A recent report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (an organisation I am trusting less and less) suggested that things have got worse for people with impairments in a number of areas. This is based on an analysis of a whole range of reports that fit in the current fashion of being negative and anti-government, focusing on a desire for a welfare model of dysability. The fits into a current trend that can be seen by an article I read that suggested bullying of people with impairments had increase without any real explanation.
I think it is firstly worth pointing out that any form of large scale statistical analysis is basically meaningless and unlikely to be without political and other bias. Culminative research around people with impairments is particularly problematic as the definition of disabled people changes according to the issue being discussed and now covers a extremely varied population. Most research is now feeling based and will include people with impairments who were not impaired ten years ago for example, and therefore they would have nothing to compare with. They will assume that things have got worse, being oversensitive to their situation simply because of the anti-government feeling created by the left wing media.
Statistics are often based on a welfare model of dysability and ignores both lived experiences and the many new opportunities for people with impairments. People like myself accept that while a lot has already improved, there is still a lot to be done and that it will be a never ending task as expectations will always rise. But this is something that could be said about any issue and do we really need to waste endless amounts of money telling us what we already know?
I believe that technology and other factors have made things better for many people with impairments, the majority who are not affected by the welfare reforms. Society does not wish to wrap us up in cotton wool, and therefore our more mainstream interaction with others will result as unpleasantness. Bullying may not be great, but surely it is a sign of our meaningful inclusion within society? I feel my life is improving and this should be celebrated as opposed to criticised.
Where I do believe things have got worse for people with impairments is the more public display of welfarist bigotry towards people with impairments by the left and liberal activists, which the EHRC report is a part of. People with impairments are considered by these groups as passive burdens of a welfare system. They talk about our rights but only in terms of being inferior beings who need protecting from the mainstream, individuals are must remain passive members of society.
I disagree with this fashionable bigotry. If in line with my idea that hardship is a part of life, I believe people with impairments myself has some responsibility to decide their attitude towards life, and that we all have a responsibility to determine if things improve or not. If something is not right in our own lives, we have a duty to ourselves to put it right. It is time to be a person, not a number!