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5 disability news stories that raised eyebrows in 2016

December 7, 2016

We’ve scoured social media to bring you the most talked about disability stories for 2016.

With 2016 drawing to a close, we’re taking a look back at the last twelve months – and the stories about disability that raised our eyebrows on social media for all sorts of reasons.

Here are the top five disability stories that have had the biggest reaction online in 2016…

1. That time the UK’s put in a superhuman effort with their Paralympics campaign

On the heels of their wildly successful 2012 Paralympic trailer, this year UK’s Channel 4 took things up a notch with their ad to promote Rio’s Paralympic event.

Dubbed ‘We’re The Superhumans’, this ad uses the power of humour to celebrate people from all walks of life – and shift society’s perceptions of disability.

Broadening its focus beyond the sporting arena, the ad pays tribute to 140 people with disabilities, who are all conquering life in unexpected ways. From a blind pianist, to a pilot, to a mum changing her baby’s nappy using her feet, it’s a montage of amazing moments – all set to a pumping Sammy Davis Junior soundtrack (performed by a band of musicians from around the world, all with disabilities).

Viewed by millions of people, it was certainly one of our favourite ads this year at House with No Steps – check it out for yourself to see what all the fuss is about!

2. That time Donald Trump offended someone (ok…it wasn’t the only time)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware of some of the controversy Donald Trump has stirred up this year. He certainly raised a few hackles at a rally in South Carolina when he mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski – who has a condition called arthrogryposis that limits the movement of his arms.

When addressing comments made by Kovaleski, Trump waved his arms and spoke in an exaggerated manner in what appeared to be a deliberate dig.

However, Trump later claimed that “I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago. If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I do not know what he looks like…. He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a newspaper that is rapidly going down the tubes.”

The New York Times commented, “We find it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters”. See how it all went down below.

3. That time Lego unveiled its first figure with a disability

For some time, Danish toymaker Lego has been under pressure to make toys that reflect real life more accurately – and last year, this reached boiling point thanks to the change.org #toyslikeme petition, which attracted over 20,000 signatures.

The good news? In June 2016, Lego responded by releasing its first ever mini-figure with a disability: a beanie-wearing boy in a wheelchair accompanied by an assistance dog.

Lego figure of a boy in a wheelchair

Launched as part of Lego’s latest CITY toy set, the new figure is accompanied by an ice-cream vendor, cyclist and picnickers.

Good stuff, Lego, we love your work!

Put it on your Christmas list and check it out here.

4. That time we welcomed a note-worthy new $5 bill.

By now, one of Australia’s shiny new $5 bills has probably found its way into your wallet, having been released in September this year.

But the exciting part of this story was there was much more to this new note than a cool new design – and it’s in a large part all thanks to Sydney teenager Connor McLeod, who launched a discrimination complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, and started a change.org petition calling for action on accessible currency.

As a result, the new $5 was developed to be accessible to blind and vision-impaired people. Each note features two small raised dots (about the size of a sprinkles on a piece of fairy bread), which will help it be more easily identified.

These tactile features have been integrated into the note itself using a new printing technology, so they shouldn’t get squashed or wear off (a feat much harder than you would think).

The new Australian five dollar note

So how did people with low vision cope in the past? Up until now, they had to ask a stranger to tell them a note’s denomination, use a clumsy machine to measure the note’s size, or use a smartphone app (however most smartphones have inaccessible touchscreens for those with a vision impairment).

You can therefore see why this is such a great step forward for people with vision impairments, and a testament to what perseverance can achieve!

5. That time a three-legged puppy won hearts, awards and job offers

Back in 2014, German film students Jacob Frey and Markus Kranzler created a rather special short film for their film school graduation project. Entitled “The Present”, the film tells the story of a young boy who is given a puppy that has three legs.

While initially unenthusiastic, the young boy warms to the puppy and they go on to share a beautiful friendship (there is more to this story, but we’ll be careful not to spoil the ending).

Since its launch, the film has won hearts all over the globe, and won 59 international awards (and counting) – and it’s easy to see why the film has struck such a chord with so many people.

This year, the story again captured people’s attention, with the creators being offered jobs at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios – showing off their talents by working on films such as The Good Dinosaur and the Secret Life of Pets.

Check it out below.