So I spent last night working my way, point by point, through Labour's Disability specific Manifesto. Overall the vital stuff is there, it gets wobbly on the merely very important, and there are a few unforgiveable omissions.
And How the Hell do you write a manifesto specifically for disabled people and not have accessible formats available!?!The analysis.
Autism Women's Network: Disability Doesn't Come With Extra Time and Energy
What's missing from the discussion is that disabled people work harder because of the fear of losing their job, and the difficulty of finding one, in the face of workplace disablism. So when people misinterpret it as some positive, that's three separate layers of disablism being compounded into one positive.
Yep, that's the Minister of State for Disabled People celebrating World Downs Syndrome Day by saying how 'inspiring' it is that a young woman with Downs Syndrome actually has a job. Disabilityconfident she isn't.
I may have been inspired to a rant about the objectification of disabled people as 'inspiring'.
The title is what I was called on Twitter yesterday by Times columnist Libby Purves for challenging her article supporting the one by Rosa Monckton in The Spectator advocating that disabled people be paid less than the minimum wage (she's specifically talking about people with severe Learning Disabilities but seeing as a) LDs are a spectrum and b) you're setting a legal precedent the issue is much wider). Purves' article was shocking in its savagery, lashing out at anyone who refused to support Monckton and who argued disabled people are worth an equal wage. She's the only person I've ever seen defend that Tory social neanderthal Philip Davies MP, who even other Tories think is beyond the pale. The one thing missing from Purves' article, any opinion from a disabled person...
As for Rosa Monckton, the fawning over 'friend of Princess Diana' by the BBC was stomach-churning. Perhaps more relevantly, she's the Honorable Rosa, daughter of a Viscount* and married to Dominic Lawson, who is the son of Thatcher's Chancellor, Dominic Lawson, and former editor of both The Spectator and the Sunday Torygraph. She does have a reason to be talking about this, a daughter with Downs Syndrome, so that's her own daughter she's arguing is worth less. But someone whose Twitter profile claims "Champagne is the answer" and is the former chief exec of Tiffanys, never mind the family connections, is arguing from a position of significant privilege**
The argument has been very heavy on the 'we're parents, we have to advocate for our children, we know what's best', which they might have a better chance of carrying off if they weren't trying to shut down disabled people attempting to comment, and apparently completely ignorant that there are a lot of very eloquent LD self-advocates, never mind the whole history of parents campaigning for what they want and not what we want that's wrapped up in the Autism Speaks/Actually Autistic campaigns.
So I've been thinking about this view that we should be paid less than the minimum wage, and I think it comes down to a conflation of two separate problems:
First the idea that disabled people aren't as able, which is an aspect of workplace disability discrimination (and wider social discrimination). This is grows out of the (illegal) demand we all be identical cogs in the production machine. It's based on a presumption of incompetence and defending the right of employers to that view.
The second is a presumption that worth and dignity can only proceed from having a job - that's clearly visible in Monckton's piece. It's probably not entirely coincidental that this has come out in the wake of the Green Paper on Work and Health which preaches a similar view. The reality of disability is many disabled people can't hold down a job. Whether you're averbal, or can argue eloquently is irrelevant. Our worth isn't defined by holding down a job, our worth is equal whether we do or we don't, whether we can or we can't. Society fails disabled ppl when it devalues us over our employment status. And that's what the pay less than minimum wage argument does.
We've misread the whole discussion.These aren't the views of concerned parents. they're the views of hardline Tories.*A friend just pointed out her brother, the current Viscount Monckton, was sacked as vice president of UKIP and has views on gay rights so extreme even UKIP would be embarrassed.
** I wouldn't normally make a point based on class privilege, but in this case I think it's central to the discussion - Monckton can afford for her daughter to be paid less, that's not necessarily true of families or individual disabled people in more straitened circumstances.
Beyond my part in the Spartacus Network response to the Work and Health Green Paper, I wanted to do a personal response as I take a slightly different view of the Disability Employment Gap that Work and Health is supposed to challenge and think it's much more to do with employer/recruiter disability discrimination and tacit government acceptance of the same/reluctance to display employers in a bad light.
I'd set today aside to do that, as submissions have to be in before 11:45PM (and dyspraxic, so bad with deadlines and planning), so of course today was the day I crashed and burned and slept all day because of cumulative fatigue.
The consultation had 46 questions, I managed to answer about 30 of them between waking up and remembering and 11:30PM rolling around which was when I pressed submit (just in time, it wasn't exactly quick to respond).
