#DWP & #ATOS at it again please read! – #disability #ESA & #ATOS

I just read an article that has hugely saddened me, please keep reading and follow the link to get the full story.

A blind woman has been made seriously physically ill by ATOS and the DWP working in a way that totally disregards the Equality Act.

Having just read the facts of what happened I am so stunned that I really don’t know what to say.

The matter boils down to one of what’s sometimes called a print disability. The term print disability can be used to describe anyone who is unable or would struggle to read standard print. It’s an umbrella term and can be used to describe conditions such as total blindness, dyslexia and intellectual disabilities.

In this case the lady in question uses Braille or audio instead of standard print and ATOS & DWP are unable to produce this.

They then told her that she would have to find someone to fill out the form for her.

The stress of this landed her in hospital.

As I said at the beginning this saddens me you might think that’s a strange reaction, maybe it is but for me it’s personal.

As I’ve mentioned before my mum is almost totally blind her way of dealing with written correspondence is Braille.

My mum requested the same form as the woman in this story in Braille and got the response at the other end of the phone that said ‘I’m not sure if we do Braille but we should I will try and get it for you’.

The form the arrived in standard print with a deadline to have it completed and the threat that missing that deadline will result in loss of benefits.

My mum is lucky she got help from my dad and a local charity but for thousands of other people this is not the case.

I have also had help to fill out the form in question. I’ve also had the stress of trying to get it done in time for the deadline bearing in mind I get one hour of support a week!

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The Insult of Disability

I’m not about to write a ranting raving blog post to you all about how awful it is to be a disabled person – its alright actually and its normal for me and I would not have it any other way!

What I am going to talk about is insulting and offensive words surrounding disability.

Recently I have gone back to being a guide leader after a 3 year absence and I was shocked by the language they used to insult each other, it appears the word ‘retard’ has come back into linguistic fashion as an appropriate insult for your 13-year-old mate.

I had naively hoped that ‘disability insults’ had disappeared from society when the disability rights movement moved out discrimination and in the Disability Discrimination Act (2004). I assumed that it was no longer socially acceptable to use an offensive slang term for a person with a disability as an insult – I am wrong.

It’s really got me thinking about language and its development and progress though usage in society, I have attempted to think back a decade and assess the disability related insults that were used in my school.

I have many unpleasant memories about my education; of bullying, harassment and verbal abuse. Although I was called a lot of nasty things at various points by people so insecure about themselves that they had to pick on someone to feel good (I REALLY pity them) I really don’t think any of the words used where on a par with ‘retard’.

I could be wrong but I think young people in my generation understood (even if they did not actually realise it) the history behind such words and that the use of them was socially unacceptable.

So I find myself challenging todays generation about their language and the way they insult each other and wondering what I can suggest they use that isn’t the dreaded ‘R’ word?

I also wonder what other offensive terms for disabled people will once again rear their ugly heads as playground insults; mong? spaz? cripple… I’m sure the list could be endless – Which I think says a lot about our society on the whole.

In the current economic climate I think its fair to say the DDA is not being enforced as much as it should be, money is getting in the way and proving yet another barrier to the access needs of disabled people, of which many argue that the DDA never went far enough to change the way society views disability.

I know form my own experience that discrimination against disabled people is still rife I currently feel that Southampton City Council have acted in a discriminatory manner towards me and continue to do so. What will be done about it or change it? Nothing unless at some point I can secure funding for a case under the DDA (something I admittedly have not looked into yet).

With the many cuts and changes to the benefit system effecting disabled people, in addition to negative news stories focused on how disabled people are apparently a drain on society and can contribute nothing to the wider world is it any wonder that our kids are turning to disability to get there insults?

Train Travel floored

I write this sat in a hotel connected to a garage in the middle of nowhere the hotel has wifi but charges a whopping £5 for one hours access – which I refuse to pay.I am in the middle of nowhere a £8 taxi journey away from Didcot train station, I am here unpaid on a course for the job I am doing at university this year.

To get here I got a volunteer to drive me to Fareham station where I met a support worker and got on a train to Southampton from there we got on another train headed for Oxford, we had to get off at Reading station and change trains again to get to Didcot.

