The disabled men who act as each other's arms and eyes

  • 18 April 2015
Planting the trees

Two disabled men, one blind, one a double amputee, have spent over ten years planting trees together in rural China.

Every day Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi walk to work carrying a hammer and a metal rod. Work is an eight-hectare plot of land they lease from the local government.

The route is a well-trodden one for them now - they've been heading to the same place for 13 years, and always with the aim to plant as many trees as possible in the area, to prevent their village from flooding and improve the environmental surroundings.

The two went to school together as children in the small village of Yeli in northeastern China. Wenqi says they have always been like brothers, there is only a year between them, and they are very close.

To get to their plot, Wenqi, a double arm amputee, leads the way through a forest, guiding Haixia, his blind friend, who holds his empty jacket sleeve. When they reach the river, he gets on Wenqi's back in order to cross the fast-moving water without falling.

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The 'cursed' disabled boy and the people of the sea

  • 16 April 2015
Will, Lobu, Kabei

Off the southeast coast of Sulawesi's sprawling limbs, I experienced a warmth and sense of belonging that I knew I was unlikely to find again on my journey through the South Seas. However, in a village where people are defined by their ability to catch fish, I also discovered a traditional belief system that left its disabled people badly isolated.

I was staying within an area of ocean known as the Coral Triangle, presenting a documentary series called Hunters of the South Seas. Loosely taking in Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea, it is the most biologically diverse tract of ocean on Earth. As sea levels rise, and overfishing continues to take its toll on the region, I wanted to understand what life was like for those who still rely on the sea for their daily survival.

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Mental health and the death of the "headclutcher" picture

  • 13 April 2015
Stephen Fry with his head in his hands

A campaign backed by Stephen Fry has been launched to try to change the type of images used by the media for stories about mental health. But what is wrong with the ones currently used?

A solitary figure, with their head in their hands, more often than not cast in dark, sombre lighting. These stock images, often termed the "headclutcher", have become a familiar sight in media portrayals of mental illness.

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One man's experience of disability and anorexia

  • 11 April 2015
Ryan now

When I was three I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Though described as "mild" it affects my mobility and balance so I use a walker-frame or scooter to get around.

Growing up was difficult because of my disability. People at school imitated my walking, called me "crip" and said hurtful things such as, "go and sit with your friends - oh you don't have any". I felt excluded and became very lonely.

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Talk show 118: Driving, prison, being a disabled man

  • 1 April 2015
Ouch team in the studio

On this month's show: The man who was in prison three years ago and now hopes to reach the Rio Paralympics. Will blind and severely disabled people ever be able to travel independently in driverless cars? Plus the male student who says having cerebral palsy led to anorexia.

With Rob Crossan and Kate Monaghan.

How to listen

Read transcript [273kb]

More about this month's guests and discussions:

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From prison to the Paralympics

  • 1 April 2015
Craig biting a medal

When Craig Green went to prison in 2010 he didn't envisage that five years later he would be training to become an elite cyclist, in the hopes of making the Paralympic Games in Rio.

A friend approached him seven years ago to say there was work available at a cannabis farm for him and five others, and the money would be good. Unemployed at the time, Green quickly accepted.

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Why do disabled people feel ignored when it comes to voting?

  • 28 March 2015
A disabled access sign to a polling station

Too many disabled people are being denied the right to an independent and private vote, charities say. So what are the issues and who is it affecting?

At the European and council elections last May, Adam Lotun, who uses a wheelchair, went to his local polling station at a community centre in Tolworth, Surrey to cast his vote. He followed the access signs to a ramped entrance but when he got to the door there was a three inch drop and no space to turn his wheelchair around.

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Why are a quarter of disabled people lonely?

  • 20 March 2015
Hayley Reed

A disability charity has found that a quarter of disabled people feel lonely on a typical day. What can be done to remedy this?

"This past year has been the loneliest of my life," says Ian Treherne from Southend in Essex. The 36-year-old has had a hearing impairment his whole life but has been losing his eyesight recently due to retinitis pigmentosa. He says he now finds it difficult to sustain friendships.

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Lizzie Velasquez: 'Online bullies called me the world's ugliest woman'

  • 14 March 2015
Lizzie

A woman who was bullied for the way she looks is the focus of a new film that premieres at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on Saturday.

What started as a search for music online - purely homework procrastination - would change Lizzie Velasquez's life.

Read full article Lizzie Velasquez: 'Online bullies called me the world's ugliest woman'

Why are young people scared of disclosing their disability to employers?

  • 13 March 2015
Jonathan Andrews

A survey released to 5 live Breakfast has found that more than three-quarters of disabled students and graduates are afraid to let potential employers know about their disability. It is a classic dilemma for people with disabilities - and it's one I've been facing myself.

I'm in my third year of an English degree at King's College London - in fact, it's less than two months until my dissertation is submitted and my undergraduate days come to an end. I've decided on my next step - a career in commercial law - and have already secured two summer vacation schemes at top firms in the hope of obtaining a training contract.

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