Continuing with our blog series to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) this year, here is another post from one of our staff members around the theme of “the future we want”…
“I used to work in an advocacy centre for students 'with disabilities' in Toronto, Canada. ‘Person with a disability' is the social model terminology commonly used in places such as North America, as it places the person before the disability. The UK social model of disability says a person is 'disabled' because the barriers in a given environment are disabling to a person. I'm satisfied that both share the intention of achieving disability equality.
A number of students asked me, "Do you have a disability?" My response was usually, "not yet, to my knowledge." Although anxiety and migraines are experiences for me, and I need to wear corrective lenses, these do not have substantial or long-term negative effects on my day to day life, which is how disability is defined in the Equality Act 2010.
Some people think that they don't know anyone who is disabled and I find it hard to believe. According to the most recent statistics, nearly one in five people have a disability. Of course this includes people who use wheelchairs and have Guide Dogs, but also includes invisible and overlapping conditions such as Crohn's disease, hearing and vision loss, chronic fatigue, MS, mental health conditions, learning difficulties and more.
Whether at birth, later in life or through a close friend or family member, disability impacts everyone's lives. I'd like to see policymakers around the world make it easier for disabled people to live the lives they want and imagine.
A good friend of mine in Canada has Cerebral Palsy and is constantly having to navigate a complex care, transport and employment system. He requires support for some daily activities, but he's also a strong individual and knows how he wants to spend his time and with whom. He'd like to live independently in his own home and receive care when needed, but because he lives with his mum, she's considered one of his sole caregivers. She's been fighting cancer over the past year, but this isn't properly accounted for on paper. He has been told that his options are to register for residential care or convert his mom's house into a residential home.
A lot of people's lives are made unnecessarily difficult because of rigid policies. We've recently seen a positive result for disabled people after long legal battles, but we certainly have the capacity to achieve inclusion before having to go to court.”
We will be sharing more of our staff stories relating to disability, inclusion and accessibility over the next few weeks, so keep a look out for our future blog posts.