Access City Award 2012

If you live in a city with over 50.000 inhabitants that has taken real action to implement measures and policies to promote and support accessibility  for disabled people you can nominate your city to the Access City Award 2012.

Launched in 2010, Access City Award is a competition between European Cities sponsored by the European Commission of Justice, in order to reward a city’s willingness, capability and efforts to ensure that disabled people have equal access to all the resources and pleasures the city has to offer.

This award also serves as a way of sharing initiatives, ideas and good practices that can inspire other cities to become more accessible for all and therefore enabling disabled people to enjoy their daily life in the city like the rest of the community.

For more information visit the Access City Award webpage

Law and Disability Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques (ITTIG) belongs to the Italian National Research Council (CNR). It is in Florence, it was founded in 1969 as the first Italian research institute in the field of information and communications technology applied to law and public administration. Nowadays it is a main Italian research institute in this field.

ITTIG internet portal on “Law and Disability” (Italian) (English)

Unfortunately quite all documents are in Italian language only. It is mainly due to lack of funds. But, luckily, I am said that “Google translator” it is not so bad as regards legal documents.

Legal databases

In this web portal there are six databases. Nowadays there are more than 10,000 legal documents. When all databases will be fully updated, it is expected there will be 25-30,000 legal documents. The big problem of these databases is to have them updated ,more staff will be necessary.

The first part of the name of each database is “Vipd”, it is an acronym of “Very Important People with Disabilities”: it is just a joke. (more…)

Accessible trains in Latvia

In Latvia trains become available also for disabled people! (Latvian)

The Association of people with disabilities and their friends-Apeirons is pleased to announce that after a long collaboration and consultation process, the VAS Latvijas Dzelzcels (LDZ, Latvian Railway), on Tuesday, 20th May 2011 showed the media a new service designed for disabled people. This services consisting in mobile ramps will be available on nine railway stations.

VAS Latvijas Dzelzcels shared with the media that the total investment was 67.870 EUR. The lifts cost 53.642€ and the platform transformation 14.228€. This platforms were provided to ensure the use of mobile lifters.

latvian train

In total, three electric and three diesel trains have been specially equipped. Currently the service is available in nine railway stations. The service is provided without extra charge.

VAS Latvijas Dzelzcels representatives acknowledged, that this is not the most convenient way for people with disabilities to get into the train. After the new train procurement, they will introduce elevated platforms, and also the floor of the new trains will be lower,allowing disabled people to use railway services in the most convenient way. (more…)

New research about children with disabilities

‘What are the most popular things to do with your family?’

JAG webThe JAG Association in Sweden is collaborating with Jönköping University and two other organizations in a project about children participation in family activities.

The Convention on the Rights of Children inspired Jenny Wilder, PhD in Psychology, Senior Lecturer in Special Needs Education Mälardalen University, and her colleagues to start an inquiry, called PFA-CHILD, on how disabled children do participate in different family activities.

– ‘Family activities are very important, especially for small children. The understanding of the world comes through the close relationship to others’, says Jenny Wilder.

60 families with a disabled child participated in the first inquiry. They answered questions about what activities they did, how often the activity took place and who in the family participated in the activity.  And the most interesting part, with what engagement the child did participate in the activities.

Through the whole inquiry the children’s perspective is the most important, but it is also important to understand how the whole family live together and what they do to enjoy life. (more…)

Good example: Grunden gender project

grunden web (Swedish)

Grunden web (Swedish)

Why are the men playing the music and the woman singing to it?

Grunden is a national organization in Sweden for and with people with intellectual disabilities.  In 2010 members of Grunden started a gender equality project to show that gender inequality exists and make it visible.

During these years some of the things they discovered were:
-People with intellectual disabilities and the people working with them  had a huge lack of knowledge about gender equality.
-It was easier for men to get personal assistance and help according to the law.
-In the daily activity they looked at how the space was used, who most of the space was for, and what different contributions were made by men and women.
– They also found out that men and women were offered or chose different activities based on  tradition.

Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström supports demands from the JAG Association on deinstitutionalization in Europe

MEP Cecilia Wikström and Birgitta Tullberg, member of the board in the JAG Association

MEP Cecilia Wikström and Birgitta Tullberg, member of the board in the JAG Association

At the annual meeting in Stockholm the JAG Association demanded that the European Union promotes the development of socially integrated efforts in Europe and deinstitutionalization as a top priority in the agendas of EU countries. The call was addressed to Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström, who attended the annual meeting as a special guest. Cecilia Wikström said that she wholeheartedly supports JAG demands and promised in her speech to the members that she, as vice president of the EU Disability Group, will do everything she can to discourage that new institutions are built in Europe and that no more children will be separated from their parents to grow up in institutions, segregated from society. (more…)

Holders of the scholarship for the memory of Rolf Bergfors By Jessica Linder Jansson

In a previous post we wrote about the Foundation Fund setablished in the memory of Rolf Bergfors, who through his work in GIL helped to push through the assistance reform in Sweden.

We can now announce that this year’s beneficiaries of the scholarship are:

Anna Hallgren get the travelling award at 10 000 Swedish crowns to be able to participate at a conference held in London for people with the muscular disease Nemaline myopathy. The goal is to start a network for people with Nemaline myopathy living in the Nordic countries.

Elisabeth Lundberg get as representative for the Swedish association Attention a travelling award at 25 000 Swedish crowns that will make sure that two members of the association will be able to make a study tour to Rush Neurobehaviorial Center in Chicago and other places with the same sort of activity. The purpose of the trip is to learn more to raise the quality of the work in the association. (more…)

Good example: International Diploma in Mental Health Law and Human Rights 2011-2012

The World Health Organization and the Indian Law Society (ILS) Pune, India offers the International Diploma in Mental Health Law and Human Rights. In 2005 WHO published the Resource Book on Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislationto guide countries in amending and adopting human rights based mental health legislationfor the promotion and protection of rights of persons with mental disabilities. The aim of this course is to build the capacity of students to advocate for human rights and to influence national legislative and policy and service reform in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other key international human rights standards.

The Faculty of the course counts with key reserachers on disability of all over the world such as Professor Gerard Quinn from the Centre for Disability Law and Policy of the National University of Galway.

Brochure and flyer for the Diploma. More information about the Diploma is also available at:

Applications can be submitted online at: .

Good example: Bike rental for disabled people in Spain

Trycicle for disabled people in Gandia, Spain

Trycicle for disabled people in Gandia, Spain

The city of Gandia ( a seaside touristic place not so far away from Valencia, Spain in collaboration with a disabled employer (by the way he is a Paralympic sportsman) has set up a bike rental service ( with a unique feature: it Iicludes the possibility of renting a tricycle specially designed for people with physical disabilities. At the moment they only have four units, but they expecting increase the number to a total of 39 which would mean one of bike at each rental point . The only drawback that we can remark is the fact that, unlike the other bikes, they will be stored at night. But we welcome the initiative and we hope it is only the first of many.

You can reach Gandía using the accessible train service from Valencia, Alicante, Madrid and Barcelona. The only requirement to apply for the assistance to get on and off the trains is to request it 12 hours before your travel, because it is a small station and it has no permanent assistance.

Meet Katja Villatoro, Valencia (Spain)

Katja Villatoro

My name is Katja and I live in a village near Valencia for almost ten years. Before I used to live in Benidorm (Alicante), my profession was in the healthcare area and I was working in a private clinic as an assistant in the surgical area.
I have a son, Unai, he lived with me all the hardest moments of my evolution as a person with disabilities. He is my motor, he and my partner are the most important thing, but also I have the luck to have many expectatives about life that make me feel very complete.

• What is your personal experience about disability?

In November 1999 I was diagnosed with extramedullary meningioma with the result of spinal cord injury at the level of the sixth dorsal. I think that until that moment I didn’t know anyone who use wheelchair, unless the very old people.
The change I experimented in my life was much wider than 360 degrees, for the people around me I was transformed from an adult, valid and highly capable person to … how shall I say it?, to another very different vision. (more…)

Meet Aglaia Katsigianni, from Drama (Greece)

Aglaia Katsigianni

Aglaia Katsigianni

My name is Aglaia Katsigianni.

I’m a 42 years old woman with physical disability living in Drama, a city in the northern Greece.

I’m single, living with my – super! – mom, because independent living doesn’t exist in Greece.. My dad has passed away, several years ago.

My disability is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and it occurred to me when I was 2 years old. Back then, not many things were known about it and doctors were experimenting on me, as a result I got worse than I normally should.

In any case, that didn’t stop my parents, to get me the proper education by going in to a “normal” school. This wasn’t very easy, because first, schools at all level of education weren’t accessible, so they had to carry me in their arms and secondly, also because the social surrounding were pushing them to put me in an institution, leave me there and start over their lives with another, healthy (hopefully) child, something that my parents didn’t even consider to do. (more…)

Art and disability: Dancing on crutches!

Some energetic and impressive videos!…

who said that it’s impossible?

Visa TV Ad starring Bill Shannon

Bill Shannon, aka “Crutch Master,” is a multi-disciplinary artists who defies definition and gravity.


World Report on Disability by WHO

who logo

World Health Organisation

On the 9th of June at the UN Building in New York, USA the World Report on Disability was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank.

The report, created with information gathered from different DPOs and researchers all over the world show evidence of the barriers disabled people face continously in their everyday life as well as a concrete set of actions reccommended for governments and their partners.


UK Government Orders Immediate Enquiry Following Abuse, Harrassment and Violence against People with Challenging Behaviour in Bristol

UK Government Orders Immediate Enquiry Following the Abuse, Harassment and Violence against People with Challenging Behaviour in Bristol

On 30 May the BBC Panorama programme[1] revealed a series of abuse in residential care for people with intellectual disabilities and autism near Bristol, UK. The programme showed residents, labelled as having challenging behaviour, being kicked, violently restrained, drenched in water by the care staff, and treated in ways which arguably amount to torture. Winterbourne Unit, where the programme was secretly filmed, is owned by a private company which receives 3,500 pounds per week from public funding for each person referred to them by the National Health Service. The same company, Castlebeck, runs 56 similar institutions for people with intellectual disabilities in the UK.

[1] BBC Panorama, ‘Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed’,


ENIL calls for action! Budget cuts in the Netherlands

call-to-actionPersonal budgets taken away from 117.000 people in the Netherlands!

ENIL Calls for action!

The effects of the crisis on disability policy worsen every week. After protests against cuts in Germany, Ireland and the U.K., we even received very disturbing news from so called ‘example countries’ as Sweden and Norway. call to action Since the beginning of this week we hear rumors about serious slashing in the personal budgets in Holland. 90% of the persons who organize their support and care with a personal budget would loose it … it seemed to be a bad joke. Sadly it’s a bitter reality!

EDF Freedom of Movement Campaign

AREEDF Freedom of Movement Campaign Logo YOU FREE ENOUGH?


The European Union says it guarantees freedom of movement to all citizens but the reality is that disabled people across Europe face all sorts of barriers when travelling. Major difficulties arise not only when travelling by plane but also on the way to work, study and all the regular activities of every day life.

Overall the issue of accessibility is vital as it is essential for participation in society. The European Commission is working towards a European Disability Act that will set out a general framework for accessibility in terms of goods and services. This Act should be ready by 2012 and is contemplated as one of the key actions within the European Commission Disability Strategy 2010-2020.

With this campaign EDF wants the European Union to understand the true meaning and relevance of Freedom of Movement.

Visit EDF’s website for more information on the campaign in the link below



Biography of Ed Roberts and worldwide list of Independent Living Centers

Meet Buddy Bougere from New Orleans, USA. He is writing a biography on disability pioneer Ed Roberts and is working on a worldwide list of Independent Living Centers. Read all about it and help Buddy Bougere with completing his list.

961 Independent Living Centers In 37 Countries

by Buddy Bougere

© Copyright by Walter “Buddy” Bougere 2011. All rights reserved.

This is for private, personal, noncommercial use only.


