We need to change how we refer to people with disabilities

11th Special Olympics World Summer Games
Image via Wikipedia

On Wednesday I found this post by a parent of a child with disbilities trying to get people to stop using the “r-word” on twitter. It documents the responses she got, some make fun, but others take her point. We need more people like her! That post brought a tear to my eye. I rarely use the word, and now I will endeavour to use it less.

Then while going through my news feeds I discovered this story on the Irish Examiner, its sub heading was “HE won gold in the Special Olympics but is classed a “lunatic”.”

This post was about our legal system and how it classes people with mental disabilities as a “person of unsound mind”. How demeaning is that? How old fashioned is that? Why do we allow our legal system to still use terminology like that? Why is the Lunacy Act 1871 still in force?

Can we not move on with the times and treat people with disabilities with respect and allow them to represeneted fully in law.

I hope the new government will take on board this and attempt to change how we refer to people with disabilities within in our legal system as that may help  change how the rest of society treats people with mental disabilities. It baby steps, but every little helps.

UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities

I should have picked up on this alot earlier. But anyway 20 coutries have ratified the Convention meaning it can enter into force so who are these twenty enlightened countries?

Bangladesh – 30 November 2007
Croatia – 15 August 2007
Cuba – 6 September 2007
Ecuador – 3 April 2008
El Salvador – 14 December 2007
Gabon – 1 October 2007
Guinea – 8 February 2008
Hungary – 20 July 2007
India – 1 October 2007
Jamaica – 30 March 2007
Jordan – 31 March 2008
Mexico – 17 December 2007
Namibia – 4 December 2007
Nicaragua – 7 December 2007
Panama – 7 August 2007
Peru – 30 January 2008
San Marino – 22 February 2008
South Africa – 30 November 2007
Spain – 3 December 2007
Tunisia – 2 April 2008

Now I must say some of these countries to not instantly spring to mind when thinking of countries that might sign up for it! Only one of the twenty seven EU Member States has ratified the Convention which was opened for signature over a year ago (30 March 2007).

Ireland signed the convention on the 30th of March last year, but there is still no sign of legislation forthcoming to allow us to ratify the treaty.

Here some information on the Convention. Links at the end of the post (As usual!)

There are eight guiding principles that underlie the Convention and each one of its specific articles:

* Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
* Non-discrimination
*Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
* Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
* Equality of opportunity
* Accessibility
* Equality between men and women
* espect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities

The convention will become legally binding on 3 May.

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Links:
Secretary-General Ban hails entry into force of treaty on disability rights – UN News Centre
CONVENTION on the RIGHTS of PERSONS with DISABILITIES
List of Signatories and RatificationsUNEnable

Dilemma – To sue or not to sue

Well today I had a 2nd meeting with an Advocate Worker of the Irish Advocacy Network, and it looks like I have a possibility of redress against my former employer, as it was a ‘constructive dismissal’.

I have a dilemma, do I take on a case and the workload involved, lots of paper work, and secondly I have two avenues I can take. I can go to the Equality Tribunal, hopefully with help from the Equality Authority under a disability discrimination, or I can take a civil law case under the Unfair Dismissals Act.

At the beginning I was leaning towards the civil law case and testing it out with FLAC in UCC on Wednesday Night (They meet top floor of the students centre 6-7pm if you need them) but after reading the literature, I think the ‘constructive dismissal’ can come into the disability case.

Any suggestions? Do I take case or Not?

Comments on a postcard or the usual way!

AHEAD Survey highlights the need for greater initiatives to support students with disabilities – Enright

Olwyn Enright TD, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Education and Science has welcomed the survey published today by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) outlining that some of the Institutes of Technology (ITs) are not providing the essential services needed to help students with a disability achieve their full potential.

“AHEAD must be congratulated on this survey which highlights the urgent need for improvement in the provision of services for students with disabilities to help promote and improve their transition from second to third level education and to assist the increasing number of graduates with disabilities in obtaining employment. I welcome the engagement of the Institutes of Technology with AHEAD on this important issue. Many ITs will recognise the pressing need to improve services but the necessary resources are not being made available to them.

“It is evident that there is a lot to be done to ensure equality of access for students with disabilities. We need to ensure that essential services for these students such as learning needs assessments, screening for specific learning disabilities, access to education psychologists and written individual support plans are available in all Institutes of Technology. AHEAD’s survey clearly shows that these services are not routinely available:

– Only two institutes had a dedicated disability officer;
– Only four institutes plan to include students with disabilities;
– Only one institute operates a positive discrimination entry scheme;
– Only five institutes are fully accessible;
– There is very low take up of disability awareness training amongst staff.

“The survey also highlights that, while the numbers of students with disabilities has increased by 300% over the past five years, improvements in facilities within the ITs have not kept pace and a change of mind-set is needed. A wide range of areas need improvement, from the issue of access to the absence of full-time Disability Officers in all ITs bar two. Supports work, and evidence shows that those colleges with dedicated Disability Officers in place immediately show positive results for students with disabilities as they play a key role in ensuring the inclusion of these students across all areas of college life.

“Our Institutes of Technology play a crucial role in Ireland’s educational, social and economic development. Students with disabilities should be equal partners in this role. We must not erect barriers to their involvement in higher education, and should instead be putting in place educational initiatives that can support and develop this involvement.”

Save Audioscope

According to recent reports, RTE Radio 1’s programme “Audioscope” is to be axed. Audioscope is the only radio programme in Ireland that addresses issues faced by blind and vision impaired people.

Audioscope is a beacon for blind and visually impaired people. Audioscope is not an old style token gesture towards a disadvantaged minority in our society. It is not supposed to be the programme that allows the national broadcaster to tick a box saying that it has met its obligations to the blind and visually imparied community. It doesn’t adopt a medical focus and talk about what people can’t do. It looks at society and how blind and visually impaired people interact with the world. It provides insight into the challenges faced by a blind or visually impaired person in todays world and talks about what people can do. It is a source of information about what is possible. It is provided via radio – the most readily accessible format for a blind or visually impaired person. Audioscope should be the rock upon which programming for blind and visually impaired people is built.

from here

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