Is Mount Everest the Proper Political Podium for Individuals with Disabilities?

Sudarshan Gautam, a 25-year old Nepalese man living in Calgary, lost his arms in an accident 15 years ago.  The experience of being both pitied and laughed at by his family and school friends, as well as the general negative attitude of others toward his disability prompted him to prove that losing his arms did not make him disabled.  To this end, he learned to drive a non-modified motorbike and a car with manual transmission.  He also declared that he would summit Mount Everest in 2012.

Mount Everest, being the highest point on earth, gets its share of “firsts.”  Following the famous first successful ascent by Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay, there had been a constant number of both legitimate and eyebrow raising “firsts.”  On the one end of the spectrum, there was the first ascent without oxygen (1978) by Reinhold Messner as well as the first winter ascent by Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki in 1980.  On the other end of the spectrum, there was a dangerous helicopter landing in 2005, an insane ski descent, a sleep-over on the summit, etc.  Although the mountain has been commercialised for many years now (with “tourist” climbing companies charging as much as $70,000 per person to lead clients to the roof of the world), the mountain continues to be both a dangerous place and a place of infinite “firsts” with individuals always willing to risk their lives (and the lives of other people on the mountain since rescue efforts at such extreme altitudes are very dangerous endeavours) to be the youngest, the oldest, the fastest, etc. to reach the summit.

Climbing Everest is definitely a personal accomplishment and it has certainly been quite a political endeavour ever since people had set their minds on climbing it.  I am not surprised that Sudarshan Gautam is hoping to promote his noble cause (of advertising abilities of individuals with disabilities) by attempting to climb the highest mountain in the world.  There have been other individuals with disabilities who have successfully navigated the treacherous ridges of Everest.  Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind person to summit Everest and Mark Inglis was the first to do so without legs.

The questions, however, that seem to bother me are Continue reading

Human Kinds–Species Typical, Sub-typical, Beyond Typical–Q@A

A couple of questions from our panel for Gregor Wolbring–one from Ed Stein on human rights, and one from Natasha Vita-More on environmentalism and uploading.

If the discussion interests you, drop back and hear Gregor’s talk in Parts 1 and 2, or drop us a line or a comment.

Invitation to Join GPDD Electronic Discussion On DISABILITY & CLIMATE CHANGE

Invitation to Join GPDD Electronic Discussion On

DISABILITY & CLIMATE CHANGE
8 – 12 December 2008

Sponsored by: The Global Partnership for Disability & Development (GPDD) and The World Bank (Human Development Network – Social Protection/Disability & Development Team)

The Global Partnership for Disability & Development (GPDD) is pleased to invite you to an e- discussion on Disability & Climate Change.

Climate change causes grave consequences for human well-being, development, and security, by increasing severe weather conditions that raise the risks of disease, food scarcity, loss of livelihoods, migration, violence, and conflict. Climate change threatens the effectiveness of development efforts by disproportionately affecting people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in low- and middle-income countries. In the face of these imminent challenges, people with disabilities and their families require adaptation and robust systems that promote sustainable access to basic necessities, secure livelihoods, health care, and social and civic participation.

This e-discussion will be a week-long electronic exchange among all interested stakeholders to create a shared understanding of how climate change may impact the lives of people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries, and summarize the major themes that must be addressed in future research activities.

The e-discussion will take place from 8 – 12 December, Continue reading