Want to learn about diversity and inclusion? 10 books to read…

Last week I was having a big old think. Do some of us only become engaged with inequalities that affect us as individuals? I was more than a little nervous suggesting this. But I got some interesting responses and BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Something which always makes me happy. So, without further waffle, here are the 10 books recommended by a bunch of clever folks. Have a read. Or better yet, start your own learning and development library – a small step to make your own workforce more inclusive.

A Dozen Brilliant Reasons to Employ Disabled People: Why successful businesses see inclusion as an asset rather than a problem by Jane Hatton.

If you have ever wanted to understand (or help others understand) the business case for employing disabled people, this is the definitive book for you. Using evidence from a wide range of research, case studies and personal experience, every aspect of the workplace is examined in relation to inclusivity, providing a compelling business case relevant to every sector. “In all our UK internal training on accessibility, it is first on the recommended reading list.” Michael Vermeersch, Digital Inclusion Lead, Microsoft.

What the **** is Normal?! by Francesca Martinez.

If you grow up in a world where wrinkles are practically illegal, going bald is cause for a mental breakdown, and women over size zero are encouraged to shoot themselves (immediately), what the hell do you do if you’re, gasp … DISABLED?
Whatever body you’re born into, the pressure to be normal is everywhere. But have you ever met a normal person? What do they look like? Where do they live? What do they eat for breakfast?
And what the **** does normal mean anyway?
This is the award-winning wobbly comedian Francesca Martinez’s funny, personal, and universal story of how she learned to stick two shaky fingers up to the crazy expectations of a world obsessed with being ‘normal’.

Secrets & Big News: Enabling people to be themselves at work by Kate Nash OBE

Secrets & Big News is an engaging read about the subject of ‘declaration’ and ‘disclosure’ of disability in the workplace. Based on a two-year research project, the book details the reasons why people find it hard to share information and offers ideas for both employers and employees alike. 55 employers took part in the study and together they reached just over 2,500 of their employees who offered their views about what makes it hard to share personal information, as well as what makes it easier. The book is triggering a wave of new conversations between valuable employees and UK and global businesses. The book is not about medicine, politics or disability rights: it’s about what it means to be human and how employers can retain their talented people through periods of ill health and disability.

Why are You Pretending to be Normal? by Phil Friend and Dave Rees.

Do you want to manage your disability positively? Feeling frustrated that people do not understand your needs?

If you have a disability, then you should listen to this audiobook. Why Are You Pretending to Be Normal? asks the questions that anyone with a disability needs to ask themselves.

This engaging story offers viewpoints and ideas that have already inspired many disabled people to stop simply coping with their disability and start managing it. This enables them to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.  Phil Friend and Dave Rees present practical tools and techniques that have helped so many people to successfully tackle some of the most challenging aspects of their disabilities.

The Politics of Disablement by Michael Oliver

Dominant views of disability as an individual and medical problems have been vigorously challenged by disabled people in recent years. This book, by an author who is himself disabled, looks at the individualised and medicalised views of disability, describes the way they have been produced in capitalist society, and analyses the possibilities for change. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the true nature of disability, especially as disability comes to occupy a prominent place on the political agenda.

Pride Against Prejudice: Transforming Attitudes to Disability: A Personal Politics of Disability by Jenny Morris.

“Disabled people throughout the world are increasingly naming and confronting the prejudice which we daily experience, expressing our anger at the discrimination we face, and insisting that our lives have value. This book has grown out of the struggles through which, over the last decade or so, disabled people, and particularly disabled women, have asserted our reality. It is an attempt to analyse the nature of the prejudice we experience and to articulate the growing strength of our pride in ourselves. It has also been within the last decade that I myself developed an identity as a disabled woman, an identity which has been a source of much anger at the prejudice and discrimination that I and other disabled people face. But it is also an identity which has been an increasing source of strength and liberation.” Jenny Morris

The Inclusion Imperative: How Real Inclusion Creates Better Business and Builds Better Societies by Stephen Frost

The Inclusion Imperative showcases the inspiring commitment to inclusion the London Olympic and Paralympic Games’ organizing committee espoused and details the techniques and frameworks that enabled it to truly deliver a ‘Games for everyone’ at London 2012. Diversity and inclusion expert, Stephen Frost, challenges preconceived ideas and strives to inspire professionals to tackle inclusion in their organizations with courage, creativity and talent. With highly relatable examples, The Inclusion Imperative constitutes the best argument to convince sceptics that real diversity and inclusion can deliver more engaged employees and customers, improved employee recruitment and retention, increase productivity and better group decision-making processes.

