Friday, June 08, 2007

Knowledge is Power

A family of a young nearly 17 year old man with Down Syndrome is approached by neighbours concerned that he has not been getting the education that he needs. Indeed he has virtually been denied education. The family is convinced that one of the neighbours knows of a place where their son will be given education and a chance to learn, in spite of the fact that he has Down Syndrome. They give their child away trusting that he will have new opportunities.

A few days later, election day in Bagdad, the young man wanders alone into a polling booth. Someone outside dials a cell phone number and instantly a 17 year old trusting and innocent man with Down Syndrome hears a small beep from the bomb that had been strapped to his body and then the explosion tears his body apart as he becomes the first human bomb with an intellectual disability.

This story outrages me on so many levels. But the part that bothers me is that I didn't know it. If I hadn't been in a car talking about how the world has changed with Dick Sobsey, who is in Toronto to do a presentation on the abuse of people with disabilities, I would never have heard it.

It reminds me of doing a lecture a year or so ago and hearing of a young man with an intellectual disability being set upon by other teens in a park in Sarnia. They sprayed lighter fluid on him and then set him ablaze. He suffered burns all over his face and scalp. I sat in horror listening to this story. Angry that it happened. Angry that I didn't know about it. Didn't have a chance to respond.

This story was eventually told, with my help, on CBC television here in Canada. But my guess is that most of the readers of this blog knew niether of these stories. Set in different countries and different cultures, they have the common theme of disrespect for people with disabilities. They also have in common the fact that there is virtual silence about these issues.

Is there, out there, any source that my blog readers know, for news and information about people with disabilities. I want to know these things, no matter how much they upset me. I want an end to media silence about violence against people with disabilities. I want there to be organized outrage - but how can there be when we don't know.

So, please, someone tell me a blog or website that collects worldwide news about disability.



elmindreda said...

Make a Google Alert or a custom Google News page.

Anonymous said... Collects disability-related news from around the world, both rich (mostly) and developing countries (some).

Disabled People International has an on-line international newsletter that can be sent to you via email, about once a week, in English Spanish or French (I'm copy/pasting the following text from the bottom of one of my emails from them):

"You are receiving this e-mail because you are subscribed to the mailing list of Disabled Peoples' International (DPI). If you want to change your account settings please visit the DPI Website here "

Also, check out the Disability Information Dissemination Network, which is also international and cross-disability, but with a stronger (not exclusive) focus on developing countries--again copy/pasted from one of my emails from them:

"- This is a posting from the "Disability Information Dissemination Network"
- Postings should be sent to:,
- For anonymous postings, add the word "anon" to the subject line
- To join or leave the network, add "join" or " leave" to the subject line
- The network is currently being sponsored by Sightsavers International
- The views expressed in this network do not necessarily reflect those of
CSID or Sightsavers International, unless otherwise stated"

For things related specifically to psychiatric survivors, check out "If you are not on the MindFreedom-News alert list and wish to be, sign up for this free non-profit public service here:" Mindfreedom is run by people who term themselves "survivors" of the psychiatric system

And also Run by people WITHOUT psychiatric or cognitive disabilities (or so I believe) but it goes around the world to look at how people with psychiatric and cognitive disabilities are treated in institutions in different countries and documents the abuses that they see. All the more deplorable, ugly abuses in institutions that you saw in your work 30 years ago? I wouldn't be too surprised if MDRI were to show you even WORSE abuses that are happening RIGHT NOW, in an institution somewhere around the world. Please be sure that you're in an emotionally safe space before viewing their documentary materials.

Other sources of information on what is happening with people with disabilities around the world (not necessarily news per se, but general living conditions, political climate, etc) include:
(The World Bank works in developing countries generally; this page focuses on the work they do that relate to disabled people)
(another international cross-disability org)
World Federation of the Deaf
World Blind Union

And I know there's plenty more (e.g, I know theres an org run by Deaf-Blind people, and there's an org that focuses on deaf children etc), but this should be enough to get you started with. This is just what I came up with in the past 15 minutes. If I think of more later, I'll try to remember to come back here and leave more links.


Anonymous said...


You asked about blogs. I had actually been thinking for a while that I should set up my own blog focused on people with disabilities in developing countries. It wouldn't be quite what you're looking for (if I understand correctly, you're looking for individual stories of abuses toward individual disabled people, esp people with Downs Syndrome or other intellectual disabilities). My focus would be on what's happening in relation to disability issues in the international development field, what organizations and resources are out there, etc., so I think it may be much broader than what you had in mind. But if I ever do set up a blog of this nature, I'll put out the word.

I'm not aware of any blogs of the type you're looking for (blogs, as opposed to web sites and mailing lists, of which I listed a few in the comment above). But then again, I'm still fairly new to blogging in general, so that may not mean much.


Jodi said...

I did hear about the stories you write about. I live in the Pacific Northwest.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lord I didn't know, Dave that is horrible but you are right the world needs to know about what happened to that young man. I suspect the only way it will become known if it is shouted by others like us in blogs, in conversation and whenever we have access to the media. I'll be linking to your entry today.

Kara said...

I second the Inclusion Daily suggestion. I love my subscription-usually interesting stories that I haven't yet heard. Do you already receive Justice for All updates-available through the AAPD site? My blog is rather new but I'm in the running for the New Mobility Blogging position. Check out my entry here and if you like it PLEASE leave a comment-that's how they'll choose the "winner" of the position.
I love your blog-thanks for the interesting posts!
Here's the link to my entry on the New Mobility site.

Anonymous said...

thanks, I've got a lot of websites to check out. I appreciate the help here. these stories outraged me and one cannot shine a light on problems when kept in the dark. Dave Hingsburger

Anonymous said...

Only knowing a little about how the media works having studied it a vast number of years ago, there is something that is starting to make me really angry about this issue.

The media who clearly play to the public interest decide what headlines will be. It causes me much concern on 2 parts.

1. the public interest in this kind of abuse must be so low for the media to decide to print / report on celbrity gossip over and above these kinds of horrific disclosures.

2. the media seem to be taking no action to create a sense of outrage at such terrible abuses.

It is not just an issue for people who are connected to people who are vulnersable in this way. It should be a public interest concern.

I agree that the use of blogs and the internet may help raise the awareness of this and indeed keep those who look for it in the picture, so they can take action, however I ask myself time and time again, why on earth this does not reach the front pages of the news, headlines and take these issues to the attention of the public?

Perhaps then the public may begin to notice and may even begin to become outraged too!?

Anonymous said...

You might already know about this but try
they have a news section

PS love reading your blog

Blog editor said...

The Baghdad story made the front pages, and some commentary here in Australia at the time. One of our finest journalists has been in Iraq on and off throughout the war. It caused great outrage. The is one of the reports: