I have written several letters this year concerning the exclusion of people with disabilities from society. While based on personal experience (and those of British Polio Fellowship members), such worries are backed in a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission report, revealing half of people with disabilities in the UK feel excluded from society.
The report for the UN suggests the plight of people with disability is getting worse. More of us live in poverty; more are bullied; two fifths don’t feel valued and only 42 percent say the UK is a good place to live. We are moving backwards; while battles thought won on equality, accessibility and independence are being fought anew. Ministers are ‘grasping the problems’ – let’s hope they do, lest we are left clutching at straws.
The UN has criticised UK laws, regulations and practices that discriminate against those with disabilities, but if you are unaffected, why care? Only 17 percent are born with disability, the rest of us acquire it in later life and with an ageing population, who will speak for your rights when your turn comes?
Disability can strike without warning, at any time. No one told Polio survivors it would return as Post Polio Syndrome. It is ultimately in all our interests to defend disability rights. If you need our support, visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship