Help­ing dis­abled reach their po­ten­tial should be a pri­or­ity

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

I’M of­ten con­tacted by con­stituents con­cerned that there should be bet­ter co-or­di­na­tion in the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices for var­i­ous groups across all the branches of gov­ern­ment. One such area is how we look after the needs of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. Help­ing th­ese reach their po­ten­tial should be a pri­or­ity and more than £50bil­lion a year is spent on peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and ser­vices.

By en­sur­ing there is wider aware­ness of the vary­ing needs of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, we can go a long way to­wards the goal of achiev­ing a fairer and more equal so­ci­ety.

Leg­is­la­tion pro­tects peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, with a spe­cific fo­cus on ar­eas like em­ploy­ment and ed­u­ca­tion. Em­ploy­ers and ed­u­ca­tion providers must make ‘rea­son­able ad­just­ments’ to avoid peo­ple be­ing put at a dis­ad­van­tage. Even some­thing like an ap­pli­ca­tion form must be avail­able in a va­ri­ety of for­mats so that it is ac­ces­si­ble.

The gov­ern­ment en­cour­ages the use of the so­cial model as a way of un­der­stand­ing dis­abil­ity, rather than the ‘med­i­cal model’ of dis­abil­ity. The ‘med­i­cal model’ is called this be­cause many peo­ple think of dis­abil­ity as some­thing which is caused by an in­di­vid­ual’s health con­di­tion or an im­pair­ment. The per­cep­tion is that the in­di­vid­ual can be treated in some way so that they can par­tic­i­pate in so­ci­ety as any­one else can. How­ever, that view (the ‘med­i­cal model’) is not sup­ported by peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties or the or­gan­i­sa­tions which work to help them.

The so­cial model, how­ever, looks at iden­ti­fy­ing and pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions to the bar­ri­ers which face peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. Those bar­ri­ers of­ten fall into three cat­e­gories. First, there is the en­vi­ron­ment, which in­cludes in­ac­ces­si­ble build­ings or the ser­vices pro­vided to peo­ple. Sec­ond, at­ti­tu­di­nal is­sues, like stereo­typ­ing, prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Third, or­gan­i­sa­tional mat­ters, which might in­volve things like in­flex­i­ble poli­cies or pro­ce­dures.

There is a lot of prac­ti­cal ad­vice and help avail­able. Above all, hav­ing an open mind and adopt­ing a fresh way of look­ing at tack­ling bar­ri­ers can make a big dif­fer­ence.

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