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Spanish disability / 26 November 2007

Whilst we’ve been in Spain we’ve tried to make contact with other Disabled people down here, preferably Spanish. We had some success communicating with a deaf guy a little while ago, mainly through his Spanish sign language and Jeni’s BSL, which had a lot of similarity. He belonged to a Deaf group in Granada which was mainly a social thing. He didn’t really have any concept of Deaf politics, nor about Disability politics generally. He sold raffle tickets for a living and had a licence from the local authority allowing him to do his. Apparently a lot of his friends do this, as work opportunities for Disabled people are pretty limited according to him.

Talking about raffle tickets, those of you who’ve visited Spain may have seen the little ‘Once’ (pronounced on-say) kiosks scattered around the towns and at the entrances to super markets etc. This is a national lottery run by one of the biggest charities for the blind (sic) in Spain. The kiosks are staffed by blind or visually impaired people and seem to be extremely popular with Spaniards everywhere. There are big cash prizes every month which are drawn on national television, a bit like our own National Lottery. We haven’t been able to find out much about the actual organisation; whether it’s run and controlled by Disabled people (unlikely) or how much of the proceeds are put back into services for Disabled people. We’ll keep digging and let you know.

Jen had a meet with a group of Disabled people down on the coast a little while ago. Her Spanish wasn’t up to much at that time so she didn’t get too involved. Again it seemed that they were mainly a social group and on a par with where UK crips were about 25 years ago. She’s taken some of my Social Model cartoons to show them, which they related too; especially one’s based upon physical access issues. Now that her Spanish is much improved, we plan to try and meet up with them again and find out a bit more about their lives here in Spain. If our local contact is anything to go by (you’ll recall the story of the wheelbarrow woman on Sunday 11th November 07) they haven’t yet identified the concept that it’s barriers within society that disable them (social model) and are still pretty much wrapped up in the medical/charitable understanding that seems prevalent in this part of Spain.

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