Remember Wallace and Grommet and the 'Wrong Trousers'? Well …
A robotic set of legs to help people paralysed from the waist down has been designed by a Disabled Israeli engineer. exocrip cartoon
Crippen exocrip cartoon
The device effectively mimics the exoskeleton of a crab. By using a backpack device and braces on their legs and by selecting the activity they want from a remote control wrist band, users can stand, walk and climb steps. Although users have to walk with crutches, they control the legs through changes in centre of gravity and upper body movements.
A spokesperson from some big disability charity or other (O.K, I couldn’t decipher my notes!) commented that psychologically, it also lets those confined to a wheelchair live at the upright level and make eye contact with normal people (my italics!).
Seems to me that it would make more sense (rather than spending zillions on designing a device that would only be suitable for a small number of Disabled people) to spend a lot less removing all of the barriers within society that Disable us in the first place. Or am I being too simplistic again?!
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I thought that I’d combine a couple of political issues that have been picked up by my radar this week. Our Bert Massie (Sherbert to you mate!) has expressed strong reservations about the way in which the government has gone about the setting up of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), upon which he sits as a member of the disability committee (oops!). cripclop cartoon
He thinks there should have been a review to determine the exact needs of Disabled people in relation to the broader equality agenda. That would then have informed the way all encompassing equality law was developed.
He said: ‘By setting up the EHRC first, [the Government] have put the cart before the horse. And now the cart and the horse are on totally separate roads.’
Great analogy, Bert, spot on. Now let’s look across at what’s been happening to Baroness Jane Campbell in the House of Ladies and her Portable Care Package amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill.
Oh, what a surprise! The government has failed to give a firm commitment to enabling disabled people to move their support packages more easily between local authorities. Instead they’ve said that its new social care green paper would include a number of options that address this very issue ... followed by a consultation on these options.
So, the fact that Jane and other Disabled campaigners have been raising this very issue during social care consultations for more than a decade doesn’t count then eh?!
The cartoon emerged from my mind filled with images of horses and carts, roads leading nowhere, more crap from the government, and our Bert, not quite sure what he's gone and got himself into!
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Human cloning in order to produce the perfect human being got me to thinking. We already have perfect humans - in the shape of the limitless variety of Disabled people that inhabit this earth, so what is it they are really looking for? Cripclone cartoon
Most of the warmest, kindest, creative, gutsy people I know are Disabled people. And just think what this world would have missed if it were only populated by so-called perfect, non-disabled human clones. We’d have had very little classical music (most of the old composers would be recognized today as Survivors), a greatly reduced range of art and sculpture (Dali, Picasso, Van Gough, Lautrec, etc., were all Disabled people), less ground breaking inventions and discoveries (Einstein, Hawkins, Bell, etc., all Disabled people) and so it goes on …
There’s a really readable article on the UKDPC web site which covers this subject. Here is the link for that.
I’m sure that my cartoon will shock many of those sensitive non-disabled souls out there who are even now reaching for their computer keyboards to tell me that I’ve wandered over the boundary of bad taste yet again! But surely the real issue of bad taste is when society feels that it can improve on its cultural integrity by ensuring that everyone looks the same?
Many people credit me with the access cartoon showing a Dalek stuck at the bottom of a flight of steps when setting out to conquer the world. I’m not sure who came up with this gem; it might have been the late Steve Cribb, I only know that it struck a cord for people when looking at physical access issues. steps cartoon
Nowadays Daleks appear to have developed the ability to levitate up and down any steps that they come across in their mission to exterminate mankind. Useful skill if you’re an electric wheelchair user. Not dissimilar to those young paraplegics (their term) who, with developed upper limb strength, can often skip up and down steps in their self propelled wheelchairs.
Unfortunately, some of these super crips have set themselves up as access specialists, and, I suspect, because they present the more acceptable face of disability to the non-disabled world, are being used by groups and organisations wanting to check out the accessibility of their venues.
‘I’ve had a wheelchair user show me that a few small steps aren’t a problem for the disabled’ was one comment a Disabled friend of mine received when attempting to access a venue in her home town recently.
Needless to say, she was an electric wheelchair user, and could no more skip up and down steps as fly! The visually impaired friend who was with her also discovered that their super crip expert had also failed to address most of the non-physical access issues at the venue.
Namely, there was no large print or Braille information available, the lighting levels were crap and way-finding signage was non-existent! I often point out to non-disabled people that less than 4% of Disabled people are wheelchair users. They might make the most noise when addressing access issues, but behind them are the silent majority who’s access needs are just as valid, if not more so!
Having many friends within the Disabled People’s Movement who came up through the special educational system, I’ve been given a bit of an insight into just how effective this system works. O.K, there are those who have come through it and have carved a niche for themselves, for example as Disabled academics (mostly women now I come to think about it). But for the most, being singled out from an early age as special, along with the inevitable self fulfilling prophesy that comes with being told that you are second class, means that they’ve really been set up to fail from the start. teaching cartoon
This is never more so than with children who are labeled as having a learning disability - and who now comes in so many different assortments and flavours! Seen as unsuitable, for whatever reason for inclusion within the normal educational system, they are side-lined into these special schools and kept well apart from normal kids (well, we don’t want the other children to catch anything do we?!).
My cartoon attempts to take a more Social Model approach and stand the whole hypothesize on its head. What if it’s not the children who are learning disabled, but the tutors who are teaching disabled?! Perhaps the educators are the ones who are failing to make the grade, and who need to be located in a special place in order that they can be shown the error of their ways?
But that can’t be right. It would mean that the powers-that-be have been mismanaging our children’s education all along, and have actually got it wrong. Surely not?!