This recent DAS report evidences that people with disabilities still face discrimination, poverty and prejudice. Equal? Still not, why not?.

 

The report is available in a wide variety of formats including: BSL, easy read, large print, audio and braille (all posted on request). Below is the first in a series of 17 BSL videos summarising the report.  The remainder of the series can be found here.

 

 

01 about das from andy irvine on Vimeo.

 

A pdf of the full report is also available here.

Following the launch of the report in November, DAS hosted a reception at the Scottish Parliament which was well attended by both MSPs and staff and members from a wide range of organisations representing the disabled people.  The report was widely welcomed and provides useful evidence of what life is currently like for disabled people in Scotland. 

Equal? Still not, why not? (Press Release)

People with disabilities still face discrimination, poverty and prejudice according to a wide-ranging new report from a coalition of Scottish charities, published on Tuesday the 22nd of November.

'Equal? Still Not, Why Not?', published by Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS), has gathered the views of over 80 people with a physical or learning disability, sight or hearing impairment and mental health problems.

Delia Henry, Chair of DAS, said: "The only way to know what life is like for disabled people is to ask them – so that's what we've done. This report reveals their real life experiences and feelings. A recurring theme is that while matters have improved for some, disabled people still do not feel equal and while there are many nice words and documents that aim to further improve matters, they are not being felt on the ground."

Nearly one in five people of working age in Scotland (19 per cent, one million people) are disabled, the report notes. But while recent events such as the Paralympics have gone some way to challenge perceptions of disability, there is still discrimination.

“When you are a child with a disability you are treated as cute and cuddly," one person questioned for the report said. "As soon as you cross that age-barrier of 18/19 then suddenly people become uncomfortable with you.” Another said: “The need is not to be defined by your disability but by who you are, to be judged by your merits, not by a label imposed on you”.

However, public spending cuts have exacerbated inequalities, warns DAS. "Budgets for social care, education, welfare benefits, further education, and community based support services which disabled people rely on are rapidly diminishing. And with them, so is the equality agenda."

Almost half of people in poverty live in a household with a disabled person or are disabled themselves, while the extra costs of living with disability average £550 a month[i]. But the eligibility and assessment processes for social security benefits have been tightened and too crudely applied, the report claims.

This has highlighted the need to improve access to employment. Only 43.8 per cent of people with disabilities in Scotland[ii] are currently in work, compared to 73.6 per cent for the wider population[iii], while employment rates have actually fallen among some groups, such as those living with sight loss. “I worked as a volunteer in a charity shop for ten years, five or six days a week,” commented one person in the report. "I was training new folk on the till, cashing up, locking up, you name it. So I know I can do a job." 

Most people with a disability still experienced some form of stigma or prejudice, including serious cases of harassment and bullying. The number of disability hate crimes increased by 20 per cent from 2013/14 to 2014/15, when 177 charges were reported in Scotland[iv]. Discrimination could even be experienced from health professionals, social workers and carers. One person interviewed said: “I have had from carers, ‘Oh you’re so smart, I only thought I would be working with retarded people’.”

DAS wants a comprehensive review of attitudes and services. CHAIR said: "We are calling for the Scottish Government to fund a national campaign to raise awareness of disability and reduce stigma and discrimination. Issues like access to employment, a more dignified and empowering system of social security, isolation and loneliness, and access to advocacy support to overcome barriers to achieving the life you want to live. All of these issues are within the gift of Government at all levels to take positive action on." 

One person quoted in the report said: “People say ‘Oh, you are very brave’. I didn’t want to be dismissive because their heart is in the right place, but I’m not brave, I don’t have a choice.”

 

Quotes from the report.. 

“I did a work placement and the first day the person I was sitting next to was asking me all sorts of questions, which was fine. The second day I went in I was on my own and they told me because the woman sitting next to me had called me a spastic and said she didn’t want to work with a spastic. 

“When I contacted the jobcentre and I said I am BSL and I need a interpreter they refused three times so I contacted Action on Hearing Loss and they contacted the jobcentre to tell them it was my right to have an interpreter available.”

“ENABLE Scotland has made a heck of a difference to me. It has made me more confident. A year ago I wouldn’t have travelled on the train on my own but now I can.”

“Leaving the house when I couldn’t see was terrifying at first. It becomes less scary as you get older but it never stops being scary.”

"I get called names by people and it is the same people who picked on my when I was at school. Can they not get on with their lives and leave me alone? It makes you feel small and worthless.”

“You get the sense that people don’t want to be in the same room as you or involved with you in anyway. It makes me feel depressed.”

“I think part of mental illness, you feel like a fraud, you stigmatise yourself a lot and you doubt yourself and you think you’re making a big deal out of nothing… I think sometimes I’m fine, just get on with it, so having an acknowledgement that actually you aren’t well definitely helps.”

 

Notes to News Editors

Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) is a coalition of six of the leading disability charities in Scotland - Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Capability Scotland, ENABLE, RNIB Scotland, SAMH (Scottish Action on Mental Health) and Sense Scotland. Working closely with the thousands of disabled children, young people and adults, families and carers involved with the member organisations, DAS aims to:

Influence public policy and legislation to help disabled people and the people around them.

Provide a forum for decision makers and influencers to obtain advice and information.

Promote a better understanding of the diverse experiences, needs and aspirations of disabled people.

 

References for stats

 

[i] http://www.scope.org.uk/campaigns/extra-costs

[ii] http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00484492.pdf

[iii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/37998692

[iv] Hate crime in Scotland (2014-2015), Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service

 

Action on Hearing Loss logo Capability Scotland logo Enable Scotland logo RNIB Scotland logo SAMH logo Sense Scotland logo