Category Archives: special needs

New Podcast Episode is available for download.

Our latest podcast is ready for fee download from the site or from iTunes or most other podcast platforms.  We hope you enjoy it.  If you have 40minutes to while away then this is the podcast for you.  It is an upbeat discussion on a variety of disability issues and our guests are shown in the video above.

Hope you enjoy it.



Circumcision can increase autism, research suggests.

Circumcision before the age of five can double a boy’s risk of developing autism, controversial research suggests.
Scientists believe the finding may be linked to stress caused by the pain of the procedure.
The study of more than 340,000 boys in Denmark found that circumcision raised the overall chances of an autism spectrum disorder before the age of 10 by 46 per cent.
But if circumcision took place before the age of five it doubled the risk.
Circumcision also appeared to increase the likelihood of boys from non-Muslim families developing hyperactivity disorder.

The research, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, examined more than 340,000 boys born in Denmark between 1994 and 2003.
At the age of nine, their health was tracked – and almost 5,000 cases of ASD were diagnosed.
Professor Morten Frisch of the Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, who led the research, said: ‘Our investigation was prompted by the combination of recent animal findings linking a single painful injury to lifelong deficits in stress response…and a study showing a strong, positive correlation between a country’s neonatal male circumcision rate and its prevalence of ASD in boys.

Professor Frisch said: ‘Given the widespread practice of circumcision in infancy and childhood around the world, our findings should prompt other researchers to examine the possibility that circumcision trauma in infancy or early childhood might carry an increased risk of serious neurodevelopmental and psychological consequences.
However experts have urged caution over the findings.
Professor Jeremy Turk, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at Southwark Child & Adolescent Mental Health Neurodevelopmental Service, said: ‘The findings of this research, while interesting, need to be considered carefully – one cannot draw very strong conclusions from the data.

Should Obesity be classed as a disability?

Is obesity a disability or a self-inflicted condition triggered by a lack of willpower and overeating?

Should people who are overweight be protected by the same discrimination laws that were put in place to shield those who are wheelchair users, people with learning difficulties, hearing and visual impairments or those with autism spectrum disorders? A landmark test case being brought before judges at the European Court of Justice has sparked an intense debate on the issue.

The result of it may mean British companies will have to treat obese workers as ‘disabled’, making allowances for their size by providing larger sized seats and parking spaces closer to the office.

Karsten Kaltoft is taking action after he was sacked by his local authority in Denmark for being unable to perform his duties as a childminder, due to his size.

The council, alleged the 25 stone childminder was so fat that he required help from a co-worker to tie up children’s shoelaces. Mr Kaltoft’s lawyers could force widespread changes in the way bosses deal with staff if successful in redefining obesity as a disability.
Currently in the UK the ruling is clear, the Equality Act 2010 refrained from classing obesity as a disability.

Instead the Government definition is that a person is ‘disabled under the Equality Act 2010, if they have a mental or physical impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on a person’s ability to do normal daily activities.’. However for many people living with a disability, they self-define themselves as such, basing their disability more on the barriers society puts in the way of them leading the life they wish.

For someone stuck in a wheelchair ascending the steps to a cinema or restaurant, can provide a barrier and as a result a person is likely to class themselves as disabled.

Claire Dawson, employment lawyer at Slater & Gordon, declared the judgement “should encourage and support the full participation of obese people in the workplace”.
She said: “Obesity in itself has not previously been classed as a disability in UK law.
“However, where an obese person has other health difficulties that can be associated with and potentially compounded by obesity, such as mobility difficulties, diabetes or depression, these may give rise to protection against disability discrimination at work.

Disability charity Scope asked users and followers for their views on the debate, via Twitter and Facebook. The overwhelming response from members of the public was that obesity should not be classed as a disability.

TV personality Katie Hopkins sums it up by tweeting that “obesity was not a disability if you could walk to the fridge and stuff your face”.

Former Olympic coach Dave Smith also tweeted “obesity has grown from lifestyle to disease to disability all from the abuse of the hole in your face.”.

A study conducted by the university of Tubingen in 2012 showed that overweight people have a harder time finding work with fat women experiencing the most discrimination. Researcher Ansgar Thiel said: “Only 2 % of those surveyed matched the obese women in … pictures with a prestigious profession. And only about 6 % of respondents thought that they would be among the final choices for the head of department position.” Equality for women in the workplace and politics is still an issue. The extra pounds are another obstacle to overcome.

Undoubtedly this is a debate that will not go away easily says David Miller who runs the UK website – “we have members who are obese but quite often that is more a result of an underlying disability or side effect of a medication. Obesity from poor lifestyle choices is maybe a different issue entirely.”

