Disabled people ‘left behind in society’, report finds

Disabled people in the UK are “left behind in society” and have “very poor” life chances, a report has found.

The study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission said progress towards equality in the past 20 years was “littered with missed opportunities.”

Chantal Chaervey, from Suffolk, said she was left “almost destitute” by the costs of caring for her disabled son.

The government said it spends about £50bn a year to support disabled people.

Pay gap

The report, “Being disabled in Britain: A journey less equal”, covers six “key areas” – education, work, standard of living, health and care, justice and detention, and participation and identity.

It found that disabled people in the UK were experiencing disadvantages in all of them.

The report found a lack of equal opportunities in education and employment and barriers to access to transport, health services and housing.

It highlighted a “persistent and widening” disability pay gap and deteriorating access to justice.

‘I lost everything’

Ms Chaervey, a single mother, feels she is not receiving enough support to make life better for her son Harry.

The 14-year-old, who has multiple life-limiting conditions, needs round-the-clock care.

Ms Chaervey cashed in the last of her pension pot five years ago to pay for essential equipment including a wheelchair, specialist buggy and stair lift.

“I did have my own business, unfortunately I lost everything overnight because I had to care for Harry full time while he was in hospital for nearly 18 months,” she said.

“[It] left us almost destitute.

“I now have debts, which I’ll never be able to clear and I feel ashamed to say that.”

The report also found:

  • Across the UK, 18.4% of disabled people aged 16-64 were considered to be in food poverty compared with 7.5% of non-disabled people
  • Disabled people over the age of 65 were twice as likely as non-disabled people in the same age group to be in food poverty
  • Disabled people face problems in finding adequate housing, due to a shortage in accessible housing across Britain
  • Disabled people were less likely to own their own home.
  • Disabled young people (aged 16-24) and disabled women had the lowest median hourly earnings
  • Families in the UK with a disabled member were more likely to live in relative poverty than non-disabled families.

David Isaac, EHRC chairman, said: “Everybody assumed the disability discrimination act moved things forward, but there’s been a missed opportunity in relation to making progress since that period 20 years ago.

“That’s a huge period of time.

“And, I think, progress has either stalled, or in some cases has gone backwards.”

He added: “Whilst at face value we have travelled far, in reality disabled people are being left behind in society, their life chances remain very poor, and public attitudes have changed very little.”

‘Sombre reading’

Andrew McDonald, chairman of disability charity Scope, said it was “shameful” that disabled people continued to face “such high levels of inequality”.

Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said the report made “sombre and disappointing” reading.

A government spokesman said: “We are committed to building a fairer society, and ensuring equality of opportunity for disabled people is an important part of this.

“In the last year alone almost 300,000 disabled people have moved into work, and we plan to go even further by providing more tailored employment help, increasing the number of disability employment advisors in jobcentres, and working even more closely with businesses through our Disability Confident scheme.”

Original source – BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39458672

Report a ‘wake-up call’ for countries to rethink approaches to mental health, says agency, revealing that cases have grown by almost 20% in a decade

Cases of depression have ballooned almost 20% in a decade, making the debilitating disorder the leading cause of disability worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

By 2015, the number of people globally living with depression, according to a revised definition, had reached 322m, up 18.4% since 2005, the UN agency said on Thursday.

“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to rethink their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” WHO chief Margaret Chan said.

According to the agency’s definition, depression is a “persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for two weeks or more”.

Lack of energy, shifts in appetite or sleep patterns, substance abuse, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and thoughts of self-harm or suicide are also common, and can affect entire families.

The drop in productivity, and other medical conditions often linked to depression, also takes a financial toll, with the global cost estimated at $1tn annually, the WHO said.

Shekhar Saxena, head of the agency’s mental health and substance abuse department, said both psychosocial and medical treatments could be highly effective, insisting on the importance of reaching more of those in need.

