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World Convention in Finland 2023











Injustice in a World of Uncertainty

Stream 4: Disability, Illness and Safety Infringements in an ‘Ableist’ World 

(A hybrid stream of in-person, online and pre-recorded presentations) 

#1: The Disablement and Debilitation of Palestine

Author(s): Lucia Guerro Rivierre and Lena Obermaier, PhD candidates at the University of Exeter, England

Abstract: Our presentation addresses violently inflicted ocular injuries from a transnational perspective, focussing on the contexts of Colombia and Palestine as case studies. In Palestine, eye injuries on a mass scale have first been recorded during the First Intifada (1987-1993); in Colombia, they became a matter of concern during the 2021 National Strike (although records exist as far back as 2007). Far from a novel or unique practice, ocular mutilation has been documented in several countries, including Kashmir, Hong Kong, Spain, France, and Chile, which suggests a potential systematicity in this form of brutality across contexts and regions (Haar et al, 2017). First, we examine ocular mutilation as part of a wider strategy of (settler)state-produced disablement and debilitation, drawing on Jasbir Puar’s concept of “the right to maim,” while also calling attention to the local and regional specificities of this tactic and how they are shaped by ongoing conflicts as well as the circulation of militarised knowledge and artefacts. Second, we contextualise the ocular injury in each case with respect to the disproportionate impacts of conflict on disabled people. 


First Intifada injuries are characterised by their far greater morbidity due to delays in treatment caused by frequent curfews and checkpoints; ocular injuries in Colombia often go untreated because of their immediate association with participation in protest, which is highly criminalised, thereby discouraging survivors from seeking medical help. Third, we discuss the weaponisation of disability in the service of ethnic cleansing (Palestine) or the maintenance of a social order (Colombia), examining the ableist prejudices underpinning ocular mutilation as a biopolitical aim. The presentation thus aims to contribute to recent scholarship in critical disability studies concerned with demanding accountability for bodily harm that results in impairments without reiterating ableist notions of bodily capacity and debility (Meekosha, 2011; Sins Invalid, 2019; Soldatic, 2013; Puar, 2017). 


#2:  Independent Living and self-determination for disabled people in Portugal: political changes and Challenges

Author(s): Dr Fernando Fontes, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Abstract: Traditionally, social support for disabled people in Portugal has been limited to three options: 1) support in a residential context on an inpatient basis, 2) support in an institutional context on an outpatient basis and 3) support in a family context. These three types of support are not watertight, on the contrary, they assume different types of combinations with interpenetration zones that vary over time according to individual needs and family availability. Regardless of the type of support or combination found, the consequences of these conventional forms of support in curtailing the freedom, autonomy and ability to choose of disabled people and in the deterioration and erosion of family and intimate relationships are undeniable.


Independent Living for disabled people, enshrined in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, marks a political and philosophical shift in the support available to disabled people. Understood as the idea that disabled people should have total control over their own lives, Independent Living encompasses the right to live in contexts where they are not subjugated by the logic of dependence on family care or the solutions offered in institutional environments that, without attending to their specificities, put them in a situation of vulnerability, preventing them from making decisions regarding their own lives.


The development and implementation of the Independent Living Support Model (MAVI) in Portugal signals the beginning of this turning point. It is now important, as the first results of the evaluations of the implementation of the MAVI appear at national level, to analyse the adequacy of this policy measure, in its design and implementation, to the principles and original philosophy emanating from the national and international disabled peoples' movements, since its distortion could lead to compromising its positive potential.

#3: Karl Polanyi on Retrospect and Prospect: Can the Basic Income Truly act as a Trigger for Self-Organising a New Resilient System of Health Justice?

Author(s): Mu-Jeong Kho, University College London, England

Abstract: With the growing concerns on socioeconomic inequalities and poverty deepening in capitalism, we are now facing challenging times: The Covid-19 pandemic, an economic crisis. To tackle such inequalities, major adaptations are necessary. The fundamental challenge must be institutional: existing institutions are improper, and a greater period of experimentation is necessary. This is why we must look at the basics of institutional economics, particularly in radical traditions such as Karl Polanyi in the context of basic income, outside of the ruling neoliberal consensus. Although the Polanyian literature seems not to be a stranger in the context of basic income; however, it has weakly connected to the issue unaddressed hitherto, whether a basic income can truly act as a ‘trigger’ for the self-organising a new resilient systems of health justice. This question in turn leads to sub-questions: (1) how capitalist system of health gets to organisation and structuration in real world (objectivity); (2) what its origin of disorder is; (3) in the crisis ‘Covid-19,’ how basic incomes acts as a trigger for the self-organising; (4) whether or not the basic income truly acts as a trigger for the self-organising a new resilient system in terms of both (a) philosophical value ‘health justice’ against inequalities in health and (b) history; (5) if untruly as there are still crucial points in locking-in the ‘trigger’ both in value and history, what the normative solution is, addressing in political literature the duality of reformism vs. radicalism looking beyond it by reclaiming an ‘evolution,’ i.e. a ‘self-organising change for survival.’

This paper, which defines self-organisation as an ‘institutional process of recovery’ through reorganising and reconstituting order out of disorder (i.e. order as structure), aims to revisit and answer such foundational question, together with the institutional matrix of self-organisation full of institutional variants structurated by market versus non-market; on the other, pro-capital versus anti-capital, through a deeper understanding of Karl Polanyi, and applies it to an empirical case study (with quantitative data analysis method) on the health system in Republic of Korea during the last decade (to the current Covid- 19 Pandemic). By doing so, this paper concludes: beyond superficial issues of post- pandemic recovery programs as ‘return to pre-pandemic normality’ based on the dichomistic logics of standard upon health systems such as private versus public, market versus state, Keynesianism versus neoliberalism, institutional economics in Polanyian literature addresses the deeper and ‘real-world’ issue of structuration in capitalistic systems of health in Korea which act as the roots, substances of long-term crisis in health justice. In the crisis, the basic income in turn can act as a trigger for self-organisation in a short-term, but only valid when it is truly connected to the Polanyian long-term ‘radical’ vision, which in turn can help us to look for a transition towards a new resilient system of health justice, beyond such a capitalistic system.

#4: Inclusion at School


Author(s): Matteo DI Pietrantonio, PhD Student, Department of Educational Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy

Abstract: In light of rapid and continuous technical and digital transformations, and of the challenges rising from globalisation and climate change, in the last twenty years the main international institutions (OECD, UNESCO, World Economic Forum, World Bank, European Union, etc.) have been promoting the acquisition of the 21st century’s competences and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in order to have citizens who have the flexibility to fit the demands of the market and be active protagonists in their own community. School, in this scenario, has a crucial role in driving development, but a holistic rethink is necessary so that no one is left behind: the objective of the 4 th SDG aims to ensure good quality education, both inclusive and equal, and promote opportunities for lifelong learning for all. Education is a fundamental right and is the basis on which other rights are built, as well as peace, tolerance and sustainable development. Inclusion and equity are at the centre of numerous programmes and, as already stated above, school has a key role in realising them but evidently it cannot achieve this in isolation, or without rethinking its structure, learning spaces, and didactics. It is necessary to open the doors of the school to the community, and include non-formal learning opportunities, in order to guarantee expression and recognition of competences and their value, for example to those that for various reasons (disability, social disadvantage, economic problems etc.) struggle to get good results.

Within an integrated educational system, youth work can represent a bridge between school and extra-school, and contribute to enriching learning opportunities by recognising and valorising the interests, passions, and experiences of students. It is necessary to create a dialogue between inside and outside the school and, in order to guarantee to everyone equal opportunities to access and to success (according with their own possibilities) without consideration/regardless their own condition/situation, it is necessary to reshape the formative system towards an inclusive direction, avoiding to leave anyone behind or to create marginalised or exploitation situations, bringing back the learner at the centre of educative process, with his needs, interests, his specific rhythms, time and learning styles. Activating at the same time positive synergies with the third sector and the world of non-formal education.


The aim of my research is to record the perceptions of headteachers, teachers and students of whether innovative schools (general upper secondary schools/vocational schools) are also inclusive (in terms of disability, social/economical disadvantages, immigration, etc). In particular, I am going to record if, according to their perceptions, the presence of innovative learning spaces, the use of active didactics, and the connection of the school with the local community (the integration of formal and non-formal education) can facilitate the wellbeing and the inclusion of the students. The research is within the framework of Special Pedagogy (disability and marginality). In this piece of qualitative research, I used qualitative and quantitative tools to understand the complexity of the observed phenomena through the collection of the perceptions and the meanings of the person involved, according with to their personal school experience, about the inclusion and well-being of the students, especially disabled students. I carried out my research in Italy and Finland. I used qualitative and quantitative tools in order to answer to my research questions, more specifically, observations in the classrooms, semi-structured interviews with headteachers, teachers, focus groups with teachers and special needs teachers, and questionnaires for teachers and students.


