Posts from the ‘society's attitudes’ Category

Disabled Invisible? Or the Government and Media Blind, deaf and Dumb?

The 11TH of May 2011 will go down in history. Sadly, only a small sector of the British population will be aware of why.

The conservative government are bull dosing a welfare reform through parliament that will effect hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled individuals. Not only are local councils cutting services to their disabled constituents but the government is putting disabled people under siege by dramatically changing the benefits they are entitled to claim.

Not only will the long term sick and disabled only be allowed to claim Employment support Allowance [esa] for twelve months but the transformation of disability living allowance will not be recognised as something that helps disabled people live their lives. Taking the mobility component from people in residential care who are able, with that extra financial support, to visit friends and families and go to social groups that improves their quality of life, will reduce them to emotional despair. With that component gone, it will leave many isolated and unable to keep in contact with relatives and friends whilst participating in social activities that keep them integrated and active.

The extremely generalised assessment process neither assists those in need or accurately assesses disabled individuals needs correctly. And if found “fit to work” physically, is not to say someone is mentally prepared or actually able. Putting disabled people in to the “lion’s den” of the commercial workplace is going to destroy people. Having rejection upon rejection, while being virtually “bullied” by job centre Plus advisors so they can meet their targets, will mean many people are placed in frightening situations and pushed into a potentially soul destroying path.

Imagine, applying for a job, being interviewed over the telephone only to be told, when you have a disability that they are not sure how they can accommodate your needs, time and time again. Regardless of laws against discrimination, some of the reasons employers cannot employ a disabled person are not always their fault. For blind people, working with money is not practical, employers wouldn’t feel comfortable with money exchanging hands from a blind person to a sighted or vice versa in case the notes are not accurately identified or fraud is being committed. Blind people’s assessment of their own money often takes longer than that of a sighted person, so time pressure would be on them. And that’s if the technology, such as a cash register is accessible. Many are not and never will be in our lifetime.

Wheelchair users can only access buildings with ramps and lifts. And in fire situations, lifts can never be used. Not many employers are willing to take a risk of putting a wheelchair user on the sixth floor in case there is a fire. Some organisations have a buddy system but even if their intentions were their, many insurance companies would not cover the company for such circumstances.

The assessment deems myself “fit to work” if all criteria I have read and been informed about so far is accurate, because I have a guide dog. With the RNIB recently publishing a statistic 92% of employers would not employ someone with a visual impairment, where does that huge misconception that employers have no issue employing the blind come from? do the people behind this horrendous attempt at assessing disabled and sick people for work take into account that despite wanting to work, many being qualified, the employers are not able to for physical or legal reasons employ the disabled. And do these great minds who have created this ludicrous test not think that just because someone has a guide dog or a wheelchair that it can suddenly change employers or insurance companies minds? Changing the “being able to walk” criteria to “being mobilised” was a very devious thing for this government to do. Many disabled could “mobilise” themselves but for how long or how successful are many other questions that are not addressed.

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, [if she can call herself that], stated that it is a system that is not working if there are more alcoholics and drug addicts claiming DLA than the blind. Well, Miss Miller, if your government has your way under personal independent payments, there will be very few blind people claiming dLA’s successor. Not to mention the fact that the statistics tell a different story? This is people’s futures, Ms Miller, not Jack and Ori.

The media have done nothing but promote the government’s propaganda efforts by publishing in various news sources that 94% in the Mail and 75% in the Daily Express incapacity benefit claimants are deemed “fit to work”. That figure blows my mind. Take away the fact for many disabled, they want to work but are refused employment because of their disability or lack of support into work, what about those suffering from cancer, HIV, MS, chronic arthritis that physically cannot work efficiently every day? That represents only six percent of incapacity claimants? Well, of course not. As usual, the press are promoting government support for tight reform with miscalculated, misinformed, and mostly outright . wrong statistics

The media proved yesterday how much they didn’t care about this society’s disabled. The only major news programmes to cover the march were ITV evening news who did a good piece of coverage and Channel four’s news at seven. BBC had mentioned it during the day but it was missing from it’s popular six o’clock showing on BBC 1 while it was covered on it’s website reasonably well. Sky News, one of the biggest news channels in the UK and streamed around the world mentioned it maybe once but nothing on their website at all. They were able to cover all the things going on in Libya, many foreign stories, even the sentencing of actress Lindsay Lohan but nothing on its website about the thousands of disabled marching through London to protest against the cuts.

