Young Voices speak out in landmark UNICEF report

Young Voices campaigners shared their views as part of a major new report published on 30 May 2013.

UNICEF’s ‘The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities’ provides a comprehensive overview of the global situation for children with disabilities, recommending ways that governments, the private sector, international donors and other agencies can achieve greater equality for disabled children through inclusion.

The report features the stories of three Young Voices members who have overcome challenges to make positive changes to their own lives and the lives of other people with disabilities. They are Kartik Sawhney from India, Michael Hosea from Tanzania and Ivory Duncan from Guyana.

The study also includes an article by Dr Maria Kett from the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Research Centre, on the protection and safety of children with disabilities in situations of risk.

Young Voices members in India become citizen reporters

Young Voices members from India have taken part in a series of citizen reporter workshops organised by Radar for people from the most under-represented communities in Indian society. The workshops trained people on how to capture news and opinion using their mobile phones.

Once trained, their news and views were shared with global experts at the Activate Summit in Delhi on March 21. During the summit lunch break, Young Voices member Anoop Kumar was one of five of the citizen reporters who pitched a story idea to a panel of Guardian and national Indian editors. Each editor was encouraged to invest their interest in the development of one of those stories.

Find out more at Radar’s Tumblr blog.

Young Voices campaigner speaks at UN Headquarters

Vibhu Sharma from Young Voices in India spoke at a side event of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD at the UN Headquarters in New York on 13 September. Organised by Leonard Cheshire Disability and titled ‘The Right to Earn a Living: Young Women with Disabilities Call for Action’, the event explored the most effective policies and practices to support employment for young people with disabilities. Unemployment statistics can’t speak, but Vibhu explained what it is like to study and work in mainstream settings when you have a disability. What are the challenges? What needs to change? How can their experiences feed into real progress in policy and practice? She was joined by a Young Voices member from the Philippines and disability specialists from the UN and the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre at University College London.

Read more about Vibhu’s experience.

Mumbai local council makes disability office accessible thanks to Young Voices campaign

The disability department of the local Tehsil (council) office in Mumbai, India is now located on the ground floor as a result of a campaign by the city’s Young Voices group. Previously situated on the second floor, the department was inaccessible to people with mobility impairments. Young Voices members first wrote to ask for the office to be moved in July 2011. When nothing happened after a few months, they filed a Right to Information application, using new this Indian legislation that gives people the right to know what happened to official requests. In response, members were told to apply to the district commissioner’s office (the highest government figure in a district), which finally ordered the council disability office to move to the ground floor from 1 June 2012. This success will help not only Young Voices members but also many other disabled people in Mumbai who have the right to access government support but previously didn’t have the opportunity.

Underground but not unseen

Disabled people will be able to access the services they need in Delhi’s metro thanks to a successful campaign by the city’s Young Voices group. When the newest line of the Delhi metro, in India’s capital, was completed in early 2011 Young Voices members were already campaigning to make the system accessible for people with disabilities. Before this, disabled people had trouble accessing the underground because of steep escalators, overcrowding, and difficulty seeing or hearing train information, etc. In response to meetings and a memorandum from Young Voices, the Delhi metro rail corporation has now agreed that a member of staff will, when necessary, escort disabled people to a train and radio ahead to the next station to say that the disabled passenger will be arriving. Once there, a member of staff will help the passenger to reach the next train, a bus or a motorised rickshaw to continue the journey. Those of us who trek to work on the London underground can only wish for such a responsive service.

Radio broadcasts around the world for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Young Voices groups in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka spoke on the radio and ran marches to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In Bangalore, India, Young Voices spoke on a radio show and held a media event in partnership with a local bank to celebrate their recent successful campaign to make bank machines accessible.

Transportation reality check in Bangalore

Young Voices members in Bangalore held a ‘reality check’ on TV as part of their campaign to make all public transport in the state of Karnataka accessible. Reporters filmed the Young Voices members walking to the bus stop, waiting and watching as three or four buses passed them, unwilling to stop. They then went to another bus stop, where they boarded three buses to check if they were accessible. The conductors were rude about the whole exercise so members then spoke to the camera about the problems they had experienced and asked the government to address them. When the programme was broadcast, a Young Voices member was phoned from the studio to discuss the campaign and call for government action. Response to the film was so positive that it was shown two more times.