UN Disability Day December 3rd

Today is one of the most important days of the year for the global disability community – we are pleased that this is so high on the egenda of the UN and we bring you a summary of waht this day means.

Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability!

Around the world, persons with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society. They are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social and legal support systems, as well as have a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.

Earlier, the international disability movement achieved an extraordinary advance in 2006, with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to disability that would ensure the full equality and participation of persons with disabilities in society. The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, development dimension. However, to realize equality and participation for persons with disabilities, they must be included in all development processes and, now more importantly, in the new emerging post-2015 development framework.

The UN General Assembly in the recent years has repeatedly emphasized that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals, requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.

Toward this end, in 2011, the General Assembly convened the High Level Meeting on development and disability (HLMDD) at the level of Heads of State and Government, on 23 September 2013, under the theme: “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”.

The High Level Meeting was held at a strategic timing of the UN history. It took place five years after the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, two years after release of the World Report on Disability and two years away from 2015 — the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — and thereafter, the commencement of the post-2015 agenda and new development priorities.

Shame as ‘degraded’ blind man abused and refused taxi in Warrington

A BLIND man says he feels degraded after a taxi driver swore at him outside Warrington Central station.

The Warrington Guardian understands that Edward Green, from Birchwood, was refused a ride because of he has a guide dog.

The Warrington Guardian understands that Edward Green, from Birchwood, was refused a ride because of he has a guide dog.

Mr Green, who has severe myopia, said: “He point blank refused to take me. Someone came to help and pointed to the disabled sticker in the cab.

“But he said that was for wheelchairs and swore at me.

“I felt degraded to not be able to take a taxi like anyone else. I was shocked. I said there was no need to shout at me.”

The law states that taxi drivers cannot discriminate on grounds of disability and Warrington Borough Council says it is taking the incident ‘extremely seriously’.

Another driver from Direct Taxis was parked behind the taxi in the rank and came to Mr Green’s aid.

Tristan Pickwick, administration assistant for Direct Taxis, based at Evans House, said: “Our driver got out and gave assistance. He took the gentleman to his destination after being refused by the driver before him.

“He also made a note of the licence plate number and gave Warrington Borough Council’s phone number for the gentleman to ring and complain. We’re in the process of informing the council.”

The incident occurred on September 12 at 10.15am when Mr Green was making his way to Remploy in Mersey Street.

The taxi driver who refused to take Mr Green and his guide dog, golden retriever Macca, has not been identified.

But Mr Pickwick wanted to clarify that he was not a Direct Taxis driver.

He said: “All our drivers are trained in dealing with customers with various disabilities.

“We currently provide transport to more than 200 disabled people a week in the Warrington area and we pride ourselves on the service we provide to our customers.”

A spokesman for Warrington Borough Council added: “The council is aware of this complaint and is taking it extremely seriously.

Mencap concerns over lack of Learning disability support.

No NHS hospital in England has 24-hour learning disability (LD) nurse cover and more than 40 per cent of NHS trusts do not even employ a single LD nurse, according to Freedom of Information requests from the charity. NHS workforce figures show that there has been a 30 per cent cut in the number of LD nurses employed in the health service over the past five years.

The charity said that the absence of specialist nursing support was putting lives at risk. People with learning disabilities often find it difficult to communicate their condition, and Mencap said there had been numerous cases in which doctors had dismissed dangerous symptoms as merely an aspect of a patient’s disability. The number of LD nurses employed in the English NHS has fallen from 5,700 in September 2009, to fewer than 4,000 in July this year – the month for which data exist.

Research commissioned by Mencap last year estimated that 1,200 people with learning disabilities are dying “needlessly” in the NHS each year, largely due to delays or problems in investigating illnesses.

In their role as go-between for patients, families and doctors, LD nurses can help speed up diagnoses, which in some cases can be the difference between life and death.

However, severe budget pressures on NHS hospitals have led managers to look for savings wherever possible, and Mencap has expressed concern that LD nurses are being viewed as expendable.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, has called for better training for NHS employees. In an open letter co-signed by representatives of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing, the charity also calls for 24-hour LD nurse cover across the NHS.

“Every year, 1,200 people with a learning disability are dying prematurely because the health system is not meeting their needs,” they wrote. “This is three people a day. How many more lives have to be lost until every hospital has dedicated learning disability liaison nurses?”

Labour’s shadow minister for public health, Luciana Berger, said that the fall in the number of LD nurses was “unacceptable”. “These shortages are putting vulnerable people at unnecessary risk,” she said. “Under David Cameron, the number of learning disability nurses has fallen. Labour will train and employ more LD nurses as a matter of urgency.


People with disabilities ignored in developing world.

The hundreds of millions of people living with disabilities in developing countries will remain invisible unless the world dramatically improves its data collection on disability, the UK’s parliamentary undersecretary for international development has warned.

