Crippen and Segregation by Stealth

Let’s face it. They’ve been trying to get us Crips off the streets for quite a while now. We’ve become such a pain in the arse for most of the disability status quo, and that includes government departments and those charities that claim to represent us, that there’s nothing they’d like better than to make us disappear from public view once again.

Segregation by Stealth

Well, they’ve achieved part of their plan. By imposing a lock-down when the Covid virus hit our shores some two years ago, we’ve been sheltering at home trying to keep ourself safe. We’ve adapted to ordering online and meeting up by using social media facilities like Zoom. If we have had to venture out we’ve all been masked up and keeping the recommended distance apart, hurrying back to the safety of our own homes as quickly as possible.

And then Boris decided that everything was OK. That it was safe to venture out and mingle, even throwing our masks away. Although many of us Crips didn’t trust these assurances and remained in our homes, still Zooming, and ordering online. Meanwhile those without a health condition that put them at serious risk from Covid could soon be seen cavorting around once more without masks and meeting up in large groups, attending concerts and generally returning to pre-Covid days.

And what’s happening? Well, Covid is once again rife amongst our population and people are dropping like flies. Admittedly, these are mainly of an age where they’ll experience something like bad flu symptoms and recover within a couple of weeks, achieving the ‘herd immunity’ that Boris and his cronies were advocating from the very start. But where has that left those of us with a health condition that makes us extremely vulnerable to the effects of the virus? Well, we’re having to isolate and impose stronger restrictions than we did at the very beginning. With thousands of people catching and spreading the virus amongst our family groups and local communities we are even more at risk than before, leaving us with no option but to remain within our homes and off the streets!

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A group of people are tossing a large inflated Covid virus into the air. Music is playing from a small ghetto blaster and they are all laughing and jumping around. Through the window of an adjacent house can be seen two disabled people. One of them is saying: “It’s one of Boris’ new party games – pass the Covid parcel!”

Crippen hears from the Ukraine’s National Assembly of disabled people

As promised, here is a follow-up to the blog I recently posted about the plight of disabled people living in Ukraine. The European Disability Forum and the International Disability Alliance have managed to establish contact with the National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine who represent the 2.7 million disabled people living in Ukraine. As you can imagine the situation is pretty dire.

The European Disability Forum (EDF) report that:

There are almost three million disabled people registered in Ukraine who are now living in appalling conditions due to the invasion by Russia. Bomb shelters in Kiev are inaccessible, so disabled people are forced to stay at home, not knowing where they can go to be safe. Those [disabled people] living in institutions already cut off from their communities, risk being abandoned and forgotten.

The National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine on behalf of more than 100 organisations in the country has reached out to appeal to all organisations of disabled people to support humanitarian aid and join efforts to end the war.  A shortened version of their appeal reads:

Appeal to International Organisations of Disabled People 

Today we are seeing children and women dying in Ukraine; the Russian army is killing our sons, daughters, husbands, and wives; they are destroying our cities … carrying out hostilities … using methods of warfare … [which are] in violation of all the principles of international humanitarian law.

Every day Russian troops are deliberately firing at residential districts in our cities; women and children have to spend several days in a row in air-raid shelters; the captured cities and towns are struggling due to the lack of water, food and medicines. The invaders prevent civilians, including disabled people, from leaving their towns and cities, and use them as human shields: they place military vehicles and equipment next to civilian buildings and people’s’ houses. 

Over many years disabled people from different countries have stood together to fight for their rights. Disabled people’s organisations have huge experience in upholding those rights. Today in Ukraine, people with disabilities and disabled people’s organisations are helping our State and are standing shoulder to shoulder with our defenders … Yesterday we received information that a wheelchair user who is a son, father and husband, was killed near Kiev when defending his family and his home.

We call upon you, representatives of disabled people’s organisations in different countries, to support us in our fight for peace. We want peace!

We are asking you to be our voice in your countries … Support us, spread the truth in your countries, urge your governments to … help to defend peace in our country. 

National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine (NAPDU)

Kyiv, March 1, 2022 

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

An electric wheelchair user is sat alone in a war torn landscape. In front of him is an open hatchway with a ladder leading down into its depths. A sign reading ‘bomb shelter’ is printed on the inside of the hatchway lid with a large white arrow pointing down. He is looking perplexed.

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen: DAN says, “Our lives are not disposable!”

Rising once again like a Phoenix from the ashes, Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) are to hold a Free Our People memorial action in Parliament Square, London, with the slogan ‘Our Lives are not Disposable!’.

