I am not sure if many people realised the Disability Discrimination Act, a key component to the rights disabled people now have in the UK was enacted in 1995 under a Conservative government. And the civil aim of the act was to give disabled people the right to spend money and be consumers without facing less favourable treatment. As well as not be discriminated in the workplace. It was revolutionary in its time.
And for me the DDA made sense as discrimination is about being treated less favourably than most people could expect. It is a clear and simple concept which is about inclusion and equality as civil rights.
I worry the new unclear focus on human rights is concerning since people have taken some very basic rights we all without doubt have in the UK and twisted them to argue the most petty points. It has been used by disability charities to create a ‘rights without responsibilities’ culture where disabled people feel they have the right to have things beyond their economic, academic and other ability.
We need to remind ourselves of the success of civil rights and actually use them, rather then dismiss them in this “me first” culture.
Many readers may know I love doing all kinds of watersports, any activity that involves wearing a wetsuit or drysuit. However, the downside to watersports for many disabled people in getting into the wetsuit or drysuit.
Over the years, I have tried and worn many types of wetsuits, especially as I own quite a few, and I have picked up many types on the best ways of putting on and taking off a wetsuit. Because I get cold easily, I often need a thicker suit to the norm or to need a wear a wetsuit when others can manage without, even in a swimming.
My experiences have led me to believe that the best design of wetsuit to put on easily is the old fashion beavertail wetsuits. These consist of waist high trousers and a jacket which has a crotch strap to stop gaps between top and bottoms, adding a sense of security. A hood and most importantly, booties can be added. Booties are a godsend as I can not walk barefoot on anything other than carpet.
Drysuits, which aim to keep people dry as often to warm and wet, can be easier to put on because they are baggy although the latex neck seal can be scary to put on. For ultimate winter comfort, I have a drysuit with a built in hood, gloves and socks.
Wetsuit and drysuits can be hard to put on but they also make water activities more accessible and comfortable for a lot of disabled people, including myself.
I fear that in recent years it has become fashionable by some people to use disability as a badge of oppression as an excuse for their inappropriate behaviour or to demand special treatment, as opposed to true equality.
The phrase “Is’it because I’m Black?” as been replaced with “But I am disabled” like it is an answer to everything. I know having an visible impairment does open doors, whether you wanted them opened or not. But we are now talking about people who are pushing their luck without any understanding of the consequences of their actions.
Many people with impairments have discovered that the term disabled, as a badge of oppression, is a powerful weapon against an ignorant society which is too scared to challenge them. The illusion of oppression comes from the individual as opposed to society, who can institutionalised themselves into a defensive position of inclusion.
I prefer myself to say I have cerebral palsy when people can not see it for themselves, as this is a fact I am proud about and not one that asks people to pity me since I am not always disabled by my environment.
I get frustrated when I read about disabled people complaining loudly in the media about something quite pretty like an a misunderstanding around access requirements rather than directly dealing with the matter with the organisations involved.
I think it is first important to understand things are not perfect and that is so many cases, people do not know what they are doing and it is far better to work constructively with the organisations. If they refuse than you clearly have a greater case.
What is more worrying is the legal challenging to the results of government consultants, like the one of ILF. This is an expensive form of filibustering at an huge cost to taxpayers that often makes a mockery of human rights, by arguing the ridiculous like gold-plated taps are a human right.
And who really cares? Most people get off with life rather than trying to find offence at every turn.
People who know me who that I am a very determined person and I have always been determined. If I wanted something than I have always found a way to get it, one way or another. I sometimes amaze myself at how determined I am even with doing the impossible because just I never give up.
I am not saying it is easy or that anyone can achieve what I have, because we all have our own stories to fulfil. But I am saying that “I can’t” can be turned into “I can” if you dig deep and use the fire in your belly to get things done. You may need to make a few people uncomfortable or be quite creative to get what you want but it can be done.
Everyone faces barriers in their life and it is easy to think you are the only won, but barriers are merely things to overcome that make life interesting. You have the power to not let barriers stop you from getting what you want if you just never give up!!
We now seem live in an era where not only is failure regarded as a norm but I fear for some, it is a desirable state of being. We clearly have a section of society who regard success as something wrong since why the hell work or do something meaningful and hard when you can have an easy life and live off the state?
This goes against everything I believe and my goal to be successful in any way I can. I was brought up on the 1980s, under Margaret Thatcher and I kinda of ‘the British dream’ that hard work pays off. I always believed the individual can overcome anything with determination and one person can change the world.
I have realised it can be many years before you reap the benefits on what you put in but that hard work does in the end pays off. I have never expected people to be as determined as I am, I have a level of determination that amazes me, but I do think people should want to have a good life rather than believe failure is the norm.
I am aware over the last few months my articles has been focused on my concerns about the opposition to the welfare reforms. But that is not my life and I want this blog, my voice to the world, to be far more than just a single issue.
I do not want to turn this into a personal diary, as this about my thoughts and feelings, not what I did today, and how wondering life is. Nor is it an automatic reaction to the news of the day, I am been delivery to write titles for my blogs weeks in advance so that there is discussion pieces, not news commentaries.
I am going to mix the heavy stuff, which is still important, with some fun articles and articles on different aspects of my life to keep it fresh and interesting for everyone.
I fear that when the media, especially the middle class media, talks about disabled people especially in terms of the welfare reforms, they assume disabled people are unemployable. I know I keep returning to this issue but until people get it, it is important to understand.
I hate the pity which is trusted upon disabled people and now demanded by a vocal minority of disabled people, portraying themselves as activists. They argue that the welfare reforms are an attack on the most vulnerable section of society. This makes us look sub-humans, sub-normal.
When they talk about the WCA and being declared ‘fit for work’, it is on an big disgraceful assumption that is it absolutely wrong to believe disabled people can at all work. It is deeply worrying when this is the view of people like the editor of “Disability Now”, a previously leading publication and Scope’s mouthpiece, who is personally outraged people with learning difficulties and those with mental health issues are deemed able to work as shown here. As someone who claims to be the voice of all disabled people, his views are shocking.
The last few years are not helped the inclusion of real disabled people at all. I believe as I will say again and again, everyone is able to “work” in some way or another and it is about having a positive attitude, especially when we are under attack from the media and people who claim to represent us!