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Blind Cyclist Conquering Himalayas

December 13, 2018

Divyanshu Ganatra, who lives in the western Indian city of Pune, lost his eyesight at 19 due to a disease called glaucoma.

But he is determined not to let his disability get in the way of his love for sports, including cycling in the Himalayas.


Elaine McDonald OBE Dies

December 12, 2018

Elaine McDonald OBE, the former ballerina who in 2011 faced a battle for night care to help her use the toilet after a stroke, has sadly passed away.

Respected blogger Indigo Jo has published a short tribute.

Alison Cameron, a blogger we haven’t come across before, has published a longer tribute which focuses on Ms McDonald’s life as a ballerina.

Ms McDonald’s case will stay with our editor for a long time to come. We are sad to read of her death tonight.

Almost Half DLA-PIP Transfer Claimants Get Lower Or No Award

December 11, 2018

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

47% of disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP) claimants either get a lower award or no award at all, according to figures released by the DWP today.

The figures for reassessment claimants show that in total:

  • 39% had their benefit increased
  • 14% had their benefit left unchanged
  • 22% had their benefit decreased
  • 21% got no award at all after assessment
  • 4% were disallowed before the assessment
  • 1% withdrew their claim

Results varied according to the claimant’s condition.

For example, 40% of claimants with psychoneurosis had their award stopped altogether, compared with 37% of claimants with psychosis, 28% with learning difficulties, 16% with arthritis and 15% with back pain.

One bit of bright news in the figures is that 28% of claimants were awarded PIP at the highest rate for both components, compared to 16% under DLA.

You can download the full statistics from this link.

One In Four PIP Claimants Lose Benefit On Review

December 11, 2018

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

25% of personal independence payment (PIP) claimants who have their award reviewed end up with no award at all, while 16% have their award cut, according to figures released by the DWP today. The figures also show that fewer than half of new PIP claimants get an award.

The full statistics show that out of 505,000 claimants whose PIP award has been reviewed since June 2016:

  • 25% had their award stopped completely
  • 16% had their award decreased
  • 16% had their award increased
  • 43% had their award maintained at the same rates

There were large variations in review outcomes depending on the main disabling condition of the claimant.

For example, 52% of claimants with a malignant disease have their award stopped or reduced, compared to 46% with psychiatric disorders, 36% with neurological disease and 32% with respiratory disease.

You can download the full statistics from this link.

Hero Bionic Arm Gives Confidence To Amputees

December 11, 2018

A Bristol-based robotics company, Open Bionics, has developed the world’s first medically-certified 3D-printed artificial arm for amputees.

The Hero Arm, with its artificial hand, can fit children as young as nine years old. Its motor is controlled by muscles on the residual limb, allowing the user to carry out many tasks as if the hand was real.

Open Bionics hope the £5,000 bionic arm could be made available on the NHS.

BBC Click’s Kathleen Hawkins went to meet Raimi, who says the arm has given her a new confidence.

Lauren Steadman Eliminated In Strictly Semi Final

December 10, 2018

Same Difference congratulates Lauren and AJ on a wonderful performance throughout this year’s competition.

No one wants to leave the competition at this point, but tonight it was Lauren Steadman‘s turn to take her last bow as she narrowly missed out on a place in the Strictly 2018 Final

She performed two dazzling routines with Pro partner AJ Pritchard in the Semi-Final – a Tango and a Samba – but they failed to impress the Judges, landing bottom of the leaderboard once again and finding themselves in the Dance-Off for the first time this series following the public vote. They opted to perform their Tango as they went up against Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev, who were now in the bottom two for the third week running.

But once both couples had danced, the Judges voted unanimously to save Ashley and Pasha. Darcey Bussell justified her decision, saying: “It’s really hard because you’ve worked so hard and you’ve got so far to the Semi-Finals, fabulous. But on a more finished performance, the couple I would like to save is Ashley and Pasha.”

Their votes sealed Lauren and AJ’s fate, sending Ashley and Pasha through to next week’s Final.

Despite leaving so close to the climax of the competition, Lauren had some lovely words to share on her Strictly experience, telling Tess: “I have absolutely loved my Strictly journey and it has been so much more than anyone ever tells you it’s going to be and that you thought it would be. Down to the smallest things; I mean outfits, hair, makeup, this man [AJ], the Judges, all the choreographers. It’s just… I can’t tell you just how magical it is.”