Real inclusion saves money and improves efficiency in the systems of an organisation, making the world a better place as a by-product.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race: The Sunday Times Bestseller by Reni Eddo-Lodge.

The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.

A revelation … Undoubtedly essential (Spectator)

This is a book that was begging to be written. This is the kind of book that demands a future where we’ll no longer need such a book. Essential (Marlon James, Man Booker Prize-Winner 2015)

Set to blow apart the understanding of race relations in this country (Stylist)

The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone is the most influential and talked-about book on society in the last decade – now updated with a new chapter on the controversy the book has ignited.

Why do we mistrust people more in the UK than in Japan? Why do Americans have higher rates of teenage pregnancy than the French? What makes the Swedish thinner than the Australians? The answer: inequality. This ground breaking book, based on years of research, provides hard evidence to show: How almost everything – from life expectancy to mental illness, violence to illiteracy – is affected not by how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is. That societies with a bigger gap between rich and poor are bad for everyone in them – including the well-off. How we can find positive solutions and move towards a happier, fairer future.

Demystifying Diversity: A Handbook to Navigate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion by Jiten Patel and Gamiel Yafai.

This engaging and comprehensive tour of the world of diversity in the workplace is authoritative, yet witty and well told. Demystifying Diversity is an important book – a vital navigational tool for anyone getting to grips with the importance of diversity across the spectrum of today’s society.

This book is aimed at anyone with responsibility in company management as well as business professionals and HR practitioners.

 

I’d love to hear about any other recommendations people have. To connect and keep in touch click here.

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Experiencing the Social Model of Disability

I don’t usually talk about myself in these blogs, but I find myself in the situation of being a living example of the Social Model of Disability. This model is my preferred framework for describing “disability”. In short, it suggests that people who have “impairments” (for example, sight or hearing impairments, mobility issues, neurological conditions, mental health conditions etc) are primarily disabled by the barriers that society puts in our way. In other words, the wheelchair isn’t the problem, the stairs are. For a longer explanation see here.

I have experienced this phenomenon in the past year, through changing the environment where I live and work. My impairment is a degenerative spinal condition, which causes severe and chronic pain, making walking and sitting very difficult. Until last September, I lived in a small town in the Midlands. The consequences of my impairment were that it was very difficult to live an independent life, and there were many activities, both socially and professionally, which I was unable to do.

If I needed to go anywhere further than a short distance away, I was unable to drive myself there because it required sitting for too long. The nearest bus stop was too far to walk to and there were no nearby trains. The only way to get there would be to have someone drive, whilst I lay down in the passenger seat (with the back of the seat laid back as far as it would go). This was a) an extremely painful and uncomfortable way to travel, and b) relied on someone being available and willing to take me.

For work-related appointments I hired a driver (thankfully paid for by Access to Work).  If I had an appointment, he would pick me up and transport me there, provided it could be planned well in advance to ensure his availability. For trips to London (quite frequent, as many of the employers who use Evenbreak have head offices there) this involved either a round trip of up to eight hours in a day (leaving me in so much pain I was useless for the following two days), or staying overnight which became very expensive. Nothing could ever be done spontaneously, and I avoided most meetings, or had a telephone conversation instead, which severely impacted on my ability to gain new business.

Socially, because I’m unable to sit at a table to eat a meal, I was restricted when eating out to the only three pubs within my short driving distance which had high tables where I could stand and my companions sit on bar stools.

Then in September I moved to a flat close to the centre of London. There are bus stops literally right outside the entrance to the flats, where I can get to pretty much anywhere within central London within 20 minutes at the most. I’m able to stand on a bus, so to go to a meeting in the City now takes a 10 minute bus ride there, perhaps a meeting where I can stand for an hour, and then another 10 minute bus ride home. Contrast that with an eight hour uncomfortable car ride – nine hours including the meeting. This means I can attend many more meetings that I would have previously avoided. It also means I can go to networking events which I couldn’t have justified before.

Socially, life has changed beyond recognition! There are places I can eat at high tables within walking distance of my flat, and hundreds within a 10 minute bus journey. I can go to a different place every night, if I chose to do so, with an amazing choice of venues and cuisines.

Even ‘though my impairment hasn’t changed, I am able to do so much more, independently and spontaneously, because my environment has changed. My business has become much easier to run, and my social life has taken off. Being independent is something I can’t put a price on.