At the moment I am still analysing the data. Even though it will not be possible to generalise the results, the research will have exploratory meaning and value and the outputs could shed a light on some specific aspects of school inclusion, stimulate some critical considerations about the state of the art of inclusion in the selected schools, and inspire further research.

#5: The Marrakesh Treaty: An Evaluation of Its Implementation and Efficacy


Author(s): Tabitha Kenlon, Independent Researcher, United States

Abstract: The Marrakesh Treaty attempts to increase the number and availability of accessible materials for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled. It seeks to balance copyright protection with equality of access. The treaty’s preamble emphasises the importance of ensuring access for people in developing countries; a key provision of the treaty is easier cross-border exchanges of material. Yet the accessibility promises housed within the Marrakesh Treaty remain largely an ideological fantasy. Although 89 countries have signed the treaty since 2013 and it came into force in 2016, it is unlikely that there has been a substantial change to the World Blind Union’s estimate that less than 10% of printed material is accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.


Six years after the Marrakesh Treaty came into force, there are no data to evaluate its success and whether more print-disabled people around the world, regardless of their country’s level of development, are accessing more materials in 2022 than they were in 2016. The treaty contains no requirement for reporting, tracking, or monitoring. This is a significant absence, reflecting society’s uneasy relationship with both human rights accountability and disability. Without data, the question is, what do participating institutions say about their involvement with the Marrakesh Treaty, and what do these statements (or lack thereof) indicate about the strength of the treaty and the state of accessibility? This paper addresses the effectiveness of the Marrakesh Treaty by examining the statements about it that have been issued by major institutions in some of the English-speaking signatory countries. The degree to which these organisations demonstrate their engagement with the treaty is contextualised within larger conversations about human rights, disability, accessibility, and copyright law.

#6: The State of the Nation in SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Education: England


Author(s): Chloe Schendel-Wilson, Co-Founder and Director, Disability Policy Centre, England

Abstract: There are currently 1.5 million children in England who are recorded as being disabled or having special education needs - 16% of the total number of pupils. Despite decades of legislation changes, going back to the Education Act of 1981, we know that there are still so many children who are slipping through the net, not due to their disability, but due to an environment and a society that still disables them. For The Disability Policy Centre’s research, through surveys, roundtables and one- to-one interviews, we spoke to past and present disabled students of a range of ages, as well as parents, carers and guardians, and teachers. We also conducted a Freedom of Information Request to every Local Authority in England and Wales.


Through our research, we found that 46% of the disabled people we spoke to had their disability undiagnosed throughout school. 65% of parents, carers and guardians ‘had to fight’ for their child’s EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan), and in some Local Authorities, up to 100% of the pupils in the Pupil Referral Units were registered as being disabled or having special educational needs. In this paper, we have laid out a series of recommendations that we believe will lay the groundwork for how we build a truly accessible education system for all. Our research shows that our disabled pupils are still facing the same barriers that they were forty years ago. They require bold thinking and collaborative action now more than ever.

#7: Challenging Myths and Misconceptions: Breaking Down the BarriersYoung People with Learning Difficulties Face in Bringing Diversity and Positive Inclusivity to the Workplace


Author(s): Mr. Michael Grant, Mr. Brian Mitchell and Dr Trevor Rogers, University of Bradford, England

Abstract: This presentation will explore the huge omission of the representation of young people with learning disabilities within the UK workplace and broader society. In terms of inclusion, it will argue that there is a lack of real and meaningful engagement with young disabled people and there is as a result limited access to the employment field which seriously undermines the ability of people to gain a sense of personal value and a sense of community. Whilst the UK has equality legislation making it illegal to discriminate against disabled people, there clearly remains negative perceptions about the positive involvement disabled individuals can contribute to a truly inclusive workforce.


By contrast, recognising organisations such as the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTI) would play some role in challenging these misconceptions, the presentation will focus largely on a local project. The ‘Into Employment Scheme’ in Bradford, UK is a project is supported by a consortium of Bradford Local Authority and a range of Voluntary and independent providers of social care.


With direct contributions from the people within the project the presentation will highlight how providing inroads into employment can make a very real difference to lives of young people. It will be recognised that this is only one initiative within the city of Bradford and for employment to be a real and tangible aspiration for young people with learning difficulties, there needs to be sizeable shift in the perceptions of how wider society views people.

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