Disabled People demand Rights not Charity and we reject all cuts to our services and benefits.
All rights enshrined in the UNCRPD which has been ratified byUKgovernment should become a reality for disabled people within the foreseeable future and by the very latest by 2025.
Current increases in hate crime are unacceptable and disablism must be made illegal as is racism and homophobia. More must be done by government to effectively combat hate crimes.
To support this Office for Disability Issues should be relocated from DWP to the Department of Justice along with other equality strands.
Disabled people must have the right to live independently in society with the necessary levels of support to take a full and inclusive part in everyday activities their non-disabled peers take for granted.
To ensure this can happen disabled people must have full entitlement to free care and support services of their own choice with complete transparency in scoring and resource allocation for social care funding.
Care and support services must be fully transportable between local authorities ending the current postcode lottery.
To continue to provide care and support for those with the most complex needs the Independent Living Fund must be retained and reopened to new applicants with adequate funding for this. It should not be restricted to those in employment.
There should also be an immediate end to the use of child carers whose parents should be provided with the care and support they need to live independently.
There should be no means-testing for aids and adaptations needed to enhance independent living, including for disabled children.
No-one should be forced through lack of accessible housing or care and support services to live in residential care homes or nursing homes, and at a time when SHELTER estimate people are becoming homeless at the rate of one person every two minutes there should be a commitment that no disabled person will be made homeless.
The inadequate supply of accessible housing to meet people’s needs to live independently must be urgently addressed and money made available to increase the available stock of accessible housing and to provide adaptations to already existing properties. In considering accessibility the needs of those with neuro-diverse and mental health conditions must also be taken into account as well as the needs of those with visible physical impairments. Disabled people should not be removed from society through the use of extra-care housing schemes.
Until there is an adequate supply of social housing there should be aUKwide accessible property register which includes access information for all impairments.
Social Housing tenures for disabled people should be granted permanently and Housing Benefit levels must meet people’s real housing needs regardless of whether they rent in the social or private rented sectors. Mortgage payments for those in receipt of benefits must be high enough to prevent homelessness.
While the supply of accessible and affordable housing remains inadequate squatting should not be made illegal as many of those who are or who are likely to become homeless are disabled people. If they are imprisoned for squatting the prison system would be unable to meet their needs.
There should be a guaranteed entitlement to a rate of living benefits and wages including an increase in the money disabled people living in residential homes have for ‘pocket money.’ The mobility component of Disability Living Allowance must be retained for those living in residential care homes, colleges and schools.
Disability Living Allowance should be kept in its current form as a payment to help meet the additional costs of being disabled. Personal Independence Payments should not be introduced and 20% of disabled people should not be arbitrarily removed from entitlement to this benefit.
Repeated, expensive and totally unnecessary re-testing of disabled people’s needs for PIP entitlement as is being suggested must be stopped. This will just be another example of public money being wasted.
The Work Capability Assessment should be abolished and whether disabled people are fit to work should once more be a decision that is reached between themselves, their GPs and their consultants. The hugely expensive contract with ATOS healthcare must be ended immediately, not only because the tests have been totally discredited but because this is double-funding, where GPs and consultants and ATOS are both paid to assess patients and therefore a waste of tax-payers money.
Disabled people placed in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA or those wrongly thrown off ESA must not face sanctions to their benefits if they are unable to meet the work requirements placed on them due to their impairments or due to any access issues related to any work place that does not take account of disabling barriers constituting any form of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Disabled people who do not manage to jump through the right hoops must not be left with no other means of financial support.
ESA for those in the Work Related Activity Group must not be stopped after 12 months. This makes no sense as people are not magically going to become fit to work nor are they going to experience miracle cures.
Neither must disabled people must be forced to work for their benefits through the Workfare programmes and Mandatory Work Programmes. Compulsory labour for those who are disabled and ill is unacceptable.
Rather than penalising disabled people for being unable to work, there should be a concerted effort to knock down barriers to employment to assist those, who with improved access could hold down a paid job. Such barriers are both physical (eg lack of wheelchair access, unsuitable seating and lighting, inaccessible transport to work), organisational (eg lack of provision for flexible or reduced hours) and attitudinal (eg towards Mental Health service users) .
