Q: What difference has 25 years made?
A: Not a lot if you’re a disabled person.
This week marks 25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (later included in the Equality Act 2010). And the result is a raspberry.
Whether it is business, voluntary organisations or even Government Departments, there is little doubt that most weigh up the risk of being challenged under the law and decide compliance just isn’t worth the bother. All of this contributes to people with long-term health conditions and disabilities getting a much tougher time than others. Just a few recent examples:
Getting health information and communications in a format that is accessible for me is still hit and miss. This week I was told that the reason I couldn’t access a report about my own health was because it had to be created using a specific template. Despite the health sector dealing with every disabled person in the country, they still can’t get it right. And one of the consequences, as reported by a former national Chief Medical Officer, is that people like me, for whom standard communications are more difficult due to visual or hearing impairment, have far worse health outcomes than other people. Essentially, because the health sector won’t fulfil its legal responsibilities, I’m likely to die earlier/be sicker.
On another front, I’ve just marked the sixth anniversary of my continuing dispute with DWP: supposedly supporting disabled people to work but, due to arbitrary decisions, maladministration and injustice, they have brought my business to its knees and still no sight of a resolution. No wonder the number of disabled people out of work is so high – and don’t believe that they are scroungers. I’ve worked with thousands just desperate to get a job and have a place in the world.
And, talking of discrimination, what’s the difference between a care home and a student hall of residence? Some clues: the residents in one haven’t been topped up with infected hospital castaways, have some chance of seeing their families for Christmas and aren’t all disabled people.
On a more positive note, and I need to declare an interest having worked with them for many years, our tax men and women are trying to do better. HMRC has played a key role during the pandemic and has recently published its Customer Charter and principles of the extra help they can give to people with long-term health conditions and disabilities:
Please share this link with anyone you know who might need a helping hand with tax or Working Tax Credits.
And, if you want simple, straightforward and practical information to help more disabled people, please get in touch or visit www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk
End of rant!