The Social Model also helps me to realise that I am not the problem – I’m not a ‘person with disabilities’, I’m a ‘disabled person’ – disabled by my environment, and much less so now my environment has changed. I am able to do much more, as I am less disabled by an inaccessible environment.

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More Tact, Vicar?

A heartfelt and educational “rant” from our very own Jane Hurst (Publicity Officer at Evenbreak):

Picture the scene, walking in the park on a nice sunny day with my walking stick, thinking I’m doing quite well at this walking lark actually, and chatting casually with my son, I am approached by a young unfeasibly attractive young man who announces proudly that he’s a vicar.  [Silence] “Are you?” I stumble out.  “Yes. And I wondered if you’d like me to pray for your needs (or was it knees?) as I can see you have difficulties”  Any disabled person reading this will instantly wince at this but I fear others, especially those blessed with belief in the Lord will actually think it’s a nice thing to say.  Let me explain with three little words.

How dare he?

He is making some big assumptions here.

  1. What makes him think that I want to change the way I am.  Perhaps I have come to terms with my “difficulties” and have learnt to live I think quite well despite my stroke 10 years ago.  I have come a long way from total paralysis, a slight limp on a good day and a dead arm I can live with.  I can still enjoy a peaceful day out in the park, can’t I?
  2. Do we like to be noticed for our disability? Disabled people like me actually try very hard to fit in with the crowd, minimising the shock factor as much as we can.  I know we shouldn’t try and hide it but somehow it’s in-built.  Yet we are rewarded with the mental equivalent of pointing and laughing by someone who has helpfully pointed out that our disabilities stand out a mile and need to be fixed.
  3. I respect everyone’s right to believe in God and the power of prayer, all I ask in return is to retain my right not to believe in either.  The power of prayer does not mean a damn thing to some people.
  4. Asking someone if they want to be “fixed” assumes that we are not OK as we are.  Is there not room in this world for people of all shapes and sizes, deformities, oddities?  That’s the real stinger, what disabled people take away from this is that we are defective and need to be made normal, put through God’s holy sausage machine, arriving the other end as a perfectly smooth and uniform sausage conforming to society’s view of acceptable and normal.

Now, the psychologist in me knows that he’s probably just finished his training, bless him, so like an over enthusiastic puppy on an unusually sunny day he’s probably trying to fix the world one problem at a time, bounding up to strangers with a wag and a smile and proclaiming to the world that he’s armed and ready to do God’s work.  He did have the grace to say he hoped he hadn’t offended me, to his credit.  Bit late really, the words stable door, shut and bolt spring to mind!

His over ebullience sadly landed on me and has made me feel terrible, not just for myself but others who I know have experienced this well-meaning but unhelpful and even destructive approach to visible disabilities.

So please, don’t try and fix us with God unless we ask for your help.  That’s all I ask.  We are working it all out for ourselves and if we need your help or the big G’s, we know where to go.

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Review: “Why are you pretending to be normal?”

Like most disabled people, I acquired my impairment as an adult. It is a huge adjustment for anyone to make. In some ways it is like a bereavement – you have to grieve for your old life, for the things you can no longer do and for the dreams you can no longer achieve. Only when you have gone through the bereavement process can you even begin to start thinking about your new and different, and almost certainly unwanted lifestyle. Much of my work is around helping other people, employers especially, make life easier and more accessible for disabled people. However, attitudes towards disabled people are also influenced by disabled people’s attitudes towards themselves. The language we use. The way we see ourselves. The way we live our lives.

“Why are you pretending to be normal?”, written by Phil Friend and Dave Rees, takes a fictitious character through the journey to exploring a new life with a new impairment. The main character, Chris, talks to a range of different disabled people, learning something different from each one. Important issues such as the use of “victim” language, the social model, ways of constructing our reality, so that we don’t further disable ourselves by comparing ourselves unfavourably with what other people define as “normal”.

This short, easy-to-read book is a must for anyone newly-disabled, or anyone who lives or works with disabled people. It is a positive book, where we see that the new and different life is every bit as valuable and worthwhile as our previous life, or anyone else’s life. Different, but not necessarily worse.

I thoroughly recommend it. More here. (I’m not on commission, I’m just a fan!)

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How Accessible is Britain? We need your help!

