Words try to hide government’s callous views on disability equality

Words give news, they give views, they tell the truth – but they can also hide the truth and deceive people.

As examples, take a look at these:

  •  “The government agrees …”
  • “The government recognises …”
  • “The government notes …”
  • “The government agrees …”

These led not to acceptance but dismissal of most of a list of recommendations designed to benefit people with disabilities.

Sajid Javid MP.

In fact, these phrases were used in the government’s response to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report ‘Building for Equality: Disability and the Built Environment’.

Presented to Parliament by the secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, the response rejected the vast majority of the 23 recommendations made by the committee.

Such words were designed to make it appear that those recommendations were carefully and thoroughly considered. But, in reality, it is far more likely that they have been used in an attempt to deceive us. To put it plainly, I believe that the government rejected 20 of those recommendations outright. It then tried to hide its callous decisions behind intentionally deceptive words.

The full list of recommendations, together with the government responses, can be viewed here.

Equality response ‘very disappointing’

Disability Rights UK deputy chief executive Sue Bott told Disability News Service: “The government response is very disappointing.”


Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK.

She said there was “little to cheer about”, except the government’s decision [although this was not in response to a recommendation of the committee]to commence long-awaited measures in the Equality Act 2010 that will impose a duty on landlords to allow reasonable access improvements to be made to the common parts of blocks of flats, such as entrances and stairs (see separate story).  

She added: “It seems that access to the built environment is anyone and everyone’s responsibility except the government’s.”

The women and equalities committee said it was too early to comment on the government’s response.

Asked why the government had rejected so many recommendations, an MHCLG spokesman agreed that the government had accepted just three of the report’s recommendations.

But he said: “We fully recognise the importance of accessibility and inclusion when making decisions relating to the built environment.

Mere words again. The government may recognize the importance, but its words don’t equal action. Then, as far as disability is concerned, this government general takes negative action – or no action at all.  Positive action that would benefit the disabled remains an anathema to it.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

Nothing literal about seeing eye-to-eye

Captain Claus Andersen with me on board Anthem of the Seas while crossing the Atlantic last year.

Captain Claus Andersen with me on board Anthem of the Seas while crossing the Atlantic last year.

Amazed, bewildered and downright exasperated. Those are the feelings that dominate my thoughts as they prompt me to speak out through this blog. As regular readers know, I have severe mobility problems due to multiple sclerosis but this is about anyone who has to rely on a wheelchair.

Now, everyone who has a physical disability knows they can expect that some people they meet will speak to their attendant or carer rather than them. Some people do have that unfortunate tendency to not look down to the person in the wheelchair but, instead, talk to the standing assistant.

I have no idea how other people in my position choose to handle that but in my case it is quite easy. As my carer is also my wife, Lisa, we work as a team. If she asks a question, I expect her to receive the answer- no problem. But if the enquiry is made by me, the answer needs to be directed to me. To be fair, in my experience, this is how most people do react.

However, if someone does try to answer my question by directing his or her reply to Lisa, we let that person finish before I answer – probably adding that it would be polite if, in future, he or she could look at the person who had made the enquiry.

The feelings mentioned at the beginning of this post don’t come, however, from a person in a wheelchair thinking he is being not treated properly. Instead they come from my reaction to another person’s over sensitive view of a picture. Let me explain.

The other day I posted a blog (to read it, click this link https://50shadesofsun.com/?p=1554) about being aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas on its transatlantic voyage last October and November, and paid tribute to the captain, Claus Andersen, for his coolness in command during the storms we encountered.

Lisa and I happened to meet the captain one day and I took the opportunity to ask if he would pose for a picture with me. He readily agreed, suggested a location and wheeled me there himself. He then called over a crew member to take the picture with my camera.

There was NO problem. I was not ignored in any way. We had a good conversation.

BUT someone seeing the picture – the one above – said the captain had not learned how to treat people in wheelchairs. He maintained that the captain should have crouched down to bring our heads to the same level.

What utter balderdash. Do you see tall people crouch to the height of a shorter person? Of course not!

If anybody did that to me, I’d feel demeaned and patronised. Yes, I am in a wheelchair but, where possible, treat me as you would any other person; treat me as an equal. I might need a wheelchair space or to use a ramp but please don’t be condescending by crouching to my level.

The expression ‘seeing eye-to-eye’ does not mean literally.