How Disabled Am I?

Last week I heard Tanni Grey-Thompson talking about access for Disabled people at airports.  Those airport stairs are steep and hard work for lots of people never mind those who can’t walk.  She commented that ‘lots of people seemed to be using the special assistance service’ now who ‘didn’t really need it’, to effectively queue jump.  I waited for a twitter outrage – there was none.  Does everyone think that people are pretending to be Disabled to queue jump?  I wondered does she just mean that lots of people with hidden impairments, who are failing to wear a placard around their necks, are daring to identify as Disabled people and benefit from the services put there to support them?  I imagined her being refused access to special assistance on the basis that she is an Olympic athlete.  She looks like she has got strong arms and could shimmy up those handrails no problem.

The first time I flew after becoming a Disabled person it never occurred to me to use special assistance as I could actually walk, although I did still use a wheelchair sometimes I knew that once I got to where I was going I could pace myself, rest plenty and not get too tired.  I learnt within about 5 minutes of the departure gate being announced that the airport was too big.  I couldn’t walk that fast, the effort to do so made me cry with exhaustion and to make matters worse when I got to the gate there was a long queue.  I sat on the floor and waited for it to go down.

A year later in Rome, having got to Italy without any problem, the special assistance people looked at me, checked my ticket and refused to help.  They went back to playing pushing each other round in the airport wheelchairs that I wasn’t allowed to sit in, taking pictures of each other and having a laugh.  I tried to insist that I was a Disabled person (they were certainly making me feel it) but they carried on messing about.

Whenever I have been in the special assistance area of an airport the passengers are a mixed bunch, mainly older people with a few like me looking fine, but waiting for help none the less.  I am relieved that I don’t have to describe what is wrong with me to get their help.  It means that I can still go places and pollute the atmosphere with a trip to Poland every year like anyone else!  

I think that Mrs Grey-Thompson should think about what she is saying.  She went on in the interview to talk about the needs of wheelchair users as if ‘Disabled people’ and ‘wheelchair users’ are one and the same.  I always had a big question mark about Disabled Olympians as role models for the rest of us.  The way impairments are characterized in the different ability classes is highly offensive to me.  I think she would grade anyone like me in the ‘not Disabled’ class.  Bah.  I just won’t ask a fit looking wheelchair user for help either and I am not going back to Rome airport ever again.

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum comment:

The author of this article raises an important issue regarding the difficulties some people with hidden impairments can experience – and her own experience, described here, is clear evidence of that. 

We also know she is far from alone – many of the members of our Hidden Impairments’ Group have experienced discrimination, by both Disabled and not-yet Disabled people, because their impairment[s] is not visible.

As she says, she doesn’t know whether Tanni Grey-Thompson’s views were based on who “looked disabled” or upon more reliable data.  However, there is no doubt that Disabled people who have ‘invisible’ impairments are the majority – yet most of the population still doesn’t appreciate this fact.

So, if you are due to fly, will need assistance and don’t want to have a similar experience to the one described here, make sure you book the assistance you need in advance. 

Living Activist Struggles to End Injustice Call for Contributions

The editorial collective of Critical Social Policy invites contributions, from activists all over the world, about how you, your group or your campaign is working to end social injustice. We are open to contributions in any format. We hope to be as inclusive and supportive as possible and we will do our very best to help you to develop your ideas and contribution every step of the way.

Critical Social Policy is a journal grounded in international socialist, feminist, anti-racist and radical perspectives. This edition of the journal is about the lived experience of struggles for social justice locally, nationally and internationally.

Here are some issues that contributions could explore and we welcome other ideas that you may have:

  •  Tensions faced by grassroots, community, activist groups and how these are negotiated.
  • Collective mobilizations, bridge building, connections and alliances.
  • Coping with challenges in sustaining grassroots action for liberation.
  • Challenges of building sustainable infrastructures, strategic positioning and the embedding of empowerment work.
  • The negotiation of power relationships.
  • Organising, campaigning and developing services in a collective and non-hierarchal way
  • The complexity of relating across difference as equals.
  • How activism can be inclusive.
  • How we sustain our hope, energy, love and compassion for each other and for our social movements and goals through times of exhaustion and despair.
  • In the context of power, the complexities of finding and holding onto emotional, financial and spiritual resources.
  • How activism and struggles relate to and draw strength from historical knowledge and collective understanding.