 

I’m always keen to help other social enterprises, especially those geared towards helping disabled people, and this is a great one! Stewart White runs “Accessible Britain”, and I’ll let him tell you all about it:

 

Welcome to Accessible Britain, a new and exciting organisation and website set up by disabled people for disabled people with one main aim….To provide a forum for disabled people to share positive experiences of all accessible places throughout the UK for the benefit of other disabled people ‘ to know before you go!’

Mission Statement:

“Our aim is to become the destination website for the disabled community as well as their carers and families in the UK seeking to read and share genuine positive experiential of locations, stations and experiences throughout the UK.

In time we hope to offer further services to the disabled and special needs community and to establish a brand which represents and serves this community, assisting them in making lives better and broadening horizons.”

We need your reviews and also skills!

To help develop this exciting new forum, we are looking for people to review any accessible place, hotel, holiday or extreme activity in Britain; for example a country park, a sports centre, a tandem skydive, UK holiday destination or even your favourite place to go for a coffee!

With your help we can all be better informed about the most accessible places to go throughout the UK.

Why not visit www.accessiblebritain.co.uk and get involved. Thank you.

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An Essential Service for People Interested in Disability

It’s really important for us at Evenbreak to keep up to date with all the current news and events regarding disabililty, and this can be very time-consuming, particularly as the media tends to have its own agenda where disability is concerned. Thankfully, there is a service which helps to keep us informed and saves time (I have no relationship with the service other than as a very happy customer!). Learn more here from its founder, John Pring:

Disability News Service was set up to fill a gap.

Four years ago, despite the thousands of newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs published in the UK, not one of them focused on disability-related news.

There was lots of comment – particularly on the web – there were magazines that were strongly feature- and comment- based, and there were newspapers like the Guardian that often ran disability-related news stories. But there was nothing that just did news, and just did disability.

Just as importantly, the news stories that were written rarely featured the voices of disabled people themselves; they were more likely to quote a chief executive from one of the large non-user-led disability charities, or some other non-disabled professional from the disability and social care world.

There was a big hole that needed filling, and it was why I launched DNS in April 2009.

Four years on, it is still the UK’s only provider of in-depth news on the issues that affect the lives of disabled people, such as discrimination and equality, independent living, poverty, benefits, and human rights.

Or, to put it another way: stories about disabled people who are deprived of the right to board a bus, are denied a living income, have been forced to live in an institution, or have become a victim of a disability hate crime.

As well as the serious stuff, I also cover some of the important developments in arts and culture – particularly disability arts – and Paralympic sport.

DNS is set up like a niche news agency, although on a much smaller scale, and with some subtle differences.

Every Friday, I email my subscribers with the news stories I have written that week. Usually, there are between 7 and 12 of them, all independently-researched. My subscribers can use those news stories in their email newsletters or magazines, and particularly on their websites and blogs. Links to the stories – once they have been posted on their web platforms – can be used as the basis for messages sent out via Twitter, and posted on Facebook and other social media.

The stories allow subscribers to keep their websites updated with high quality content, boost their Google search ratings, and increase their followers on Twitter. They also alert their staff to what leading disabled people are saying about some of the crucial issues, and keep them up-to-date with important policy and campaigns developments.

So where do I find my stories?

As DNS ages – let’s say matures – more and more of the news is coming from disabled people contacting me directly, but I also attend protests and conferences, launches and parliamentary meetings. And there are the inevitable press releases, as well as ideas that come from Twitter and Facebook and from checking the websites of the national media.

Unsurprisingly, the government’s programme of cuts and reforms to disability benefits and services has taken centre stage over the last three years. From the direct action protests of Disabled People Against Cuts, to the many judicial reviews of decisions to cut spending, the continuing controversy over the actions of the fitness-for-work contractor Atos Healthcare, and the – how should I put it? – questionable accuracy of the coalition’s statistical welfare announcements, every week produces something new that could impact on the lives of every disabled person in the country.  

Although many of these developments are mentioned on blogs and tweets, and in comment pieces, only rarely are they dealt with as news stories, ie with a focus on the facts, figures and evidence, while DNS also ensures that disabled people have their voices heard.

A big part of what DNS does is to breaks exclusive stories that would otherwise not find their way into the public arena. During the London 2012 Paralympics, DNS covered the glory and the excitement of the games, but it was also the only news organisation that consistently raised concerns about the access issues that sadly took away a little bit of the gloss.

