Lit-Net Logo International Day of Disabled People December 3rd


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Manchester Poetry Festival are looking for visually and hearing impaired performers for this year's Festival 4 -13 October.  If you are interested or know of someone who may be interested we would love to hear from you/them.  Please contact Karen Hay 0161 907 0031

International Day of Disabled People   3rd December 2000

“Sex and drugs and rock’n’roll; that’s all my brain and body needs.” Ian Dury

27th November
Below this entry is what I wrote eight months ago to initiate a discussion and hopefully some positive action about disabilities and literature, especially in the West Midlands. It evoked just two responses..... The easy way out of disappointment is not to bother. There is something odd about sitting in front of a vdu which seems to make most people think everyone else is physically fully able, understands English perfectly and is probably white, if not male. Why else are there no literature websites apart from Honno (Welsh Women's Press established 1986)in the UK that include languages beyond English? Why, when I started Lit-Net last winter I discovered not one literature event listing site included access details? Of course we all are politically correct and aware, but I'll admit in the rush to post events on Lit-net I don't also remember to ask for or receive access details. Perhaps it's because we can't see the person who is blind, deaf or can't walk while we're at the vdu.

Here is a tip. Put a spare chair beside yours and believe there is someone sitting there who can't see or walk. Then imagine what you see on the screen is for them.

Literature is no better or worse than any other art form - but click West Midlands Arts for access to Right of Way to see how it could improve by 2002. Last February I received a training needs analysis from Metier, the DfEE ESF funded, Investors In People Awarded, National Training Organisation of the Arts & Entertainments Sector. Disability Awareness was not listed among the possible training needs. I pointed this out by fax, twice, without reply. Two weeks ago the draft Workforce Development Plan was put out for consultation, again without any mention of Disability Awareness. This time I e-mailed them, so far without reply. The details regarding consultation meeting venues make no mention of access, hearing loops .....If Metier can't be bothered, why should Lit-Net?

Anyone who has hummed a Blockheads' number must have felt a little part of them die when Ian Drury died earlier this year. Unquestionably the best post-war UK lyricist and perhaps the best of the twentieth century, including Noel Coward. There seems to be a tendency to see disablity art as being separate, maybe not quite as good as other art, whatever that is. Try telling that to Ian Drury. Especially when he's dead.

That's why we should bother. That's why A Crocus Selection, and Like Running in a Hurdle Race were written and published, and reviewed here. Why Harold Wonham and Shropshire Libraries' work in Care Homes is so important. Why The Drum in Birmingham are celebrating International Day of Disabled People this week.

Before you click here for more details, let me tell you about the book I chanced across while checking the Scott Fitzgerald reference in the Literary Review Bad Sex Award piece on the home page. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullars (1943) is one of the first Penguin Modern Classics. It is a truly beautiful book, (and a touching b&w film with a very young Alan Arkin as one of the two main protagonists.) Read it. It begins

"In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together. Early one morning they would come out from the house where they lived and walk arm in arm down the street to work."

These people exist in literature. They deserve as much freedom to access it as well.

click here for a review of "A Crocus Selection"

click here for details of a book of poems about a deaf woman

click here for review of "Like I'm running in a hurdle race"
reflections on caring in Sandwell, in the words of carers themselves

click here how to foster reader development in care homes

Then e-mail your views to  

You might also want to send them to Lexikon

Francis Anderson, Lexikon's editor, has kindly let Lit-Net to reproduce his editorial on Literature and The 1995 Disability Act and the comments it aroused. Click here for more

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From: David Fine 20 February 2000

You'll have noticed the odd reference here and there on Lit-Net to Leon Trotsky and National Chip Week. It's fair cop, guv, but society is to blame. I work a day a week co-ordinating Lit-Net, and I want to hear from you what you want from and want to give to the site. This is the start of a major revamp and design, so any comments, suggestions and ideas, however left-field are more than welcome. Go for

To get the ball rolling, what do you think about access to literature?
Do people with disabilities get a fair deal?
What would you like to see happen on Lit-Net or elsewhere?

For starters I'll include venue access details if people supply them to me.

Do people want a separate page for disability and access. Or integrated. Or both. Have your say here!

To get a taste for this area, scroll through these excerpts about literature from this year's EtCetera, the weekly online magazine from the National Disability Arts Forum:-


* West Midlands Arts: Right of Way *

West Midlands Arts has launched its new Arts and Disability Action Plan called "Right of Way". It presents a range of opportunities and plans for the region to meet the needs of disabled people over the next three years.

Copies ordered free of charge from WMA Information Services, Tel 0121 624 3200 minicom 0121 2815

or for access to download click

*Arts 365K *

A new one for Ireland. 365k means 365,000, the Government's official number of people with disabilities
registered in Ireland. It's a flashy magazine which intends "to bring you on a journey that explores Art and Ability". Contributions wanted!

Address: Introart, Abbey House, 15-17 Upper Abbey Street, Dublin 1, Email

* Free Books *

March the 10th is world book day and according to the world book day website ( every child in the UK will be given a book token on the day to celebrate it. So if you've got bairns make sure yours get theirs.