All was going well until we reached our second train, upon boarding it became apparent that the train was hideously in accessible. We asked where the wheelchair area was assuming there would be more space, on getting there we discovered that it was literally an empty space with a small table off to one side.

The train was rather busy and full of older people, who where insistent on sitting down first and finding there reserved sears.

This created a battle field incorporating train staff, my support worker, me Gus and a million grumpy old farts that where fully prepared to pushed there way forward not caring who they ran over with there suitcases or stepped on.

My support worker put her bag down on a chair closest to the wheelchair bay only to turn around and discover a woman had picked it  up and was about to move it somewhere else. There was carnage in the carriage, people and bags everywhere refusing to move to let other people past because there booked seat was that way and they wanted to sit in it now.

The train was delayed by 6 minutes whilst the gridlock continued with train staff and other passengers shouting at large amounts of old farts to move out of the way and let other people such as myself past.

Eventually after much shuffling and complete disregard to other people the large groups of old farts sat down.

Then I discovered that the wheelchair seat had no seats around it, basically there would be space for Gus but not for me. None of the seats around it had any room for Gus to lay under them so what was I supposed to do?

In the end I sat in the wheelchair space on the floor for over an hour and a half, I spent this time having poor Gus being stepped on even after I had warned people that he was there, I was also stepped on, people tried to block us both into the space with bags and even tried to wheel them on top of us.

I remain utterly disgusted by this, I was basically a piece of luggage, one particular old fart of a commuter stepped on Gus  after I had already warned her that he was there, I pointed this out to her and then she patted me on the head and apologised, I was fuming!

Then the guard came through the train and I asked him a question he turned around and answered talking to my support worker instead of to me, referring to me as she and stating that they have special assistance “for people like her”.

I snapped I told him to talk to me not about me I was on the verge of rude but I had had enough by that point.

I have never had a train journey that bad, I am honestly appalled by it I have heard horror stories from other disabled people that have had horrific train journeys, but I have always felt positive about travel by train and enjoyed it as a largely stress free experiences, but now the tables have turned, my journey was utterly horrific thanks to the train company for not training its staff as to how to talk to disabled people, not making there trains accessible and the other passengers being horrible old farts who only cared about themselves with no consideration for others – I hate people that are so selfish!

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – The ultimate Disability Bitch

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – The ultimate Disability Bitch.

(One hell of a block quote coming up!)

The ultimate Disability Bitch

20th August 2009

Readers, I know I’ve said some unkind things over the years. I know I’m not always right. Actually that’s not true, I am always right. What I mean to say is I know that some people disagree with me, some of the time. They are idiots, obviously, but it does happen. What I’m struggling to say is that I feel I’ve been quite restrained over the years. There are many things I could’ve said that I didn’t, for fear of offending the nation. But today that’s all about to change.

The main thing, the real biggie, the important observation of all important observations, the one that I’ve deliberately held back on all these years is … and I’m sorry, readers, but I just can’t keep it in anymore. I’ve had enough. Hold onto your hats. I. HATE. NORMAL. PEOPLE!


There. I’ve said it. And it had to be said. You want me to explain myself now I suppose? OK. Well, it’s just, I’ve been on holiday for a fortnight now and I’ve had to watch the Normals parade up and down the beach, exposing their disappointingly monotonous flesh from tip of perfectly proportioned toe to the exquisitely coiffed hair on their textbook lovely heads, untroubled by imperfect mental health, functioning as human beings without the aid of seven different daily medications, and skipping along the sand without mobility aids like it doesn’t even require any effort.

Readers, I tell you what: if I didn’t hate them, I’d pity them.

Imagine how boring it must be, to wake up every morning knowing you’re probably not going to fall over, risk death by attempting to board a train in rush hour or play Russian roulette with your very life by forgetting whether or not you’ve taken your tablets at lunchtime. You have to feel sorry for them. No wonder they park in blue badge spaces without permission and use disabled toilets even when they’re not actually disabled. It’s the only excitement they get in their tiny little normalised lives: the thrill of seeing how long they can get away with occupying a ‘handicap area’ illegally before some junior authority figure has a stiff word with them. It’s the only thrill they get! Poor souls!

Don’t feel too sorry for them, though. There is one very specific reason why I hate the lot of them. It’s this: they all think we want to be like them. The sad, deluded chancers.


