August Reading List

Monthly Reading List – August Reading List

What’s your August Reading List? Here’s ours.

Every first week of the month, Disabled Spectator publishes a reading list of our favorite disability and accessibility related articles. We look for insightful, interesting, controversial, heartbreaking, well-written, or enjoyable articles that provoke thought, conversation, and emotion. This post looks at articles we read in August. Accordingly, here is our August Reading List.

It isn’t a wheelchair that makes my life disabled, it’s buildings without ramps, by Frances Ryan, The Guardian

Frances Ryan’s title to this piece is very literal. Public inaccessibility is what exacerbates her disability, not her disability itself or her wheelchair. Using examples of stories that have come out this summer, Frances discusses how a lack of accessibility prevents people with disabilities from doing basic everyday things. Additionally, recent drastic cuts in public funding in the UK has made life more inaccessible. Necessary services, like additional staff on public transportation, are not available. While physical inaccessibility is a major barrier, lack of public service is becoming an accessibility issue too.


This follows the Equality and Human Rights Commission warning in 2016 that Britain’s failure to implement disability rights and address poor access amounts to treating disabled people as “second‑class citizens”.

We are not simply disabled by our bodies but by the way society is organised. It isn’t my use of a wheelchair that makes my life disabled, it’s the fact not all buildings have a ramp.

Making shops accessible is all well and good, but social care cuts mean many disabled people can’t leave the house.

Rosie Jones: ‘People feel awkward about disability so I always have jokes in my back pocket’, by Paul Fleckney and Rosie JonesThe Guardian

Paul Fleckney sits down with comedian Rosie Jones to discuss her comedy style and the utilization of her disability in her material. Rosie has cerebral palsy and she finds that including her disability in her material opens people and allows them to see past her disability. Rosie also discusses other things, such as the sitcom she is writing, how she got into comedy, how people often initially feel uncomfortable around her, and venue accessibility (or lack thereof).


I enjoy playing with what is comfortable, and trying to make people be more open and more willing to see past the disability.

I toyed with the idea for ages, but I thought that I couldn’t be a comedian because people will get to my punchline before I did because of how slowly I speak. Then I realised I could use it as a device, so they get to a punchline but it’s not necessarily my punchline.

It’s a nightmare. I’m not in a wheelchair, so I can get to most venues, but unbelievably a lot of clubs are still up a load of stairs and a lot of people can’t physically get there. Usually the MC is great and they’ll help me up on stage, but actually it’s not ideal because my whole style is about how I’m disabled but I don’t need help and I’m not a victim and I’m independent.

Participation comes down to investment – you cannot expect 10 days’ Paralympics to change the world, by Tanni Grey-Thompson, The Telegraph

Former wheelchair racer, Tanni Grey-Thompson, discusses the impact versus expectations of the London 2012 Paralympics. Essentially, Tanni argues that a 10-day event is well and nice but it does not encourage increased interest or participation in physical activity for people with disabilities. What will increase participation numbers is real, meaningful investment, and initiatives that last longer than 10 days.


There is no simple answer regarding the declining number of disabled people participating in regular exercise and sport. Some will question why the Paralympics in 2012 failed to spark a rise in disabled people taking up sports, but you cannot expect 10 days of the Paralympics to change the world.

2012 was an amazing moment in time but that is all it was. There are loads of things we could have done afterwards, but who was going to do it or pay for it? It came down to how much as a nation we were willing to invest.

Social isolation, mental health – things that we have only started talking about more recently – all weigh on disabled people as well. Physical activity is so important in helping to address these issues and improve lives.

Does the universal symbol for disability need to be rethought?, by Jesus Diaz, Fast Company

Is the universal symbol for disability representative of all people with disabilities? That’s what this article discusses through a conversation with Liam Riddler. Liam is a creative at McCann and has a brother with Crohn’s disease. The current symbol is a wheelchair user. However, wheelchair users are only a portion of those with disabilities. Not all physical disabilities require a wheelchair and there is a vast array of different types of invisible disabilities. Those with invisible disabilities do not feel represented by the current symbol. The current symbol has served an important purpose, but is it time to make changes?


Ninety-three percent of people with disabilities don’t use a wheelchair, even though the universal symbol that identifies this group is a person in a wheelchair.

Today, disability is represented by the International Symbol of Access (ISA), which was created by Danish design student Susanne Koefoed back in 1968. It’s a strong graphic of a person in a wheelchair that has had tremendous success in conditioning societies all over the world to respect and give preferential treatment and access to disabled people.

“If people with a disability–obvious or not–want a symbol that represents them,” Riddler says, “they should have it.”

Handiscover, the startup that helps you find accessible travel accommodation, raises $700k, by Steve O’Hear, TechCrunch

Handiscover, a startup that helps people with disabilities locate accessible travel and accommodations, has received $700k in funding. The funding comes from Howzat Partners, which have previously invested in other successful travel and accommodation startups. Handiscover’s new capital comes on the back of Airbnb’s acquisition of Accomable, another startup helping people with disabilities find accessible travel and accommodations. Handiscover founder, Sebastien Archambeaud, came up with the idea from personal experience. His son has a muscle condition and is a wheelchair user.


Originally launched in June 2015 to enable hosts to list accommodation and have Handiscover’s algorithm classify the accessibility of their properties or rooms, the startup has since evolved into a fully fledged two-sided marketplace, enabling consumers to search for and book travel accommodation based on various accessibility needs.

Easy it might not be, but Handiscover seems to be making a decent dent so far, and appears more than capable of picking up any slack left by Airbnb’s recent acquisition of lesser-sized Accomable, which it has since shuttered. Handiscover currently lists 28,000 properties and rooms, and covers 83 countries, with more to come.

“Our mission is to enable people with disabilities and special needs (15-20 percent of the population) to travel the world, by being able to find a great choice of accommodations at different price levels, adapted to our users specific needs,” explains Archambeaud.

Thanks for reading our August Reading List. Keep an eye out for our list next month. You can read last month’s reading list here.

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Josh Appel
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