DNS has also exposed the dubious influence of the US insurance giant Unum on the UK welfare agenda over the last 20 years; it broke the story that Baroness [Jane] Campbell would be the first peer allowed to bring a personal assistant onto the floor of the House of Lords; it has run campaigning stories about the criminal justice system’s failures on disability hate crime; and it persuaded several Paralympians to speak in advance of London 2012 about the importance of disability living allowance, as the government prepared to slash spending and replace the benefit with the new personal independence payment.

And now, as a way of recognising the many talented disabled people I come across in my working life, and some of those I don’t, DNS has launched The List, which aims – eventually – to rank the most influential disabled people in the UK.

But The List will only work – like the news service itself – if DNS continues to listen closely and carefully to the views and opinions of disabled people themselves.

John Pring is the founder and editor of Disability News Service, www.disabilitynewsservice.com

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Different Perspectives.

A slightly dfferent blog today. I’d like to introduce you to two people.

The first is a woman who was born with a condition called spinal muscular atrophy which causes general muscle wasting and mobility impairment. It is the most common genetic cause of infant death. Her parents were told it was unlikely she would live longer than a year or two. Thankfully she did, and as an adult is a full-time user of a wheelchair, is only able to speak in four or five word bursts at a time before having to stop for breath, depends on a ventilator to help her breathe at night and is fed through a tube in her tummy. She has 24 hour care and needs help with pretty much every physical task. She left school at 16 with no qualifications.

In contrast, the second person is a woman who is well-educated – she has many qualifications including an MA. She co-founded and directed the National Centre for Independent Living and chaired the British Council of Disabled People during the early 90s, when their campaigns were recognised as the reason for disability rights legislation getting onto the statute books. She then went on to co-author a book called Disability Politics and was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the Queen’s 2001 Birthday Honours.  During this time she was appointed by the government to chair the newly-established Social Care Institute for Excellence – the only public body which survived the bonfire of the quangos in 2011. She gained two honorary doctorates and went on to be made a life peer. She is now an active Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords championing an Equality and Human Rights approach to domestic policy and more especially the rights of disabled people.

What emotions do those two descriptions evoke? The first one pity, perhaps some fear of ever ending up like that, horror that anyone has to live like that? The second one admiration, maybe a touch of envy – someone who has either worked hard or maybe had it pretty easy? And yet these are both the same person. Jane Campbell, now better known as Baroness Campbell of Surbiton.

Most employers would shudder at the thought of employing the first person, and would feel hugely honoured to employ the second person. And yet they are both the same.

It can be helpful to reflect on how we think of people and how we describe them. Baroness Campbell wasn’t born to a wealthy and privileged background – her father was a heating engineer and her mother a shop assistant. But with their support and her sheer determination she worked hard to achieve all she has.

We need to challenge our own thoughts, and those of others, around the whole issue of disability. And ability.

 

Baroness Jane Campbell

 

I’d like to thank Baroness Campbell for helping me write, and giving me permission to post, this blog.

 

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Myths around Mental Health

I found this amazing website called Time to Change, all around ending mental health discrimination through education. The site includes interesting information, case studies, a blog, and many other useful insights. I particularly liked a page looking at myths and facts, busting some common myths such as:

Myth:   Mental health problems are very rare

Fact:    Mental health problems affect one in four people

 

Myth:   People with mental illness aren’t able to work

Fact:    We probably all work with someone experiencing mental health problems

 

Myth:   Young people just go through ups and downs during puberty – it’s nothing

Fact:    One in ten young people will experience a mental health problem

 

Myth:   People with mental health problems are usually unpredictable and violent

Fact:    People with a mental helath problem are more likely to be victims of violence 

 

Myth:   People with mental health problems don’t experience discrimination

Fact:    Nine out of ten people with mental health problms experience stigma and discrimination

 

Myth:   It’s easy for young people to talk to their friends about their feelings

Fact:    Nearly three in four young people fear the reactions of friends when they talk about their mental health problems

 

For more insights, have a look at the website here

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The Paralympics – good or bad for disabled people?

Paralympics logoI fought against writing a blog about the Paralympics because I know it will cost me friends! Most have strong feelings one way or another about the Paralympics and of course expect me to agree with them.

However, it’s not often I sit on the fence about anything disability-related, but I really have very mixed feelings about the Paralympics. Reading over the last couple of weeks many, many articles on the subject written by other disabled commentators, opinions seem equally divided, with some believing that attitudes really might change for the better, and others that the Paralympics do disabled people a huge disservice. I remain unconvinced by either side. Here, if anyone is interested at all, are some of my fairly random thoughts on the matter:

Good:

As a disabled person, I actually did find the sheer determination, hard work and achievements of these world class athletes inspiring (and I feel myself cringing and feeling apologetic as I say that word – see “Bad” lower down!). I admire the guts and hard work put in by all of the athletes, and I found it all quite emotional.