If you want to contribute to this edition please email a one page summary of your idea by 31st December 2018 to the journal coordinator Suryia Nayak. Email: s.nayak@salford.ac.uk.

The editorial collective of Critical Social Policy will review the summaries to decide which contributions are accepted to work with us to develop their full contribution for submission in the Activist Edition of the journal.  You will hear back from us by 28th February 2019.

If you would like to discuss your ideas informally before submitting a summary please contact the journal coordinator Suryia Nayak. Email: s.nayak@salford.ac.uk.

The final contributions should be submitted by 1st June 2019 and will be reviewed by the editorial collective prior to decision on publication.

Ride Out Ride On

 

A range of different conditions can stop people from being able to access the outdoors. From mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, to mobility issues related to stroke, heart conditions, visual impairment or learning disabilities, there are any number of obstacles preventing people from being able to propel themselves on their own adventures.

Ride Out Ride On (RORO, for short) is a Bristol-based service dedicated to providing the freedom and movement of a bike ride to those who would otherwise be unable to do so themselves. By taking clients out on a specially designed tandem – the Hase Pino – we can offer anyone the freedom of movement and joy of cycling.

How it works:

Clients are placed on the semi-recumbent front seat of the tandem, leaving the steering, balancing, braking and gear changing to our experienced back-riders. The service can offer a range of modular attachments that can accommodate a wide range of conditions.

Attachments:

Braces can be attached to either or both pedals to support weak or unstable legs. The bike is equipped with dual-kickstands meaning clients do not have to worry about the balance or stability of the bike, even when it’s not in motion.

Children’s cranks can be put on the bike meaning anyone of any height, size or age can ride. The bike is also designed with a freewheel in the front crankset, allowing clients to pedal as much or as little as they want.

Clients:

To date, clients have included those with stroke, autism, loss of sight and anxiety. For some conditions – Parkinson’s disease, and stroke, for example – there are documented health benefits relating to the re-connection of neural pathways that come with the rotational and repetitive motion of pedalling. For others, the impacts are no less powerful: riding a bike, having fun, and being immersed in the great outdoors, can build self-confidence, recover lost strength and stamina, or improve balance.

Who we are:

Holly, the founder of RORO, has always been invested in the issues of access, distribution and fairness. Volunteering as a guide-runner for the visually impaired, studying BSL, and working as an inclusion worker for young people with medical and behavioural needs have, in some way, all been about ensuring everyone has a chance to do what they love, irrespective of the obstacles life may have put in their way. In 2017, she decided she wanted to take this mission and introduce it to her first true love: cycling.

As someone who has cycled through countries around the world (Cuba, Georgia, Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, France, Scotland etc.), and running local guided cycle tours for Bristol company Cycle the City (sight seeing tours, food tours, women of Bristol history tours) Holly knew first hand the benefits that cycling can offer to one’s health, wellbeing and enjoyment. Knowing that there were people unable to unlock these benefits, she decided to set up RORO, to make sure as many people as possible – especially those who could most benefit from it – could get on their bikes and ride.

The first steps:

The service consists of the following components. Firstly – a free diagnosis session will be organised, in which a rider will visit the client to assess what particular needs they have, and what adaptations need to be made to the tandem to accommodate their particular height or other. Anyone can get in contact to discuss getting involved with RORO – either for themselves, or on behalf of a loved one or a patient. Routes will be discussed, and clients can explain how far, and for how long they expect to want to ride for – typically an hour or two’s cycling. The first session can then arranged.

Cycle routes:

Routes can either be selected from the portfolio of traffic-free routes RORO have developed from National Cycle Network and Sustrans routes or, if preferred, the client can be taken on whatever journey, aiming for whatever destination the client likes. Then the adventure can begin.