Seriously, here’s an example: The other day I was at a big party. And because it was a big party, I was using my most fashionable walking stick, co-ordinated perfectly with my drop-dead gorgeous outfit. This had not gone unnoticed: I was working the room.

Soon, a disappointingly dreary non-disabled stranger was making her way toward me. Of course she was. I am uber-cool.

“Disability Bitch?” she said. “You’re the Disability Bitch, aren’t you? I’m very sorry you have to use it, but that is a beautiful walking stick.”

Two things: first, of course it is a beautiful walking stick. Do you think I, Disability Bitch, would make my way to a massive festive gathering with anything other than a beautiful walking stick? Why are you surprised? Clearly you are of the belief all cripples are legally obliged to carry around ugly NHS issue grey plastic disability aids. That, you dear, sweet, naive little able bodied random party guest, is because you have probably only ever seen photographs of disabled people looking pathetic on charity advertising hoarding , and never actually met a disabled person in real life.

Let me try to find an equivalent situation you’d understand. Ah yes: It would be rather like me presuming all non-disableds look like the girl off the Wonderbra ad. They don’t. They are just trying to sell you something. You gullible idiot.


Second, why the hell are you, a tediously normal person who I have only just met this minute, feeling sorry that I have to use a stick? What business is it of yours how I choose to accessorise myself? You know nothing of my life, and yet you suppose it is a disappointment to me that I have to use a mobility aid, even while acknowledging that my mobility aid is one of the most gorgeous objects you have ever seen in your entire life.

Basically, you tiresome specimen of humdrum normality, you are assuming that your life is better than mine simply because I am disabled and you are not. How arrogant is that!

Give me one good solid reason why your life is better than mine. I bet you even have to pay full price to use public transport and sometimes have to stand up on buses. Yeah? I don’t. See! I win!

Oh dear. I did warn you I was especially cantankerous this week. I know. Every self-respecting cripple thinks these things in the privacy of their own head, but now I’ve gone and said them out loud.
I realise I may have single-handedly set the cause of disability rights back about twenty years. After all, it is the twenty first century, right, and we’re all supposed to be holding hands together now – those of us who have hands. We should apparently be joining forces and working together, disabled and non-disabled alike. Yawn. Do I look like I care?

If you want to be friends with non-disabled people, readers, that’s fine. Campaign for your own disability rights. Me, I’m going to be sitting here in my own little ghetto, minding my own business. I never wanted to be normal anyway.

The reason for such a large block quote, she may have not said it in the most dyplomatic way (its Disability Bitch, what where you expecting) but she is so 100% definatly right!

I hate it when ‘normals’  feel sorry for me or even worse fill me up with words such as ‘brave’ (my own personal most hated word) and inspirational.

BBC – Ouch! – Best days of your life?

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Best days of your life?.

School – for me it was not the happiest days of my life, in primary school I was isolated and ignored by my class mates, I had no friends was often bulled and did not have enough support for me to be able to access everything that went on in class.

Secondary school saw me make friends who accepted me for who I was, I had about 10 or so friends. The rest of the school saw me as an easy target and I was bullied, abused  and assaulted. As if that wasn’t all bad enough I had the teachers to deal with and the stigma of having an adult sat next to me in every class.

Then there where all the little problems that come up in class, having someone read to you in a room that is silent, having to sit right in front of the video to try and see it, missing out on posters, news and important events thanks to not being able to see them.

College was supposed to get better and at first support wise everything was a lot better I had more choice as to when I did and didn’t want support, but there where serious issues with members of staff. One such member of staff did not treat me well as a result of my disability, it was constant verbal abuse, that has damaged me forever.

College also saw my isolation return, for the first 2 years at college most days I had one of my best friends to keep me company at break and lunch times. By my third year I spent all breaks and lunchtimes either sat in the library, wandering around the campus in circuits or I just left and went for a walk.

It’s actually painful writing this post, there are many events during my education what I simply cannot write about, I have kept this post to the bare minimum but at the same time I feel I  have to convey what as a disabled kid I went through and now I feel thoroughly depressed!

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people.

I have to say I would have to agree with Disability Bitch on this one, I don’t get what RNIB sees to gain by telling the world that blind people are a bigger drain on the econermy than many other disabled people.