It was helpful in demonstrating the range of disabilities – there is a tendency for people to automatically think “wheelchair” when the word disability is mentioned, and this event reminded people that disability includes visual impairments, amputees, dwarfism and a whole range of other impairments. However, by definition all of the athletes were physically fit and therefore many impairments would not have been mentioned – ME, mental health issues, and very few learning disabilities. And, of course, no deaf or hearing-impaired athletes.

It challenged the stereotype that disabled people can’t achieve. It helped us focus on what these athletes could do rather than what they couldn’t – a message I’m constantly trying to get across to employers.

For a few days, the general public weren’t purely thinking of disabled people as benefit scroungers, and therefore legitimate targets for hate crime.

It forced our capital city to think about accessibility issues across the infrastructure, particularly including transport. For a couple of weeks it was less difficult for disabled people to travel around London, with lots of volunteers and portable ramps.

Bad:

One of the long-standing problems has been that disabled people are, for some reason, seen as “saints or sinners” (there is even a television programme about us with that name). A disabled person can’t be an ordinary person getting on with their lives as best as they can, they must either be a benefit scrounger, or a superhuman hero. I suspect that less than 1 % of us disabled folk fall into either category, but somehow the Paralympics perpetuate (Channel 4 even using the term Superhuman!) the myth. The 98% of us ordinary disabled people remain invisible. We don’t want to be thought of as “inspiring” or “brave” or “courageous” (hence my comment above) – not one of us chose to be disabled.

For those who believe the lies about most disabled people being benefit scroungers (in reality it’s less than 1%), I have heard people suggest, almost seriously, that if disabled people just put a bit of effort in they could also be world class athletes, let alone get a job. This is as ridiculous as suggesting that with a bit of effort, every man in the street could beat Usain Bolt!

The Paralympics, held separately from the Olympics, emphasises the “separateness” of disabled people – almost an after thought. The swift u-turn about gold medallists being on their own postage stamp, the Paralympic torch being silver not gold (denoting second best) and many other indications that these weren’t as good as the “real” Olympics.

The fact that despite “inspiring a generation”, most sports facilities in Britain are inaccessible.

The fact that despite the Prime Minister publically praising the Paralympian athletes, he will still be stripping 500,000 disabled people (almost certainly including many of the athletes he so admires) of Disability Living Allowance.

Sick joke:

Atos, the company tasked with declaring seriously sick and disabled people “fit for work” and pushing many disabled people further into poverty (32 people a week died last year after this company declared them “fit for work”) were also sponsors of the Paralympics. Yes, I know they are only “following orders” – but where have we heard that before?

Funny joke:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer being booed by the crowds – the first boos heard by an exceptionally kind and welcoming audience!

If I had to come off the fence, on balance I’m for the Paralypics – why shouldn’t disabled people who love sport have the same opportunity to compete in such a prestigious event as non-disabled people? And if it encourages those disabled people who enjoy and are able to take part in sport to do so, then that’s good too. However – I feel both forms of Olympics should run at the same time (have a one month event rather than two separate events), and I feel that we should accord all disabled people the respect, admiration, rights, resources and opportunities as the talented athletes we have been watching. Long after they have gone back into training, and the volunteers and portable ramps have long disappeared – let’s make sure the legacy of the Paralympics is that we change how we view disabled people – not just on the sportsfield, but also in the workplace, the boardroom, the Houses of Commons and Lords, the theatre, the concert hall, and indeed in every area of life accessible to non-disabled people. Let’s include all disabled people in everyday life – not just the sporty ones.

 

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Barriers disabled people face – in cartoon form!

The wonderful “Crippen”, an extremely talented disability activist, uses the medium of cartoon to communicate his thoughts. He kindly contributed the cartoons accompanying our “Disability Etiquette” series. This time I thought it worth dedicating a whole blog to one of his strip cartoons – demonstrating the various types of barriers that disabled people face on a daily basis (the “social model of disability”) through a story.

A disabled woman gets job offer and is then faced with a range of barriers - attitudinal, physical, institutional and information.

More of his cartoons can be found here

And he writes a blog about Disability Arts Online

 

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