Which means I couldn't thoroughly respond to Work and Health because it was too much work for my health....
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
The new Spartacus report, Smokescreen, into the government's Green Paper on Work and Health, is out. I'm listed as a co-author as it incorporates my 'Ticked Off' dissection of Disability Confident, but didn't actually do any work on the main report - which is a monumental, spectacular effort by Caroline Richardson and Stef Benstead.
TLDR: The government want us to see disabled people as the problem in disabled people being unable to work, rather than challenge employers as the actual cause of the Disability Employment Gap.
Sigh, even the DWP admitted that Two Ticks was being abused and needed to be replaced because employers were overwhelmingly not following through on their commitments towards disabled people under the scheme. (Research showed one in five did nothing, and over half met only one of five commitments)
So it created Disability Confident as a (badly flawed) replacement
Then what does it do?
It hands Disability Confident status to every company that had Two Ticks
Article with comments by Yours Truly
At least it explains where DWP found 2400 firms to sign up to Disability Confident so quickly. 2300 of them didn't.
"Ticked Off" is a piece of analysis I've been writng to look into the government's Disability Confident scheme, which has morphed into a replacement for Two Ticks, the much derided (by us) and much abused (by employers) scheme to guarantee the employment and fair treatment of disabled staff.
To illustrate the 'quality' of the new scheme, you can be a 'Disability Confident Leader', the top level, with no disabled employees and an inaccessible workplace. It's extremely poorly written, and very difficult to comprehend all the requirements as a whole, so I set out to dissect it. I ended up with 5,500 words, 16 pages and 6 data tables. I don't think anyone had sat down to do a line by line comparison between Disability Confident, Two Ticks, and the Equality Act 2010 before. But when you do it's clear that Disability Confident is actually a weakening of employer commitments, and only very marginally stronger than existing legal requirements, and in places considers legal requirements optional.
The report is here: Ticked Off
A news article on it from Disability News Service is here. I think John Pring did a really good job of extracting the highlights to give a TLDR version, and it was really surprising to see the Business Disability Forum come through with comments that backed my analysis (that must have turned up at the 11th hour as John had had nothing back from them when we talked late last night).
TLDR: A government disability scheme is so bad it can't even get the legal definition of disability right.
We used to have a scheme called "Two Ticks", which had a logo of, surprisingly, two ticks, which employers could sign up to to say they were disability friendly, in return for agreeing to five measures.Measures like always interviewing disabled candidates who met the requirements, and discussing whether needs were being met on a yearly basis. So not exactly onerous. In practise companies used to sign up, put the logo on their paperwork and do nothing as it was almost never checked (Evil Aerospace are the only company I've ever heard of having it taken off them). Needless to say it fell into disrepute.
We (disabled people) were promised several years ago that a better replacement would be along soon.
In the meantime we've had the worse than useless Disability Confident proclaiming that employers are just embarrassed about disability.
It's now emerged, they aren't confident enough to do a proper launch, that a revamped Disability Confident is the replacement for Two Ticks and will have three tiers.
Tier 1 asks companies to make a single commitment in comparison to Two Ticks five, is self assessed, and once they've sent in the trivial paper work, they get to use the new logo.
Tier 2 asks companies to sign up to several more commitments, roughly equivalent to Two Ticks, and again it's self assessed and they get a pretty logo. The commitments basically amount to agreeing to do what is already legally required under the Equality Act 2010. (Yes, that's right, Tier 1 signs you up to do less than you're already legally required to).
I thought 'well, at least Tier 3 will better than Two Ticks'. More fool me.
Tier 3 consists of getting yourself assessed on Tier 2. You can pay to get yourself assessed, but you can also be assessed by your mate whose company is already Tier 3, or your mate who runs a Disabled People User Led Organisation, even if it has no interest whatsoever in employment. Pass this and you get to call yourself a 'Disability Confident Leader' and use the appropriate logo.
They've taken a scheme that was worthless because everyone signed up for the logo and never followed through on the commitments, and replaced it with one where you don't have to make the commitments.
The other quotes in the article are interesting, even the people who worked with DWP on producing it, including a DPULO that's stopped being a DPULO and rebranded itself into an assessment company to take advantage, are describing it as a lost opportunity. While others openly say 'if we asked companies to stop being disablist none of them would sign up'.
Talk about being seen to be doing something.
