Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Disability Discrimination Act - Twenty Years Ago...

Twenty years ago, the Disability Discrimination Act passed through Parliament.

Although I didn't label it as such, (being so young at the time), I had already been campaigning and raising awareness, for six years.

Disabled people fought long and hard for the rights, and promises that were contained in that document.

Now, twenty years on, many of the rights covered in the original DDA, and the act that replaced it, (The Equality Act, 2010), are being abused by our own government.

We are no longer able to be free from harassment, or Hate Crime. The government itself (DWP), inflict both of those on us, every day!

We are frightened of the assessment we face, in order to keep vital support.

I for one, have nightmares, my anxiety and depression has worsened. The constant tension has aggravated my pain levels, so my Cerebral Palsy has become harder to manage.

The government practices hate crime, every time they utter 'scrounger rhetoric' or feed outright lies, and misleading statistics to the media.

In turn society now think it's OK to judge us, and abuse us too.

We used to fight for access to buildings, access to jobs, leisure activities - and so much more besides.

The DDA meant that we were given those rights - although, from personal experience, that fight is ongoing, even though the Equality Act covers those things too, it's been a struggle to enforce it, but without the DDA, I don't think the Equality Act would have even been possible.

Apart from that, we know have a much more important fight on our hands, - one I never thought I would see, after so many steps forward in the time I've been campaigning.

Now,we fight for our LIVES!

As a result of Welfare Reform policies, disabled and ill people have died in thousands, after being 'Fit for Work' by companies employed (and paid), by the government to cut the Social Security Bill, no matter what the cost, in lives

According to the latest DWP statistics, between December 2011 and February 2014, 4,010 disabled and ill people died after being found 'Fit for Work'. That is in those years alone.

It obviously doesn't take into account the deaths before, or since - and I highly doubt I am the only one who thinks they are inaccurate. There have been thousands more!

It's not just those statistics that matter. It's the cost in quality of life. Self esteem ruined by being told we are 'scroungers' and reminded frequently that 'hard working people' pay for us. (Disability is hard work! It's agony. It's frustrating. It's limiting, -It's a job no one would choose)!

Anxiety about when our assessment appointment will drop on the doormat. Stress exacerbates many conditions - and that has likely hastened or contributed to those deaths

Disabled people who can't afford to eat, heat their homes, or get to appointments, because they have been cruelly sanctioned and lost their only source of income.

Those who have lost their cars, because they failed to qualify for Personal Independence Payment, (which has replaced Disability Living Allowance). They have lost their freedom, and have some have had to give up jobs.

The closure of the Independent Living Fund has meant that some of the most severely disabled people no longer have their independence that meant so much. In a lot of cases the money from the Independent Living Fund was not ring-fenced by councils, and as a result, has been spent elsewhere.  

The Disability Discrimination Act was a huge step forward, and a cause for celebration, and relief. People were so happy, but now we have to fight even harder - and we'll have to fight long after this government is (finally) gone, to get back all the things they have taken from us.

It's going to be a long road, and we need all the support we can get.

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