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In 2011 my friend, Brazilian psychologist Marta Alencar, visited Nepal.She has a project that introduces people to mobility impairments in a unique way. She created an imaginary character named Tina Descolada who is a doll in a wheelchair. (http://www.tinadescolada.blogspot.com.br/) Marta created a heartfelt slideshow for me to include in some of my presentations next week. You will find it here: http://www.slideshare.net/srains/imagining-a-wheelchairaccessible-nepal-with-tina-descolada
($6.99, 6 X 9 paperback, ISBN: 978-0-69221-052-9; $6.99, Kindle, ASIN: BOOK40L73K) is available at www.BarrierFreeGrandCanyon.com or Amazon.com.
From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. I wanted to find our a little more about disability culture in Nepal. This post features a dancer who is also an amputee Roma Neupane.
We cread in Ronny Blaschke's article:
"In our country, there are no disabled people." This is a quote attributed to Soviet communist party leader Leonid Breschnev in the 1980s.
The 1980 Summer Olympic Games took place in Moscow and the Soviet Union simply refused to organize the Paralympics, which were then held in Arnhem, Netherlands.
Now in 2014, the Russian organizers see things differently, they are planning a ten-day cosmopolitan sports festival with 600 athletes from 45 nations.Source: http://www.dw.de/sochi-paralympic-games-highlight-russian-discrimination/a-17479262
But can the Paralympics help bring a marginalized group in Russia's population into the national spotlight?
To find out more read the in-depth study by Human Rights Watch:
As we have been been saying daily since Brazil won the right to host the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic/Paralympic Games, the world is turning its attention to Brazil with unrelenting scrutiny. This article from the New York Times is one of a series of exposés that will appear in the international press in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Games:
"Archaeologists are exposing the foundations of our unequal society while we are witnessing a perverse attempt to remake the city into something resembling Miami or Dubai," said Cláudio Lima Castro, an architect and scholar of urban planning. "We're losing an opportunity to focus in detail on our past, and maybe even learn from it."
Vancouver banned doorknobs. What a sensible thing to to. Let me be the first to say that this is an idea with "leverage!"
Business Insider Mkes the business case:
As of March 2014, all new buildings built in the city will have to include levers rather than doorknobs.
In case you are unfamiliar, this is a doorknob, and this is a door lever. If you are not in the building trade, chances are the difference between the two probably seems cosmetic. But the concept behind Vancouver's ban is simple, and makes perfect sense: Door levers are easier to open for older people, people with injuries, or people with disabilities.
A Platinum rating from Livable Housing Australia (LHA) now provides automatic Green Star points under the Green Building Council of Australia's (GBCA's) rating system.
Multi-unit residential projects in which at least 10 per cent of the dwellings meet the Platinum Level of the LHA's Design Guidelines will be automatically deemed compliant with the Green Star Mat-15 'Universal Design' credit.
During the construction of a public school in Almaty, I pointed out that the new building needed to be equipped with spacious elevators and ramps.
My suggestion was met with puzzled looks and a sheepish remark that this was not a "special" school. This incident made me reflect on the status of people with disabilities in Kazakhstan.
Our society needs to fundamentally revise its attitude and keep an open mind.
Disabled does not mean defective; people with disabilities should not be crammed into special institutions, but rather integrated into society like everyone else.
Social prejudice and stereotypes create issues of accessibility, as the environment - even in large cities as Almaty and Astana - is not properly equipped to meet the needs of people of disabilities.
As a result, people with disabilities often feel discouraged and confine themselves within the walls of their homes. It is a cycle that needs to be broken.
The limitations created by my disability drove me to become more resolute to succeed, to prove to everyone that I am no different.
At the age of 14, I was given crutches to help me to walk and I left the hospital with the realization that my medical diagnosis was now an inseparable part of my identity. I was devastated, but I did not lose hope.
In the 1960s, unlike now, the issues of people with disabilities were completely unaddressed and ignored, and we were practically invisible. As a result, I constantly struggled with discrimination. I was rejected from high school because of a driving class and was refused a teaching position at the Kazakh National University because I could not participate in the annual potato harvest (!).
These obstacles were frustrating, but I never gave up. I demanded that my rights be respected and I persevered, going as far as stealing the principal's keys in protest and arguing with the University dean until I was granted a job offer.
Today, it is relatively easier for people with disabilities to function in society. We have a Union of People with Disabilities, and as the Chairman of this organization, I organize numerous visits, seminars, and lectures to different regions of Kazakhstan to raise awareness and promote the rights of people with disabilities.
We actively lobby for equal access to education, leisure, and employment - and we are slowly, but surely reaching success.
As social and cultural barriers are tumbling down, people with disabilities need to overcome one more important challenge: They need to understand that a physical disability is not a life sentence and that they can enjoy a happy and successful life despite their diagnosis.
Society is growing more understanding and accepting, but what matters is that you need to accept yourself too. Do not let your disabilities hold you back - propel yourself forward and strive for the best.
'PLAYGROUNDS FOR EVERYONE': NPR NEWS CREATES COMMUNITY GUIDE
TO ACCESSIBLE PLAYGROUNDS
Report on Federal Mandate for "Inclusive" Playgrounds Airing on 'All Things Considered'
August 27, 2013; Washington, D.C. - Today, NPR News reports on a growing movement, backed by a new federal mandate, to build "accessible" playgrounds meant to include children with disabilities - and releases a first-of-its-kind, community-edited guide to such playgrounds nationwide. "Playgrounds for Everyone" maps 1300+ accessible playgrounds - with features like smooth surfaces, swings with backs or safety harnesses, ramps to allow children to access play towers and slides, or sound-play features like drums or chimes.