Depending on start point of the adventure, the location of the client, and the availability of their own transport, we can either meet at the start of the route, or if needed home pick-ups and drop- offs can be arranged. If loved ones, parents, partners or carers want to join in on the adventure, they are of course most welcome to do so. If they do not have access to a bicycle, then RORO also has a number of Temple Cycles bikes that can be hired.

Price:

 An hour’s cycle costs £48, or a two hour session £90. If home pick-ups are required, the time taken to pick up and reach the start point is not included in the session’s cost. All RORO’s riders are fully insured, and the routes have all been risk-assessed.

For more information, please feel free to get in contact Holly on:

Email: hello@rideoutrideon.com

Phone number: (+44) 7823 461 892

Instagram: @rideoutrideon

Pavement Parking Campaign

1,000 days is a long time to wait when your safety is put at risk by dangerous pavement parking.  By September, that’s exactly how long it will have been since the UK Parliament promised to find out how a new law on pavement parking would work.

In August, the Guide Dogs charity will be taking to the streets across the country to collect signatures for an open letter calling on the Government to end the thousand days of delay on pavement parking.  Would you like to join them?

All you need is a spare a couple of hours on any day during 13-19 August and to sign up here to help in your local area.

Student research into transport barriers for people with hearing loss

Every day, thousands of people use public transport to get to work. However, people with hearing impairments face many barriers that can make travel by public transport difficult, or even impossible.

As part of her Masters programme in Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, Liliana W.Jonni  is looking for participants to take part in a short survey. The survey includes questions about the transport difficulties faced by people with a hearing impairment and the extent to which transport creates problems in relation to employment or employability.

If you are able to support Liliana’s work by completing the survey it would be much appreciated. You can find it here:  https://bit.ly/2tnUSKX

Help raise money for the Forum with easyfundraising

Did you know that if you shop online using easyfundraising, you can collect donations for the Forum at no extra cost to you?

All you need to do is register with easyfundraising and choose Bristol Disability Equality Forum as your beneficiary. Then, when you shop online through easyfundraising with one of over 3000 retailers, they will donate a percentage of the amount you spend to the Forum to say thank you for shopping with them. It’s that easy!

Here’s what Laurel, one of our members has to say about shopping through easyfundraising:

“I’ve bought the widest possible range of things through easyfundraising, from jeans, to toiletries, to food, to gifts, to hoovers, to tech, to camping gear, to tools – I’ve even bought a wheelchair using it!  I can’t afford to make standard donations so this way of supporting the Forum is perfect for me.”

We’ve collected over £300 with easyfundraising so far but we need your help to keep donations coming in. Please sign up today via https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/invite/1PG9XT/ and help us raise as much as possible!

Thursday 21 June 2018 – Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice

Thursday 21 June 2018

4pm – 6pm

Room 4.10, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA

This lecture by Steven High will draw on conversations with over thirty researchers and artists across multiple cultures and disciplines, to examine the ways in which oral historians, media producers, and theatre artists use art, stories, and participatory practices to engage creatively with their publics. As researchers are increasingly taking their research from the campus to the public arena, what are the ethics of, and expectations for, social impact? And how do new technologies, platforms, and methods challenge community-engaged artists, academics, and media makers to rethink their approaches to collaboration?

Our understanding is that the venue is wheelchair accessible and has a hearing loop. Please see the DisabledGo report for more detailed information.

You can sign up for the event via Eventbrite.

 

GDPR: Do You Want to Keep In Touch?

Dear Member

We’d like to keep in touch with you about the vital work we do with and for Deaf and Disabled people, other information we think will interest you, and how you can help and support us.

As the law is changing we have to have your permission to continue using the information you have given us.  Our Forum Administrator will be asking you to do this shortly, so please keep an eye out for a letter from us and respond quickly.  Otherwise we will not be able to contact you again.

You can also change your mind at any time by letter or email to: bristoldef@gmail.com

We will never sell your data and we promise to keep your details safe and secure.