They may like to use it as a part payment for a copy of "Hands Up For Andie" which is intended for children with Cerebral Palsy and aims to help them develop an understanding of their condition. We haven't seen a copy but we are told it was
written by Brenda Palmer a mother of a teenager with CP. She says she " wrote the book through pleasure at what he is
and in celebration of all other children with Cerebral Palsy she has come to know through him.

"Hands Up For Andie", UKP4.99 by mail order from

HemiHelp, Malcolm Sinclair House, 31 Ulsterville Avenue, Belfast BT9 7AS.


What Do You Think?

Is this enough action?                   Is this action enough?

Keep the ball rolling: to send in your views click here

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From Anthony A Nicholas

This is a short missive to raise the issue of access to literature readings and other similar live events for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired.

I think this is an issue that should be given some serious thought.

If you have any questions or this issue is of interest, I can be contacted on


Tony Nicholas

From Andy Machin

I have just read your article in the Lexikon newsletter about wanting to know people with text readers. I have just installed a program called Supernova from Dolphin Computer Access. This is a new program for the sight impaired, and from what I have seen from it so far it is one of the very best programs produced so far.

From Lexikon Newsletter 56 October 2000 Its editor Francis Anderson writes:-

The Right to Read   A Look at the Disability Act and The Publishing Industry

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 introduced new laws aimed at ending the discrimination that many disabled people face. The Act gave disabled people new rights of access to goods, facilities and services, as well as in employment and buying or renting property.

From 1 October 1999 service providers have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people, such as providing extra help or making changes to the way they provide their services. Just what has all this got to do with literature organisations and the publishing industry?

Quite a lot. Although the act states that these groups must implement new strategies to include provisions for disabled people, it is apparent that quite a substantial number have either not heard of the act or are still dragging their feet over the issue of access to their goods and services. For publishers, a closer look at the way they produce books and other printed material, means giving more consideration to the needs of the visually impaired and others with similar disabilities who cannot access the standard printed text they currently produce...

The Royal National Institute for the Blind and similar organisations who transcribe printed material into braille and other accessible forms, still have to obtain written permission from the publishers and copywright owners before they can proceed with the transcription of any document. Sometimes permission is refused. Is this fair? What does this tell us about the individual attitude of publishers and copywright owners? Should disabled people be denied the right to read their favourite novels, etc? If the Disability Discrimination Act is anything to go by, then, no.

Likewise, regional arts boards and other literature-based organisations need to ask:

What provisions are we making that fully embraces the needs of the sightimpaired?
Is any of our information packs and other printed material available inalternative formats?
If not, then what steps can we take to ensure a betterquality service is in place for the visually impaired?
What equipment will I need to make this information available?

Take, for example, literature-based application forms produced by the teh regional arts boards here in the UK. As far as I am aware, none of these are yet available in braille, on cassette, cd rom and floppy disc. This means that a visually impaired person who wants to make an application for a grant is prohibited unless they enlist the support of a sighted friend or relative first.

In my view, this is an infringement on their independent rights. It should be the right of every visually impaired person and others with similar disabilities who depend heavily on material being produced in alternative formats to have full and complete access to the same printed material at the same time as their sighted counterparts without any restriction.

If you are a publisher or work in a literature-based organisation and would like to obtain more information on anything mentioned in this article, then you can either e-mail me, Francis Anderson, direct: or telephone the Campaigns department at the Royal National Institute for the Blind on 0345 023153.

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From Lexikon Newsletter 57 November 2000

Last issue's article, The Right to Read: A Look at The Disability Act and The Publishing Industry, prompted
Wendy Webb of Wendy Webb Books to write:

I'm all in favour of access for people with disabilities.So what is the procedure for books selection for transcription into braille,and what criteria is used in selecting books.No facilities this end, but now see what your article has stirred.....As a new publisher I'm happy to oblige.

Sue Parish, Project Manager at Lancashire Litfest, wrote:

Thanks for latest issue of newsletter. v. informative as always. My conscience was stung by your article on disability access to literature. We do our best, budgets permitting, but I could do with getting up to speed on where we stand legally. Can you fill me in on details, or point me to a useful source of info?

Francis: Please telephone the Royal National Institute for The Blind's Equal Opportunities Dept. on +44 (0) 345 023153, or visit

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From Lexikon Newsletter 58 November 2000

FINGERSPELLING: poems & drawings by Aidan Baker published by Penumbra Press ISBN 1894131002
distributed in Canada by The Literary Press Group & in the U.S. by General Distribution

FINGERSPELLING tells the story in verse of a man becoming romantically  involved with a hearing-imparied woman & his attempt to understand both his feelings for her & her disability; how her inability to hear affects her in relation to others, to the world, & to himself. As the main character comes to learn more about this woman, how she receives & absorbs sensory input from the world and those in it, his preconceptions of words, writing, and language are reconfigured, as are his notions of physicality, sensuality, and sexuality. The poems are accompanied by drawings of the hand signals-'one-hand fingerspelling'-for the letters of the alphabet.The authorsays: "I am a writer and musician from Toronto and have had writing published internationally in various scholarly and literary journals. FINGERSPELLING is my first book."

For more info, samples, and links please feel free to surf his website:

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Last modified: June 23, 2001

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