Even in the most developed countries, about half of people suffering from depression are not diagnosed or treat, and the percentage soars to between 80-90% in less developed nations.

 Treatment can be difficult to access, while a fear of stigma also prevents many people from seeking the help required to live healthy and productive lives, the agency said.According to the WHO, every dollar invested in improving access to treatment leads to a return of $4 in better health and productivity.

And “early identification and treatment of depression is a very effective means of decreasing death by suicide,” Saxena said.

There are about 800,000 suicides worldwide every year, amounting to one every four seconds. And the link to depression is clear.

Saxena pointed to studies showing that 70-80% of people who kill themselves in high-income countries, and around half of those in low-income countries, suffer from mental disorders, of which depression is the most common.

Original source – Agence France-Presse, The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/31/depression-is-leading-cause-of-disability-worldwide-says-who-study

Boost for 1,000 people with learning disability or autism

About 1,000 young people with a learning disability or autism are to be offered paid work placements as part of a £10m project.

Engage to change will help those taking part with one-on-one job coaching, job matching and interview training.

It is hoped it will help to increase people’s confidence and independence.

The project has received a grant from the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with the Welsh Government.

Project manager Jenna Trakins, from charity Learning Disability Wales, said: “With only 6% of people with a learning disability and 16% of people with autism currently in full time employment, there is clearly a lot of work ahead of us.

“We have met some inspirational young people on our project who have very clearly demonstrated how their disability does not hold them back from achieving their employment goals.”

‘Employers could offer alternatives to interviews’

Max, 26, from Cardiff was diagnosed with autism in 2016 which causes him anxiety.

“I often get very frustrated, especially after receiving rejection from jobs and find it quite difficult to manage these feelings so they often manifest into depression,” he said.

“Saying that, I think my autism makes me equally determined to succeed.

“I have been able build up my confidence through placements, I still find interviews quite hard and my confidence and self-esteem can take a knock quite easily, as my autism makes me quite sensitive to rejection.

“I feel employers could be more flexible in their recruitment processes and more could offer alternatives to interviews, which those with autism, including myself, often find very difficult to express themselves in.

“This could be through things such as work trials.”

Original Source – BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-39438522

Audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities will be taken on a multi-sensory story of discovery in Home at The Courtyard.

Frozen Light Theatre Company present their latest production, Home, which tells the story of Scarlet and Olive. In a new environment which is full of surprises, the pair must learn how to survive and create a future together as they face the challenges ahead. Aimed at teenagers and adults, the show is a tale of unexpected friendship in an unknown world.

Home is an exciting multi-sensory theatre experience for audiences with PMLD who will be able to interact one-to-one with performers and join in collective sensory moments. Tickets are limited for this show as it is performed for an audience of six due to the interactive nature of the production.

Home will be in The Courtyard’s Studio Theatre on Monday, March 13 at 11am and 1.30pm. To book, call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit courtyard.org.uk

Source: http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/15120836.Multi_sensory_theatre_production_for_learning_disabled_audiences/

Written By: Philippa May

It is wonderful to work and forget my disability

In 2015 I lost both my legs below the knees, the hearing in my right ear, and all the muscles in my hands due to sepsis, so I’m still figuring out my new life. Work-wise, I’m aware how privileged I am. For one, I have been able to return to my job – albeit with huge amounts of support. The university has also adapted the main building I work in and is starting to adapt two others, and I have been given specialised computer equipment. Through Access to Work (ATW) I have taxis and support workers, which enable me to get to work and do my job when I’m there. ATW is complicated and stressful to set up, but it is working for me, although the bureaucracy is a constant headache. Because I have to regularly reapply, I have this nagging anxiety that it will stop. I could not do my job without support workers so I live in fear that I will lose them.

