Ouch's weblog is back, and ready for action. We've been saving all those interesting bits of disability info and will be adding them regularly from now on, just for you.
So let us tell you about a few things you might like to go and see in the next couple of months.
Famous disabled actor and star of The Station Agent, Peter Dinklage, is coming to London's Barbican Centre in mid-April. He's in the UK to perform in the Samuel Beckett play Endgame, as part of the Beckett centenary festival. You can find out more information on the Barbican website.
On 20 April, those lovely people at Club Attitude are taking to the decks at The Big Chill Bar, Dray Walk, Brick Lane, London E1. Nearest tube is Liverpool Street, and more details are available on Club Attitude's site.
And finally for now, after the success of their sell-out run in 2005, Sigma Productions will be treating audiences to further performances of From Within, an "inspired" and moving play exploring the journey of one woman coming to terms with her son's autism and one boy's journey of coming to terms with his world. It's showing at the Brighton Fringe Festival from Saturday 13 to Monday 15 May, and performances will take place at the Friends' Meeting House in Ship Street. There's more on the Brighton Fringe Festival website.
We get a lot of comments on Ouch - both here on the weblog and over on the messageboard - about other English-speaking countries' use of outdated disability language, the sort of words that are now considered offensive by disabled people in the UK.
'Retard' (or 'retarded') seems to be another word that is still acceptable amongst many of our American cousins, despite Ouch readers voting it their Worst Word a couple of years ago. But maybe some sections of the US media are beginning to catch up. The Fox TV network has just banned the use of the word 'retarded' in response to a complaint from a Down Syndrome advocacy group. A regional branch of the American National Down Syndrome Society said it received complaints from viewers of American Idol about a commercial during the programme for new Fox show called The Loop, which included the line: "You have a retarded squirrel look on your face". Unfortunately, that first edition of The Loop is due to be broadcast this Wednesday, so it's too late to edit it. But the ad was pulled immediately, and the President of Fox Broadcasting, Peter Ligouri then announced that the offensive word would enver again appear in any Fox TV show.
Not just of interest to those of us who geekily work on websites, this one - yesterday saw the launch of key guidance on how to develop a website which is user-friendly for disabled people. Under the snappy title of PAS 78 Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites (phew), the document - which has been jointly commissioned by the British Standards Institution and the Disability Rights Commission - is applicable to all organisations that commission or maintain public-facing websites and web-based services.
If these businesses need any more convincing of the worth of having an accessible website, maybe it should come in the form of a reminder that it will allow them to get hold of a share of that all-important spending power of disabled people, estimated at some £80 billion per year. And yet an investigation by the DRC revealed that 81 per cent of British websites are still inaccessible ...
Doug Graham has just launched The Disabled Traveller, a guide to the world for disabled people. The site does not intend to replace or compete with guidebooks already available, but to show you what you never thought could be done.
With sections including transportation, destinations, services and help, helpful links and forums, The Disabled Traveller aims to utilise the knowledge of the public in order to answer questions like which rain forest trails are paved, and which ski resorts are most wheelchair friendly.
This is a brand new project, and is calling all of you for content, so check out the website and add your experiences to the mix.
Today, the press are full of stories about comedian Peter Kay appearing in the next run of BBC ONE sci-fi series Doctor Who, due to start at the end of this month.
Kay is best known for playing the bad tempered wheelchair-using nightclub owner Brian Potter
in Channel 4's Phoenix Nights
Disabled people have found an affinity with the ruthless wheeled Daleks and with Davros, their evil half-humanoid, mobility and sight impaired creator.
"The casting of Peter came about after he wrote me the most brilliant letter to say how much he'd enjoyed series one of Doctor Who," said writer Russell T Davies, the man responsible for the return of the programme. "From that point on, we started talking about a guest appearance."
Speculation now mounts for disabled fans of the show who remember Peter Kay suggesting that he'd like to turn his Brian Potter character into Davros. Could this finally be the bridging of the gap between wheelchair users and Daleks? Will we see him morph out of a Spazz
chair and into the globular metallic hybrid alien we all know and love/hate? Will he be exterminated?
What we do know is that the new series starts later this month on BBC ONE. Kay will feature in episode 10, playing a dark character known as Victor Kennedy.
For US readers of Ouch, series one of the new updated version of Who is coming to the Sci Fi Channel this month.
Wondering where to catch coverage of the 2006 Winter Paralympics? Never fear.
The BBC will be showing a one-hour highlights package of the British team's performances at the Games, at 2.00pm on Sunday 26 March on Grandstand. If you are interested in how all the competing nations are getting along, international highlights of the previous day's action will be available from Sunday 12 March on the BBC Sport website.
And finally, the International Paralympic Committee has set up a global internet TV channel, ParalympicSport.TV, where you can experience many of the events in the Winter Paralympics as they happen.
Ouch link: Don't forget to read our article on 17-year-old disabled athlete Nathan Stephens, who is about to represent Great Britain in the wheelchair sledge hockey team at the Winter Olympics.
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is using Nelson's Column to bring the disability debate into sharp focus. The question "Freak or Hero?" will be projected onto the column, hopefully challenging the thousands of people that pass through London's Trafalgar Square to consider their attitudes to disability.
Nelson was arguably our nation's most heroic figure. He also had malaria and yellow fever, a hernia in his stomach, lost the sight in one eye and had his arm amputated from above the elbow.
According to the DRC:
"If Nelson is a 'freak', it is a stark monument to the failure of society to allow disabled people the same chances in their professional lives. His 'freakishness' would not be because he's disabled, but because there are so few, like him, who ever get to the top. Nelson was loved by his nation. A hero in his own time, the nation wept when his death was announced. Today he would be unlikely even to have a job, let alone lead his country to victory. Today, only 51% of disabled people are in work, and many of those only work part-time. 45% of employers in one survey believe it would be 'quite/very difficult' to employ a disabled person."
The projection coincides with a national advertising campaign by the DRC, which questions our attitude to people with impairments and long-term health conditions, entitled "Are We Taking the Dis?"
The Disability Rights Commission has a website dedicated to this campaign, ensuring that everyone can have their say.
Why did the wheelchair-using chicken cross the road?
Er, well, it was part of a protest by campaigning group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, apparently.
Yes, last Monday, PETA staged a protest outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken store in San Diego, to highlight what they say is the fast food company's abusive treatment of chickens kept in shocking factory farming conditions. At the centre of the protest was a giant "wheelchair-bound" chicken (presumably a person in a chicken suit rather than, um, an actual enormous chicken), which repeatedly crossed the road in front of the store.
Now, maybe because it's the end of a long week, and Crippled Monkey is feeling particularly sensitive, but I can't help finding it rather offensive that a supposedly 'right-on' organisation like PETA thinks that using someone (well, OK, a chicken rather than a someone) in a wheelchair is OK in such a context. Is it just me? Or am I simply feeling a bit too egg-citeable for a Friday afternoon? (Sorry, I couldn't resist at least one painfully bad chicken-related pun.)
Last night, seven top websites were presented with Visionary Design Awards at a prestigious awards dinner held by the National Library for the Blind. The winners in the seven categories won their prizes for outstanding efforts in ensuring their content is accessible to visually impaired people. Bravo.
But I have to confess that my interest was caught rather more by the recipient of the booby prize for the most inaccessible site - why, it's only the official website for Kate Bush, the 80s songstress who has recently returned to the pop world with her album Aerial. How shocking!
Crippled Monkey says: less Wuthering Heights than withering lows for Kate then. Groan.
The latest Scope campaign under the Time To Get Equal banner is a three-year project to include disabled children in early years' picture books. In the Picture is being run by Scope in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University.
Quentin Blake (illustrator of, among many other things, the Roald Dahl books) is backing the project. He says:
"A picture book has an effect on a child not so very different from a good lesson. In The Picture will help reflect disabled children's experiences, and all children will benefit. I am delighted to be involved".
There are two drivers for the project. The first is that there are 700,000 disabled children in the UK who have no role models in literature. The second is that research has shown that children form prejudices from as early as three years old against people who are visibly different. It's believed that they are less likely to be prejudiced against people with visible impairments if they are exposed to images of them from an early age.
Scope are very keen to point out that it's not their intention to create a separate strand of children's literature. Instead, they're aiming for disabled children to be included in mainstream books, behaving as children rather than being used as vehicles for tackling disability issues.
There are a number of ways in which you can get involved:
1. Sign up to the Ten Guiding Principles.
2. Add your comments to the guestbook. (You'll be in good company - Gervase Phinn has left a comment.)
3. If you're an illustrator or a photographer, contribute to the Image Bank.
Visit The Perorations of Lady Bracknell
Visit The Perorations of Lady Bracknell
As Ouch's Tom Shakespeare points out in his latest column, this year's Oscars nominations are (mercifully?) free of non-disabled actors 'cripping it up' for the movie cameras, but that does mean that the only real disability interest lies in the placing of Murderball - a high energy film about the rough, tough sport of wheelchair rugby - in the Best Documentary Feature category. Here's hoping it wins, because it's up against some very cute and very popular penguins. Aw.
Anyway, ahead of the Oscars ceremony late on Sunday night, this Saturday evening (4 March) at 9.30pm you can catch Murderball for yourself over on digital channel BBC FOUR. And as if that's not enough, the BBC FOUR website has also got five copies of the Murderball DVD, packed with extras, to give away in a fabulous competition!
The next Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver in 2010. At the closing ceremony of any Winter Olympics, it's customary for the head of the International Olympic Committee to hand over the Olympic flag to the mayor of the next host city, who then waves the flag to mark the beginning of the countdown to the next Games. On Sunday, at the close of events in Turin, that person was Sam Sullivan. Sam has quadriplegia as the result (ironically, given that we're talking winter sports here . . .) of a ski-ing accident when he was 19. So he's got very limited movement in his hands.
But Sam had no intention of letting someone else wave the flag for him. He said, "There are many people with disabilities who have e-mailed me and said this is really quite a profound moment for them as well as for me and other people with disabilities in Canada". Engineers and volunteers in Vancouver rose to the challenge, and designed a three-angled flag holder to mount on the armrest of Sam's wheelchair. (There's a schematic of the design on the CBC News.) Sam practised his flag-waving technique in empty car parks at "unusual hours".
And it looks as though all that practising paid off. There's a photograph of Sam at the closing ceremony in Turin (looking very tiny in comparison with the five-metre flag he's waving) in this slideshow (click on picture 11 for the image).
Visit The Perorations of Lady Bracknell
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon that on entering a disabled public loo, we are confronted with enough cleaning products to keep the town sparkling for months, half a large department store's stock or, worse still, a locked door with not a key to be found. These facilities are apparently locked to combat vandalism - why aren't the regular bathrooms bolted then? Anyway, the lovely people RADAR and Direct Enquiries, the national access register, have come up with a cunning plan to eradicate this annoying occurrence.
The national key scheme is where disabled loos all over the country have been fitted with a standard lock and working keys made readily available to disabled people. Magic! There are now over 7000 toilets under the scheme, and all the details can be found on the Direct Enquiries website - so get going!