It angers me that only the Guardian have been forth coming and extremely supportive of 11TH May protests; having constant updates on a live blog and several write ups both on its online distribution and paper broadsheet. A huge thank you to the Guardian, ITV News, and Channel 4 for having some great coverage of the protest and even interviewing Liam Burns, the shadow work and pensions minister.

None of us expect to be top of the hour news, or front page in the news papers but for crying out loud, we are still here, in our millions as a disabled community! Can this government not hear us? Do they not understand? If they want to cut the deficit, which we all agree on, why target those of us who fight enough in our every day battles with discrimination! I know cuts need to happen, but why are they cutting the quality of our lives? Why are they not recognising blindness as a disability, assessing it below even the threshold to gain a place on the into work scheme under the new ESA benefit, despite having input from organisations such as RNIB who feels their input has been ignored? How can they “assume” that my guide dog makes me more employable than a cane user who may have more sight? How can they say someone with MS can work for eight hours every day if they don’t see them in pain and unable to get up for work because every muscle in their body hurts? How can an abled bodied so called health professional, who is repeatedly passing people fit to work who clearly are not, capable of assessing someone if they’ve never dealt with that disability, some even come across it? If they are not willing to understand and take a fifteen minute snippet with a rigid questionnaire to assess someone’s abilities, it is clearly just a tick in the box and one more person off the sick and disabled list, the better, right, Mr cameron and co?

They say they’ve had conversations with organisations about these changes, but if that was true, then how was it that staff from over forty organisations representing disabled people across the board were marching alongside those people on 11TH May? Richard Leaman , Guide Dogs own chief executive marched alongside clients, dogs and staff alike to protest. Do you think if Guide Dogs as an organisation had agreed to the governments extraordinary changes that he would risk his reputation and the one of his organisation just “for kicks”?

Miller talked about the drug addicts and the alcoholics claiming both DLA and incapacity, and the media have publicised that fact over and over again, but what about those who are disabled who are going to get theirs cut? We didn’t make a life style choice to be blind, lame, deaf, or feel as though our body was on fire, we didn’t abuse the system so then why are we being punished, ignored, sidelined and forced into another system that has not worked for many?

I’ve claimed job seeker’s allowance. I claimed it for almost three years! During that time, neither I nor the job centre could find work. The disability employment advisors did not understand my needs as a blind client or how my blindness would effect me in the work place. No information was accessible to me. Not leaflets, their computer systems, the forms I had to sign every two weeks. It was only through my own research that I attended the royal national college for the blind and transferred to incapacity benefit. After I’d left college, I still couldn’t get work. And despite continued efforts to search, apply for different jobs, I am still unemployed. I was never understood and felt abandoned during that time. Ms Miller speaks of disabled people being abandoned on the current system, so what is she doing then? Throwing many into a system that is not designed to support people with extensive needs; Throwing them into a world of ignorance that no government has tried to change. She says attitudes have changed toward disabled people, really? I must have missed that evolution. We’re still pitied, avoided because people fear the unknown, shunned by others because we’re deemed too needy, patronised because we’re seen to be unintelligent and treated like second class citizens as we always have been, the media have only enhanced that point this week. And society’s attitudes have changed? Just because children are being educated more within mainstream education Ms Miller, it does not mean society’s attitudes have changed just because we’re not locked up and hidden away. The stigmas toward many disabilities still exist and many VI children are segregated within VI units within their school along with other special needs children. Being taught in the same building does not make society’s attitudes toward them any different!

