Disabled access so variable.

Since I have been involved on disabilitymatch I have been far more conscious on the subject of disabled access. Some places are extraordinarily unfriendly whilst some places are a total joy. I try to see things from a disabled point of view although I am abled bodied myself. Living in LLondonmy first gripe must be the tube service and especially connections between tube and mainline stations.

Nearly 80% of tube stations are still not accessible, while the everyday experience of wheelchair users attempting to navigate the city is one of being unable to board buses and being ignored by taxis, the group said.

At Waterloo you can take a lift down to the Jubilee line platform , it’s not always so easy – try getting a wheelchair on to a tube during morning and evening rush hour. Also, while the carriages in this case are fairly level with the train – the Jubilee is the newest tube line – at other times there would be a need for a helping hand from a staff member, if one was around.

A total of 65 tube stations now have step-free access, and there is a network of 8,500 low-floor buses fitted with wheelchair ramps and onboard visual and audio announcements – the most accessible network in the country. Of the Victoria station situation,

London Underground has an ongoing legal duty to blind and partially sighted people under the Disability Discrimination Act,” said its director, Sue Sharp.

“Failure to honour their obligations as they carry out repairs and refurbishments would be both illegal and a serious dereliction of their duty.”

Access can also be improved at shops. On Oxford Street, for example, there are so many steps in the shops they have there, and nothing for wheelchair users. Also ,at a lot of restaurants, the toilets are either upstairs or downstairs. If they don’t have facilities for me then what’s the point of me going? The Department for Work and Pensions recognised this problem when they recently urged retailers to make their shops more accessible to the disabled. It makes sense: why would they want to exclude over 12m men, women and children from their business? On a positive note Mike Brown of LT says all Crossrail stations will be disabled friendly.

With Crossrail we have an opportunity to embed accessibility at the heart of the city’s transport network. That’s why we are funding improvements that will mean that all Crossrail stations in London are step-free. This will transform how disabled people can travel in and across the city, and we will now continue to work with the Department for Transport to ensure that all the other stations on the route are accessible.”

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.

Paralysed man walks again – huge advance.

A paralysed man with a completely severed spinal cord has learnt to walk again in a “historic” British-led breakthrough that raises the prospect of treatment for a condition previously believed to be permanent. The patient, a firefighter, was left with no movement or feeling from the waist down after being stabbed four years ago. In a revolutionary procedure, cells from his nose were transplanted into the damaged part of his spine. He recovered the ability to walk with a frame, learnt to drive again and has been hunting with friends. The patient, Darek Fidyka, 38, from Poland, said that the experience was like being reborn. “It’s an incredible feeling, difficult to describe,” he said. “You’re at a certain moment in your life when you think it will never happen again and yet……

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”.

Disabled charity boss paid a ton of money.

Ps have called for an inquiry into why a charitable scheme providing cars for the disabled paid its chief executive more than £1million in bonuses and benefits last year.

As reported in The Sunday Times, Mike Betts, head of not-for-profit company Motability Operations, took home bonuses totalling £911,915 in the year to September 2013, as well as a £125,000 payment in lieu of pension. This was on top of his basic salary of £501,900.

Contracted by the Motability charity, the company provides 630,000 vehicles for disabled people, including those injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, with customers using their disability benefit payments to pay for the scheme.

John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, who has examined the scheme’s finances, branded the situation as “scandalous”. He said there was no reason for Mr Betts, 52, to receive such bonuses because the company had no captive market and no competition.

He said: “There is no basis for any bonus at all. This money could be better spent on the disabled. It is an unreasonable and unfair amount of money to be paid.”

Under new, stricter criteria for eligibility, anybody who can walk more than 20 metres, even if this is with the aid of a prosthetic, crutches or walking stalk, will no longer be entitled to a vehicle.

Lord Sterling, the chairman and co-founder of the Motability charity, responding on Betts’s behalf, said: “Mike Betts is one of the most able executives I have ever come across.

“He is worth every penny he is paid. He runs Motability Operations with extremely high service levels which provide empathy and support for its disabled customers well beyond the norm.”

Neil Johnson, chairman of Motability Operations, added: “Mike Betts is an outstanding [chief executive officer] who has succeeded in leading Motability Operations over the last decade transforming the culture to achieve consistently high rates of customer satisfaction and value for money.”


Blind dance pupil Katy Orr overcomes disability to win top award from her school – Daily Record

A girl has been named Pupil of the Year at her dance school – despite being blind.

Katy Orr’s mother told of her family’s pride at how the ave eight-year-old has overcome her disability and keeps facing her daily challenges with a smile.

The remarkable youngster suddenly lost most of her sight at the age of three.

Mum Lindsay, 49, said: “Katy had been such a confident child and after it happened her confidence took a dip. But she ushed herself down and got on with it.

“She didn’t know any different, so she got used to it. She is an absolute star and never complains about anything.”

Katy, who lives in Loans, with her mum, aerospace director father Robert, 50, and other Andrew, 16, has learned to read and write, can ride a bike and even dreams of becoming a Paralympian. But for now, her big love is dance.

She joined the Karalyn Bell School of Dance in Troon when she was four.

Lindsay, who teaches zumba to kids, said: “She’d always loved music and dancing around, so I thought I’d let her try.

“She just loved it and Karalyn was fantastic with her – and she’s been there ever since.

“Katy does tap and disco and has now taken up musical theatre.

“Karalyn taught her the names of steps, so she follows the

instructions. When Karalyn says things like, ‘step ball change’, she does it automatically.

“She gets into the beat of the music and seems to be able to figure it out even though she can’t see anyone to copy the steps.

“She also feels the music and beat through the floor and listens intently.

“I was so proud when she was awarded a shield for being Pupil of the Year at the summer show.”

Katy also loves Strictly Come Dancing and is keen to learn Latin steps.

Lindsay said: “I took her to one of the live shows and dancer Natalie Lowe came over and gave her a high five. She’s her favourite and she was so excited.

“I was worried about taking her, because I knew she wouldn’t be able to see a thing, even though we were in the front row. But she loved the atmosphere and being part of Strictly – it was phenomenal.”

Lord Freud apologises unreservedly for comment about disabled people not being worth minium wage: Politics live blog | Politics | The Guardian


The Liberal Democrats have condemned Lord Freud’s remarks. This is from a spokesman.

The views expressed by Lord Freud are completely unacceptable. The Liberal Democrats are proud to have raised the minimum wage repeatedly in government and will resist any attempt to cut it for anybody, not least the disabled.

Here’s Lord Freud’s apology in full.

I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else.

I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment. That is why through Universal Credit – which I referred to in my response – we have increased overall spending on disabled households by £250m, offered the most generous work allowance ever, and increased the disability addition to £360 per month.

I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.