News Blog

2018/05/11  MINUTES_01  MINUTES_03    AGENDA

2018/04/06_Friday; Matching Homes, house swap for disabled people.
Well worth looking at if you are contemplating going on holiday.

2018/04/04_Wednesday; March News Letter.

2018/04/02_Monday; Breaking News – Mass school segregation in Flanders breaches rights of children with mental disabilities, says top European social rights body. (March 30th, 2018)

The European Committee of Social Rights has ruled that the systematic denial of inclusive education to tens of thousands of children with disabilities in Flanders breaches their fundamental rights.

Photo of Merel Coen
Merel Coen from Ruiselede, Belgium, was denied enrolment at her local school due to her disability. Photo: Family.

In a decision on a complaint under the Revised European Social Charter, the Committee found that the refusal to allow enrolment of children with mental disabilities in mainstream schools and maintenance of a separate system of special schools breaches the rights to social protection and inclusion in the community.
The complaint was initiated by international human rights organisation Validity Foundation (formerly the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre) in collaboration with the Flemish organisation “Equal rights for every person with a disability” (GRIP – Gelijke Rechten voor Iedere Persoon met een handicap).
Stressing the importance of inclusive education for all children regardless of their impairments, the Committee found that placing children with intellectual disabilities in segregated educational environments had no legitimate aim.
The decision has immediate implications for authorities in Flanders, which must now undertake rapid reforms of the education system. It also calls into question government policies across the Council of Europe region which maintain segregated or special schools, a situation which affects hundreds of thousands of students with mental disabilities.
In responding to the complaint, Flanders authorities argued that they had adopted a programme of “integrated education” for some children with disabilities. However, the Committee found this insufficient and noted that the policy discriminatorily excluded children with moderate or severe disabilities. Furthermore, recent reforms of the education system in the region were criticised for requiring pupils with disabilities to “fit the mainstream system” rather than being truly inclusive.
The decision is an important validation of the concept of inclusive education which is set out under binding international law including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Belgium ratified in 2009 and which has been adopted by the majority of countries in the Council of Europe. Globally, children with disabilities are frequently denied quality, mainstream education and are instead separated from their peers, often in schools.
In a warning to both Flanders and governments across the Council of Europe, the Committee also said it was insufficient to simply place students with disabilities in mainstream classes without fundamentally reforming the forms of support provided. Instead, the state must ensure that children are provided with “support and reasonable accommodations” to access education, reflecting standards set out under Article 24 of the CRPD.
The Committee said that Flanders had no “objective and reasonable justification” for denying such forms of support, holding this to amount to discrimination on the ground of intellectual disability which is prohibited under the Charter.
Merel is an 8-year-old girl with Down Syndrome who lives with her parents, Monica and Filip, in Ruiselede, Belgium. They tried to enlist their daughter in a local mainstream school, yet this was refused:
“Last year, Merel made the transition from nursery to primary education. She was refused at our local school. This refusal was unfair but there was not much that we could do. The refusal of that school was unjust. We think that this is discrimination. Our child is excluded in our local school because she has an intellectual disability. We, as parents, are powerless.”
The family were forced to enroll Merel in a more distant school in September 2017 and, although she is now receiving the support she needs, the family remain frustrated that she was not accepted in her local school.
Commenting on the decision, Patrick Vandelanotte of GRIP said: “Efforts have been taken by the Flemish government to realise inclusive education, but they are not effective. As a result of this decision made by the Committee, we ask for a new and stronger plan. This plan should include more efforts to provide reasonable accommodations and support in the classroom.
Steven Allen, Campaigns Director of Validity said: “This decision vindicates the notion that inclusive education benefits all children, both those with disabilities and without, and requires governments to end policies of segregation. It highlights the damage caused to children when governments continue to maintain systems of ‘special education’ instead of investing in inclusion and support for all. We intend to use this important precedent to challenge special education across the continent.”
GRIP and Validity are calling on the Flanders authorities to enshrine the right to inclusive education in law and to adopt a comprehensive strategy to end the system of educational segregation. All children and parents must be provided with effective remedies where enrolment, support or accommodations are refused.

2018/03/09_Friday; Download Agenda & Minutes for next CDCfA Meeting.



2018/02/26_Monday; Draft autism law for Wales – your views are wanted.

♿ On 22 February 2018, the National Assembly for Wales published a draft law on autism for comment. The draft law has been developed by backbench Conservative Assembly Member Paul Davies. As drafted, the Bill would require the Welsh Government to publish an autism strategy and guidance on how it should be used. More information here.

♿ Our ‘contact list has almost reached 300. Business cards and leaflets have been printed and we are about to order some presentation stands pending quotations. Next step is to get all this information into a database. Never a dull moment.

2018/02/06_Tuesday; Coalition and Council launch Press Release in English and Welsh.

Our database now has over 230 listed groups and is increasing day by day. We will soon reach 300 which is the maximum amount of emails that we can send in one day with our free bulk emailing service supplied by SendinBlue.

Morfa Bychan Beach Access Update: The Coalition will be writing to Pendine Community Council to express our opposition to the closure of the byway which is the only way disabled people can access the beach. The more people that take the trouble to tell the Community Council that they object to the proposed closure the more likely we are not to lose the byway. Contact for Pendine Community Council; email Chris Delaney, Clerk, Pendine Community Council, Sir Johns Hill Farm, Gosport Street, Laugharne, SA33 4TD.

2018/01/24_Wednesday; Welcome to the Coalition News Blog!

New Blue Badge criteria:

Once again, disabled parking permits are in the news, as the government is consulting on eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge.

This could mean extending the scheme to people with nonphysical conditions. If you’d like to contribute your thoughts to the process, you have until 18 March. For more information click here.

Taken from the Independent Living newsletter.

Latest – Changing Places:

Guidance about fully accessible toilets has just been updated in British Standards – details here, and this rather fabulous art deco building in Chester is the latest addition to Closomat’s roster of totally inclusive public spaces… see more here.

Taken from the Independent Living newsletter.

The County of Carmarthenshire (Byway open to all Traffic 56/4A, 9/39 and 56/3 at Morfa Bychan, Pendine) (Experimental Prohibition of Driving) Order 2017:

Mr. John McEvoy, Road Safety & Traffic Manager, Traffic Management, Parking Services and Road Safety, Transport and Engineering Division, Environment Department, Carmarthenshire County Council has informed the Coalition that the reason for the experimental order is to address antisocial behavior – illicit camping, a deposit of rubbish/detritions material. If you wish to object you have until 28th February.

The Coalition objects to the Order as it stands because it is the only suitable access for disabled people and those with limited ability. View notice.