Last year I started a home study degree which was funded by the university so I did not have any fees to pay. Because of the increase to come in for tuition fees, the scheme was cut at the end of my very successful first year. I couldn’t afford the fees and was forced to withdraw. I have and continue to try to gain work or qualifications to be “more employable” on a qualification basis but the truth is, unless my blindness miraculously disappears, or the attitudes of society, the employer’s being educated and insurance companies not deeming disabled people high risk enough to boot premiums to a devastating price change, I will remain unemployed from the mainstream workforce. I take offence to the many headlines calling incapacity and DLA claimants “scroungers” or “lazy” as While looking for work I’ve done everything in my power to gain employment. I’ve attempted study, I volunteer to gain work experience, I blog and participate in accessibility podcasts to widen my knowledge and experience while educating and informing the world best I can about blindness, access technology and guide dogs. I do not sit around, or enjoy four or five holidays to Spain, I do not own extravagant items or go out every weekend to clubs. I’ve tried, I continue to try to make my life productive and full but I can’t single handedly change the attitudes of employers.

Unless I gain employment within a sector for visually impaired or set up my own business, which I eventually would like to do, I will be punished for being blind and become isolated because I cannot fund my disability.

I keep hearing the phrase, “Genuinely disabled,” yet I and others seemingly do not fit into that category. As I stated earlier, the current assessment for ESA would maximumly gain a visually impaired person nine points or less and fifteen is required to qualify for the into work program. So, I clearly am not “disabled” according to these guidelines and to the media who have deemed many claimants to be “scroungers” and have insinuated “faking it”. What an actress I must be, to have faked blindness all my life!

Many do abuse the system and those people need to be caught out, no one would refute that. And that is why we are not asking this government to leave things the way they are but to listen, understand and implement changes suggested to them by the people who know. Realism and practicality need to be adopted here or else the government has outrightly broke its promise to protect the disabled and vulnerable in our society.

As MP Hunt said, stop providing abled bodied, healthy individuals from pushing out three or four children at the tax payer’s expense. If people want to reproduce, they should pay for them. My parents have worked every day of their lives and have contributed to this system and they, like others who are parents of disabled people are angry that it is more socially acceptable to get pregnant and have a child for the sole cause of living off of benefits when disabled families are having support, care and benefits cut.

Miller talks about the numbers of alcoholics and drug users on DLA and incapacity benefit, well stop them claiming it! Children born with disabilities don’t have a choice, soldiers fighting for this country don’t have a choice whether they are hit or not, police and fire service people do not have a choice if they are hurt while on duty, and yet those without the choices are the ones being punished.

This past few days, I’ve felt disappointed, angry, concerned, surprised, shocked and proud for a variety of reasons. Proud of the ones marching; proud of the efforts by those who couldn’t make it who have expressed themselves on the web; proud of some journalists who have maintained their integrity by reporting the events as they are. I was surprised how quickly my MP responded to my email that I sent her only the night of the march and even more so of her support. And yet I’ve been saddened, shocked and rather disgusted with the lack of coverage by many media outlets. No need for breaking news but it still happened! It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest march of its kind in regard to the disabled people in numbers present at a protest, and that wasn’t news worthy? I was also disappointed by the lack of response by some visually impaired people I know. Some were fantastic online yesterday and others I know marched while some remained quiet and as though it wasn’t happening to them. You may not believe writing to your MP will work, or that you’ll lose followers or friends on social networks by mentioning it, but if they’re real friends or interested in what you have to say, isn’t that better than being ignored by the government? I’ve heard people say it won’t have made a difference, maybe not but maybe it will open some eyes. It’s our future and if we don’t help shape it, then we have no real future to call our own.

Miller in my book represents nothing but an empty promise and a cruel and misconceived idea of what disability and sickness really means and how it effects those with it. She was more interested in the prime minister’s question time than the people she’s meant to represent. Even in a committee meeting about the welfare reform, she was vague, unable to give detail or straight, decisive answers to questions posed to her. Cameron’s conservatives are ignorant and malicious. Despite what they’re telling the media the reality of the assessment process, changes to DLA put the disabled in poverty and isolation, stripping them of dignity and independence. No wonder their precious media won’t report it and are more interested in US politics, affairs abroad and war because it’s not affecting them. If Hunt had denied Murdock the deal for Sky, we’d hear about that all right in its entirety but a few blind, wheel chair bound, deaf and sick people are invisible to them. Why hear the cries of the needy while you’re sat eating your finest foods and enjoying your life? Why take notice of a bunch of disabled people, “We’ll get over it,” right? Why take from the rich, corrupt bankers when you can target the ones in need? It seems they have enough money to bail Greece, Ireland, Portugal and others out of debt, give money to the rebels fighting in Libya, donate millions to countries in need and all because they neglected their own people! I feel for other countries plights, but Prime Minister, you and your government are meant to be the British government, here to make Britain better, but you’d rather help other country’s people than your own vulnerable and disabled people! If you want to cut the deficit, give us a chance to live and change the attitudes of employers and society as a whole, because without those changes, we’ll remain invisible to all while we suffer.

