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Crippen takes a cynical look at the change of language / 5 April 2010

Has anyone else noticed that having adopted our social model language, the big charities and government departments have started to twist the wording around so that the 'problem' is back with us crips?!

For example, a recent press release from the Department for Work and Pensions contains the lines: 'It is clear that the current assessments are failing to pick up on people with major barriers to work' (this refers specifically to Disabled people). Now we could be charitable and say that this misrepresentation of the Social Model concept is down to a lack of understanding and ignorance on their part. Or you could see this as yet another example of how 'they' are always going to label 'us' as the ones with the problem!

Still don't get what's happening here?!

Well, traditionally Disabled people have been seen as the ones with the problem and that we have to either be cured or fixed in some way in order to fit in with society. Along came the Social Model understanding of disability and the concept that 'it was society that was throwing up the barriers that disabled us' was introduced. As well as taking the 'blame' away from us crips it was now a much easier task to focus on society and identify and remove those barriers that were disabling us. Eventually this understanding was introduced into mainstream thinking and began to replace the Charitable Model understanding so loved by society and the many charities that had been set up to represent us, and also the Medical Model understanding which put the specialists in charge of our lives.

As I see it, this subtle change back to Disabled people 'owning' the barriers means that we've now come full circle, allowing society to opt out of its responsibilities once again and with us crips being at fault!

Where do we go from here I wonder?!

Keywords: access issues,charities,disability professionals,disabled people's movement,discrimination,social model,subversion,

Comments

Theresa Hodge

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26 April 2010

Yes, vulnerable is a word that's going around a lot at the moment! And yes, one vulnerable person having to be CRB checked to work with another does seem rather bizarre! The example of the local authority person asking questions about depression really shows their assumptions about the effects of depression, and the fact that they haven't bothered to ask what adjustments they might be able to make ... Hmmmmm!!

Bob Williams-Findlay

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15 April 2010

Nicely put, Crippen.

Totally agree with Sarah p. Vulnerable is the new "suffers from".

Personally, I call what Crippen describes as being the "Shakespearean tragedy" (Slips away quietly to the sound of a small drum beat)

pink pjs

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12 April 2010

Update which seems pertinent, as occupational health assessment views me as being The Problem : Had occupational health assessment.... one question I was asked : 'how does your depression affect you? do you get violent?' funny, I did feel a bit peeved at this point, also 'well, you're on a high dose of antidepressant... I think we're going to need medical resports from your dr and psych and we could withdraw the job offer if management don't think you are fit enough to work', at this point I did point out that I am a Disabled person and would be looking to the local authority (employer) to make reasonable adjustments to enable me if that was necessary and I have been working in mh for years and would feel discriminated against if my impairments were seem as a reason not to employ me. Response was 'well, we have to consider whether adjustments are reasonable' to which I said that as a large employer I would have thought they could look at that... Upshot is, not sure if they will withdraw offer and it could take two months or longer to get reports and then I will have to be assessed by their drs :( makes you just feel like giving up

Jackie Softly via FaceBook

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6 April 2010

Oh Wendi that's so true. It happened a lot to me when I worked in local govt in a disability access role - one example is when they finally put in a path that I'd been really pushing for for ages, and everyone was calling it "Jackie's path"...hmmm

Wendi Wicks via FaceBook

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5 April 2010

The cartoon rings bells. Its rather like what happens to disabled advocates who speak up identifying barriers/issues that numbers off us experience. Suddenly it's put in terms of "Wendi's hobby-horse" or (say) "Dave's problem". What's happening here (as in your blog and cartoon) is that an external systemic effect becomes an individual and internal problem. Great cartoon Dave

Stephen Brookes via FaceBook

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5 April 2010

Nice one Dave.

Jackie Softly via FaceBook

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5 April 2010

Really great cartoon Dave. It shows so well how the "barriers" have been attached to the person and how this perception excludes people...

Your blog highlights how the language is being hijacked. I see it here so often, people (bureaucrats mainly but others who should know better)using terms like individualised, person-centred etc to describe ... See more initiatives and practices that are anything but. It makes my blood boil, but I also get very sad and wonder if they will ever 'get' that it's more than just using the words that is important.

Arty Farty

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5 April 2010

you hit it on the head again Mr C. And trust you to spot this subtle bit of skullduggery! I certainly rest easy in my chair knowing that you've got your finger on the pulse.

sarah p

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5 April 2010

And the label exercising my mind at the moment is "vulnerable" - just like those idiot people who blame women for sexual assault and rape, to me it seems to locate the problem with being "vulnerable" instead of with the b......s who do criminal things to disabled people. Gets even dafter when one disabled (vulnerable)person has to have a crb check to work with other disabled (vulnerable) people!

Paul Nash

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5 April 2010

Putting inclusion at the core of everything we do should be the way, but it isn't. Understanding the importance of intelligence at the edge - listening to the users experience to inform the core - should be the way services and jobs get designed, but it isn't. This is an excellent post and should be a clear message to us all - I really hope that it will be.

pink pjs

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5 April 2010

Having been offered a job recently with the local authority, I have an occupational health assessment on Friday, hoping that this will look at ways to enable me, but can't help but be suspicious that it may focus on my impairments which will be viewed as reasons for my being unsuitable for the role despite the fact that I have done this kind of work for 20 years in voluntary sector... watch this space..