Monthly Archives: September 2015

Kirsten Hearn writes: Sick of Exclusion

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Kirsten Hearn will be at Feminism in London Sunday 25th 12 30 -2pm

Multiple identities: Ordinary Lives – the challenges of being disabled and feminist

Disabled women’s rights are human rights! Disability can be physical, mental, neurological; hidden or visible. This panel will look at activism through the prism of disability and feminism and seek to explore further the intersection and challenges of being between the two and the capacity of the two movements to work together for change.

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Kirsten Hearn

Kirsten Hearn

I’m sick and tired of having to challenge inaccessible practices within the Labour Party (an in the rest of life too). I’ve got better things to do than be tied up bashing down the doors, so I and others can participate. The discrimination spans all access issues, so all disabled people are targets.

Again, and again, and again, we give guidance on how to make docs accessible. “What part of the words “PDFs are inaccessible for people using text to speech assistive technology, so give us a word doc instead”, isn’t clear? It’s hardly any different in impact from “what part of the words, I haven’t got wings you know so how am I going to get into that riddled-with-steps venue you insist on having your meetings in?”; or “What did you say?” (when a sign language interpreter or an induction loop, isn’t present.
I’ve just opened an email from the Labour Party re the women’s conference tomorrow. Granted, it arrived yesterday evening, but I was chairing a scrutiny evidence session at that time and chose to go to bed afterwards, rather than download my emails. I chose also to do my day job today rather than read my home emails. As a consequence of this, I am only now dealing with yesterday’s backlog. Oh and I have checked, there’s nothing in today’s bunch which provides the accessible document.
Arguing for inclusion within the Labour Party is definitely one of those part time unpaid jobs that I am forced to do if I want to participate in the party. I could use that time instead building a stronger party and working to deliver a Labour Government headed by Jeremy Corbin, in 2020. I don’t care that because of the leadership election and the shadow appointments process, it’s been hard to confirm speakers etc. How difficult is it to produce a word version of a conference agenda, which was initially created in word, anyway? I mean …. !
Providing inaccessible documents is at the very least laziness, but it could hardly be argued that the Labour Party is ignorant, since they have been told. Yes, if poked,, they will deal with access requests, but we shouldn’t have to keep reminding them. It’s not like disabled people have only just been invented; or that we havn’t been campaigning for inclusion since the dawn of time. My question is, why are these mistakes still happening? I don’t know how disabled people can effectively influence party policy, raise the issues of concern to disabled people out there, in the party, if we can’t even get in the door, metaphorically or actually without kicking up a stink. So, not having enjoyed women’s conference last year in Manchester, I thought I wouldn’t go to the women’s conference this year; then when Jeremy was elected, I thought I would, in anticipation that the leader is going to address the women’s conference. Now, thanks to not getting accessible info about the women’s conference, I’ve decided I’m not going. So there will be one less stroppy disabled woman there tomorrow …. and I am sure that lack of clarity about access, belief that things won’t be accessible, feelings that disabled women are not important, are also reasons why less disabled women than perhaps who want to be there, will go to women’s conference tomorrow. And I’ve no doubt that other members of disability labour will have to spent time and energy battling away at conference, trying to fire-fight on access when we could be doing something much more important, like effecting policy, talking about why the austerity agenda, whether heavy or light is the greatest attack on disabled people in our living memory and why labour must not only defend disabled people’s rights but actively promote a disability rights based agenda. Not that I’m repeating myself, but I and others have been saying the above since exclusion first politicised us, in my case for 40 years. When will non-disabled people get it that they can remove disabling barriers if they want to.

Read the rest at Kirsten’s blog

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Against the legalisation of Assisted Suicide: a right to independent living before a right to suicide

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Sisters of Frida is a member of ROFA (Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance). In times of austerity, we see disabled and older women are likely to be coerced into assisted suicide from different pressures.

If the Assisted Dying Bill is passed, some Disabled and terminally ill people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes, subtle pressure and abuse.  No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome – an outcome which can never be undone.

Read the story of Maud in the Guardian

If we structure society in such a way that many people have desperate, miserable lives, what sort of choice is it when people choose to kill themselves?
Maud lives round the corner from me in south London. She is 90 and on her own. She remembers a time when everyone knew everyone else, and when there was genuine community solidarity. Nowadays people come and go, she says, and young people can’t be bothered with the elderly. She is often lonely. “Even the doctor came round to see me and asked me if I wanted to commit suicide,” she says.

#notdeadyetuk

(photo of a NotDead Yet protest by Eleanor )

From Inclusion London

With two Assisted Dying bills currently before parliament, it is really important that Deaf and Disabled people and our organisations speak out loudly against the legalisation of assisted suicide and raise awareness of the threat this poses to disability equality.

Our message is that we want support to live not die. At a time when essential support is being taken away from us, when the challenges we face are exponentially growing as a direct result of adverse government policy, it is more dangerous than ever to introduce legislation which encourages suicide as a solution to the barriers Disabled people face.

We say: give Disabled people a right to independent living before a right to suicide.

Below are different ways that Disabled campaigners and our supporters can take action and get involved. We realise that not everyone has the time to do everything but anything you are able to contribute to the campaign would be valued.

1) Sign up the Reclaiming Our Futures statement. It’s quick and easy to do: just email your name to ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk with ‘AS statement’ in the subject line. We are asking organisations, campaigns and individuals to sign up before the end of August. It’s really important we can show there is wide support for the case against legalisation.

Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance Statement

We are opposed to legalisation of assisted suicide. It will remove equality and choice from disabled people and further contribute to our oppression. If the Assisted Dying Bill is passed, some Disabled and terminally ill people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes, subtle pressure and abuse.  No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome – an outcome which can never be undone.

[Reclaiming Our Futures or ROFA is a network of grassroots Disabled people led campaigns and organisations across England. For more information see: http://www.rofa.org.uk/%5D

2) Write to or arrange to meet your local MP (even over the Summer they will be receiving and responding to mail). You can download a template letter here.  Some MPs are organising public meetings to canvass the views of their constituents – check their websites to see if your MP is one of these. Please send us copies of any responses you receive.
3) Help publicise the facts about assisted suicide, for example send a letter to your local paper. Download the Assisted Suicide Open Template Letter for Media here.
4) If you have a personal story about this subject which informs your view on it and which you are willing to share please let us know. We are also looking for Disabled people who are happy to speak to the media about why we oppose legalisation of assisted suicide.
5) Join us at the Not Dead Yet UK/DPAC Protest on 11th September. Gather outside Parliament to show our opposition to Marris’ bill while it is being debated inside. Meet Old Palace Yard (opposite the House of Lord’s) from 9am. Further details to be confirmed.
6) Check if your MP is one of the named supporters of Marris’ bill? DPAC is encouraging campaign groups to organise protests outside the constituency offices of those MPs who have put their name to Marris’ Assisted Dying bill. If you would like support to organise a local protest or for more information contact Mail@dpac.uk.net(See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150624/debtext/150624-0001.htm#15062462000011 to check if your MP is named)

Here is a good Assisted Dying Bill Information_Easy Read version explaining the Assisted Dying Bill for everybody from ROFA (MS Word document)

empty wheelchairs and shoes with notes on them

photo from Not Dead Yet campaign