It worries me take stats like that the wrong way and anything can happen, I worry it will open the doors to all kinds of discrimination and service cuts in many areas that are stretched already!

The country is facing economic depression – simple cure kill off all the blind people and it will all be fine. I seriously hope not, but look at history it has happened before.

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people.

I have to say I would have to agree with Disability Bitch on this one, i don’t get what RNIB sees to gain by telling the world that blind people are a bigger drain on the econermy than many other disabled people.

It worries me take stats like that the wrong way and anything can happen, I worry it will open the doors to all kinds of discrimination and service cuts in many areas that are stretched already!

BBC NEWS | Health | System ‘failing autistic adults’

BBC NEWS | Health | System ‘failing autistic adults’.

It’s sad but a very true story that many people are struggling to live with autistic spectrum disorders they don’t know they have.

I personally have a friend who has recently found out that 10 years ago she was wrongly diognosed with Bipolar disorder and placed on a cocktail of drugs to ‘normalise’ her moods. This combination of drugs taken for so long has damaged her body to the point where she had to stop taking them (fully supported by a mental health team and her family).

Since coming off the medication she has been diagnosed as having Asperges and it is very unlikely she ever had Bipolar disorder!

The Eye Unit Continues to Amaze

On Thursday of this week I got a interesting letter through from the eye unit appointments,  it contained 3 letters one saying my appointment was at 1 o’clock on Tuesday another saying it was at 2 o’clock and another saying it was at 3 o’clock now put that into context that I already had an appointment booked for this morning I was rather confused.

So I phoned the appointments line and was told that it was an error on the system, I needed to keep my Saturday appointment and that the appointment on Tuesday is actually at 1 o’clock.

So I got up at 6:30 Saturday morning,  fed Gus Got us both ready and headed out to get the 8:05 bus to Southampton General Eye Unit. Those of you that know me well will be aware that I am not a morning person at the best of times but on a Saturday, getting to the hospital for 8:45 was very difficult. My Bus was unfortunately late so I was about 5 minutes late for my appointment but the receptionist was very nice about it and because it was  a really small clinic with 30 patients and 3 doctors seeing them all they simply swapped me around so I was not late at all!

I’m getting to know the nurses quite well on the eye unit now, we are on first name terms in most cases they all love my dog and we have a bit of a laugh when I read out the lowest line of the eye chart I can see and they have no idea what I am going on about! (Due to the fact that all the letters are wrong)

So I did the distance vision test which is a laugh then went to have drops put in my eyes as normal in a attempt to dilate my pupils, I normally have to have 2 different kinds which normally don’t work to well anyway I told the nurse that I needed 2 different types and she assured me that I did not.

10 minutes later and I am approached and told I was right all along and that I need another lot of eye drops!

Anyhow I went in to see the doctor who was confused as to why I was there on the Saturday when I am going next Tuesday anyway, there where no consultants around because it was a Saturday so the doctor did all the usual checks and discovered that my Glaucoma was sky high in my left eye, the pressure is supposed to be around the 18 mark, my left eye was scoring 30. The doctor then got a bit worried and asked me a million questions and told me not to panic, I was very chilled out about it because I know eye pressures is all ways higher in the morning and after all the eye drops they had put in my eye must have had some effect on the pressure. Quite frankly the Doctor was telling me not to panic but she was more than me she then looked through my notes and pondered.

At the end of the day unfortunately my combination of eye conditions is both rather rare and complicated for this reason these days I all ways see a consultant so poor little registrar was evidently feeling rather out of her depth and did not know what to do. 

So I got a sorry I really don’t get why you are here right now and make sure you keep your appointment on Tuesday because I have no idea what to do!

Bless!

So I got up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday to go to the hospital for no reason, I remain unimpressed!

Seriously the appointments system is both fragile and ridiculously inefficient, 2 appointments in 4 days at the same place, now that’s just bizarre.

Also I used to get my appointment letters in large print,  but since moving to a new appointments system they are no longer able to produce the letters in large print, this is the eye unit the place where pretty much every patient could do with an accessible letter! I asked if my letters could in that instance be emailed through to me and was told that the system would not allow that either.