Every 4 years we as a society generate the same rhetoric without fail. ‘Did you see the Paralympics? they were inspirational’, ‘I thought the Paralympics were amazing those people went through so much more to get where they are’. However, after a few months we forget about these people satisfied that society has done its part to support disabled people. I would say that the discrimination faced by disabled people on a day to day basis is far worse than people believe and it is hidden by the main stream media.
In the United Kingdom 19% of our working age population is disabled in one way or another. We see that people who are disabled are half as likely to be employed or be in full-time education as their fellow non-disabled citizens. This we should be embarrassed about. It means disabled people have been locked out of having a career and therefore a higher standard of living which comes with employment. There is no reason for this, most disabled people have had their long term disability for a prolonged period of time, they have adapted to live around their disability, and therefore are as able to work as any other person.
So why is it that disabled people find it harder to find work? Firstly, because they are still seen as a hindrance. In the modern age of work place injury compensation employers have become far more vigilant to hazards in the workplace. Bring a disabled person into the mix and it seems as though those hazards can be more hazardous and therefore needs to be under closer scrutiny. As a result out of bone idleness people will not hire disabled people. Another fear of businesses is that they will have to pay for alterations to the work place to help the disabled person in work. This of course isn’t the case as the government’s access to work scheme will pay for alterations that need to be made, such as magnifiers for partially sighted people, or a larger desk for a person in a wheelchair. Obviously the quickest and easiest way to resolve this problem is the education of businesses so they understand that their fears are not based in reality.
Disabled people also find life harder in society as a whole particularly when navigating around their local towns and cities. So often is the case in modern local government that their first thought will always be the aesthetics and the ease of travel by car that the disabled community is sometime completely overlooked. Take shared spaces for example, they are gradually increasing in popularity due to them being very pretty to look at making the area seem more spacious, easy of cars to navigate around and also for normal pedestrians. However, for a blind person they are a complete nightmare due to their guide dogs not being able to work out where the path ends and the road begins resulting in the dogs not stopping and dragging their owners into the roads, these areas tend not to be well marked either meaning long cane users as unknowing as the guide dogs are. The same hardships occur with Wheelchair users and pebbled streets making them such a physical challenge you would have to be David Weir just to get over them. This has meant that there have been a lot of areas that disabled people just can’t or won’t go to areas which normally have a high amount of cafes, bars and restaurants limiting the amount of social activities that disabled people can partake in. The mobility troubles do not stop there however on a day to day basis we hear reports of disabled people being ignored by flag down taxis as they involve more effort to load them in and out of taxis, guide dogs being turned away from public areas and mother refusing to fold their push chairs on buses meaning disabled people can’t get onto the bus.
All of these problems extend to the mentally handicapped also who also face severe stigma surrounding their conditions. Unlike sight loss or paralysis there is not a large open communication around what mental health is and how it can be supported in society. With employers worried that someone who suffers from it must be in the same category as the crazed axe murderers that are seen in horror films. That simply is not the case and more needs to be understood far more by society as a whole. There also needs to be more support in the community to help people on their road to recovery. Building more social housing for suffers and promoting more companies to employ these people as having a job can go a long well in promoting good mental health.
Recently this discrimination has hit the the realm of social media in the form of a meme depicting a disabled person and attempting to shame people who do not share it. This is shameful in itself and anyone sharing it is promoting discrimination not only do these pictures put disabled people on the same level as funny cats and videos of people falling over, it singles out the disabled individual as different creating a ‘them and us’ image. If people wish to share something to show their dedication to equality for disabled people share this article and promote the real things society should be ashamed about.