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Disability Graffiti / 10 June 2012

I posted this cartoon on the Crippen Cartoon blog the other day and because I've started to get some interesting comments about it, I thought I'd share it with you on this Disability Arts on Line blog.

I'm still amazed at the number of Disabled people who don't know who Atos are. Despite most of them having gone through, or are due to go through the Government's Benefits Assessment programme.

The Assessment is, of course, being carried out by Atos. They are paid a handsome amount for doing the work and, according to a recent whistle blower's report (ex-Atos employee), are also paid a bonus for every Crip they can strike off the Benefits entitlement list.

The fact that a high percentage of Disabled people who then challenge Atos' decision are reinstated, says a lot for their credibility!

Keywords: disabled peoples movement,disabled peoples protest


Esther Fox

23 June 2012

I felt compelled to write in response to Colin Hambrook's Editorial 'headlining Disability - Integration at what price?' as well as the debate on Crippen’s blog – Disability Graffiti.

I presented at Headlining Disability as part of the Leading Through Change Network – who, in partnership with SHAPE, helped deliver the recent media event. I had high hopes that this might be an opportunity to do something new, refreshing and progressive. I think there are some key things that have come up over the course of these discussions.

I believe we should have the right to own our identities. Maybe it is naive to think we can, when the media are often the conduit for promoting these identities to a wider audience. However, I believe the more we insist on labelling ourselves the more this perpetuates the labelling by others. I think it is highly unlikely that Tanni Grey Thompson is not seen as a disabled person within the media, this is based on assumptions that are just not a reality.

There has been much further discussion about disability sport and how un-helpful this is on the Disability Graffiti section of Crippen’s blog. Maybe this is to be expected on an arts focussed website, however I am not sure how helpful this is for the bigger picture. I highly recommend reading Kristina Veasey’s response to this as she raises so many pertinent issues. I do find it rather disappointing that “Super Crip’s” are targeted. I work with both disabled artists and sports people and it appears to me that like within the “normal” world some people are passionate about sport and some art and in some cases both. Let us not reduce each other to further stereotypes.

At the media event I attempted to demonstrate two perspectives, that of a disabled sports person and a disabled artist aiming to explore the motivations behind taking part in both activities. I think the crux of much of this “anti-disability sport” feeling is the challenging times in which we live. With benefit cuts and needing to justify “how disabled” we are, there is considerable pressure on all of us, but are we venting our frustrations at the wrong people? Would we maybe provide a stronger voice if we presented a united front showing we represent a myriad of identities but with a common aim of owning these?

richard downes

22 June 2012

many thanks for your balance kristina

must admit i did feel very riled by assumed superiority statements and felt free to posit a response.

wish i hadn't know whil;st i sionk into a late night depression.

depression. someone siad to day they have nowords for it and prefer to think ofit as unguided introspection. i like that.


21 June 2012

Hi Kristina. Great meeting you the other day at the media conference. I enjoyed hearing about your own experiences around attending the paralympics as an athlete and wanted to thank you for taking the trouble to share your views with other readers of this blog. I came away from the conference feeling that disabled athletes and disabled artists had taken a big step towards each other and that something positive will grow from this.:-)

Kristina Veasey

20 June 2012

@Izzy, I think it's wonderful you are enjoying sport but you have a very naive understanding of other disabilities and how people are effected by them. I would also add that not everyone likes sport, whether they are disabled or not. To treat everyone the same is not the same as treating everyone equally. We are all different and have different needs and wishes. You have found something that works for you, and you are able enough to work for it. Paralympians are one very small section of the disabled population.

I am one of those minority people, and have competed in sport since I was a child, culminating in two paralympic games. It is what I would have done whether I had become a wheelchair user or not. it was my ambition from age 11 to compete at such an event. But in no way do I expect all disabled people to follow my path, or think less of them if they don't. Sport is something that should be enjoyed. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it! For many people they don't even have that choice as their impairments prevent them from doing it even if they wanted to.

