About G. Anthony Giannoumis

Giannoumis is a Temple University College of Health Professions M.P.H. graduate. He was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship with the Norwegian Social Research Institute (NOVA) and is currently researching the monitoring, implementation, and enforcement of eAccessibility law and policy at the EU Member State level. He is also conducting international health research with The Guru Charitable Foundation, and World Hope Inc. In addition he has conducted research in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Program Office for Public Health Law Research, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and The Pennsylvania State University. His research experience includes eAccessibility and eInclusion policy, stress and dementia caregivers, international health services, international health and public policy, knowledge translation, health care workforce and education policy, and U.S. public health law. Giannoumis has previously worked for Temple University Beasley School of Law, Citigroup and The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives. He has also worked on projects related to social media and public health, cancer disparities, and nursing accreditation. Giannoumis received his B.S. in business from Shepherd University.

Call for Papers: From Each According to Ability? Capitalism, Poverty, and Disability

Canadian Journal of Disability Studies published by the Canadian Disability Studies AssociationFrom Each According to Ability? Capitalism, Poverty, and Disability

Karl Marx (1875/1978) described the political economy of a just society as one organized around the ethos “from each according to … ability; to each according to … need!” (p. 531). The reality for people with disabilities, however, is persistent and disproportionate rates of poverty and unemployment worldwide (World Health Organization, 2011). How well do we understand the reasons for this? And more importantly, what can be done about it? Has disability studies produced an adequate theorization of the political economy of disability?

The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies invites contributions to specifically explore these questions, using a definition of “political economy” as “the study of the social relations, particularly the power relations that mutually constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of resources” (Mosco, 1996, p. 25).

The influential social model could be seen to situate current definitions and experiences of disability within capitalism (Oliver, 1999), and to identify “institutional discrimination” as the source of social inequality (Barnes, 1991). The theory and praxis of disability politics focuses on challenging the medicalization of disability, exploring and developing a positive disability identity and pride, opposing the demeaning practices and policies of welfare states, promoting disabled-led organizations and direct payments for services, advancing disability arts and culture, and most significantly pushing for anti-discrimination legislation and the implementation of human rights for persons with disabilities. Do these political responses follow from the original theoretical contention that the contemporary social construct of disability is rooted in capitalism?

More recently the social model has called for “a radical re-appraisal of the meaning of work for disabled people that goes beyond the rigid confines of paid employment…” and which organizes work around social necessity, obligation, and interdependence (Barnes & Roulstone, 2005). Furthermore, between the need for professional services and the development of self-directed attendant services, people with disabilities should be recognized as both creators and managers of employment (Barnes, 2003). Russell (1998), however, points out the dangers of this “commodification” of disability, in which people with disabilities are seen as a lucrative source of money for medical and institutional organizations. Albrecht (1992) also raises concerns about the implications of “the disability business”.

And what of those people with disabilities who are genuinely unable to work because the nature of their disabilities, rather than the lack of opportunity? Taylor (2004) argues for the “right not to work” and in favour of “cultivating a skeptical attitude regarding the significance of work”—at least as it constructed in a capitalist economy. How do we situate this argument in a political economy of disability?

We welcome article submissions on these and related questions. Other possible topics include, but are not limited to

  • Strategies to address capitalism’s recurring crises as they relate to disability
  • Theories, practices, and crises of the welfare state and disability
  • The intersections of human rights theory and practice and political economic theory and practice
  • Intersections and conflicts between feminism, race theory, queer theory, and crip theory and political economy approaches to understanding and theorizing disability
  • Marxism, neoliberalism, and other economic theories and disability
  • Notions of cross-disability solidarity versus class solidarity
  • The business(es) of disability such as vocational and medical rehabilitation, pharmaceutical and biotechnological interventions, personal support workers and “care” industries, new paradigms of disability employment, etc.
  • Political economy issues of disability in developing countries and across global contexts
  • Issues of identity and inclusion/exclusion within a capitalist political economy

The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2014. All manuscripts must be submitted electronically, in Microsoft Word format, directly via email to this issue’s guest editor Bonita Heath at bheath@yorku.ca.

Manuscript submissions must be no more than 6,000 words, excluding references, notes, and tables. Submissions should have no more than 40 references.  Keep tables, figures — including graphs, charts, diagrams — and other images to a minimum (no more than 10); all such material must be accompanied by a brief narrative description to ensure accessibility.

For further information please see “Author Guidelines” at http://cjds.uwaterloo.ca/index.php/cjds/about/submissions

References

Albrecht, Gary L. (1992). The disability business: rehabilitation in America. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage.

Barnes, C. (2003). Disability. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press; Blackwell Publishers.

