Leeds Student film on Language 2016

June 27, 2017 by richard

People are Just People-History of Learning Difficulty

June 26, 2017 by richard

People are just people. But we put some of them into groups, draw a line around the group and stick a label on. Then we forget what we did. Instead, we say: Look at that group of people, they are naturally different from everyone else. But they aren’t naturally different. We made it all up.

In the long run, this system is temporary. The focus of its obsessions constantly changes over time. Things were completely different in the past. And that means they can be different – and better – in the future. History is important because it allows us to remember what we, and our ancestors, did. For many centuries, drawing lines round groups of human beings has been an obsession. When we draw these lines around groups of people, we often say they have a mental disorder.

But it can be argued that it is those who draw the lines who have the mental disorder – in their case an extreme phobia about people who they see as different from them. However, it is also considered quite normal to draw these lines. After all, the whole world does it. Psychologists, doctors encourage us to take today’s labels for granted.

Over time, a whole variety of people has been made inferior to others. On top of this, in every age, there has always been an obsessive phobia about one particular group – a group seen as so extreme that it has to be eliminated, or prevented from coming into being in the first place.

This group changes with every historical age, but every age creates one. It was the last two or three centuries that created the group known today as ‘people with learning disabilities’.

Someone with a learning disability today, if they had been born a thousand years ago, would have lived all their life in their home neighbourhood and, like most people, would not have had to do complicated things. So they didn’t have a label. Then, the word ‘idiot’ meant anyone who wasn’t a member of the social or religious elite.

So you could say that once upon a time people with learning disabilities didn’t actually exist. The target of extreme phobia was a different group ‘Heretics’ in the Middle Ages, for example, got burnt. Any particular ‘extreme’ target only exists for a limited period of history. Then the obsession moves on to create a new group.

In the long run, this system is temporary. The focus of its obsessions constantly changes over time. Things were completely different in the past. And that means they can be different – and better – in the future.

Produced in partnership with Face Front Inclusive Theatre & Stratford Circus Arts Centre. Supported by Arts Council England For further information email: info@facefront.org – www.palaceoffriendship.org.uk


Ellen and Chris Goodey. Visual Pen Mendoca

A manifesto for Disability Equality The Trades Union Congress 2017 (TUC)

June 15, 2017 by richard

 A manifesto for Disability Equality The Trades Union Congress (TUC) on the advice of its disabled members has published this manifesto to promote support for the steps needed to achieve equality for millions of disabled people in Britain and elsewhere who face discrimination, poverty and prejudice. We call on politicians, organisations and individuals to add their names in support of these proposals. We call for:

1. Support for the Social Model of Disability People with impairments are disabled by the barriers (physical, social and attitudinal) placed in their way. Disabled people themselves must decide their future. The Social Model is the basis for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which the UK has ratified.

2. Recognition of the true position of disabled people in Britain today: Despite legal protection against discrimination provided by the Equality Act 2010 (EA):

 Millions of disabled people live in poverty.

 Support for the right to live independently in the community has been cut.

 Prejudice against disabled people has increased because of government and media propaganda about benefits and hate crime against disabled people remains unacceptably high.

 Ignorance and stigma associated with invisible conditions including mental health issues and neurodiversity prevent many people from obtaining or retaining work.

 Disabled people continue to face barriers to public transport, including insufficient numbers of staff to help and lack of step-free access at most railway stations.

 Employment Tribunal fees and cuts to Legal Aid have reduced access to justice.

 Changes in education law have reduced provision for disabled students.

 Disabled people are seriously underrepresented in public life and are at best stereotyped in the media. In employment,

 Progress in reducing the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has been slowed by continuing discrimination by employers.

 Supported Employment has been slashed without compensating gains elsewhere.

 Grants from the successful Access to Work programme have been capped with negative consequences for groups of disabled workers.

3. Action is needed to promote disability equality. In regard to legislation, we call for

 The reinforcement, and effective enforcement, of the Public Sector Equality Duty (EA), and its extension to all employers and service providers including third party providers.

 Proper interpretation of the duty in the EA to make reasonable adjustments.

 A British Sign Language Act to give legal recognition to BSL.

 Improve legal recognition of disability hate crime and training rooted in the social model for the judiciary and police.

 All laws impacting on disabled people (including the EA) to be reviewed and amended to make them compliant with the obligations under the UNCRPD.

Measures to ensure support for disabled people and carers:

 Properly funded support for independent living.

 Effective employment rights and decent pay and working conditions for carers;

 The National Health Service trained, funded and resourced to support disabled people and carers;

 Current assessment systems determining access to benefits replaced with a single assessment process designed jointly with disabled people.

Greater support for disabled people at work and into work. Specifically:

 Ending caps on Access to Work grants and significant increases in budget combined with a programme to inform both employers and disabled people of its availability.

 Sustained support for other employment programmes proven to have been effective such as Work Choice. Support for disabled workers and students in education.

 Meeting the needs of all disabled students within an inclusive education system.

 Reinstatement of a Disabled Students Allowance.

 Meeting the needs of disabled workers within education. Support for disabled people to participate in public life by removing barriers and encouraging their engagement.

 Measures to enable disabled people to play a full part in all areas of public life including the introduction of the option of job sharing for elected representatives. Support for greater participation and accurate portrayal of disabled people in the media, culture and the arts, and sport at all levels.

 Government to work with media, arts, culture and sports organisations and with disabled people themselves to establish and monitor standards for the portrayal and representation of disability and disabled people. Establishment and promotion of a national training standard based on the social model of disability for employers and service providers.

 Training based on the social model is essential if government, employers and service providers are to eliminate discrimination from their practice and achieve equality and inclusion for disabled people.

 Therefore, a national disability training standard, established and monitored through engagement with disabled people, must be established, applied, and monitored.

Engagement with disabled people to promote equality internationally

 Support for the policies for inclusion and equality adopted by the European Disability Forum and support for disability equality across Europe and beyond.

For further information or to register your support for the TUC’s Manifesto for Disability Equality please email hmunshi@tuc.org.uk.