This week there were four letters in the Camden New Journal (CNJ) from Camden residents about disability: two about wheelchair non-accessibility; one about Camden transport failings and one about a failing blue badge application. It’s important that we get our voices heard in this way because so many of us have trouble coping in our everyday lives.
Attending medical appointments, getting medication and dealing with inflexible bureaucracy are but a few of the challenges I face daily. A central point for some of us is that our impairments are invisible and we have to go through hoops to get the adjustments we are legally entitled to.
It’s important that we get our voices heard because so many of us have trouble coping in our everyday lives.
I have low vision and restricted mobility and my wife has a hearing impairment, none of which are visible disabilities. I have been told by Camden officers that there is nothing wrong with me and am currently being refused a home visit by a Camden officer to assist with my application for a blue badge. They say I might constitute a safety risk!!
At other times service providers point out signs I cannot read or shout at my wife, who cannot hear them. Perhaps we ought to wear badges, not to ask for pity, but to alert people to our needs. In my experience, mental illness, still a taboo in many quarters, is not acknowledged as an impairment by some officers.
Moaning and whinging on a personal level will get us nowhere; publicity and naming and shaming might.
Other groups do not have to fight for recognition in this way. Communally, disabled people need a rallying cry to indicate that we will not put up any longer with being ignored or discriminated against. Other groups have slogans or symbols such as “Black Lives Matter” or rainbow banners. Perhaps Camden Disability Action (CDA) could arrange a competition for a slogan and/or a banner we could use at events such as the demonstration at Kentish Town tube?
Posting our stories on Camden Disabled People’s Voices site (CDPV) and sending them on to the relevant Councillor are the kinds of actions needed, but we need to do more than that.
We should make better use of CDA and the Council’s Disability Oversight Panel. Also the Council Leader has appointed five councillors as champions for separate disabilities. We must encourage them to take actions on our behalf and publicise it when they do not.
Moaning and whinging on a personal level will get us nowhere; publicity and naming and shaming might. Unfortunately, there are no statues such as the one in Bristol to slave owner Coulson which we can roll into the Fleet River, but we know the names of officers and councillors who sit on their chairs and treat us with distain. Perhaps we should have a page of shame, naming culprits. In my view, unless we take a more assertive stance nothing will change.