Barnes, C. (1991). Disabled people in Britain and discrimination: A case for anti-discrimination legislation. London, UK: Hurst & Co.; University of Calgary Press, in association with the British Council of Organizations of Disabled People.

Barnes, C., & Roulstone, A. (2005). Work is a four-letter word. In A. Roulstone, & C. Barnes (Eds.),Working futures? Disabled people, policy and social inclusion (pp. 315–327). Bristol, UK: The Policy Press.

Marx, K. (1875). Critique of the Gotha Program. In R. Tucker, (1978) The Marx-Engels reader (pp. 525–541). New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company.

Mosco, V. (1996). The political economy of communication: rethinking and renewal. London, UK: Sage.

Oliver, M. (1999). Capitalism, disability and ideology: A materialist critique of the normalization principle. In R. Flynn J., & R. Lemay A. (Eds.), A quarter-century of normalization and social role valorization: Evolution and impact (pp. 1–16). Leeds, UK: University of Leeds, Centre for Disability Studies.

Russell, M. (1998). Beyond ramps: Disability at the end of the social contract. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press.

Taylor, S. (2004). The right not to work: Power and disability. Monthly Review55(10), 30–44.

World Health Organization, World Bank. (2011). World report on disability. Geneva: World Health Organization.

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DREAM Researchers Participate in Round-table Discussion on Human Rights and Disability

""DREAM researchers, Ieva Eskyte, Anthony Giannoumis and Magdi Birtha participated in a round-table discussion titled Human Rights and Disability: between choice and control at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas Lithuania on 21st October. The event aimed to facilitate  discussion and raise awareness on the importance of disability studies and disability rights.

The round-table addressed the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stating,

Since the key message of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) is that disabled people have to exercise all human rights and fundamental freedoms equally with non-disabled citizens, the purpose of the meeting is to discuss disability and human rights issues in different contexts. For instance, different models of disability will be discussed from Scandinavian, British and Lithuanian perspectives. In addition, the relation between accessibility, disability movement and private markets will be analysed. Special attention will be paid to disability research, ethics and methods.

Practitioners, scholars and graduate students from a variety of disciplines presented their professional and academic experiences in the field of disability and human rights.

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The full program included,

  • Welcome &  Some Thoughts about Social Sensitivity, Reciprocity & Dialogue. Dean prof. Jonas Ruškus of Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Vytautas Magnus University, People with Disabilities and the Right to Reveal Potential. Ieva Danilevičienė, Vytautas Magnus University
  • The impact of family and friends social support on accepting mobility impairments. Laura Alčiauskaitė, dr. Liuda Šinkariova, Vytautas Magnus University
  • A comparative case study of e-accessibility policy implementation in the United Kingdom, Norway and the United States. G. Anthony Giannoumis, The Norwegian Social Research Institute
  • Information provision in the mainstream private market: business practices and disabled customers’ realities. Ieva Eskytė, University of Leeds, Centre for Disability Studies, UK
  • Participation of persons with disabilities in policy and decision-making processes. Magdi Birtha, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, National University of Ireland, Galway

DREAM would like to warmly thank the conveners at Vytautas Magnus University for the opportunity to work together in realizing the rights of persons with disabilities.

Disability issues within the workplace

The following is a guest post from Simon Barnett. Simon Barnett writes for Disability Sanctuary, an online community for disabled people and their carers. He examines a number of issues and looks to add to the wider debate.

Entering the workplace environment can sometimes seem daunting, but an increasing number of employers are becoming more aware of disability issues and are keen to take positive action. There’s undoubtedly been a realisation that a failure to recruit those with disabilities means that businesses can miss out on vital resources.

It’s still fair to say, however, that experiences do vary. Some employers seem unable to grasp what real equality means and there’s often a lack of awareness about their legal obligations. This can undoubtedly cause some difficulties, given that few individuals want to be put in the position of pointing out such obligations at an early stage in the employment process. On the other hand, by being afraid to speak out, there’s the very real risk that you won’t be dealing with a level playing field.

Good employment practices

The onus is certainly on the employer to understand how they are required to act. In many cases, of course, this simply involves a certain amount of common sense. You may find that you spend some time educating your work colleagues at the outset, with the aim of making relationships considerably easier in the long run.

With this in mind, it’s useful to understand exactly what it’s reasonable for you to expect from an employer. Looking at UK law, there’s very clear guidance:

“It is discrimination to treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something connected with their disability (eg a tendency to make spelling mistakes arising from dyslexia). This type of discrimination is unlawful where the employer or other person acting for the employer knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, that the person has a disability.”

The above may seem to many of us to be little more than an expression of common decency. If an employer is unable to behave in line with the above, then it’s likely that there will be significant issues within the workplace for any employee, including those with disabilities.