Although I have returned to some aspects of my work, others remain a challenge and some I will never be able to do, which means I need to rethink substantial parts of my job. I love my job, and I am so happy to be back, but I grieve for the many aspects of it that I have lost. My colleagues and students have been awesome. Sometimes I even forget about this messed up body of mine when I’m teaching or working with colleagues – I can’t describe how wonderful it is to forget.
Liz, Oxford, associate professor of Egyptology

My manager refused to recognise my disability

I suffered a back injury at work, helping to move an ill patient in bed while we were understaffed. I slipped a disk that required surgery, effectively disabling me and I had to take more than a year off work.

The bullying started before my return to work. The occupational health department expected me to go back to work post-operation, with no restrictions in my duties. They refused to acknowledge any disability despite me telling them I could not even lift a mug of tea or walk up a flight of stairs. I was told if I did not go back I would not have a job.

I went back to work and was bullied for the next few years. I would be allocated the heaviest patient in the ward, or the most agitated patient – basically I felt I was being set up to fail. I struggled on for two years with my manager refusing to recognise my disability.

Eventually, after continually complaining to HR, I was assessed and medically suspended from work, before being made redundant. I wanted to take them to court and see a union solicitor, but I received no response from them. Then I effectively had a nervous breakdown and did not leave the house for the next six months. I have changed because of this experience – I find it difficult to be happy and I have not stepped foot back in the hospital where it all happened.
Anonymous nurse in Scotland

I’ve always found it difficult to pass job interviews

Although I can’t say for sure that it’s because of my disability, throughout my working life I have found it difficult to pass interviews. I can only use one hand and walk with a distinctive limp because of being paralysed down one side from a head injury as a child. I only apply for jobs that I can do with one hand, but I can’t help but notice that potential employers don’t want to employ me when they see my disability.

I pride myself in not requiring any support from my employer. I always push myself to demonstrate that I’m as capable as my able-bodied colleagues. I work unpaid overtime to make sure that I get as much done as everyone else. This isn’t required by my employer – it’s a matter of personal pride.

My former manager admitted that after they had interviewed me, the panel had a discussion about whether I would be able to carry equipment. They decided to give me the benefit of the doubt, and I have been with the company for over a decade.

I wonder how many other prospective employers I’d applied to before had the same discussion and decided not to risk it.
Anonymous, 50, Nottingham

Co-workers called me a hypochondriac

I work for the NHS and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in recent years. It was aggressive and I went from having a few aches to struggling to move. The combination of pain and side effects from the medication means that I am now off work until my symptoms can be controlled.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a hidden disability. It is often mistaken for osteoarthritis, which most elderly people will get, but it is in fact an autoimmune disease. It causes intense pain in the joints but also affects the heart, lungs, bowel and other organs. Treatments are targeted at reducing the effectiveness of the immune system – using toxic drugs such as those used for chemotherapy, so people like myself face the pain of the disease combined with the side effects of the medication.

I look completely normal and healthy – which is a problem. When I chose to disclose my condition at work, colleagues said: “Yes I’ve got aches and pains too”. I have been told by co-workers that I am a hypochondriac, that I’m having time off for what everyone has to put up with as they get older. I’ve been told “the side effects can’t be that bad, and if I wanted to work I could”. I often feel I am being blamed by people for my own illness.

My employer asked that I be seen by an occupational health consultant. They immediately signed me off work, wondering how I had managed to struggle on. They wrote a letter to my employer reminding them my condition is classed as a disability and also pointing out that in his opinion they should have been grateful I had struggled on despite them. It was the last thing I expected but I cried because I felt someone finally believed me. I had always gone above and beyond for my employer in the past, and I felt they went out of their way to make my disability feel shameful.
Anonymous

Since I revealed my disability, my career hasn’t progressed

I am a regional manager with multiple sclerosis, and it’s invisible. In my current company I was told I had great potential, however I recently confided in my boss about my disability. Since then they’ve instructed me to complete risk assessments and have talked about my health at every review. My career progression has also halted. I’ve not had a day off sick in 10 years because of my MS. But I will not make the mistake of telling anyone again.
Anonymous

I was suspended when I asked to start using a wheelchair

I became disabled a few years ago due to a progressive illness. I had been in my role for seven years, but my disability came at a time of change within the company. I needed software that cost around £100 – it was never provided so I under-performed, and as a result was made redundant.