And while it's the most comprehensive resource available, the "Playgrounds for Everyone" app is still far from complete. NPR needs the public to identify more playgrounds, and share photos, info and tips for the ones already in the app. Get involved now at: http://npr.org/playgrounds
The app coincides with a report on the issue of accessible playgrounds, airing today on All Things Considered. Robert Benincasa of NPR's Investigations Unit reports that federal law now defines playground accessibility as a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring that structures built or altered after March 2012 to meet those standards. Kids in wheelchairs need smooth surfaces to navigate; some inclusive playgrounds offer Braille or textured materials for kids with sight impairments. But as Benincasa reports, such playground features are cost-prohibitive for many municipalities, leading parents and activists to seek support from local civic groups to raise funds.
The App: How to Participate
"Playgrounds for Everyone" is designed to be a community-edited guide to accessible playgrounds. NPR's news apps team has identified 1300 and counting nationwide. Many more are unaccounted for. To participate:
1. Identify accessible playgrounds, and add them to the database. Do any have smooth, resilient surfaces that are accessible to wheelchairs, or are their surfaces sand or wood chips, which wheelchairs cannot navigate?
2. Characterize the local play opportunities for disabled children. There is space on each playground page to add comments, tips and even photos of key features.
3. Provide feedback. Go to the accessible playgrounds app, test it out, add to it and comment.
A travel start-up which is aiming to create a new global standard for accessible hotel accommodation has gone live and is looking for hotels to sign up.
AccessAllRooms.com is the concept of wheelchair user James Price who was paralysed in a diving accident in 1999 when he was 21 years old.
A television presenter for the BBC Holiday Show and director for GB Wheelchair Rugby, Price is more active than many able-bodied people and is a passionate traveller.
Barcelona ha decidido pedir su incorporación a la Red de Ciudades por la Accesibilidad que se creó el mes pasado en Málaga durante la celebración del tercer Foro Internacional de Diseño Universal y Movilidad, en el que la capital catalana no participó.
A propuesta del grupo socialista, la comisión de Seguridad y Movilidad del Ayuntamiento de Barcelona ha aprobado por unanimidad instar al gobierno municipal a llevar a cabo los procedimientos oportunos para formar parte de la nueva red y a realizar las actuaciones oportunas para que Barcelona pueda participar en la próxima edición del foro.
También le ha pedido que incorpore "los criterios, en aplicación de la normativa municipal, de la guía recopilatoria de implementaciones en las zonas urbanas para mejorar la seguridad vial y la accesibilidad de la Fundación ONCE y la Fundación Española para la Seguridad Vial".
La concejal del PSC Pilar Díaz ha asegurado que "Barcelona, por trayectoria y experiencia, puede aportar mucho para la accesibilidad"
También ha destacado que ya son una veintena las ciudades que han manifestado su interés en formar parte de esta red que y ha puesto como ejemplos Vitoria, Torrent, Valencia, Santander, Cáceres, Basauri, Pamplona, Granada, Sevilla, Burgos o Valladolid, todas ellas premio Reina Sofía de Accesibilidad.
El concejal de Movilidad, Eduard Freixedes, ha anunciado que la adhesión ya se está preparando y ha manifestado su confianza en que esta incorporación sirva para ampliar el Observatorio Europeo Ciudades y Pueblos para Todos que Barcelona impulsa desde 2003 y del que forman parte 88 ciudades de 16 países y 21 organizaciones.
La ciudad de Santander, y más concretamente su servicio de transporte público, ha estado presente en el III Foro Internacional de Diseño Universal y Movilidad en la Ciudad, que se celebró en Valencia el pasado miércoles cinco de Junio. La capital cántabra ha mostrado, como ejemplo de buenas prácticas, su experiencia "en el desarrollo de actuaciones y servicios encaminados a conseguir la accesibilidad universal".
La ciudad ha estado representada por el concejal de Autonomía Personal, Roberto del Pozo, quien ha participado en un foro en el que se han reunido representantes de siete ciudades españolas, arquitectos, urbanistas y representantes del mundo de la empresa para debatir "sobre la mejora de la accesibilidad en viviendas, edificios y trasporte público, así como la incorporación de la tecnología para fomentar entornos de vida normalizados", según han explicado los responsables del Ayuntamiento de Santander, a través de su página web.
El transporte público
Además de exponer las diferentes medidas que el Consistorio de Santander está llevando a cabo para garantizar el acceso universal a la vivienda, el concejal de Autonomía Personal ha recordado que toda la flota municipal de autobuses "está adaptada para facilitar su utilización por parte de las personas con movilidad reducida y discapacidad sensorial".
Roberto del Plozo ha mostrado su satisfacción por la presencia de Santander en este evento, añadiendo que "desde el equipo de gobierno estamos muy satisfechos de que, una vez más, el nombre de Santander esté presente en un foro internacional sobre accesibilidad y que la política desarrollada en este campo sea considerada como un ejemplo de buenas prácticas por los máximos representantes del sector, tanto del ámbito privado como público".
From Peter Tan's article
MANY accessible facilities in public buildings are non-functional from day one. This is a poor reflection of the people who design buildings as a profession. The facilities are included without considering how safe and functional they are for disabled people.
In other cases, accessible facilities are totally excluded at the design and construction stages, and only added as an afterthought after the buildings have been completed. Their additions are severely constrained by the existing structures. Needless to say, many of these facilities are also not usable as well.
There is also a general perception that it is difficult to merge these facilities into the design as they tend to spoil the aesthetics and take up too much space. For example, a ramp with a gentle gradient and handrails is seen as spoiling the lines and form of a grand flight of stairs at the entrance.
Buildings should be designed to include the greatest number of people who will use it at one time or another. Invariably, these people include senior citizens, pregnant women, adults with children in prams, children, persons with visual impairments and wheelchair users