This reunion action which is taking place at 13.30 hrs on Friday 18th March 2022 will focus on the fact that 60% of those people in the UK who have died due to the Covid-19 virus have been disabled people. This does not include the thousands of others that have died due to an overstretched NHS, benefit cuts and sanctions, and care support becoming scarcer.

DAN has always fought for emancipation and against the routine institutionalisation and oppression of disabled and older people. Especially now, when it has been calculated that over 43,000 people living in adult care homes in the UK died as a direct result of Covidduring the first 12 months of the pandemic. DAN were also especially vocal when disabled people were given ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ notices when taken into hospital with Covid. These notices were usually without the patient’s knowledge or consent.

You can contact DAM for more details of the action by email.

Bring your organisation’s banner and bring your friends and allies. The more the merrier!

A BBC television film called ‘Then Barbara met Alan’ will be released after the action on Sunday 20th March which relates the history of DAN.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A red, yellow and orange coloured Phoenix is rising from flames clutching smouldering copies of proposals made by disabled people. These include ‘a fully integrated and accessible public transport system’ and also ‘centres for independent living throughout the UK’. Above its head are the letters D A N. Underneath the flames is the statement ‘When the government burn our proposals then like the Phoenix we rise from the ashes!’

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen reaches out to our disabled brothers and sister in the Ukraine

Back in 2009 I was approached by a young disabled man living in war torn Afghanistan asking me if I could produce some cartoons to highlight the dire circumstances in which they were living. This cartoon was one of several that I created for him and which he used to good effect to attract international attention to the plight of disabled people in his country.

Ukraine: crippencartoons.com

I’ve recently sent out some feelers to our disabled brothers and sister in the Ukraine and am still waiting for a response. Quite a lot of their infrastructure has been hit and things that we take for granted being able to do, such as texting and emailing are no longer an option for many of them.

The Ukrainian government were only just starting to make inroads into improving access for disabled people and it goes without saying that this is now going to be low down on their list of priorities. Although with the use of illegal cluster munitions being used by the Russian forces, many more Ukrainians will now be joining our ranks, including many children, as a result of the carnage that these weapons inflict upon them.

I’ll let you know when I hear back from my contacts over there especially with regard to anything we can do to help them get through this nightmare. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is a war torn landscape with bombers flying overhead and dropping their sticks of bombs. Black oily clouds climbs into the sky alongside bombed out buildings. In the middle is a lone wheelchair user looking down at a single plank laid across a deep bomb crater. A sign over his head reads ‘In Afghanistan – it’s access, but not as we know it!’ However, the word ‘Afghanistan’ is crossed through and written over the top of it is ‘Ukraine’.

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen: Fleur and Doug go once more unto the breach

Following on from my last Blog when I expressed concerns about Johnson’s decision to scrap all Covid restrictions, I heard that our good friends disabled activists Doug Paulley and Fleur Perry are once again set to take legal action against the government about this very issue.

Doug Paulley and Fleur Perry 2022

Since the start of the pandemic Doug and Fleur, who are both considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to the virus, have spent most of their time shielding and restricting their outdoor visits to necessary GP and hospital appointments only. Also, like many of us they’ve not had close contact with family and friends but relied upon video conferencing to stay in touch.

Talking to Disability News Service Fleur believes the government’s decision to end the self-isolation requirement for those with Covid will further restrict her life, as there are likely to be many Covid-positive people sharing public spaces with her. Doug added that the increased circulation of COVID-19 in the community, with no requirement to self-isolate, will place him – and fellow residents of the care home in which he currently resides – at greatly increased risk, and significantly restrict their movements.

Their legal argument focusses on the government’s failure in its duty under the Equality Act to consult with disabled people and to undertake an equality impact assessment before making the decision on self-isolation. They believe there has been “a complete failure to have due regard to the needs of disabled and CEV people”.

You can contribute towards the legal costs for this action by visiting Doug and Fleur’s crowd funding page. They are already over halfway towards reaching the £8,000.00 total needed.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Caricatures of Doug Paulley and Fleur Perry who are sat in their wheelchairs facing forward. Doug is wearing a red top with the lettering: ‘We’re not paranoid – they really are out to get us!’. Fleur is saying: “We’ve already successfully challenged the government over the debacle of the National Disability Strategy …”. Doug adds: “and we’re now taking them back to court to challenge their badly thought out Covid restrictions withdrawal – but we need your help.” At the bottom of the drawing is a message box with ‘Please support this vital action by donating towards the legal costs we’ll be faced with. We’re almost there, in fact we’re over halfway towards the £8,000.00 needed. There then follows a url: http://www.crowdjustice.com/case/ending-isolation-risk-to-dp/

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen looks at the double edged sword of freedom

With all restrictions being lifted with regard to the coronavirus pandemic and Boris Johnson claiming that he’s “finally giving people back their freedom” we are once again seeing this government having a completer disregard for those of us with a health condition that means if we do catch the covid virus, even this so called ‘mild’ variant, it will probably mean the end of our lives.

