I caught the end of a radio show the other day where the presenter was trying to generate some controversial response from his listeners about the young Disabled TV presenter, Cerrie Burnell. Apparently, the fact that she has only one hand was frightening some of her younger viewers.
"There's a time and place for showing kids all the 'differences' that people can have, but nine in the morning in front of two-year-olds is NOT the place!" ranted one parent on the CBeebies message boards, while another explained how he’d stopped his daughter from watching the channel for fear the sight of Cerrie's arm would give her nightmares.
Anyway, having come in at the end of the programme I gathered that the listeners had responded in a positive way about Cerrie and that the radio presenter had not got the usual knee jerk reactions from Mrs. Angry from Penge or Mr. Outraged from Cleethorpes … you know the sort of thing.
I'd like to think that this reflects quite a sea change in the way that society is starting to view us crips, and that this is probably down to the fact that more of us are now involved in how we’re represented within society. Rather than being seen as a race apart, which is how those non-disabled disability professionals have portrayed us in order to maintain their status quo, I believe that we are now being seen more as an acceptable part of society.
Those narrow minded and ignorant parents who responded in the way that they have thankfully represent just a small percentage of the parents who are teaching their children just how different and diverse our society now is. Hopefully the children of the parents who left those comments will be influenced more by their teachers and grow up to realise this.
However, that’s not to say that we’re still not being represented enough
on television or on film. There are so
many talented Disabled actors who simply aren't getting the chance due to there
not being enough parts and roles being written for them, unless it’s
as the villain! A lot of our society is still obsessed with the body perfect or the
expectation that people can be fixed if they don’t appear normal.
So, still a way to go yet folks, but I'd like to think that we’re getting there.
An article advising about the new building standards code
BS8300 that is ready for release later this month explains how the built
environment can be designed to anticipate, and overcome, restrictions that
prevent Disabled people making full use of premises and their surroundings.
There's a option to request that the code is supplied in large print format if you're interested.
The link for the article is:
Suddenly disability and sex is everywhere on the web. A recent full length article in the Sunday Times covers everything from new legislation for sex workers, and how this will affect Disabled people, to tantric sex for someone who’s paralysed from the neck down. Interestingly we now appear to have both life and style, placed as this article was in the Life and Style section of the Sunday Times!
Some of you will remember a comment I made in a blog entry last year that the thing about sex and disability was that for a lot of non-disabled people, they just don’t go together; ‘disability sex’ being the ultimate oxymoron in their opinion. Comments like ‘it makes me feel uncomfortable’ and ‘crossing the boundaries of taste’ (and I never even mentioned oral sex!) are in the emails that I receive from, need I say it, non-disabled people who have come across one of these cartoons supporting an article or blog.
Things had to change, as more young people grab onto their identities as Disabled people and bring a more open and inclusive aspect to the movement and into society; although having said that our own Penny Pepper has been doing the same thing for a while (oops, nearly said ‘quite’ a while there, which would have got me a clip round the ear!).
So, just to wind the prudes up again, here’s another one. Very tame as you’ll see but guaranteed to get the non-disabled moralists at their computer keyboards. One of these days I’m going to take the gloves of and let them have a very explicit cartoon involving three crips in a bed and … CENSORED. Now that would really show them!
As a little aside to this, the Times writer quoted our old mate Leslie Child in the article and made the usual mistake of referring to her as Childs. No longer here to point out this mistake, I thought I’d do it for her (I remember doing that once in an article I produced for DAIL magazine and never heard the end of it!).
A little while ago, I was invited to supper with some friends and was introduced to a young couple who were employed by one of those charities that claim to represent us.
Realising that my friend had arranged things so that I was seated next to them during the meal and was expecting some sparks to fly (I seem to have developed a reputation for livening up some of the social occasions that I get invited to – can’t think why?!) I was determined to behave myself.
‘Did you see those amazing adverts for Leonard Cheshire about disability?’ was their opener for ten. Decision time; should I just smile politely and say something like ‘Yes, good weren’t they?’ or let them have both barrels and point out that the adverts focus mainly on physical impairments and that when it does refer to someone with a visual impairment, the creature tells us that it’s developed increased hearing in order to compensate for its reduced vision (real super crip stuff)?! Or that it virtually ignores the social model understanding of disability and gets its bunch of apparently compliant crips talking about their impairments?! Or, its underlying message of ‘see the cute, cuddly creature and not the Disabled person’ … need I go on?!
In the first ruling of its kind, and securing an historic legal victory for Disabled people in the UK, a judge has ordered a major bank in Sheffield to install a lift so that people unable to access the bank due to a flight of steps at its entrance can have the same access as the rest of its customers.
Although it’s unlawful for businesses like banks and other public bodies to treat us Crips less favourably, a judge has never before ordered an injunction to force an organisation to make physical changes to its property so that disabled people can gain access. This is a significant move forward in our battle to gain access to the goods, facilities and services that should be our right.
David Allen, a 17 year old Sheffield wheelchair user took The Royal Bank of Scotland to court aided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Sheffield law Society. He was also awarded £6,500 - the highest ever compensation payout in this kind of case in recognition of the embarrassment caused when he was forced to discuss his account details out in the street.
Judge Dowse of Sheffield County Court also described discrimination against Disabled people as 'a social evil' when making the judgement, in which he made it plain that David has suffered from discrimination and that he has suffered from considerable embarrassment caused by the Bank.
David’s legal battle began when, contrary to signage outside his local branch of the bank and information posted on its website, he found that he could not gain access. The bank then suggested that he should use the nearest accessible RBS branch, even though it was a 10 mile journey and amounted to a two and a half hour round trip journey by bus. Dave decided to fight them instead!
Judge Dowse ruled that the Bank discriminated against Mr. Allen by not providing physical access to wheelchair users in its Sheffield city centre branch, and that the bank made no serious attempts to make the branch accessible to wheelchair users as required under the law.
On hearing the Court's decision, David said: 'I'm glad justice has been done. I only wanted them to comply with the law and provide disabled access so I could get into my bank like my friends.'
Apparently, Dave could have settled for a behind the scenes sum of money but he stood by his principles and his tenacity in taking it to court will mean a great number of us will now benefit from the precedent set by this case – nice one Dave.
NB. For those of you who’ve not been keeping up with the news, Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the RBS (who earned £4.2 million a year) was blamed for RBS’s financial woes after he pushed through a €71 billion consortium bid for ABN Amro last year.
Apartheid - You’ll probably remember a blog I posted on the 19th May 08 about this governments apparent reversal regarding ratification of the new United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, especially with regard to inclusive education. To keep the pressure on, Tara Flood from the Alliance for Inclusive Education has send out a letter for people to copy and send on to Gordon Brown (you remember him?!). You can contact Tara by email to ask for a copy of the letter at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please take the trouble to do this as it not only affect you and me now, but will allow educational apartheid to continue for future generations of Disabled people, and this we cannot allow.