But the law also goes much further. Employers are instructed to make reasonable adjustments to both jobs and workplace environments, in order to make life easier for those workers with disabilities. This most obviously involves ensuring that a disabled worker is given time off, where such time is required for specific medical treatment, or for appointments relating to assessments.

As might be expected, provision is also made for ensuring that equipment is suitably modified. If you’re working within an office environment, for example, then it’s reasonable to expect that suitable desks and chairs should be provided. In addition, you might also expect to be provided with additional aids, if those are required to ensure that you can do your job efficiently and safely.

Why it’s important to understand your rights

By understanding your rights, you are in a much better position to outline your expectations and to discuss potential problems, before they arise. It’s understandable, however, that there may be a level of concern about disclosing details of a personal nature to a senior member of staff.

I think that there are two elements to consider here: firstly, an employer cannot reasonably be expected to make allowances, without having a full understanding of your disability. If there are areas where you have some limitations, then you’ll need to declare these to your employer.

That may, of course, seem incredibly daunting. Fortunately, the law is on your side here: the second point that I would make in this area is that the employer has a legal obligation to keep any details of your disability confidential, unless you suggest otherwise.

Conclusions

In practical terms, I would suggest that this should mean that you can speak openly about your requirements, safe in the knowledge that you are having a confidential conversation. You may be happy for your employer to discuss some elements of your conversation with other members of staff, but that’s very much your choice.

Many issues can be resolved before they become significant problems. My own experience suggests that the key is to have good two-way communications between the employer and the employee. This limits the room that’s available for misunderstandings and ensures that there’s clarity within the working relationship.

About the Author

Simon Barnett works on the Disability Sanctuary website, providing insights on a range of issues to those with disabilities, carers, friends and relatives. He aims to provide practical advice, helping to ensure that individuals are receiving the assistance that they are entitled too. He’s particularly concerned about the complexities of the current disability benefits system. Having previously worked as the editor of a finance website in the UK, he’s keen to offer clarity in such areas.

Help DREAM respond to the public consultation on Article 9 – Accessibility of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner Logo

UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner Logo

The DREAM network will be responding to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ general comment on Article 9 – Accessibility.

We would be honoured if you would join with us in making this contribution to the Committee. Therefore we invite you to send a formal statement or informal comments, thoughts, ideas, etc. by November 15th to anthonyg@nova.no so that we can take advantage of this opportunity.

We will compile the comments and draft and distribute our response to the consultation in January 2014.

The general comment outlines the normative content, state obligations, and inter-sectional issues related to accessibility.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to to leave a comment, and thank you for your contribution!

Developing Europe’s policy skills to advance disability rights

DREAM featured as success story by EU Directorate General for Research, led by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. The following is an excerpt of the story featured on the EU Directorate General for Research website.

Most Member States of the European Union (EU), and the EU itself, have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). However, while the Convention will mark a major advance both for disability rights and also for European business, the necessary changes to turn it from vision into reality will not happen overnight. Adopting the Convention imposes numerous legal obligations on signatories affecting many areas of daily life.

In the words of the DREAM (Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets) project coordinator, Professor Gerard Quinn of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway: “EU Member States need a lot of new skills and competences to drive this forward.”

The article concludes stating with a quote from the DREAM project coordinator, Gerard Quinn.

“The researchers are already developing a common instinct for where the opportunities for change may lie, and indeed they are starting to create that space themselves. It is beautiful to watch,”

“The phrase I use to sum it up is ‘policy entrepreneurship’ – developing people who can really bring about change that transforms the lives of our citizens with disabilities,”

The remaining article may be found at the EU Directorate General for Research website.

DREAM Launches Disability Rights Digital Bibliography

As a joint project between researchers at NUI Galway and DREAM, the Disability Rights Digital Bibliography seeks to provide a single point of contact for academic references in disability rights. The bibliography was compiled based on individual contributions from researchers in seven research institutions throughout Europe. The bibliographies were established based on the thematic interests of the researchers and represent a wide array of areas impacting disability in Europe and internationally. Each bibliography is available as an accessible Microsoft Word document as well as a Research Information Systems (RIS) format which can be imported into most reference management software applications.

  • All Bibliographies
  • e-Accessibility – Word / RIS
  • Disability Rights and the CRPD – Word / RIS
  • Disability Theory – Word / RIS
  • Indicators and Monitoring of Human Rights – Word / RIS
  • Legal Capacity – Word / RIS
  • Medicalization of Disability – Word / RIS
  • Methodology for Research Disability – Word / RIS
  • Non-Discrimination – Word / RIS
  • Treaty Interpretation – Word / RIS
  • Web Accessibility – Word / RIS

We want to encourage our users interested in contributing further to this initiative to contact Suzanne Doyle or Anthony Giannoumis

A permanent link to the bibliography can be found at NUI Galway.

