February 2021

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Edited from www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre 
Screened on 19th January BBC Two and hosted by disabled CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell who explores how modern attitudes to disabled people were first formed in the workhouses of Victorian Britain as well as looking at modern pioneers of equality such as John Evans, and Alia Hassan.

Cerrie was born without the lower part of her right arm. As a presenter on CBeebies, she was astonished to learn that some viewers thought her appearance would ‘scare’ children who were watching. Now, she wants to find out where these attitudes towards disabled people come from, and why they persist today.

She uncovers the original records of an institution created to segregate disabled people and stop them from having children. And she traces the hidden lives of those confined to institutions for their whole lives.

Cerrie heard astonishing stories of heartbreak and cruelty. But she also meets the pioneers who changed the lives of disabled people forever - like John Evans, who was one of the very first to move from a residential home into a home of his own, and Alia Hassan, who as part of the campaign for human rights brought the streets of London to a standstill in order to be allowed to get on a bus.

Ultimately Cerrie discover that although much has changed for disabled people in Britain today, the battle is not yet won.  

By Drew Miller Hyndman BBC Ouch - 10 November 2020        
It has been 25 years since disability rights were enshrined in law under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). It defined what disability was and set out what disabled people could expect so they didn't face barriers.

To mark the occasion, here are 25 things you might not know about disability.    

1. What is disability exactly?  
Good first question. You are considered dis abled if you have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect - beyond 12 months - on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities. 

 2. The blues.    
 The Blue Badge enables disabled drivers or passengers to park as close to their destination as possible, but it hasn't always been blue. In fact, between 1970 and 2000 it was actually orange. Then the European Union introduced a standardised blue badge. It allows users to park in a variety of places for free, including on some double yellow lines, but the rules vary between areas so it's always best to check. Some rumours tell us it was yellow before it was orange, even. 

3. The businesses missing billions.     
Do you like to splash the cash? Just think how keen businesses would be to attract you through their front door if you had billions to spend.

The Purple Pound is the spending power of disabled households, that's any household where at least one member is disabled. In the UK it's worth an estimated £274bn annually! According to Purple, business misses out on £2bn every month if disabled people cannot access their shop or service. 

4. The secret button at pedestrian crossings.        
You're probably familiar with the bumpy paving slabs and loud beeps at the roadside to help visually impaired people use them. 

But do you know about the secret electronic gizmo there too?  Located under the box with the button on it is a protruding cone which rotates when the lights show you can walk. Put your hand on it and wait for it to start going round and round then start to cross if it feels clear.

These are particularly helpful when crossings are close together and you might not easily know which one is making the noise. The cone provides confidence that it is safe to cross the road you're in front of but you should always use your judgement.

5. It is NOT a miracle.      
Either out and about or online you may have seen a wheelchair user get up to reach something or walk. This isn't the grace of god or a benefit scam because many wheelchair users are ambulatory, meaning they are able to stand and walk on their own.

The reasons for them using wheelchairs can vary from having pain or discomfort when walking long distances, to chronic fatigue meaning walking could wipe you out significantly afterwards. 

6. The Disability Price Tag.  
"It's not about the money, money, money" sang Jessie J in that famous 2011 song but being disabled certainly does seem to be quite a lot about money.

According to Scope, in 2019 the average 'Disability Price Tag' or the extra cost of living that disabled people have , was £583 a month - that's on top of food and housing. That works out as more than half an average rent extra. It's often spent on much-needed services such as physiotherapy or having to pay more for products that are accessible.

7. The keepers of the key.    
Some disabled people have access to more than 10,000 secret doors thanks to RADAR keys. These doors lead to accessible toilets, as opposed to other worlds, but they're just as important.

The keys ensure toilets are protected from damage and misuse whilst still allowing access to those who need it. Keys are issued by charities and local authorities. The name comes from the old charity, Radar, which merged into Disability Rights UK. 

8. Fidget spinners.        
Do you remember those triangular-shaped spinning devices that you hold in the middle?

 These aren't just distracting gimmicks driving teachers and parents mad, they also help some disabled people stay calm and focussed.    The origins of the fidget spinner date back to the 1990's when they were created to help children with ADHD and anxiety. There's a whole range of similar devices out there to suit people's needs. 

