Saturday, 11 February 2017

Timewatch.... 1995

Image result for 1995 disability act launch
Sub-heading:  How the Deaf gained by the Disabled losses.


It has been  nearly 22 years since the UK accepted a Disability Discrimination Act, yet social media for disabled is constantly raising issues their rights are not there and are getting less equality and access than they did before they launched the DDA campaigns in the 1990s.

Initially, the deaf community took no active part in the campaigns where RIGHTS NOW! and others lobbied, marched, cajoled, and blockaded Westminster, to demand rights of equality and access for the disabled person, which had been pretty static since 1944 when they had a measure of equality forced by the state, because able-bodied had been sent to war, and the UK needed everyone to work.

That 1944 Act however, did not protect disabled when the war ended and able-bodied quickly replaced them when they returned.  Disabled, being sold out, were naturally angry that what access and equality they had been given, had been taken away just as fast, even ex-servicemen disabled by war injury, were sidelined.   The government of the time responded in setting up areas e.g. like REMPLOY, (Disabled workshops/small factories, where the state gave them minor contracts to provide work for those, UK employers then, did not want).  Equality was there, but only if disabled worked with each other, and for wages able-bodied would not.

Years later when trade and work became more difficult to obtain, the government moved to award disability contracts to able-bodied areas instead, forcing the closure of most of these accessible work areas, and putting them back on Welfare. REMPLOY is now a 'jobcentre' option instead, that is not able still to place disabled in work, because work experience isn't there, and employers still apathetic about employing them.  The LINK given claimed 100,000 were found work, when in fact 95% were not in work 6 months later and the rest in 'training' which means the state can claim they are employed when this isn't the fact.

Employers only gave them the first few months experiences because the state subsidized them to do it, when the State said after that time employers had to meet costs themselves, employers stopped disabled working for them, by dumping disabled every few months for others, thus still making it OK for them to claim subsidies, and also claim they and the state, had disabled in 'work'.  Some training centres were set up by charities, but soon folded after the funds ran out.

The 1995/96 Act was to redress the imbalance of unfairness and plain discrimination.  Today in 2017, and 3 new equality, and human rights laws later, we are struggling to even get welfare support, educational support, job training, or equal access.  Access is openly challenged by employers whom the state does not take to task, and by the welfare state arm, who openly challenge if they are disabled at all.

As ATR Wrote in one disabled area:

Well,  you are reading the ONLY deaf person who was at the launch of the DDA of '95, which took place in Manchester University. My fellow deaf peers including the RNID and BDA charities took their expenses for attending and then left to tour the coronation street set instead, so I was the only deaf person left on the Campus.  I had the luxury of 2 sign language interpreters for myself despite the fact at that time I did not sign.   There was a television crew from the BBC there covering deaf involvement, and they refused to let me say how I felt in a TV interview, because I wanted to state the fact I was the only deaf person there, and 2 interpreters could validate that.

I felt it was a very poor show of solidarity for disabled people. The BBC program was SEE HEAR, a weekly show for signing deaf, obviously they did not want it known the deaf had actually abandoned the Act by non-attendance, and by non-support.  So they filmed a guitar-playing disabled man Johnny Crescendo instead and buried the reality.  I later got a full written apology from the BDA stating they didn't know their reps had failed to attend and still had claimed expenses.  However, they did not demand they pay them back.

It goes without much saying, the disability movement thought the deaf behaviour appalling after they had footed the interpreter support/access costs. The Act was NOT what we wanted, but the Deaf charities reneged and accepted the deal regardless.  The RNID at that time with a Sign using Deaf CEO,  were the primary movers opposing the disability stance of holding out until we got teeth with the law to make it effective.  The CEO was sacked soon after by RNID HoH members who felt they were not being represented by the BSL-using CEO, and he went to a national Disability committee, but left soon after, because others felt he did not support the ethos of that committee either.

Since then the various acts/Bills have done nothing to enhance disability access, only setting individual legal precedent does that, not a law, it has to be validated in a court, and by one deaf or disabled issue at a time.   The establishing of a precedent only enabled the individual still, and could not be applied to others.  Then, the sgtate removed access to legal representation, and disabled could not then afford to fight their corner. 

The Deaf realized quickly they were not as they thought, going to gain any advantage, so changed direction and went for sign language bills instead, this is still the case, they played the culture gig, a card disabled could not or would not play. Today, there is still little or no disability-Deaf unified approach....


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