If that’s the society we live in, then by God help us all. Because wait until they cut child services more, or petrol prices rise again, that will be top news. I hope anyone who has blatantly ignored this demonstration of courage and pride by the disabled people of Britain never finds themselves in a similar situation. Because where will your loyal government be then? Helping Pakistan, or fighting in the middle East, or bailing out European countries or lending money to some superpower, and giving you nothing!

“The Invisible Disabled,” it seems so but I pledge to you I will not go unnoticed and neither should you. The women who fought for women’s rights were taken seriously eventually , and some would argue there were many more but many were too afraid to fight the system then. Let’s fight for our right to live good qualities of life and to gain opportunities like everyone else. Change society’s attitudes for the better, Clegg and Cameron, don’t change our lives for the worst.

[note. I am totally blind and cannot comment in detail on how people’s disabilities effect them. Hope I grasped the concept of anger we’re all feeling]

Interesting entertainment links

That’s a Cut, SunnieDae1
Broken Britain’s We have A Dream Speech, hardest Hit
Hardest Hit, Day of Action, Scope for Equality

Disabled Britain in the Workforce

With this week’s Vision conference being held in the UK, many questions about equality and access to various areas of society are being asked. Various organisations, including the RNIB and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association are two of the main blind charities who are involved in many campaigns to better the lives of the blind and partially sighted people around the UK.

Some of the campaigns have included, transportation with the AV addition to the bus network and shared surfaces along with improvement to access of many services.

One of the questions raised on the social network twitter by the guide dogs account was are the government policies hindering or helping people into work? I know personally, the schemes seem very helpful once you can get them but it’s the attitudes of employers and the lack of implementation of the disability discrimination act that are preventing visually impaired and other disability groups from gaining full employment.

67 percent of visually impaired people of working age are not employed, the same figure that this country saw during the 70s So why? It’s very unlikely that 67 percent of working age visually impaired individuals don’t want to work, so what is the reason? From my own experience, it’s a lack of work experience on the individuals, not having the same opportunities of many of their peers during their younger years. Working with money is not possible and some other environments are unrealistic for visually impaired people to work. But above all, it’s the attitudes of potential employers. Many times, most can gain an interview and still are not able to gain employment. Continued rejection can lead to a psychological barrier and the added fight to gain equal access can make it harder for disabled individuals to keep on fighting.

Finding a job is hard for anyone in this economic climate, but for disabled individuals it is much harder. Employers, despite sometimes having the fats will not want to deal with the process of access to work programme which can take weeks and months to implement. They would possibly sometimes be more interested in hiring someone who can instantly start work without any adaptations than to wait for a perfectly capable disabled candidate take the position because of the support that would be required.

It would be interesting to know tho many of those employed are employed in the disability realm or assistive tech area? My guess would be a fair few. And the stereotypical jobs of call centres and such would be high on the check list I have no doubt. However, why should we as disabled individuals be restricted to these areas when sometimes, we may have the intelligence and the ability to do so much more. It sometimes seems, that either if you are outstandingly brilliant in an area, such as law, or you are willing to work in a demoralising position such as call centres, then there is very little support for disabled individuals to get into a job.

I’m not saying that this is true in all circumstances but it seems to be the norm. The attitude of, it’s a job, take it and be thankful should not even be relevant. The same argument is said about the tax dodgers but why should it be any different? most of those, can work in any job, but with retail and most base line jobs being out of question for most severely visually impaired people, why should they be imprisoned by their disability?

