Winter Paralympics

The 12th Winter Paralympic Games will take place in PeyongChang, South Korea, March 9-18, 2018. The games will start with Opening Ceremonies on Friday the 9th, and continue over the next 9 days. 550 disabled athletes from 49 countries will compete in six events:

Alpine skiing
Cross-country skiing
Ice sledge hockey
Wheelchair curling

Paralympic Games are the pinnacle of competitive sports for people with disabilities. They run concurrently with both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games every four years, usually about two weeks after and at the same location and using the same facilities.

PeyongChang 2018 Paralympic Games logoSimilar to the Olympics themselves, the Paralympics are exciting, inspiring, informative ... and occasionally controversial. One of the aims of the Paralympics is to show the world what people with various disabilities can do in competitive athletics, with the right adaptations and determination. Each Paralympics fosters high hopes for further transforming attitudes towards people with disabilities in general throughout the world.

At the same time, while the disability community typically enjoys and celebrates the Paralympics as a showcase for disability sports and disabled athletes, there is an undercurrent of concern about exactly what messages about disability are received by the viewing public. Some are concerned that showcasing Paralympians as examples of disability achievement sends a distorted message, that disabled people can literally do anything if given the chance. While this is in a sense true, most disabled people have complex needs and face barriers in society that make simple independent living a genuine challenge.

Also, in recent years there has been some debate within disability sports about how disabled athletes are qualified and categorized based on their precise impairments. Some excellent athletes are always left out because of minute deviations in their actual disabilities, and efforts to match people evenly and fairly can be messy.

On the positive side, broadcasters have steadily increased the number of hours of Paralympic coverage in recent years. NBC will air over 250 hours of the 2018 Winter Paralympics, which is double the coverage of the last Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. And again, similar to all the Olympics themselves, the Paralympics tends to transcend it’s controversies, reservations, and social critiques ... no matter how valid ... as the sheer spectacle and fun takes over.

Here are some links to help you enjoy the 2018 Winter Paralympics:

2018 Paralympics - Wikipedia

Disability Policy In The U.K.

Scroll down for a list of articles on disability policy in the United Kingdom during the last several years. A lot has happened and is still happening there that could signal trends that could take hold here in the U.S. For example:


The UK government's main response to the 2008 financial crisis was to go into deficit reduction mode, by cutting spending. Cuts reached across every sector of the British government, but some of the must notable cuts were made to long-established disability support programs.


The government argued for many of it's cost-savings in disability programs by saying they would restructure and improve these programs. They claimed that existing programs provided more than necessary to some, and not enough to others. They also embraced the idea at least of more employment of people with disabilities. However, their main approach in this was to hire a handful of consulting firms to do a complete work ability reassessment of everyone getting benefits, with the idea of finding possible savings and motivating disabled people to go get paid work. They also eliminated and consolidated independent living benefits in ways that were supposed to be more sensible, but of course almost always resulted in people losing benefits, and independence.


Part of the backdrop for all of this was a rise in popular resentment of people receiving disability-related benefits. Everyone suddenly knew three neighbors who were "benefits scroungers," people getting disability benefits who maybe? / perhaps? / who knows? / might not be "properly" disabled according to the limited understanding of their nosy neighbors. I saw her stand up out of her wheelchair and walk! He went to a movie, how can he be too mentally ill to work? Us working people are strapped because of all these scroungers!

So far, problems with disability benefits and services here in the U.S. seem to have more to do with neglect than purposefully harmful or wrongheaded ideas. But in this volatile political climate, we need to watch out for these themes. Read more about disability in UK politics in this collection of articles: