From the July-August 2022 issue of News & Letters
Disabled people living in Ukraine experience the same barriers that the disabled experience worldwide. The Russian invasion exacerbated the situation with inaccessible buildings and escape routes, inadequate support, and long travel distances. Thus many disabled people cannot escape the war. Because parents of disabled children cannot get the support they need, some abandon their children. Many are now in institutions that can’t meet their needs. There are those trying to help: European Network on Independent Living, Dzheralo Children’s Rehabilitation Center and Disability Rights International try to help families stay together or get children into foster care and then reunite the children with their families as quickly as possible when possible. If none of that works, they try to place the children in the community rather than in institutions.
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Disabled people are more likely to die or sustain critical injuries during disasters—from the record-breaking heat wave in Portland, Ore., in June 2021 to Hurricane Ida’s destruction in Louisiana in August 2021 to the ongoing COVID pandemic and the all-too-frequent mass shootings. Disabled young adult Riley Hurt organized the Marion County (Oregon) Advisory Group, modeled after the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Advisory Group will get the Marion County disability community connected with emergency management professionals, including infrastructure professionals, for accessible emergency information, and evacuation centers with proper medical equipment. Hurt wants everyone to know that disabled people know what they need and are able to care for themselves if given the necessary tools and support.
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The Australian Disability Enterprises contends that many of their affiliated employers would have to close their businesses if they had to raise disabled workers’ wages from the sub-minimum wages that are legal for people with disabilities. They also resist accommodating disabled people, for example, with sign language interpreters for deaf workers and accommodations for blind workers. Fortunately, organizations such as Inclusion Australia are advocating for disabled Australians.