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Guide to Investigating Disability Issues: Chapter 5 — Case Studies

Life after La Bestia (Latin America, North America) 2015. This collaborative project gives perspective and data on migrants injured on their attempted journeys to the United States. As many migrants end up back in their home countries after injury, they then face issues new to them as a now-disabled person.

investigating disability, disabilities and disabled, Ecuador Periodismo de Investigation

Image: Screenshot, Ecuador Periodismo de Investigatición

Disabilities and Disabled (Ecuador) 2020. In Ecuador, 3,000 disability cards, which allow benefits including tax breaks on vehicle imports and early retirement due to disability, were illegally delivered. Journalist Fernando Villavicencio Valencia looked into a doctor and members of his family, who obtained cards and used the benefits to import vehicles.

Disability Card in Burkina Faso: Disillusion (Burkina Faso) 2021. A deep dive into this West African country’s disability card program exposes issues with not only getting the card, but the card itself. People with disabilities attest to the barriers to getting the card, including the cost of expensive evaluations to meet the requirements. Card holders also say that getting the card did not end up benefiting them.

No Resources for the Institute on Disability, but One Institute Receives Almost $55 Million (Mexico), 2020. This story looks at the absence of government funding for the public Institute of Disability in the city of Puebla, while a privately operated group aimed at the disability community received almost $55 million. CRIT (which translates as Teletón Children’s Rehabilitation and Inclusion Centers in English), is a controversial nonprofit backed by Televisa, a major Latin American mass media corporation. This story provides an important explanation of the importance of both private and public disability institutions and the need for equitable funding from the government.

Camouflage of Human Rights: The Loss of Military Personnel Due to Disability Grew by 115% and They Are Denied their Pensions, (Mexico), 2021. In Mexico, military personnel discharge rates due to disability have grown 115 percent. But when many disabled veterans are discharged, they do not get their pensions, which leaves them without their needs being met.

investigating disability, loss of disability pensions, Mexican military

Image: Screenshot, Yo Tambien

How Delhi Police Botched the Investigation into a Disabled Child’s Rape (India) 2022. Investigative site Newslaundry did a two-part series examining the rape of an 11-year-old with severe cognitive disabilities. The site documented numerous lapses by law enforcement, including instances where police did not follow procedure for dealing with a disabled victim and skipped steps necessary to allow her to provide evidence.

One Man’s COVID-19 Death Raises the Worst Fears of Many People With Disabilities (US) 2020. NPR’s Joe Shaprio looked at the case of a 46-year-old quadriplegic man who was moved to end-of-life care while being treated for COVID-19, and eventually died. His wife believes he may have been denied treatment that could have saved his life because of his disability, and several groups are concerned his rights may have been violated. This story describes how during COVID-19 many concerns arose around rationing of healthcare and medical bias towards disabled people.

Nobody Listens to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Egyptian Government Institutions (Egypt), 2020. Ayat Khairy’s investigation explores the systemic issues with sign language education and access to interpreters in Egyptian government institutions and its impact on Egypt’s Deaf and hearing-impaired community.

investigating disability - Handicap for Sale, Radio France

Image: Screenshot, Radio France

Blue, Beaten, and Bruised (Egypt), 2020. Safaa Ashour explores the failures and lack of oversight of Egyptian centers for autistic children. The story documented the lack of regulations and enforcement in 10 speech therapy and communication centers in Cairo and Alexandria.

Disabled for Sale (France), 2022. A six-year investigation into social entities that employ people with disabilities. Journalist Thibault Petit examined the low wages and deplorable working conditions of some 120,000 people with disabilities. He found they get paid half of the minimum wage and receive smaller retirement contributions.

Additional Resources

GIJN Guide to Investigating Health and Medicine

GIJN Human Rights Database

Tips for Reporters Seeking to Reveal the Scale of Inequality

reporting guide disability issues - Emyle WatkinsEmyle Watkins is a New York-based, award-winning investigative journalist. Since 2021, Emyle has led coverage of the disability community for WBFO, Buffalo’s NPR station. Emyle’s passion for covering disability comes from personal experience as a disabled and neurodivergent person. Emyle’s reporting has been published by NPR and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and has appeared in breaking news reports for BBC World News.

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