The truth is, once a visually impaired person gets into work, they are more likely to continue to come across accessibility barriers. When computer systems change, they are not always designed to work with people’s screen reading technology and then again they may struggle to work. In a lot of situations, it can work well and most disabled individuals can continue to move up the employment ladder. But with the percentage of the unemployed being so high in the visually impaired community, it is a small celebration to have.

Until the country actively acts on the disability discrimination act and actively promotes employing from all sectors of disabled groups while providing simple access to support for those individuals in work, the figure will continue to remain stagnant or increase because with the many cuts, more support will being pulled and the focus on disabled individuals is becoming very blurred. The government, with its new strange views on disabilities could be leaving millions of individuals in very difficult positions. They want to get people into work and create this “big society”, well I suggest they remember who is actually included in their society!

Should the Tax Payer pay for Shallow and Irresponsible People?

The national health service was set up to pay for everyone’s health care. Whether you are rich or poor, the health service is there for you to use. So should it continue to be abused by the shallow and irresponsible members of our society? Should the hard working general public be paying for that boob job or a tummy tuck because these women claim “if I don’t have it, it’ll totally ruin my life!” Or at the same time, should we be supporting the alcoholics, drug addicts and smokers by providing an incredible amount of service for free to them yet costing the tax payer billions each year? How is it fair that the healthy, intelligent individuals have to suffer and pay for these people who seemingly think that they can do anything, ask for anything and get whatever they need for free?

The really sick people of our society often have to fight to get life saving drugs because of the post code lottery of our health service while in some areas boob jobs are given to people because they are depressed that they have small boobs. Maybe we should sit those shallow bitches in a room with a double Mastectomy patient and let them have a conversation about breast implants. Women having liposuction and tummy tucks because they either are carrying a lot of fat or they’ve had a lot of weight loss probably surgically and now need to clip away the extra skin makes me angry. How is that fair when that kind of procedure costs so much and yet people are having to fight for drugs that could help their lives due to true medical conditions?

As an allergenic asthma sufferer, when I was living in a different area to my home town for a period, I was refused a drug that I had been prescribed by my own doctor because I couldn’t breathe at night due to the expense. It would be very interesting to see if that part of the country prescribed boob jobs or even liver transplants to alcoholics.

And here’s another issue that bothers me. Why is it OK to feed drug addicts habits, continually treat smokers, alcoholics for the damage they are doing to themselves yet cancer and rare disease sufferers have to fight tooth and nail for vital drugs? Where is the fairness in all of this? Treating depression with cosmetic surgery? Giving a bottle of vodka to an alcoholic? You may as well. Keep treating the idiots with expensive medical treatments and allowing them to continue to mess up will only make the innocent ill people the sufferers. Stop prescribing methadone to drug addicts, quit giving valuable transplants to alcoholics and smokers, and start ploughing that money into the drugs that can help people. And cosmetic surgery should be a life style choice and the NHS is not the place for that. You want a boob job, then get a job and buy one honey.

How Do You See Me?

I’ve always perceived my blindness as a part of me but it seems as though society may have a very different view about what being blind is truly about.

A recent documentary shown on the BBC has made me think long and hard about how the “sighted” world views us as blind people. I know who I am and I’m comfortable with every aspect, I’m a performer, i’m a student, I’m a fundraiser, I’m a writer, I’m a woman, and I’m blind. It’s a fact of my life but when I walk down a street with my trusted guide dog by my side, what am I to others? The blind woman with the guide dog. And this does bother me.

As a blind individual, we are then categorised with so many stereotypes and the majority of us hardly come close to any of those bad habits that some blind people are guilty of. We are not all recluses, we do not all rock, and we do not all need someone to take us everywhere and do everything for us on a daily basis. There are a percentage of us who work, study, own our own homes, have families and live active and social lives without adhering to even one of the stereotypes the general public like to believe we are a part of.

I see some tweets from ignorant sighted people who believe we cannot watch movies, or should not be walking down the street, are shocked to see an attractive blind person or indeed that we are incapable of having sex. Those of us who are out in the world and are interacting with abled bodied people are forever questioned about our abilities and when those individuals are enlightened, utter shock seeps from their every pore.

Blindness does not stop us living our lives and yet still, documentaries are giving a very slanted view of what being blind is really all about.

