Monday, May 01, 2006


In search of equality

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day. I wasn't sure what I was going to write when I signed up, but a couple of things have popped into my head so.....

... a memory of what happens when you're the wrong kind of statistic. When I worked for a training organisation one of the services offered was advice on finding jobs. Someone turned up at the office one day and said "A friend suggested I come along here. She said you'd help me put a CV together and get some applications out".

Now, everyone who came to us for help was officially referred by other organisations; it was all tied up with how we were funded. I explained this to the woman at the door and asked if she could get referred by the job centre, as she was unemployed.

"Oh I tried that, but they won't help. It doesn't matter to them if I have a job or not".

If you've had dealings with the job centre this will, I'm sure, surprise you. They have targets to meet, boxes to tick. But the woman in question was registered blind, she was getting a disability benefit, and the job centre weren't expected to help her get a job. And because they weren't expected to get her a job, they wouldn't spend any of their time or money trying to help.

We're all different.  And hooray for that.We provided the same help that we provided to hundreds of people each month, but it was all off-the-record and had to be hidden because no-one funding us got a benefit from it. That's just wrong. It wasn't malicious, but it was wrong.

Secondly, a wee observation that I thought I'd share, although I am slightly concerned that not everyone will approve. I think David Blunkett has made one really useful contribution to the world.

No, really.

He might think that civil liberties are 'airy fairy' but he has helped people to realise that people with disabilities are people first and foremost.

There was a time when I, as a slightly wishy washy liberal type, would feel a hint of concern that people would think I was being prejudiced if I called someone with a disability an idiot (let alone the wide and varied selection of rude words I've called Blunkett).

Not anymore.

If I insult Blunkett NO-ONE thinks it's because he has a visual impairment. It's because they know he's a ****.

In its own weird way I think this is a positive thing.

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I agree with you about Blunkett (who even said "I don't think of myself as disabled"). Rather like Margaret Thatcher; people say very unpleasant things about her but it was rarely associated with her gender (there are perhaps other reasons that women remain underrepresented in parliament than overt discrimination).

Thanks for your contribution to Blogging Against Disablism Day. :-)
Heh, that's very true about Thatcher. Maybe getting someone with authority who is disliked is a critical part of the required societal change.

Good job on getting the day going; there was some great food for thought.
Yes, we are all different. I just wished people could accept I don't want to be them I want to be me!
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