AJ also had plenty of praise for Lauren, saying: “Lauren has been fantastic. Honestly, at the beginning of the series I couldn’t have expected to make the Semi-Final, which was just beautiful, but honestly I’m so proud of you as a person. You have changed so many people’s opinions and it has always been about ability not disability. You have attacked everything, you have always been stubborn, you have always been ‘I will be able to get this lift’ even though it’s not going to work, but we’ll get there somehow by Friday and Saturday. But for me honestly it’s been a fantastic journey and you’ve done yourself proud.”

Lauren has inspired so many of us throughout her time on Strictly, but it doesn’t end there – she’ll be on the It Takes Two sofa with AJ this Monday night at 6.30pm on BBC Two!

New Charter For Airlines And Airports Could Make #WheelchAIRTravel Easier

December 7, 2018

Air travel could become smoother and less fraught for disabled passengers if a new charter for airlines and airports is adopted, say ministers.

Disabled flyers have long complained of lost or damaged wheelchairs, struggles with access on planes and in airports, and poor customer service.

If adopted, the charter would remove the £2,000 limit on payouts for damaged wheelchairs.

It would also enforce better training for airline crews and baggage handlers.

In the longer term, the charter would encourage the industry to look at ways to allow people to take their own wheelchairs into aircraft cabins.

More than half (57%) of passengers with a disability say they find flying and using airports difficult, according to a survey by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Accessibility minister Nusrat Ghani said that statistic needed to be addressed and the proposed charter included measures to make “real changes”.

“We are committed to continuing the progress the industry has already made in making the aviation network truly open to all,” she said.

Chris Wood, from campaign group Flying Disabled, said the charter was what they had been working towards.

“My aspiration is to have people flying in their own wheelchairs to a destination within two years and it looks as if the UK could lead the way in making this happen,” he said.

Frank Gardner, who travels widely for his job as BBC security correspondent, has shared some of his own experiences to highlight the obstacles faced by wheelchair users.

In March, on his way back from Ethiopia, he was stranded on an empty aircraft for almost two hours after staff said they had lost his wheelchair.

At the time, he said: “That is your legs gone – it is a basic human right”.

Mr Gardner, who has used a wheelchair since being shot in Saudi Arabia in 2004, has spoken of airports having a “casual disregard” for disabled passengers.

Last year a paraplegic athlete dragged himself along the floor through Luton Airport after his self-propelling wheelchair was left behind on a flight.

And in November a man with a spinal problem was taken to hospital after he collapsed at Heathrow Airport while waiting for a booked wheelchair that failed to turn up.

Analysis: Changes welcome but how long to wait?

By BBC disability news correspondent Nikki Fox

When it comes to flying, if you have a disability, physical or invisible, the problems are never ending and progress slow.

This Passenger Charter pinpoints some of the key issues for disabled passengers – increasing the limit on lost or damaged mobility equipment, better training for staff and getting wheelchairs on planes.

All will be welcomed by disabled people and those who have been campaigning for change.

What is unclear is how this will all work.

The government will have to find a way of getting around the Montreal Convention – a set of rules the aviation industry has had to follow since the 1990s.

One of those being how much an airline has to reimburse a passenger for lost, broken and often expensive, wheelchairs.

There is also no clear indication of how long it will take to see real change.

At the moment, these new measures will feed into the government’s aviation strategy, but as yet, no date has been set.

Some airports are already introducing measures to improve the experience for disabled flyers.

At Gatwick, one of the airport lounges has been specifically designed for passengers who require assistance and some security lanes are now accessible for passengers with a range of disabilities and staffed by people trained to recognise and respond to their needs.

Gatwick’s chief operating officer Chris Woodruffe said “Flying can be a challenge for people with a disability and airports, in partnership with airlines, can change that by improving their practices and infrastructure so that everyone has an equal opportunity to fly.”

The government’s aviation strategy has been supported by Airlines UK, an association representing 13 airlines, including British Airways, EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic.

The charter is part of the government’s aviation strategy which will be considered in a 16-week consultation, due to begin this month. The government says the policy will be finalised next year.