I've been shooting off my mouth to journalists again, and seem to be responsible for the title of :
I won't link to anything as it's more a cumulative effect thing, but there seem to be quite a few people raising questions about how accessible Pokemon Go is. I'm not really a mobile game person, but I'm not remotely attracted by a game that requires you to walk around.
I finally wrote the blog on the Me Before You controversy I've been intending to write for several weeks.
'Finally' because I thought a lot about how I should do it, as the obvious approach to take as both disabled writer and disability activist collides head-on with the advice to us as baby writers to never do anything remotely controversial on the net (given agents and publishers will hunt your web-presence down as a form of due diligence). In the end I went with the obvious approach, because not taking apart how the writing and filming process systematically failed disabled people, and especially wheelchair users, seemed like a betrayal.
There's a lot of embedded links, so I'll link to it in place rather than reproduce it here: Rather You Than Me
CW for extended discussion of euthanasia and disablist fuckwittery
This one surprised me. Who is stronger on disability, Clinton or Sanders (obviously not Trump): Berned
And it's not just from one person, disability writer David Perry has confirmed similar experiences trying to get the Sanders campaign to engage with disability issues. While Sanders' suggestion that that people with chronic pain should 'treat' it with 'yoga and guided medication' is genuinely rage-making*.
Meanwhile rolling eyes at people horrified by #DisabilityTooWhite hashtag. If they had a clue about the origin of the movement they might realise there's a reason early groups such as UPIAS are commonly referred to as 'white men in wheelchairs'**! Seems like we have to educate people that interesectionality exists every time it's raised in relation to a different minority
* There's a place for relaxation techniques, I've used guided meditation myself, but they're by no means adequate on their own.
** I do see a slight irony that I'm saying this as a white man in a wheelchair!
There had been several incidents of disabled congoers being attacked in the group for being angry (not for being angry at people, just for being angry).
So I put up a post saying (at greater length) "Disabled people have a huge number of access issues to be legitimately angry at. Please allow us the space to articulate that rather than trying to tone police us."
It got a lot of likes, it also got a lot of people convinced I'm the Prince of Darkness.
Quite a few conrunners don't seem to understand that not being able to afford or otherwise provide an accomodation doesn't mean disabled people are magically not being excluded. Apparently telling them this is attacking all the work they do. It got ugly. At least one person flounced out of the group in a huff.
I think it needed saying, I'm just hugely surprised it was so controversial.
The bit I regret is that one of the people I reacted to, for stating people shouldn't vent, and who was accusing me of being 'vicious' towards her for explaining why we were legitimately angry, which left me frantically trying to work out what I was saying that she was reacting to, turns out to have PTSD. *headdesk* I don't know that I could have avoided triggering her, but I could have handled it better if I'd known.
Amy Sterling Casil has responded to the criticism of her "We are all disabled" post at SF Signal, with an 'apology' on her own blog.
I put 'apology' in inverted commas, because rather than simply saying "I'm Sorry, I Fucked Up", she spends 2300 words explaining how we all misunderstood her (while explaining she meant exactly what she said), and people are being nasty and horrible and disablist* to her for not accepting empathy is totally a disability, and the people being nasty are no different to the guy who raped her or the one who accused her of killing her child when they died in an accident.
She throws a PTSD diagnosis into the ring most of the way through, and I'm not sure if what I'm reading is some sort of PTSD hypervigilance reaction, or just utter narcissism.
It's bad enough in what it does say about disability I think I need to reply, but Is it just me? Am I reading it wrong?
* I've found five blog responses to "We Are All Disabled" so far, four are by people who are either disabled, couid legitimately claim to be disabled, but don't, or who have disabled family members (and the other says 'I have more sense than to shoot my mouth off about stuff I don't know'). Several of those posts, including mine, do say empathy is not a disability, but then go on to say she may well be disabled in some more conventional manner and just expressing it in a particularly weird way.
Fascinating academic paper by a friend of mine looking at the contradictory pressures of stigma and 'legitimacy' that drive disabled people towards either concealing or 'performing' their disability.
I think the way Naomi links the pressure towards 'legitimacy' into the wider aspects of the 'surveillance society' is really thought-provoking, as is 'the socially acceptable right of non-disabled people to invade the privacy of disabled people', while considering the DLA form as a mandatory, self-enforced version of the panopticon, oh my! Definitely worth a read if you're interested in disability politics, or just stuck between 'passing' and 'performing'.
* Site does require registration via FB or Google, but it's the first time I've seen a registration that lets you control what information is passed.