The one positive point, I, as a blind person took from this BBC documentary, called “the blind me” is that it also represented the flaws of the sighted world and their treatment of blind individuals. Some sighted people patronise the blind, or think us to be stupid along with deaf as they walk away giggling about the blind girl who will not know they just left and I’m happy to say this is not true for all sighted individuals. But to those who have ever used a person’s blindness against themselves, shame on you. It’s not big and it’s not clever. Just remember this, most of us have sighted friends who can tell us about the rude gestures or even our own hearing can betray your rudeness and ignorance.

Just take a moment to think of how, if you are sighted, you perceive a blind individual, and if you are blind, do you really think the sighted world has an accurate assumption of what you as a person are all about? If you could dispel only one stereotype, what would it be? And is it fair for the sighted world to continue to make assumptions?

Personally, I believe there should be more representation of people with disabilities within different media outlets wherever possible and should definitely be more represented within soap operas that are meant to be close to representative of British culture as possible. And if those creators decide to develop a part, research should be done honestly and realistically instead of making blind people either into rocking wrecks or super heroes that can drive ten ton trucks.

I know how I see myself, but I also know the majority of the sighted world see me as a lesser individual with limited independence and desires and goals for my own future. Ah well, I’ll keep proving them wrong, shall I?

you are not worthy unless you have a child in today’s society

UNLESS YOU GIVE BIRTH YOU ARE NOT WORTHY IN TODAY’S SOCIETY

With Britain’s younger mothers becoming more prominent on the streets of our cities and towns, pushing their push chairs very proudly, shopping to their hearts content while regular tax payers contribute to their forever growing offspring, and the attitudes that coincide with this new trend does rather make one question how worthy those of us who do not have children in our twenties and thirties really are to society?

True that our “stay at home mums” would not have a leg to stand on without the twenty/thirty/forty year olds who have focused on their careers and contribute steadily to Britain’s pot of money that provides these baby machines with their chosen life styles. But the government’s approach to the girls that see fit to get “knocked up” during their teenage years and not progress to a worthy career or even a steady job is not what concerns me as much as the attitudes that society have to those of us who have chosen to “better” ourselves and the sheer disgust placed upon us to have the Goddamned right not to want children.

Not only do these girls patrol the streets, running down old people, crashing into wheel chairs and knocking over service dogs, but then they look at their victims as though it was their fault. They get on public transport, not bothering to take their child from the push-chair and fold it up so elderly people and disabled people can sit at the designated seats at the front of the bus, and then grumble when asked to move their push-chair. Then there’s always allowing their children to run around the supermarket or mall when they are old enough to walk, screaming and causing a basic nuisance of themselves without ever being reprimanded by the lazy parents who look on with such pride.

So this behavior seems to apparently be acceptable by society and what’s worse, is that those of us who don’t coo and cuddle society’s offspring are deemed cold and what’s worse, often invisible.

You can be having an adult conversation with someone and then all of a sudden, someone shows up with a baby and your conversation is abruptly interrupted and over while they coo and goggle at the infant. And don’t ever try to strike up a conversation with anyone when they are near a baby, you will be shot down with, “aren’t you so beautiful? O what a lovely smile. You are so cute, o yes you are!” Sense does not seem to exist around those who have children or want children, all they know is stupid baby sounds and are seemingly incapable of constructing a sentence let alone upholding a decent conversation.

Nothing those of us who are childless holds any clout. We may as well say nothing for the result we get, nothing. We may as well be pointing out the weather for as much good as it will do us. If there’s a child within the vicinity, then you have no option with expressing your views. But if a mother of a child speaks up, then everyone must listen and adhere to her oh so “wise?” words. And don’t you DARE question them, no matter how ridiculous their point of view or plan is. That is a severe offense.

Another thing to note, it is not wise to make any sound or move anything or change the channel on the TV set in case it “upsets” the baby. So all you have ever done must now revolve around a child that isn’t even yours. Crazy how society wants even those of us who don’t have children to love and want them around us all of the time and make the same sacrifices as those who have children by choice.

In conclusion, those of us who choose a life away from offspring are deemed cold, crazy and selfish. Hmm, I know which I’d rather be? there’s more to life than children.

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