Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities
I SAID (SHOUTING AND TALKING SLOWLY RIGHT IN THE FACE OF SOMEONE) “Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities”
International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2012
Sadly, that’s how a lot of people talk to others with disabilities, often as they are sat in a wheelchair in front of them – and don’t forget the ill-timed and downright rude ignoring people and talking to the ‘carer’ saying “Are they OK?” Ignorance is bliss, but often ignorance is not only unavoidable but also downright rude.
Did you know that 15% of the world’s population, a total of around 1 billion people, live with some form of disability? And that disability doesn’t have to be severe or even visible for it to affect the lives of those suffering from it.
The biggest problem that faces people suffering from disabilities is the aforementioned ignorance, both of the disease or affliction, and of how to react. Out there in the big wide world there are many illnesses and disabling afflictions that cannot be seen and are therefore not immediately noticeable to people, but to te disabled suffering from them, they are real.
Personally I have experience of this as my wife suffers from ME and fibromyalgia (You may know it better as ‘yuppie flu’ – a description I used myself back in the late 80’s in a dismissive way, and now am ashamed of myself for it) and this is a severely disabling illness (non-treatable) that causes tiredness, pain and an inability to walk long distances amongst other charming effects. To look at her from the outside she is perfectly healthy, but I know and she knows that she’s not – and people don’t seem to understand. It often comes to a head when we park, using her legally ‘earned’ disability badges, in the disabled slots at supermarkets. Many a time have I had to restrain myself from saying something to people who look with disgust as what looks like a perfectly able-bodied person get out of a car (she often is not well enough to drive) parking in a disabled spot. If I’m honest, there has been the odd time that I haven’t!
But I hope that that makes a point, as often disabilities cannot be seen – and the vast majority of disabled people are not ‘playing the system’ – as no doubt a Daily Mail reader would say.
So, welcome to International Day of Persons with Disabilities, complete with its theme of “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”
Many disabled people around the world do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice”, but here in the UK, as much as it seems to be changing, it isn’t like that.
And when it comes to mobility – then there is Motability. It is a little ‘giving with one hand and taking away with the other’ but it does help over 600,000 UK customers to help disabled people with their personal mobility, as long as they exchange either their Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance or their War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement to get a new car, powered wheelchair or scooter.
These vehicles can be adapted too. Whether it is help driving, storing things or even getting in and out of the car, the Motability vehicle can be changed to provide help to make it easier for the driver. From electronic and left foot accelerators to mechanical hand controls and steering aids (That’s STEERING not HEARING!), vehicles can be changed so that drivers drive safely, not only themselves but carers too! Any changes can be used by a trained and named other driver, so mobility is not compromised. And, to get wheelchairs or scooters into the boot of the car, there are four types of car boot hoists that can help solve this problem, and even rooftop storage is available.
So, when thinking about disabled people, as you should do today, spare a thought with those less fortunate than those Motability customers: people overseas, those who are not able to drive, and those people who have had the Mobility element of their Allowance taken away by a pen-pusher in the Government looking to save a few pence here and there working in conjunction with a Medical Agency that have (allegedly) been told to not allow as many people through their ‘stringent’ checks to claim benefits.