DPI e-news - 14 September 2011

September 14, 2011


DPI e-update - 14 September 2011

E-news for Week ending 16 September 2011

Welcome to Disabled Peoples International's (DPI's) E-news. Please continue to send your activities, conference information, and publications news to Dr. Cassandra Phillips at info@dpi.org . This is a special issue on mobility and access. Please follow links to sign the petition at the end of this document.



The right to personal mobility is one of the human rights featured in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) intended to promote the independence of people with disabilities.


What is the right to personal mobility?

Although the right to "personal mobility" is not referenced in such terms in other international human rights treaties, the concept is closely tied to other human rights such as the right to liberty of movement.   Whilst the right to liberty of movement focuses on such issues as the right of people to move freely within the borders of a country, the right to personal mobility looks more closely at the means through which people with disabilities are able to effect such movement.   In particular it examines support for the independent movement of the individual.


What barriers to the right to personal mobility are faced by people with disabilities?

The ability of people with disabilities to move about freely in their home, place of work, community etc. is a key component to the enjoyment of many other human rights, including but not limited to:

  • Liberty of movement and nationality
  • Living independently and being included in the community
  • The right to work
  • The right to an education
  • The right to participate in cultural life, sports, recreation and leisure
  •   The right to participate in political life and public affairs


Furthermore, the ability to be independently mobile can be critical to people with disabilities living lives of dignity and respect.


How is the right to personal mobility addressed in the CRPD?

Article 20 of the CRPD takes a comprehensive approach to the issue of personal mobility and obligates States Parties to do the following:

  • Facilitate personal mobility of people with disabilities in a manner and at a time of their choice
  • Providing training to specialist staff working with people with disabilities


Article 20 is of course interrelated and interdependent upon a variety of other human rights within the CRPD, and should be interpreted and implemented in light of those other human rights.   Such rights include, but are not limited to, Articles 9 (Accessibility), 18 (Liberty of movement and nationality), 19 (Living independently and being included in the community), 26 (Habilitation and rehabilitation), 28 (Adequate standard of living and social protection).


Violations reports                                                

The Daily Telegraph reported in April  2011 that Shuaib Chalklen, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Disability, attempted to board a Lufthansa airplane travelling from London to Geneva. According to the report, the airline informed Chalklen who is paraplegic that he would not be able to travel unattended, even though he had done so for 15 years. The European Disability Forum later reported that the incident was a "clear violation" of European Union rules governing the rights of persons with disabilities and urged the commission to stop such "discriminatory behaviour."

The intent of DPI is not to single out Lufthansa. Chalklen is one of many who have lodged complaints against numerous airlines. However, Lufthansa has reportedly received 125 complaints last year alone.

Members of DPI have some horrific stories to tell about problems regarding airline travel. What is common among all complaints is the fact that airline staff has no training on disability issues, and people with disabilities are not granted the same right to mobility and access as other travelers. Assumptions are made about the capabilities of persons with disabilities without consulting the person with a disability; when they do speak up, their voices are ignored. Why are their rights still being violated? What about Articles 20, 9, and 18 of the CRPD?


DPI urges you to take action today. Please follow this link to sign the petition that demands action:



To read more on accessibility and Lufthansa, go to



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