I found another job within two weeks. I then asked for reasonable adjustments but was again denied. I struggled to perform and was managed out after 10 months. I was out of work again for just a few weeks. Despite not having a sick day since diagnosis, I was suspended when I asked to start using a wheelchair. I was then offered money to leave, making it clear there was no place for a wheelchair user in their office.
Anonymous, north-west England

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/feb/25/working-with-disabilities

Depression is now the leading cause of disability across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed.

More than 4% of the world’s population lives with depression – with young people, pregnant or post-partum women, and the elderly being most affected.

According to the United Nations (UN), the mental illness costs more than $1 trillion a year globally. This is due to loss of productivity, ‘often as a result of sufferers being unable to function at work or cope with daily life’.

“Depression is the single largest contributor to years lived with disability. So it’s the top cause of disability in the world today,” Dr Dan Chisholm from WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse said in a news briefing.

The organisation’s latest body of research found that depression is 1.5 times more common among women than men.

Across the globe, 250 million people suffer anxiety disorders, including phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Around 80% of those with mental illness live in low and middle-income countries.

Discussing the three groups of people who are particularly vulnerable to depression, Dr Chisholm said: “The pressures on today’s youth are like no other generation perhaps.

“Another target group is women who are pregnant or have just given birth. Depression around that period is actually extremely common, around 15% of women will suffer not just ‘the blues’, but a diagnosable case of depression.”

People in retirement are also susceptible. He added: “When we stop working or we lose our partner we become more frail, more subject to physical diseases and disorders like depression do become more common.”

An estimated 800,000 people die by suicide each year, a “pretty horrifying figure”, Chisholm said, before adding that it is more common in males in higher income countries, but more common in females in lower and middle-income countries.

In light of the findings, WHO is running a campaign to tackle stigma and misconceptions called ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’.

Chisholm concluded: “We feel that is a key first step, that if we want to bring mental health, depression and other mental disorders out of the shadows, we need to be able to talk about it.”

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/depression-is-now-the-leading-cause-of-disability-worldwide_uk_58af0610e4b0140601308840

Written By: Natasha Hinde

Some of the city’s most severely disabled children are enjoying an individually tailored journey to school – thanks to a £350,000 cash injection from the local authority.

Nottingham City Council has invested £350,000 in nine specially-adapted ambulances to transport severely disabled children to and from Oak Field School and Sports College.

A total of 16 pupils are picked up every day from areas including St Ann’s and The Meadows and taken to Oak Field, in Wigman Road, Bilborough.

The school caters for five to 18-year-olds with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, and the ambulances are designed to transport students in wheelchairs or beds if necessary.

The council previously employed a private company to run its high-dependency transport service but felt that bringing it in-house would save money over time. There is the potential for the specialist vehicles to be hired out in the day between school runs to bring in more money.

It is also felt that the authority will be able to create a high-quality service and provide flexibility to meet the specific needs of pupils.

Each fully-trained driver and escort will operate the same route each day and will transport the same two children, so will become familiar to their families and understand their individual requirements.

School headteacher David Stewart welcomed the council’s investment.

Mr Stewart said: “This is responding very effectively to changing needs of our pupils. As more and more children are with complex health needs and we need to get them to school safely and securely. We need the right sort of vehicles and the right sort of staff to get them to school.

“It’s much easier that it’s run by the local authority – all the training and all the management is better in-house and we can try and keep costs realistic in a time when we know there’s a shortage and everybody is having to tighten their belts. In the long-term it will save money.

“The vehicles are very clean, bright and fit for purpose. They are dedicated to these children. Other vehicles will go around the streets picking up children, whereas these can just come from home straight to school, so for instance, children with oxygen problems and breathing problems can be here very quickly.

“I think the children have all been very positive about the new transport – who wouldn’t want to be in a nice, bright shiny new bus?”

Councillor Sam Webster, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills at the city council, said: “This is a significant investment by the council and we’ve done it because we understand the importance of each child in the city having the opportunity to attend school every day.

“This will ultimately save the authority money at a time when our budgets are being squeezed ever more tightly – plus there is the added potential for these specially-adapted vehicles to be hired out in the hours between school drop-off and pick-up.”

Source: http://www.nottinghampost.com/disabled-youngsters-gifted-with-350-000-ambulances-in-nottingham-city-council-invesment/story-30157889-detail/story.html

Written By: Tracy Walker

 

I wrote this article to try and collect some of my thoughts concerning Diversity and Inclusion. I work with many people who have been given the ‘label’ of being ‘Diverse’ and as, together, we gain an appreciation of the individual’s strengths and abilities, the empirical evidence demands I now ask if it time to redefine ‘Diversity’?

Language

The dictionary defines ‘Diversity’ as ‘the state of being diverse’. This somewhat opaque explanation fuelled a hunger to dig a little deeper, to unearth more about what exactly is ‘diversity’.

‘Very different’ was one definition stemming from the Latin, ‘Diverto’, another meaning ‘to separate’. At this point, something that had been nagging away within my mind, was brought into the light. For within today’s inclusive society, with efforts to ‘normalise’ people who historically had been alienated from society do we not use, as Evelyn Waugh described ‘…not even an apt word – it is a dead word…’?

‘Very different’ and ‘Separate’; words that recall another phrase, “Quo modo sedet sola civitas”. But then the life of a city is only as full as its people allow it to be, and, if the city stands lonely, you will be sure to find its people do also.

Of some seven and a half billion people on this planet, there exists a gap between the dichotomy of what is deemed to be ‘normal’ and what is perceived as being different. Disability, sexuality, gender, race, creed, colour, age, education, nation of origin and nationality, just some of the reasons people in life become marginalised from the main body of society. From my own experiences working with people from diverse backgrounds, marginalisation for most comes as a result of order or circumstance, not choice. Those we deem to be ‘diverse’ often succumb to majority hegemony. Within some aspects of life, change, often expensive in the purchasing, has been achieved. Would we not be able to show Rosa Parkes or Emily Davison how far we have come to level the field of equality for black people or women? We freely accept that, globally, far more needs to be done for both demographics, but the consensus must surely be that more than a ‘start’ has been made. However, through the veins of this article flows, not morals or ethics, but a rethink of the terms and attitudes towards diversity today, so I must not let such an emotive subject distract me from my main theme.

As we have already touched on, language plays a big part in the subject of diversity. If we are to focus on one area, given the brevity of this article, we would like to investigate disability. Within the first three letters of that word we can see how we envisage such people. Not by what they can do, but what they can’t. Our take-off point is already negative. ‘Dis’. Perhaps this is why so many organisations, whose purpose is to enable disabled people to exist with normality, present those they support, from the very beginning, as being unable to do something. But what is a disability?

Again, with our starting point being the dictionary, we see words such as impairment, limit, hamper, hinder, disadvantage and handicap. Thankfully, handicaps now appear to be the preserve of golfers, for which, when one considers its evolution from ‘hand-in-cap’ indicating a person’s existence being reliant upon hand-outs, we give thanks. Désactivéé, deaktiviert, it’s a global problem!

According to the Equality Act 2010, ‘you are disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal activities’. There follows, on the UK government website, a plethora of pdfs detailing the law. I applaud the efforts of the UK government, and leave investigating the effectiveness of the minutiae to those more qualified than myself to examine. However, one thing leaps out immediately. What exactly is the definition of ‘normal’ with regard activities? Does such language allow for the inclusion of someone with what the author terms, ‘Legacy Injuries’ such as the car-crash survivor who suffers from a below standard short-term memory, or the high achieving amateur athlete who struggles to stand up immediately in later life due to knee pain? Is asthma a disability? Daily asthma attacks are counted as being a disability, however having asthma does not.

From language comes categorization, from within which we gain visibility on behaviour. From behaviour, we follow a road to ‘safe to engage’ or ‘keep your distance’, from a willingness to give support to attitudes more familiar to Victorians out for a stroll and a gawp in London’s Bethlehem Hospital. It is not uncommon for people who have suffered disabling head injuries to become aggressive. It has been suggested that much of Henry VIII violent behaviour came about as a result of a head injury caused by a jousting accident. Could we be so bold as to suggest classifying drug and alcohol abuse or other addictions as a disability? Such ‘illnesses’ most definitely have a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on one’s ability to do normal activities’. To strengthen such an argument we know that the increased levels of Tetra Hydra Cannabinol (THC) found in Skunk increases levels of psychosis which most definitely is a ‘disability’. As with so much of our work, necessity of context prevails.

Imagery

11 million people in the UK have a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability. Approximately, 1.9% of the UK population uses a wheelchair, which, if we take the UK population of 64.1 million people, as it was in 2014, means there are 1,217,900 wheelchair users in the UK. If we look at these statistics another way, 17.1% of UK population in 2014 had a disability and a mere 1.9% used a wheelchair. With this in mind, perhaps we should now be considering a change of the logo that symbolises disabled people, the figure in the wheelchair. If this logo, which is actually the International Symbol of Access, represents a mere 1.9% of disabled people, those with a long-term illness or impairment, in order to avoid a medical hierarchy with marginalisation within marginalisation, could readers suggest an alternative image? When Susanne Koefoed designed the symbol in 1968 she was inspired to do so by the writings of Victor Papanek, who felt disabled people were figures who were in need of renewed attention. After 49 years, is it unreasonable to assume disabled people might again be in need of renewed attention? We have learned that new designs have recently been proposed with a desire to show energy, movement and activity. However, such designs do not address the points made within this article and, indeed, we understand have been rejected universally except in New York and, also, within the Museum of Modern Art. Would it also be facetious of us to question the value of such a logo that isn’t compatible with braille given that roughly 2,000,000 people in the UK live with sight loss?

But who are we if not defined by our status?

The true essence of an individual cannot be captured without context. ‘The self’ exists interdependently with the eclectic multiplicity of its environment. Thus, within the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is of course…the king. On the other hand, within the leper colony, the healthy person is the diverse one. Where negative and positive turn over and lie on each other’s back, do we look up or down? Developing such thought forces the light to shine on what is good. Off the top of our heads we could immediately think of a healthy list of people who rebelled against conforming, whose talents immortalised their ability. Beethoven (1712-1773) was deaf, Lear (1812-1888) suffered from Epilepsy. James Holman (1786-1857) was completely blind and yet he circumnavigated the globe amongst his other travelling achievements. And it is not only the maverick in us that propels us to act conversely to how we are perceived that we should. The existence of an inquisitive mind allows us to ignore the onslaught of muttered comments, sneer or abuse. I wonder how many stones were cast at the feet of Archimedes, Fleming, Rontgen, Silver or Coover? Without their desire to explore, to see beyond apparent ‘failure’ or ‘limitation’, we may have waited a long time to understand displacement, or to enjoy the benefits of penicillin, x-ray, the post-it note or super glue.

History catalogues for us those people who overcame. Edward Lear, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Elton John, Lord Byron, just a few names that spring to mind when thinking of great people with disabilities. We wonder if the paradise that Milton lost was indeed his eyesight or did in fact his blindness create his paradise? What these people have in common was, and is, an ability, not as some would simplify to ‘get over it’, but to allow their abilities to not be overshadowed by their limitations.

One bank states on its website that ‘in broad terms, diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another.’ If this is the case then we must conclude that diversity as we know it, the identification and segregation of people due to being different or having a limitation, a defect if you like, must be redefined. For ultimately, we are all diverse. Each and everyone of us constitutes a unique set of abilities, limitations, values, preferred operating environments, strengths and weaknesses. Surely now is the time to understand that we are all different and to embrace diversity from a position of strength and not weakness. For me, the person who has a true disability is the person who wakes each morning with no direction, the person who finds it impossible to relate or empathise with a single other human being, the person who goes to bed each night feeling unfulfilled. These are the true limitations of mankind and they exist within the normalised majority far more than the marginalised minority. And the greatest disability of them all? The comfort we derive from and our constant need for stereotyping, homogenising and labelling.

Wind alone cannot bring about change – no, it is only when in concert with the very fabric of the existence of its object that metamorphosis occurs. If sand dunes were concrete structures they would not shift so much! Change occurs when two pre-destined, in concert ideas and efforts act together. With this in mind, the shroud of negativity encircling the diversity agenda could be ripped off, stripping an individual down to the very nudity of who they are as a person – not who they are as a statistic or outwardly defined brand. It is vital that whatever box you tick based upon, disability, sexuality, gender, race, creed, colour, age, education, nation of origin and nationality, that your own journey in life, and visibility of such to others, comes about as a result of your capabilities and not your situation.

Source: http://www.transperformance.net/redefining-diversity-without-labels/

Written By: Nicholas Harrison

What qualifies as disability? And what legal protection do people who experience discrimination at work have under the Equality Act?

Though many employers are taking steps to improve workplace diversity and increase awareness around mental health, disabled people continue to face discrimination at work.

Over half of disabled people have been bullied or harassed in the workplace because of their impairment, whilst 21% try to hide their disability from their employers, according to new research. However, cuts to legal aid and the introduction of tribunal fees in 2014 has meant a drop in claims, making it an even more challenging climate for disabled people who face unfair treatment.

With the workplace far from equal, it is vital that disabled people – as well as their employers – know their legal rights. Here’s what you need to know:

What amounts to a disability?

Under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”), the main definition of disability is a “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-today activities.”

“Substantial” means something more than minor, but that could fluctuate and change and may not be present all the time. “Long term” means the effect of the impairment has to last, or is likely to last, for at least 12 months. “Day-to-day activities” means everyday activities for most people, such as using a computer, writing, sitting down, standing up, driving and lifting.

There are some conditions such as cancer, and multiple sclerosis, where you are automatically treated as disabled and entitled to protection as soon as the diagnosis is given, regardless of how the disability manifests itself.

Who is protected?

The Act applies to all employees, job applicants, trainees, contract workers, office holders (including company directors and managers), those who are on secondment and the self-employed. All areas of employment are covered, including recruitment, selection and promotion, training, pay and the provision of benefits, retirement, dismissal, redundancy and occupational pensions.

What legal protection do you have?

If you are found to have a disability, this amounts to a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act. This means that you must not be discriminated against because you have a disability or someone thinks you have a particular disability (regardless of whether you do have that disability), known as “discrimination by perception”. You must also not be discriminated against if you are connected to someone with a disability, such as a child or parent. This is known as “discrimination by association”.

What forms can this discrimination take?

The several ways that your employer can be found to have discriminated against you because of your disability.

The first is direct discrimination. This is where you have been treated less favourably because of your disability than someone without a disability would be treated in the same circumstances.

Indirect discrimination when there is a policy, procedure, rule or requirement that applies to everyone, but has a worse impact on you because of your disability, compared to those who don’t have a disability. Indirect disability discrimination can, though, be permitted if your employer is able to show that there is a good reason for such a policy. This is known as “objective justification”, but is often difficult for employers to prove.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments is another form of discrimination. There is a duty on your employer to make reasonable adjustments to help you overcome disadvantage resulting from an impairment. For example, your employer should consider providing nearby parking facilities if available, suitable seating, and flexible working. In other cases, providing a mentor, a piece of equipment, and allowing for regular breaks may be appropriate.

The final form is discrimination arising from a disability. For example, if you are treated unfavourably because of disability related ill-health absence or because of slower typing speeds.

What can you do if you have been discriminated against?

If you cannot resolve the situation informally with your line manager, then it is best to first lodge a formal grievance which is usually with HR. If the matter remains unresolved, you can make a claim in the employment tribunal. You need to commence the process no later than three months less one day from the last act of discrimination – which may be a one off or continuing act. Many employees consider resigning at the same time due to a breach of trust and confidence and bring a claim for “constructive dismissal”.

If you are dismissed, you can lodge a claim for unfair dismissal and/or discrimination in the Employment Tribunal. It is now mandatory to go through ACAS’s early conciliation scheme before you can submit any claim to the tribunal.

If conciliation fails and you need to proceed to tribunal, there is an issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950 which you will need to pay, although you may be entitled to a fee remission.

There is no ceiling on tribunal awards in disability discrimination cases – unlike in other kinds of unfair dismissal cases. Awards can therefore be very costly for employers who get it wrong.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/feb/22/disability-discrimination-legal-rights

Written By: Philip Landau

I believe characters in stories should be as diverse as the people who read them, but only a very small handful of children’s books feature a deaf character.

There are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK. Most are born to hearing parents and go to mainstream schools where they may be the only deaf child, so they can feel quite isolated.

I’m proud to be Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, which works tirelessly to change and challenge this situation.

That’s how Daisy and Ted’s Awesome Adventures came about. The book follows a deaf girl and her hearing friend as they travel through time and space, meeting everyone from monsters and magicians to dragons and dinosaurs.

Daisy’s deafness sometimes poses challenges, but she always finds a creative solution – for example, using sign language on board a noisy pirate ship and asking aliens to tuck their tentacles away from their mouths when talking so that she can lip-read!

Having been deaf from the age of four, I would have loved to have something like this when I was growing up. In all the stories that I read, there was never a character quite like me.

Regrettably, I no longer fit into the 4-7 age bracket of the book’s target audience, so feedback from Surrey Deaf Children’s Society and Whitehall Primary School in Chingford was invaluable in this project.

Who better to say what makes a great book than the children you want to read it? Their thoughts and ideas helped shape the storyline and illustrations, so that even before the book was published we knew it had a stamp of approval from deaf and hearing children.

Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson made it her mission as Children’s Laureate (2011-13) to promote stories for and about deaf children. When we told her about Daisy and Ted, she said: “It’s great to see a fun, entertaining picture book which will help to raise awareness of deafness and inspire self-confidence in deaf children.”

Like Julia, I have a lot of ambitions for Daisy and Ted’s Awesome Adventures. I hope that when deaf children see a character like themselves in a book, it will help them to feel included and understood. I also hope it gets hearing children to think about what deafness might be like and different ways of communicating.

I don’t think my ambitions are unrealistic. The book became an Amazon #1 best seller in its first week on sale and got really positive reviews on social media, so clearly there is demand for more disabled role models in children’s stories.

As a deaf mother with two hearing daughters, I would love to have been able to read this to my girls when they were little; it would have been a great way of showing them how to communicate well with me, my partner and our deaf friends.

Storytelling is a very powerful thing, and I truly believe this book can make a real difference – but ultimately, it’s a fun adventure story every child can enjoy.

You can find out more at ndcs.org.uk/daisyandted and the book is out now onAmazon. All money raised through book sales will help the National Deaf Children’s Society to create a world without barriers for every deaf child.

Source:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/susan-daniels-obe/diversity-childrens-books_b_14900492.html

Written By: Susan Daniels OBE

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