@Richard - I understand your anger towards Izzy's comments, but remember not everyone is as far along their journey as each other. Enlightenment and education can work wonders, agression rarely does!I have worked with many children who have a range of medical, learning, and physical support needs who will never be able to play sport. Some of them are disinterested, and some are inspired by seeing paralympians. A lot of this is less to do with the sport and more to do with visibility of disabled adults doing positive things (in their life experiences, and in the media), and confidence. Many disabled children are lacking confidence within themselves to try things out, to have a go, and take risks. Many of the adults in their lives lack the confidence to encourage their children, and the ones they work with, to do this as well. Having an event like the paralympics does at least in these cases serve as an inspiration.

I only discovered paralympic sport when up at 2am unable to sleep because of pain, and switching on the TV. In the few years before, I had thought my sporting life had ended. Watching the paralympics made me realise I could be creative and find ways to adapt, not just in terms of playing sport, but also in terms of managing my impairment generally. But, I had to be awake at 2am to get that!

So I am really pleased that there is more media coverage of the paralympics. I just wish that equal media attention was given to disabled people in the arts and cultural sectors. A focus on paralympians gives a skewed view of disabled people and effects the public's expectations of disabled people. It just isn't representative of the talent, diversity, and also the everyday-ness of disabled people nationwide. This is all compounded by the 'reality documentaries' like Undateables and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves!

@Linda @Crippen - Undoubtedly the whole ATOS assessments process is bodering on criminal and seems to be in breach of human rights. I have written about this topic myself and am appalled by the way LOCOG have brushed these issues under the carpet. Whilst I agree that statements need to be made, athletes are in a very difficult position. Certainly prior to Beijing, athletes had to sign a contract agreeing not to speak out about anything contentious or political. They will lose their place if they do. I imagine after working towards something for so long they are unlikely to risk that now. That is why as a retired paralympian I became Amnesty International's paralympic ambassador during the Beijing games - so I could give a voice and protest. Even as a paralympic torchbearer I have been told I can not say unsupportive things about LOCOG and the paralympics.

I'm sure that we will see protests, though I rather think the protests should be aimed at the government about the whole ATOS system and ESA debacle in general. It's a far bigger issue than just the sponsorship part. Scrap ATOS altogether should be where we focus our energies!

richard downes

18 June 2012

Something i find very difficult about the oil limp pix is the superiority of the athletes and coaches.

We had already decided not to have anything to do with it other than pay our taxes and lottery monies so these folk could go ahead and show off when some jumped up little trainer appeared on the news to call every non athlete/olympian 'Mr and Mrs Mediocre'. How inclusive is that comment i thought. Everyone is mediocre 'cept for Oily Limpians.

And now we must get off our arses to pay our taxes and lottery contributions whilst you tape go faster stripes to your wheelchair and add to the greater cause of humanity.

Still won't be long before the guys and gals will be looking to be activists once your racing days are over.


17 June 2012

Thanks Joe. My email is :-)

joe kelly

15 June 2012

like your work crip- would you do me a cartoon?


10 June 2012

The vast majority of disabled people have a wide range of impairment issues, including mental health issues and those imposed by illness. You cannot reduce people situations by saying they are too lazy to get up off their arses.

My cartoons are aimed at the 'Super Crip' who by his/her conformity to the stereotypical perception of most non-disabled people, creates even more misunderstanding and hostility towards disabled people through spreading ideas that all we need to do is pick ourselves up and get on with it - and in so doing everything will be alright.

It's great that you've found an outlet for your athletic aspirations, but please don't dismiss the rest of us as worthless, benefit scroungers. We all have our different skills and could benefit more from working together to challenge this government and its heartless attacks.

Perhaps you could follow the suggestion made earlier and refuse to take part in the Paralympics as a protest against Atos and its treatment of other disabled people?!


10 June 2012

I take exception to what I see as disparaging comments about wheelchair users who take the trouble to train and turn themselves into athletes.

Having suffered a spinal injury in my late teens I've been confined to a wheelchair ever since. I've put myself through a tough training regeme and am now competing at championship level in several paralympic sports. I take exception to those people with disabilities who can't be bothered to get off their arses and expect the state to do everything for them. If I can do it, Why can't they?

