait for their appointment.
At this point I got very upset, extremely embarrassed and feel totally humiliated. I live my life within my limitations and the extra long journey and the long wait had taken their toll. With the hour long drive to get home and at least another hour waiting and then the assessment itself I decided I could not wait any longer, gave up, and we set off for home, in absolute agony. I want to disappear into a crack in the pavement!  

At home I had to increase my morphine and lay flat for the rest of the evening, and, one of the longest nights I've had since my collapse over 18 months ago. I've lost all hope now and am not sure I’ll ever be able to get out of my front door again. If this is a Government backed method of dealing with disabled people I might as well top myself now! (Name withheld)

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I have found an individual willing to act as "victim" in a UN inquiry and/or complaint against Britain

I have found an individual willing to act as "victim" in a UN inquiry and/or complaint against Britain, and have forwarded his correspondence with me to a human rights solicitor at Leigh Day, requesting that the merits of his case be assessed.

I asked the solicitor to inform me of any fees in advance of doing work on the case, and divulged to her that I am experiencing difficulty procuring benefit claimant mortality statistics from the DWP.

See: and

I'm still eager to hear from other individuals.  For more information, please see: 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

RE: Will the Joint Committee on Human Rights legislatively scrutinize HM Treasury's Spending Round 2013?

Dear Mr Miller,

The Joint Committee at present has no plans to conduct an inquiry into the human rights aspects of the Spending Review.  It is aware of some of the human rights issues raised by this Review (as it was also with the 2010 Review); but resources to conduct such an extensive inquiry cannot be spared from the programme of legislative and other scrutiny that the Committee is already carrying out.  The Committee considers its principal function to be the human rights parliamentary scrutiny of Government legislation.   The Spending Review will itself not be contained in a Government Bill.  As you will be aware, some of what has been announced in the Review will, however, at least indirectly, come through both Houses in Bills which the Committee will consider and comment upon.

Some aspects of the 2010 Review were covered in the Committee’s Reports on Independent Living and the Welfare Reform Bill, and members of the Committee involved in that inquiry are still keeping a close eye on related developments.

You will no doubt be aware that the EHRC conducted an examination of the 2010 Review:
I do not know if it intends to conduct anything similar with regard to the Government’s most recent announcements.

In terms of the various departmental budgets announced in the Review, Parliament (the Commons, at least) will have a chance to consider and approve them (or not), both in the form of the departmental Main Estimates (there is a technical difference between budgets and Estimates which I will not set out here) and in the Winter and Spring Supplementary Estimates which will follow over this financial year) and in terms of some of the legislation this (and next) Session which will carry some of the provisions which will inflict, or result from, the proposed cuts.

I hope this is a helpful response  Please feel free to forward it the senior UN officials you mention.

Yours Sincerely,

Mike Hennessy

Michael Hennessy,
Commons Clerk,
Joint Committee on Human Rights,
020 7219 2797

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Iain Duncan Smith doesn't give a damn about the rights of sick and disabled people

Bedroom Tax minister Lord Freud has threatened councils if they reclassify homes. Yet I have written to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith on two occasions, requesting that disabled people living in specially adapted homes be exempted from eviction, due to rent arrears, as a result of the the spare room subsidy.

I have experience working with architects, and told him that it was not a cost-effective measure to evict a disabled person from an adapted property when the cost of retrofitting a new property is so expensive.

Moreover, I pointed out to IDS that I was coming across news stories of disabled people, living in specially adapted properties, who were either being refused Discretionary Housing Payments or under the threat of eviction. (This has been corroborated by research from UK disability campaigners 'We are Spartacus').

I informed him of the legitimate concern that the DHP fund was insufficient in size to meet all genuine needs, and requested that he pressure councils to demonstrate proper discretion in these cases—told him that the Government might even have to issue a directive.

So has Iain Duncan Smith threatened councils if they evict disabled people living in specially adapted homes? The answer is obvious: He doesn't give a damn about the rights of sick and disabled people.

My Letter To U.K.'s Joint Committee On Human Rights

Joint Committee on Human Rights
Committee Office
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a 56-year-old Disability Studies specialist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to senior United Nations officials (see attached) on the crisis for the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and “sham” means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this

I am writing to inquire if the Joint Committee on Human Rights intends to legislatively scrutinize HM Treasury's Spending Round 2013?  Does the Spending Review require the approval of Parliament?

Please see the following HM Treasury FOI request, which has been received and acknowledged: (

In my opinion, this document ( lacks credibility, and that's why I have requested the correspondence between HM Treasury and The Government Equalities Office (GEO) and The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) pertaining to Spending Round 2013.  I want to see if the GEO and the EHRC expressed human rights concerns in their correspondence that the government is blatantly downplaying.

Serious concerns regarding the impact of the Spending Round proposals on disabled people have already been expressed:
(, (, and (

I also believe there is a significant risk that requiring benefit claimants to wait seven days before they can sign on for help, and forcing some claimants to survive a month without income will result in their destitution, such as would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the ECHRPlease note this passage from

Official data suggests the average wait for benefit claims to be processed is 16 days, though food banks report that in some areas claimants can wait for up to 25 days. Adding another seven days to that period would mean some claimants trying to survive a month without an income.

One of my U.K. Twitter followers e-mailed me her comments regarding Britain's Spending Review 2013:

"The seven day wait has the potential to push poor people toward the pay day loan sector.  This change was announced  just days after Wonga (digital loan company) increased its typical APR to 5,853%!  The dangers are compounded by the uncertainty surrounding Social Fund support since its localisation this year.

It also needs to be clarified how the new seven-day period will relate to Housing Benefit claims (which are usually passported from Job Seekers Allowance), as any increase in the delay in receiving Housing benefit would simply provide yet another disincentive for landlords to rent to people claiming benefits."

I look forward to your reply and comments.  Please note that this letter is being cc'ed to senior UN officials.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)


Ms. Navanethem Pillay
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Jorge Araya
Secretary of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Groups in Focus Section
Human Rights Treaties Division
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
+41 22 917 9106
+41 22 917 9008

Monday, July 1, 2013

Requesting that the DWP hire an epidemiologist and consult with David Stuckler of Oxford University

The Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street

Dear Mr. Smith,

Further to my letter of June 29, 2013 ("What is the DWP's policy with regard to publishing benefit claimant mortality statistics?"), I am writing to request that your department consider hiring an epidemiologist to conduct an independent study of the impact of the welfare reforms on the mortality rate of benefit claimants, particularly the sick and disabled.

I also recommend that the DWP consult with David Stuckler,
a senior research leader in sociology at Oxford University, who is the co-author of “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills” ( He is an expert in his field and I am certain that he'd be of assistance and enlightenment.

I look forward to your reply regarding my proposals.

Best wishes.
Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Latest Letter To Iain Duncan Smith

The Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street

Subject: What is the DWP's policy with regard to publishing benefit claimant mortality statistics?

Dear Mr. Smith,

On November 6, 2012 I wrote to your department regarding the number of Incapacity Benefit claimants who had died that year.  I pointed out that "Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients (9 July 2012)" was outdated, as it only provided mortality statistics up to November 2011.

Ten days later, I received the following response from Mr. Goff Daft, who is the head of your correspondence team:

On April 20, 2013 I queried Mr. David Green (ESA Analysis), the compiler of "Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients", about the release date for the next report.  And I also queried you on June 18, 2013 regarding the same.

On June 24, 2013 I received the following reply:
Dear Mr Miller,

Thank you for your email and apologies for the delay in responding.

The publication you refer to was released on Department's website as an ad-hoc statistical analysis publication. As such there is no intention of releasing an updated version of these statistics.


DWP ESA Analysis 

I was frankly perplexed by this overdue reply because Mr. Goff's November 16, 2012 response left me with the impression that the requested mortality data was being compiled and that only further patience on my part was required.

I would like to know if the DWP has compiled any post-November 2011 mortality data of benefit claimants and/or has the intention of doing so?

If your department is too understaffed and underfunded to compile such data, then I fully understand and sympathize.

However, I must confess that while
I have been very patient and reasonable regarding this matter over a period of many months, I am succumbing to the belief that your department is resorting to petty obstructionism—even a full-fledged cover-up—because the mortality of the sick and disabled has become too politicized for the Tories to cope with—and I suspect that there has been a staggering increase in the number of benefit claimant deaths since November 2011.

I intend to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office unless the transparency of your department improves.

I look forward to your reply.

Samuel Miller

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fwd: Response to Freedom of Information Requests - Reference: FOI753

Date: June 24, 2013
From: Ian Jones


I have received a second response from the EHCR (the response to my first FOI was is will cost too much) on implementation of the UNCRPD into UK law.

I plan to go through it line by line but wanted to share it with you first. Feel free to distribute it to others as you see fit.


Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:
From: Freedom of Information <>
Date: 24 June 2013 12:51:47 BST
To: Ian Jones

Subject: Response to Freedom of Information Requests - Reference: FOI753
Dear Mr Jones

Please find attached the response to your recent requests for information.

Kind regards

Philippa Bullen
Corporate Communications Officer

Equality and Human Rights Commission
2nd Floor Arndale House
The Arndale Centre
M4 3AQ

Tel: 0161 829 8323
Text Phone: 0203 117 0238

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