9. Cutting out the noise.      
You've probably seen the blue sign with a white ear on it while you've been out and about, but do you know what it means?

For hearing aid users it means there is a hearing loop in place which is good for eliminating background noise like in shops when you're trying to talk to the cashier.

It uses a wireless signal to broadcast audio from a microphone near the person speaking directly into someone's hearing aid. All a hearing aid user has to do is flick the 'T switch' on their hearing aid to tune into the loop. It's a bit like flicking between your cable HDMI input and your DVD HDMI input.

10. Home is where the heart (and adaptations) is.    
Home is supposed to be the place we feel most comfortable. However, many older buildings were not built with accessibility in mind - think about how many have steps up to the front door!

This leaves the onus on disabled people to adapt their homes. Councils will provide a free assessment and pay for any adaptations under £1,000 such as ramps or rails and there are also grants available to help with more costly adaptations such as wet rooms instead of showers or lower countertops in the kitchen.

11. Access denied.    
We live more of our lives online than ever, but the online world can be just as inaccessible as the real one. Many websites and services are not compatible with assistive technology like screen readers, which read text to visually impaired users or speech input so that people can talk to their computer instead of using a keyboard.

Remember the Purple Pound from earlier? The organisation Purple estimates that businesses lose £17.1bn each year as disabled people click away from their inaccessible websites.

In the Covid age where we're all doing far more online shopping, it makes sense to prioritise access.

12. 60 minutes of peace.    
Many of us look forward to a trip to the shops or the cinema, but these public spaces can be overwhelming to some autistic people. Bright lights, loud noises and crowds can cause sensory overload. That's why some shops and cinemas have been turning down their music and lights at certain times of the day, making it easier for autistic people to go out. We're seeing it more and more now.

13. Let me take you for a Stim.    
Stimming, also known as self-stimulating behaviour, is a kind of repetitive behaviour that autistic people perform such as flicking a rubber band or repeating words or noises.

Not every autistic person stims but those that do can do so for a variety of reasons, such as to reduce or manage sensory input, or to reduce anxiety in overwhelming situations. Many autistic people rail against those who think it's a bad thing to do as it has significant benefits.

14. #Awks.    
We've all had that awkward moment when we've said something we shouldn't. Using the right language when talking to disabled people is important.

Using identity first language, such as "disabled person" rather than "person with a disability", is preferred by lots of people for a very specific reason - it marks an important academic understanding of disability known as the social model and is the basis of the disability civil rights movement.

Saying people first ignores the civil rights work but does emphasise the importance of identifying first as a person.

15. Please mind the gap.    
There are many more disabled people in the UK than often assumed. At least 22% of the UK's population, that's almost 14 million people, are disabled. However, according to Scope, 60% of those asked generally under estimate this figure. This 'perception gap' is often put down to a misunderstanding of what disability is.

16. Living a good life.    
As mentioned earlier, being disabled is expensive and this can have consequences. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, nearly a third of households with a disabled resident live in poverty, compared to 19% of non-disabled households.

Although, since the DDA was passed the percentage of families affected has fallen slightly from 35% to 30% whilst the rate for families without a disabled resident has remained around one in five.

17. Bump, bump, bumpety, bump.    
We've all experienced a fire drill, and some of us are unlucky enough to have been through the real thing. We know to avoid most lifts in an emergency (unless it's an isolated lift designed for this purpose) but what if you can't use the stairs? Evacuation chairs may be the answer. They grip stairs to create a smoother descent.

Any building must have an accessible way to evacuate during a fire, by law, and these chairs are one of the most common choices. The chairs require at least one other person to control the descent and that person must be trained to use it. However, some disabled people aren't big fans of this form of escape.

18. I can't see anything?    
Not all impairments are visible. You might have heard about this over the past few years as the awareness of invisible disability has risen. On the list are neurodivergent conditions like autism and ADHD to mental ill health, Cystic Fibrosis and many in between.

Some invisibly disabled people have taken to wearing sunflower lanyards to indicate that they are disabled so they can use disabled facilities without having to talk about it.

19. Inspiration Porn    
This isn't as dirty as it sounds - it's all about the use of the I-word (inspiration!), a word that's often over-used with disabled people. If you call a disabled person an inspiration for just going about their daily life it's often not appreciated because it suggests you have low expectations of them.