Buddy Bougere

Buddy Bougere

I am a disabled writer who has published 102 things, most of these since becoming disabled. I have been the primary caretaker of my mother who is 92 and has had Alzheimer’s for 14 years. I have lived with her for a decade. I am writing a biography called “Ed Roberts: Disability Pioneer” which comes out this fall. Ed Roberts, who was a quadriplegic, cofounded the independent living movement in 1970 and the world’s first independent living center in 1972. The book has a good summary of world disability history, over 50 videos and web sites where we as disabled people speak for ourselves, and the first biography of a pivotal disability civil rights figure. It also gives a site where you can read 170 pages of Ed Roberts in his own words and one with words from 100 other disability pioneers who founded the independent living movement. (more…)

Eric Celie, user of the Armon Ayura, a dynamic arm support system.

ENIL believes that people with a disability should have the right to use every helping aid,adaptation or assistive technology they choose to lead an independent life. We are the experts who know best what exactly we need. In reality we are often confronted with social workers or government functionaries who decide for us. They will pay us back certain wheelchairs, but maybe not the one that suits you the best. Same story for respirators, personal lifts, hearing devices, … Especially when you need more expensive technology it is often impossible to get it reimbursed. How effective it is for your independence and your quality of live seems to be less important than the price.

We spoke with Eric Celie, user of the Armon Ayura, a dynamic arm support system.

Hello Eric! Tell us something about yourself.

Eric Celie with the Armon Ayura arm support

Eric Celie with the Armon Ayura arm support

I’m a forty-nine year old married man. I’m the father of four kids, three of them still live at home. In the past I had a business as a carpenter, I focused mainly on the interior finishing of houses. Me and some associates did the interiors while my wife looked after the sales in the showroom. She also led everything in good order. The little bit of free time I had I spend on fishing alone or with the kids.

Also one of my favourite hobby’s was long distance running. (more…)

The Armon Ayura arm support

Armon web, multi-languageThe Armon Ayura is an arm support especially developed for those who only have little strength in their arms, due to e.g. a transverse lesion, a cerebral infarct or one of many muscle diseases. The arm support is based upon the weight compensation technique, meaning that the device takes over the weight of the arm. Therefore, the user only needs little strength and energy when using the arms. If the user wants to lift something (a cup, a book), the Armon can compensate the extra weight. The amount of compensation can be controlled by a means of an interface. The Armon Ayura makes it possible for users to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), like eating, drinking, shaking hands, independently again. It is the user who controls the movements, the Armon only takes over the weight.

The first Armon arm support was developed 2004. It was Peter Mastenbroek, owner of the company, who has a daughter with SMA, that started the search for a device that could help her years ago. Back then, there was not an arm support available that could provide her the needed arm function. Therefore, it became Peters main motivation to develop a support that could help her and others.Years of research, in cooperation with the Delft University of technology, finally resulted in the first arm support. However, it was not until 2006 that the Armon was available for everyone and more importantly, the health insurance was reimbursing the device.

In the following years the company continued developing and improving the products. The Armon Ayura is the successor of an earlier model, the Armon Wheelchair, and is since last year available. Different to others, the Armon Ayura offers the possibility to add several modules to the arm support. The vertical lock module enables the user to block the movement of the arm in four directions. People with a muscle disease often have problems keeping their head up for a long period of time. When locking the vertical movement they can lean their chin on their palm. This comes also in handy when making a phone call, brushing your teeth or putting on make-up.

Another module is the tilt module. This offers extra reach when wanted. Sometimes it is needed to reach further than your own force allows you to. This is when the tilt module could be of help. In addition, it eases bending and stretching the arm.

The Armon Ayura comes in a left and right handed version. The Ayura braces (that part of the Ayura that supports the forearm) is available in different sizes, depending on the user. Furthermore, there are two different Ayura’s available, one offering a compensation of 0.9-4.5 kg. and the light version compensating 0.6-2.5 kg.

Armon is a registered brand of Microgravity Products. Microgravity is constantly developing new devices and improving the current ones. Its vision is to further expand the product line with superiority products that significantly contribute to the quality of daily life of as many people as possible, worldwide.

The Armon Ayura is available through different European distributors. At the moment the product gets reimbursed in the Netherlands and is expected to be reimbursed in other European countries in the close future. For more information please contact the local distributor.

More information about the products can be found on the website (multi-language) or join the Armon Fanpage on Facebook.