Arty Farty

10 June 2012

And am I right in thinking that Atos are part of the company who are still refusing to pay out any compensation to those people in India who where badly effected by a chemical/gas explosion? Seems like they make a habit of trampling over people's human rights!

Linda Burnip - DPAC

10 June 2012

DPAC blog for the Olympic torch arriving in Brum seems an appropriate thing to post with this great cartoon..

One might be forgiven for wondering just why and how ATOS and Bhopal Dow are two of the most prominent Olympic sponsors? How can such odious corporations be given worldwide publicity and credibility?

In exchange for lucrative payments from the government ATOS happily continue to hound and harass disabled people into even further poverty and to drive many to suicide.

Over 1 million disabled people, many too ill to work face losing their benefits or have already lost them. If you become ill or disabled in the future this could happen to you, even if you’ve worked and paid National Insurance contributions most of your life.

People with life-threatening illnesses, some with terminal cancer, and mental health conditions live in fear of their forthcoming ATOS assessments acknowledged as totally flawed by CAB, McMillan Cancer charity and a host of others.

The tick-box computer assessment system takes no account of real life problems people face or the complexity of many long-term illnesses and disabilities. Yet within minutes this process which violates the fundamental medical principle of ‘first do no harm’ can strip disabled people of essential benefits and rob them of their lives.

Real-life horror stories of assessments and outcomes now abound and can be read in papers on an almost daily basis yet still the government refuse to halt or change these vicious tests. Some of the reports are little short of torture.

A woman forced to try to walk to prove she couldn’t who fell onto the ground and had to be helped up again crying by her mother. Another woman forced to try to walk down a long corridor also to prove she couldn’t walk. People waiting for major heart surgery or those who have had numerous heart attacks killed by the stress of the assessments and being told they are fit to work.

A Grimsby Fisherman suffering from horrendous blood clots and open ulcers and struggles to walk who has been told by specialists at two hospitals he would be risking his life if he went back to work lost his disability benefits.

A more recent case is that of a Dundee man found fit to work who is deaf, blind and tube-fed and who needs 24 hour care. How could anyone with such profound impairments be found fit to work?

Yet this is how ATOS treats disabled people.

The BMA Local Medical Committee Conference recently voted unanimously for an end to these notorious Work Capability Assessments as Scottish GPs did earlier this year. Dr Stephen Carty has likened the UK Government’s welfare reform crackdown on disabled people to the “barbarism” of the Nazis.

The cost of these sometimes murderous assessments to the taxpayer are enormous as appeals rocket costing a predicted £50 million in tribunal costs in 2012 alone. The backlog of cases has reached epidemic proportions with tribunals sitting even on Sundays to try to reduce the 10 month backlog of cases. Yet even if a claimant wins their appeal against their assessment, and most do, the treadmill experience of being retested can start again immediately for no justifiable reasons.

As the blood of disabled people continues to drip steadily from the hands of our Olympic sponsors they should hang their heads in shame at the terror they are causing to those who deserve support not victimisation from our welfare state.

If you would like to join us in expressing your disgust at ATOS and its sponsorship of our Olympics then please email their CEO at Thiery Breton at (

Merry Cross - via Crippen\'s cartoon blog

10 June 2012

As my friend Ron said, ‘This is a corporate event, with the Olympics as a backdrop’. But what I don’t get is they’ve chosen all the most INAPPROPRIATE companies possible: Coca Cola,, Dow Chemicals, MacDonalds and they- Don’t-Give-A-Tos. So it’s how to offend the maximum number of people around the world and put back sport by decades!!

Sotoniad - via Crippen\'s cartoon blog

10 June 2012

My comments don't seem to be appearing on these blogs but I’ll try again anyway by replying to this one. I don't think it's that the public are unaware, I think so many of the public just don't really care. Far too many of them are convinced that the benefit system is so full of cheaters and scroungers that these machete measures are a necessity. What some might call Daily Mail readers (although I personally hate that term). I don't of course dispute that there are people playing the system, I doubt any disabled or sickness claimant is disputing that, but it's reached a point where the public are seeing cheaters everywhere and the conservatives are using that "frenzy" to push through their machete solution when they should be using a scalpel.