The term was popularised in 2012 by Australian disability rights activist and comedian Stella Young who particularly disliked the misplaced voyeurism, as she saw it, in media. A good way of sense checking whether it's ok to say the I-word is asking yourself: "What did they inspire me to do?", if it's walk to the shops or put clean socks on, maybe stop with the praise.

20. Ready for some maths?    
We're pretty sure most people have seen ramps designed for wheelchair users, but it's not as simple as you might think. In accordance with building regulations, ramps cannot be too steep or too high, if the top of the ramp is greater than 2m above ground level, then an alternative such as a lift should be provided. The ideal gradient is 1:20, that's 5% on a road sign, which represents 20cm in length for every 1cm rise. They must also have landings with sufficient space at the top and bottom and no need for tricky three-point turns!

21. Born this way  
"What happened to you?" or "Were you born like that?" are questions many disabled people loathe to hear. Not only because the answer may be distressing to talk about but because it focuses in on their difference.

Allow us to present the stats. Fewer than one-in-five disabled people are born disabled, the majority become disabled later in life.

22. Who's talking in the background?    
Ever heard an electronic monotone voice in the background of a meeting? It's probably your visually impaired colleague reading something more interesting than whatever you're droning on about. Many blind people use screen reading software that reads out the text on a computer or phone screen.

In fact, a lot of blind users listen to their reader at 2.5x the speed of speech. That means, while it would take you around 33 hours to read War and Peace, with a screen reader it could take as little as 13 hours to listen to the whole thing!

23. Dogs    
Humans best friends are perhaps most known for their role as guide dogs for blind people. But they can also be trained to assist people with anxiety and panic disorders and to spot, prevent, and ease panic attacks.

Similarly, assistance dogs can be trained as hearing dogs, seizure alert dogs, and can even alert diabetic people when their blood sugar is too low. If you are paired with a dog, you won't get to choose the dog's name, as they've already been named for training. A few of our favourite guide dog names include Anton and Unity - imagine shouting that in the park?

24. Changing places    
We might not like to admit it, but everybody uses the toilet. Accessible toilets have to cater to a lot of different needs and Changing Places are a larger version of the usual disabled loo that includes a hoist and changing bench.

These are set to be made compulsory in new buildings from 2021, making them one of the most recent, and practical, victories for accessibility.

25. The last hurrah    
If you've made it this far, congrats! We're going to sneak in one last self-indulgent fact. The DDA is a trailblazer in the world of disability. But there are other great trailblazers too... like the Ouch podcast. It was the BBC's first podcast made just for a digital audience back in 2006 and is still going. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02r6yqw/episodes/downloads

 It’s over 25 years ago since the first disability equality legislation was introduced as the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), but an inclusive society still seems a very long way off when retailers and service providers are failing to understand that by removing the barriers for people with disabilities or impairments, they are also benefiting the rest of the community. 

People with physical impairments aren’t the only ones who would have a problem with stairs, toddlers wouldn’t be able to manage stairs on their own without putting themselves at risk. 

The inclusion of ramps and lifts only seems to be seen as an unnecessary  ‘add on’ when they should be the default.    Whenever access audits have been undertaken, retailers, service providers etc are often found to be oblivious to the fact that when they exclude wheelchairs, they are excluding prams or pushchairs. They also exclude other disabilities - not all visually impaired people would be confident about making a long climb up or down stairs without assistance. 

There is no longer any excuse for listed buildings to be excluded from the need to make access modifications when there are  companies who design and manufacture lift systems with retractable steps for public and domestic properties, primarily, but not exclusively for wheelchair users. The provision of adequate signage for sensory impaired people, has also been found to be haphazard.

Visible signage with defined contrasts between background and text is needed that should also be sited away from obstructions and clutter also enhances navigation for anyone without a visual impairment.

Consideration should also be given to supplemental audible indicators – Assistance and Guide Dogs can’t read!!! But also be conscious that too much ‘background’ noise/muzak is a hazard for hearing impaired people. 

BAYWATCH RESULTS REVEAL DISABLED PARKING ABUSE – Edited from Disabled Living November 2020.   www.disabledliving.co.uk/blog/baywatch-results-reveal-disabled-parking-abuse/     
In August, DMUK asked the public to help us with our Baywatch Campaign by completing a survey on their parking experiences over the past 12 months. The results have now been calculated.

DMUK would like to thank everybody who participated in this year’s Baywatch Campaign. This year we had the biggest number of responses that we have ever seen which goes to show how important the problem of disabled parking abuse remains. The total number of responses was 777. We would also like to thank all our sponsors, the British Parking Association and BBFI Public Sector Investigations, and our supporting organisations that promoted the campaign and encouraged their members/supporters to take part. Without them the campaign would not be so successful.

Traditionally the Baywatch Campaign asks the public to survey supermarket car parks for levels of disabled parking abuse. We were unable to undertake this type of campaign in 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead we asked the public to complete a survey from home which asked them questions on their more general parking experiences. This allowed DMUK to expand the scope of the campaign to other parking settings.

Findings - Local Authorities  
One of the most alarming statistics that came from the survey results was that 95.6% of participants did not think that local authorities were doing enough to tackle Blue Badge abuse.

This is a very high percentage, but not at all surprising to DMUK. Every year the ‘Blue Badge Statistics’ are released and every year the number of local authorities actually prosecuting Blue Badge fraud is disappointingly low. The Baywatch Campaign also showed that only 20.8% of Blue Badge holders had ever been asked to have their Blue Badge inspected by an official and that 96.4% of participants supported more inspections of Blue Badges.

The disabled community has spoken, and local authorities must do more to support their parking needs. DMUK wants to see far more Blue Badge inspections and enforcement of the on-street concession.

Supermarket Parking  
With the data gathered we cannot do our usual supermarket league table with who is performing best and worst. However, the results have shown that 53.4% of participants either find it ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’ to find suitable disabled parking in general at supermarkets. Also 86.8% found that disabled parking bays were either ‘Often’ or ‘Very Often’ abused. (Abused is defined as vehicles parking in disabled bays not displaying a Blue Badge.)

These statistics show that supermarkets are not doing enough to support their disabled customers. Disabled parking is not managed properly, disabled parking bays are clearly not enforced, and abuse of the bays is rife.

Looking specifically at enforcement DMUK asked the question: When parking at the supermarket do you ever see signs of enforcement? In response to this 55.1% of respondents said No. The next question asked was: If you have reported disabled parking abuse to a member of staff, do they take action? 86.7% of respondents answered ‘No’ to this question. This is distressing and shows that when a disabled customer asks for help their concerns are ignored by supermarket staff.

General Findings  
The survey also asked participants about parking on their everyday journeys, not just at the supermarkets. On these types of journeys 74.8% of respondents said that finding suitable disabled parking was either ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’.

Also, generally when parking 87.7% of respondents said that they ‘Often’ or ‘Very often’ saw disabled bays being abused.

These statistics are appalling. Being able to drive and park at their desired destination is imperative to the independence of disabled people.   The figures show that disabled people are being disadvantaged and prevented from living independent lives because of the state of the nation’s disabled parking provision and enforcement. These statistics should be the wakeup call that the parking industry needs to once and for all provide adequate parking provision to disabled motorists and make sure it is enforced correctly.

The level of deterrent needs to reflect the importance of keeping disabled bays free for genuine users and at present the deterrent clearly isn’t enough.

The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic  
Earlier in the summer we started to receive anecdotal evidence that disabled bays were being removed from car parks to make room for socially distanced queuing. As lockdown restrictions eased, this became a more common problem. We posed the question in our survey: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic have you seen disabled bays being removed? Eg, for queuing. 65.8% of respondents answered ‘Yes’ to this question. Once again the needs of disabled people have been pushed to the back of the queue and equality has been forgotten.

Graham Footer, CEO at DMUK, said: “DMUK is delighted with the level of support it has received for this year’s Baywatch campaign. However, we are very concerned about the levels of disabled parking abuse in all parking settings. The parking industry and local authorities all need to do more to support disabled people. Accessibility starts in the car park and without proper parking provision and enforcement of disabled parking, disabled people find it increasingly difficult to live independent lives. DMUK demands that this issue is taken seriously”.

Register your interest at www.spelthorneaccess.org.uk/forum/scan-blue-badge-parking-survey