Speaking at a conference in London on Thursday, Lynne Featherstone called on donors, civil society organisations and academics to address the issue by agreeing on a single, standardised method of collecting information.

“It’s a sad truth that in many developing countries people with disabilities simply don’t count,” she said.

“No data is collected on their disabilities nor their abilities, so it’s as if they just don’t exist.”

According to World Health Organisation and World Bank figures, about 1 billion people – 15% of the world’s population – are disabled. The definition of disability under the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities encompasses a wide range of impairments – physical, sensory, intellectual and mental health – but with a common experience of stigma and exclusion.

Featherstone said the absence of concrete evidence on disability was making it far too easy for governments and others to ignore those who were already among the most neglected in society.

She added: “As we prepare for the post-2015 development framework and the principle of ‘leav[ing] no one behind’, we must be sure that everyone is accounted for – this includes the 1 billion-plus people living with disability. Only by having the right information from the start will we be able to do this properly.”

The Department for International Development (DfID) said that differing definitions of disability, combined with inconsistent information-gathering, had created a gap in reliable global disability data.

That lack of evidence, it added, had stopped governments and others from taking into account the needs of people with disabilities when planning basic services and development programmes.

BBC News – Disability hate crime convictions drop, says CPS

Prosecutors have pledged to do more to tackle disability hate crime after a drop in the number of convictions.

The total number of hate crime convictions rose by over 1,000 in 2013/14, according a report by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

But convictions for hate crimes against disabled people dropped, prompting the CPS to pledge fresh action.

Director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders acknowledged there was “more to do” to combat such crimes.

The overall hate crime conviction rate is part of an ongoing upward trend over the last six years, and almost 85% of hate crime prosecutions now result in a conviction.

Successful convictions for disability hate crime cases during 2013/14 increased from 77.2% to 81.9% – but the number of convictions fell over the year, from 494 to 470.

The report also found that:

There is a new working party needed to look in some detail at aspects of reporting, charging and sentencing of disability hate crime”

This year, the Transgender Equality Management Guidance was issued to police along with specific guidance on flagging transphobic hate crime.

Ms Saunders said: “While I’m delighted to see a record high conviction rate and that the rate of cases we are charging is up to 80% from 72.4% last year, we will be working hard with the police to encourage more disability hate crime cases to be referred to us, and we will be really focusing on our handling of these cases through the court system.

“Hate crimes can be particularly devastating to victims who have been targeted simply because of their race, their religion, their sexuality, gender, disability or age.

“These crimes display an ugly element of our society and one which it is very important that police and prosecutors feel empowered to tackle so they can ing offenders to justice.”

Stephen Brookes, of the Disability Hate Crime Network, said action on the issue was “still miles away from where we should be” and that there had been a failure “at all levels” to give disabled people confidence in the judicial system.

“There is a new working party needed to look in some detail at aspects of reporting, charging and sentencing of disability hate crime, at a time when we have a wake up call to the whole criminal justice system to step up the need to increase the number of prosecutions to reflect the seriousness of attacking all disabled people.”

James Taylor, head of policy at charity Stonewall, said there was still “much work to do” on hate crimes.

“In the last three years alone 630,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual people have been the victim of a homophobic hate crime or incident.

First Great Western criticised over disability provision | West Country (W) – ITV News

For most of us taking a journey by public transport is something we take for granted – but for many disabled people it can be a real challenge. Most firms do their best to help, but often there’s only provision for one wheelchair at a time.

Bodmin councillor and disability campaigner Pete Skea took ITV Westcountry along as he went with two friends from his home town for a day out in Truro. His cereal palsy means he needs a wheelchair. He wanted a day out with another wheelchair user and a friend in a mobility scooter.

The train has allocated space for just one wheelchair. Pete’s friends were provided with specially adapted taxis to get them to their destination, paid for by the train operator First Great Western. It meant they all had to travel apart.

“I applaud British Rail for paying for two taxis for my colleagues, but on the same token it is a great shame that three friends cannot really go out for the day.”

“I understand the railways can’t cater, but I’m thinking why not have seats that can lift out? Why not make one carriage an accessible carriage that you can quickly alter. I don’t think it would be that much in terms of engineering.”

First Great Western says one in a hundred travellers needs assistance and that’s a significant number of customers.

On their Pendolino trains with nine or eleven carriages, Virgin Trains say they have three wheelchair spaces; two in standard and one in first class. The five carriage Super Voyager trains have one in standard and one in first.

“We need to make sure that provision is available and we’re in regular contact with disabled groups across the network to make sure it is up to scratch. That’s not to say there isn’t any more we can do. We’ve got relatively old rolling stock and that does limit us in many ways, certainly on the anch lines”.