So, please remember to reply quickly when you are asked for your permission to hold information about you.  Otherwise we will not be able to contact you again.

Yours

Gordon Richardson and Karen Passmore

(Forum Co-Chairs), on behalf of the Forum trustees.

 

 

Bristol 18th May 2018 – The Department for Transport’s CWIS Cycling and Walking Safety Review

Discuss the issues, share insight, and have your say…

Friday 18th May

10:00 am – 12:30pm

City Hall, Bristol

Regional Engagement

We invite anyone with an interest in improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians to join us at one of these special events, for example age and disability groups, parents, teachers and pupils, cyclists, would-be cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, dog walkers, motor cyclists, horse riders, scooters, local, parish and district councillors, public transport operators, professional drivers and couriers…

Why now?

The Department for Transport is currently running a Cycle Safety Review, and has launched a ‘call for evidence’ that forms part of a wider consultation on road safety issues related to cycling.

What are the issues?

It invites those with an interest in improving safety and perception of safety for cyclists and pedestrians to provide evidence, drawing on experience from the UK or other countries, that can be used to shape future policy decisions. The six key consultation themes are:

  • how to improve safety through changes to road infrastructure
  • the law and rules of the road
  • road user training and testing
  • education
  • vehicles and equipment
  • attitudes, understanding and awareness of different road users

Why we need your insight

The scope of the consultation considers the wider societal benefits of cycling and walking, perceptions of safety – especially for vulnerable road users – and the common misunderstandings and differences of opinion between cyclists and other modes/road users.

Understanding this complexity, the Department for Transport is keen to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, and members of the public, and is facilitating these workshop events to discuss the issues. We invite anyone with an interest in improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians to join us.

Agenda – Events will last for 2.5 hours with the following programme:

10.00 – 10.30 Registration and coffee
10.30 – 10.45 DfT presentation setting the context for the Review
10.45 – 11.00 Stakeholder perspectives
11.00 – 12.30 Interactive group discussions, responding to the six consultation questions
12.30 – Closing remarks from DfT

Further details of the consultation can be found here:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-safety-review

The call for evidence, which closes on 1st June, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy-cwis-safety-review

 

Restore the Access to Elected Office Fund!

The Government is facing a legal challenge to restore the Access to Elected Office fund (AEOF) which helps Deaf and Disabled candidates, of all parties, with the extra costs of standing for election. The legal challenge is being brought by 3 Disabled would-be MPs from 3 different parties and is being supported by the cross-party campaign group More United.

There are over 13.9 million Disabled people in the UK, that’s 21% of the British population. Fair and accurate representation of all demographics is an essential part of any healthy democracy. However, just 5 Disabled MPs were elected to the House of Commons at General election 2017. Together, they make up less than 1% of Parliament.

A major reason for the under-representation of Disabled people in Parliament is the additional financial barriers faced by Disabled candidates when seeking to stand for election. The AEOF was set up in 2012 to allow Disabled candidates to campaign on an equal footing to their non-disabled counterparts. The fund offered grants between £250 and £40,000 to cover extra costs such as BSL interpreters, assistive technology or extra transport.

But in 2015 the government froze the fund and it was put ‘under review’. Three years on, there are still no plans to restore the fund, despite a recommendation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for it to be restored. Without the financial support provided by the AEOF, many Disabled would-be MPs are effectively prevented from standing for election.

Now more than ever, Disabled people’s voices need to be heard. If there are not enough Disabled MPs who truly understand the barriers and discrimination we face, decisions will continue to be made against our interests. The recent cuts to Personal Independence Payments, the narrowing of social care criteria and the closure of the Independent Living Fund demonstrate this.

Standing for election should be accessible for all. The AEOF must be restored to level the playing field and allow more Disabled candidates to stand for election. Please join Labour’s Emily Brothers, Liberal Democrat David Buxton, the Green Party’s Simeon Hart and More United in their call for the Government to reopen the fund.

Join the campaign and sign the petition here: https://www.moreunited.uk/restore-the-fund