Too many disabled people remain afraid to admit to employers that they are disabled, since discrimination against disabled people in the labour market remains rife. For example, a recent survey showed over 90% of employers would refuse to employ anyone who had been on Incapacity Benefit. Penalties for such discrimination must be strengthened.
For those disabled people who are able to work and can find suitable employment Access to Work funding should be extended and more easily available. Recent cuts to AtW funding make it very unlikely that smaller firms could afford to hire disabled people. Disabled people should be able to find out what AtW support they will get beforehand as was previously the case.
AtW funding should also be extended to help disabled people work in a voluntary capacity.
SERVICES FOR THE DEAF COMMUNITY
British Sign Language is the language used by Deaf people, who increasingly describe themselves as a cultural and linguistic minority. There are around 80-100,000 native British Sign Language (BSL) users. This number has increased substantially in recent years and has become more reflective of the wider community welcoming other sign language users from around the world.
The Deaf community, its organisations and hearing allies have campaigned long and hard for the recognition of British Sign Language, winning official recognition as a language (but not legal protection) in 2003 after marches of over 11,000 Deaf people.
One of our biggest issues is that many deaf children are still prevented from learning BSL as children, or have not access to education via skilled BSL. This is the predominant ideology declaring that if deaf children learn BSL, they will never learn to speak “properly”. The irony is we have parents of hearing babies encouraged to learn “babysign” to help them with their child’s development, while parents of deaf children are told not to use BSL on the basis it will harm their child’s language development. The end result is many deaf children grow up with little or no language.
The issues facing the Deaf community today are much the same as that facing disabled people; the lack of access to services, education and employment plus the effect of the financial cuts. The main campaigning issues for both Deaf children and Deaf adults are access to qualified BSL interpreting whether for education, work or health services. In some areas of the UK Education Departments are reducing or cutting support for Deaf children entirely, this means not only will their education suffer but access to social opportunities and their right to be involved their school community will be severely limited.
Campaigns currently within the Deaf community are: Legal protection for BSL; teachers and other education professionals working with deaf children to be more highly skilled in BSL; lobbying Ofcom for provision of Video Relay Service (VRS) which provides equal access to telephony services; the demand that Access to Work provide full interpreting support to Deaf people both at interviews and in the work place.
All forms of transport should be fully accessible with reasonable adjustments for all impairments available.
Access to all services and facilities should be generic to include those with hidden impairments such as neuro-diverse impairments who have environmental access needs.
All information should be made available in suitable formats to meet all people’s needs.
There should be better access to a full range of toilet facilities including more Changing Places toilets for adults.
The current bias towards segregated education must end and there must be a genuine commitment to work towards a fully inclusive education system. All disabled children should have a right to mainstream education with proper levels of support available Ito them in all schools including academies, free schools and private schools.
All people should be entitled to free health care with no restrictions on availability of drugs and treatments due to costs. Services should be fully accessible for people with all impairments.
Prescriptions should be free for anyone with a long term medical condition for which they need constant medication.
OTHER PUBLIC SERVICES
Our public services should remain as public services to provide us with services and not services run to make money for the shareholders of private firms.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE AND SUPPORT SERVICES
There should be Disabled People’s Organisations in every town and these should be adequately funded with ring fenced funding. These should include free legal and welfare rights advice and advocacy available for all.
All cuts to Legal Aid should be reversed and funding re-instated.
The Equalities Act must be strengthened to include a duty to consult with disabled people and there should be a fully independent body set up with strong enforcement powers able to impose penalties for non-compliance of equality duties. This body should also have the power to force fair and truthful media coverage of disability issues and powers to prevent distorted media coverage of disability issues.
Meaningful, rather then simply tokenistic, disability equality impact assessments must be carried out BEFORE any policy or legal change.
Asylum seekers should be entitled to an adequate rate of benefits on which to live and there must be no deportation of disabled asylum seekers back to countries where they will not be able to access the health care services they need and are likely to die.