Active Citizenship and Fiscal Innovation

DREAM principle investigator Gerard Quinn reflects on the role of fiscal innovation in achieving active citizenship for persons with disabilities as a part of an EU funded project, DISCIT – Making Persons with Disabilites Full Citizens.

The video is closed captioned in English, and the transcipt is available for download in Word and PDF.

DREAM Panel – Disability Policy in Crisis – accepted to 20th International Conference of Europeanists

cover of conference brochureA panel submission by DREAM ESRs Stelios CharitakisG. Anthony Giannoumis, and Ieva Eskyte will be presented at the 20th International Conference of Europeanists 25 to 27 June 2013 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The panel titled “Disability Policy in Crisis – Legal, Public Policy and Practical Approaches” will be chaired by Dr. Mark Davis, and Dr. Thomas Campbell will be acting as the discussant.

The panel will be divided into three sections:

  • Austerity measures in Greece: Do they violate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? presented by Stelios Charitakis
  • Disability.eu – the impact of the crisis on the participation of persons with disabilities on the web presented by G. Anthony Giannoumis
  • Accessible Private Market for Disabled People? Crisis in Policy and Market Practices presented by Ieva Eskyte

Panel Summary: The austerity measures that have been adopted throughout Europe have put pressure to the beneficiaries of social welfare, most significantly minorities. As a minority group, disabled people are facing significant reductions or cuts to their benefits. Households with people with impairments are more vulnerable because they have lower than average household incomes. At the same time, a crucial shift on how disabled people are perceived has emerged from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This UN Treaty marked the shift from the medical model of disability that focused on the impairment of disabled people and was expressed through social welfare benefits, to the social model that promotes full participation and inclusion for people with disabilities through the removal of barriers to equal and active participation in society. States are not the only ones responsible for the implementation of this approach. The private sector in general can be and should be, according to the Convention, leading that cause. Furthermore, the Convention focuses particular attention on information and communication technology (ICT), because of the important role it plays in ensuring social inclusion and full participation in society for disabled people.

The first speaker will take a legal approach. They will examine the case of cutbacks in Greece and will identify the measures that have been taken to reduce the benefits for people with disabilities. The discussion will include whether these measures amount to a violation of the CRPD or whether they are justified, according to Human Rights law. Finally, whether these measures can be seen as an opportunity to change the medical model approach and focus more on the social model approach and what measures Greece have taken to that respect will be considered.

The second speaker will take a public policy approach. They will compare regulatory regimes in the United Kingdom, Norway and the United States, focusing particularly on the social regulation of ICT service providers. The discussion will include the impact of the economic crisis on policy implementation in terms of the choice of policy tools (legislative, incentive, or hortatory). Finally regulatory enforcement of web design will be discussed in terms of standard setting, monitoring, certification and compliance.

The third speaker will take a practice oriented approach. They will examine practical measures that need to be taken by governments in order to achieve a more accessible private market for disabled people. The discussion will cover the impact of economic crisis on disabled shoppers’ position and patterns in the market as well as on experiences of sellers and producers of ICT. The discussion will be framed in Habermas’ life world colonization theory and informed by the position of the EU through a discussion of pertinent policy documents.

DREAMing of 2012

WordPress.com prepared a 2012 annual report for our blog.

image of fireworks and skyline

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Symposium on Disability, Technology and Rehabilitation in Low and Middle Income Countries

University of Washington LogoJune 27 & 28, 2013—Seattle, WA, USA

Ensuring the right to full and effective participation and inclusion in society for people with disabilities through the provision of appropriate technology and rehabilitation services. 

Symposium Goals

The primary goal of this symposium is to bring together researchers, clinicians, consumers, consumer led organizations, technology developers and providers, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders who focus on improving and increasing access to technology and rehabilitation products and services with the goal of ensuring full inclusion and participation for people with disabilities in low-resourced comm10unities in low and middle income countries.

Symposium Themes

This symposium supports the purpose of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), that is, “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”  The 50 articles in the CRPD detail the breadth of human rights belonging to people with disabilities. Although the full scope of the CRPD is relevant, in this symposium, we are primarily interested in proposals that address:

  • Article 9—Accessibility
  • Article 19—Living  independently and being included in the community
  • Article 20—Personal mobility
  • Article 25—Health
  • Article 26—Habilitation & rehabilitation

We are also interested in the following as they relate to rehabilitation, assistive technology, and accessible information and communication technologies:

  • Article 24—Education
  • Article 27—Work and employment

Read more about the symposium at their website.