Freedom Cartoon 2022

How many of us have remained indoors as much as possible, only venturing out double masked and when there are less people around, restricting our contact with family and friends to video calls and doing almost all of our shopping online? We don’t do this because we have a secret hermit fetish or because we actually don’t like mixing with other people. We have had to take these precautions because if we hadn’t, and we caught the virus, then we would have followed many of our friends and colleagues who have died since this terrible contagion first reached our shores.

This ‘herd immunity’ thinking, which is what’s really behind this latest move, means that people will catch Covid and recover to have added immunity against further variants. That’s fine if we were all healthy and in our prime, but those of us who are elderly, disabled, or who have a lung disease (which in my case means all three!) the chances of recovering are greatly reduced.

But hey, we already know this don’t we. This government have shown that they have absolutely no interest in supporting those members of society who, to use a term popular in the early 1940s, are labelled as ‘useless eaters’ and a drain on resources.

I’m waiting to see the panic that will ensue when the new variant that is currently rampaging around Hong Kong reaches our shores. With no protection in place, people will look back at Johnson’s offer of ‘freedom’ as the double edged sword it really is.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Boris Johnson is shown standing on a plinth in front of a large crowd of people who are all cheering and throwing their covid masks in the air. A large card at his feet reads ‘All Covid restrictions are to be lifted!’ and he is saying to the crowd: “And I give you all your freedom!” However, rearing up behind the crowd is a large tsunami type wave with ‘Hong Kong Variant’ written on it.

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen challenges the status quo’s convenient categories

An article caught my eye the other day which reported on a bill passing through parliament to ensure people with Down’s syndrome, and their families, are given proper support by local authorities.

Down’s Syndrome Bill 2022

Sounds great doesn’t it? I mean, what can possibly be wrong with MPs coming together from both sides of the House to support such a bill? But let’s take another look at this shall we. Having been campaigning for decades to get what are essentially our basic human rights, and constantly challenging societies perception of us when looked at through their medical model bias, isn’t this just another example of maintaining their status quo?

What next, a bill for people with cerebral palsy, then a bill for people with restricted growth? Then a bill … well, you get my point. Why can’t there be a bill that provides a level playing field for ALL disabled people, addressing all of the barriers within society that disable us and without the need to fasten labels around our neck identifying which impairment group we belong to. We’ve been there, done that, and are too far down the social model understanding road to be once again split into impairment groups for the convenience of politicians and the charities that claim to represent us.

So, let’s have a bill that provides ALL disabled people with the legal right to challenge discrimination in all of its forms and not this piece-meal attempt at keeping us in our convenient categories.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A group representing medical professionals, disability charities and the government are standing looking at several disabled people placed into boxes. A sign above them reads ‘the disabled’ and labels on each box identify their impairment group i.e., Spina Bifida, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Restricted Growth. The government representative is saying: “There you go – all split back into impairment groups just like the good old days!”

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen hears about tokenistic BSL bill

A leading Deaf campaigner has appealed to fellow users of British Sign Language (BSL) to reject a “tokenistic” new bill that claims to offer them new rights.

BSL Bill 2022

Jeff McWhinney, former chief executive of the Deaf-led organisation the British Deaf Association (BDA), has called on BSL-users to carefully examine the content of the British Sign Language bill. He states that the bill would not provide BSL with the legal status that Deaf people have been demanding since the 1980s and is “not good enough” and offers no important new rights to Deaf people.

The bill would recognise BSL as “a language of England, Wales and Scotland”, but the bill also states that this “does not affect the operation of any enactment or rule of law”. This appears to mean that the bill would provide a symbolic recognition of the language rather than offering any new rights for BSL-users who want the right to BSL interpreters when accessing public services such as the NHS, local government, and education.

Ironically, the bill, which McWhinney claims has been significantly watered down by civil servants, is not even available in BSL format. He added: 

“Deaf people must ask parliament to translate the bill into BSL so they can really understand what they are not getting, and then they can discuss it.”

He also believed that Deaf people were being misled about what was actually in the bill and told Disability News Service:

 “Deaf people believe they are getting extra rights for BSL. They are not.”

You can read the full story in Disability News Service.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software            

Two grey suited men are in the Conservative office. One is holding a piece of paper with ‘New BSL Bill’ printed upon it. The other is sat at a fax machine and is holding up another piece of paper which has written on it ‘Deaf people ask for BSL Bill to be made available in BSL format’. The man holding the Bill says: “They want WHAT – are these people never satisfied?!”

Crippen remembers the 300,000 disabled people murdered during WW2

I was recently given the opportunity to work on the D4D’s ongoing research project that is investigating, amongst other subjects, the question of eugenics and the horrendous experiments conducted on disabled people between 1942 and 1945.

This article discusses sensitive subject matter, so please only read it if and when you feel comfortable to do so and take care of yourself when you do.

Artwork: crippencartoons.com

Contributions to the project include harrowing accounts of disabled people ripped from their lives in the peaceful pre-war Holland into the nightmare that followed Germany’s invasion of their country during the second world war. One account in particular concerned Dutch university Professor Alexander Katan. He is remembered by fellow prisoner Josef Herzler, who was one of the few people to survive the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria:

“I especially remember a Dutch professor (Alexander Katan). He was a phenomenon of a person. If I were to describe his appearance, I have to say that he had dwarfism … He was very intelligent. He was a university professor and spoke seven languages fluently.”

Another inmate recalls how Professor Katan was displayed in the corner of the (concentration camp) block … all day long. Lots of Nazi SS men and doctors, also from other camps, came to see him … various medical experiments were conducted on him and after several months he was killed with an injection to the heart. Afterward, photographs of his skeleton were displayed.

It is now part of public record that by the end of World War II, an estimated 300,000 disabled people, including those with a mental illness or a learning disability had been gassed or starved, their fates hidden by phony death certificates and then largely overlooked among the many atrocities that were to be perpetrated by Hitler’s Third Reich in the years to follow. Many of these people were murdered by doctors from most of the occupied countries to further work on the Nazi’s Euthanasia and Eugenics programs.

A monument, outside of the Willem Arntsz Hoeve, a German mental hospital [sic] is all that remains to mark the atrocities inflicted upon mentally ill and learning disabled people there during the 1940s. It consists of a large, shaped sheet of reflective metal with the words:

‘They died like snow before the sun – 1942 to 1945’.

Lest we forget.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software Two haggard-looking white males wearing striped prison uniforms with a black triangle sewn onto their left breast are standing against a wall, On the wall is a sign that reads ‘ Achtung – behindert zum bearbeites’ (which roughly translated means ‘Attention – processing of disabled people’). On the ground by them are two big containers with ‘Giftige Chemikalien’ and a skull and cross bones painted on the front (roughly translated this means ‘poisonous chemicals’). Some yellow liquid is leaking from one container. A piece of text runs along the bottom of the cartoon with the words: ‘ between 1942 and 1945 it is estimated that 300,000 disabled people were murdered by doctors acting on behalf of the SS.’

Crippen joins in the cry for Gov to tear up its Disability Strategy

Despite the government’s works and pensions secretary Therese Coffee continuing to argue that last year’s disability survey was not a consultation but was just an information-gathering exercise, designed only to gather data about the lives of disabled people, she’s now been made to eat her words by the high court!

Tear it up cartoon by Crippen 2022

In an action brought by disabled campaigners, the high court found that not only was it a consultation but that it was an unlawful consultation, because the thousands of disabled people who took part were not given enough information about the government’s proposed strategy to allow them “intelligent consideration and response”. And because the court has found that the consultation was unlawful, then so is the strategy, which was published last July.

Disabled campaigners are now calling on the government to tear up its “fundamentally broken” National Disability Strategy after the high court ruled that the much-criticised document was unlawful. The court also found that the survey’s multiple-choice format, and the word limit on the small number of questions that allowed free-form responses, “did not allow for a proper response even to the issues canvassed in the Survey”.

It is not yet clear what action the government will take following the ruling, although a spokesperson said it was considering its next steps (I bet they are!).

Read the full account of this latest debacle in Disability News Service.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Iain Duncan Smith is lounging in an upholstered chair with a glass of brandy and a large cigar in his hands. On the back of the chair hangs his Peer’s crown. Standing in front of him clutching a paper that says ‘high court ruling’ printed on it is Therese Coffee. She looks worried. On the floor between them is another paper with ‘national disability strategy printed upon it. IDS is saying: “ Just ignore them Therese – they should realise that we’re all above the law!”