Sick of Exclusion

Sick of Exclusion
I’m sick and tired of having to challenge inaccessible practices within the Labour Party (an in the rest of life too). I’ve got better things to do than be tied up bashing down the doors, so I and others can participate. The discrimination spans all access issues, so all disabled people are targets.

Again, and again, and again, we give guidance on how to make docs accessible. “What part of the words “PDFs are inaccessible for people using text to speech assistive technology, so give us a word doc instead”, isn’t clear? It’s hardly any different in impact from “what part of the words, I haven’t got wings you know so how am I going to get into that riddled-with-steps venue you insist on having your meetings in?”; or “What did you say?” (when a sign language interpreter or an induction loop, isn’t present.
I’ve just opened an email from the Labour Party re the women’s conference tomorrow. Granted, it arrived yesterday evening, but I was chairing a scrutiny evidence session at that time and chose to go to bed afterwards, rather than download my emails. I chose also to do my day job today rather than read my home emails. As a consequence of this, I am only now dealing with yesterday’s backlog. Oh and I have checked, there’s nothing in today’s bunch which provides the accessible document.
Arguing for inclusion within the Labour Party is definitely one of those part time unpaid jobs that I am forced to do if I want to participate in the party. I could use that time instead building a stronger party and working to deliver a Labour Government headed by Jeremy Corbin, in 2020. I don’t care that because of the leadership election and the shadow appointments process, it’s been hard to confirm speakers etc. How difficult is it to produce a word version of a conference agenda, which was initially created in word, anyway? I mean …. !
Providing inaccessible documents is at the very least laziness, but it could hardly be argued that the Labour Party is ignorant, since they have been told. Yes, if poked,, they will deal with access requests, but we shouldn’t have to keep reminding them. It’s not like disabled people have only just been invented; or that we havn’t been campaigning for inclusion since the dawn of time. My question is, why are these mistakes still happening? I don’t know how disabled people can effectively influence party policy, raise the issues of concern to disabled people out there, in the party, if we can’t even get in the door, metaphorically or actually without kicking up a stink. So, not having enjoyed women’s conference last year in Manchester, I thought I wouldn’t go to the women’s conference this year; then when Jeremy was elected, I thought I would, in anticipation that the leader is going to address the women’s conference. Now, thanks to not getting accessible info about the women’s conference, I’ve decided I’m not going. So there will be one less stroppy disabled woman there tomorrow …. and I am sure that lack of clarity about access, belief that things won’t be accessible, feelings that disabled women are not important, are also reasons why less disabled women than perhaps who want to be there, will go to women’s conference tomorrow. And I’ve no doubt that other members of disability labour will have to spent time and energy battling away at conference, trying to fire-fight on access when we could be doing something much more important, like effecting policy, talking about why the austerity agenda, whether heavy or light is the greatest attack on disabled people in our living memory and why labour must not only defend disabled people’s rights but actively promote a disability rights based agenda. Not that I’m repeating myself, but I and others have been saying the above since exclusion first politicised us, in my case for 40 years. When will non-disabled people get it that they can remove disabling barriers if they want to.

If you want to hear more about Disability Rights as human rights, come to Disability labour’s fringe meeting What have human rights done for disabled people?
Monday 29nd September
12.45-2.00, Lancaster Room, Hilton Hotel.
The Human Rights Act 1998 entrenched inviolable rights for disabled people in British law and made them enforceable in British courts. Recent decisions, made in the fields of social care and mental health have used the Act to secure legal and political recognition of the equality of disabled people. The Conservative government proposes the replacement of this Act with a British Bill of Rights.
We ask:

What are the implications of a Bill of Rights approach?
What could be gained from it for disabled people, our campaigns in the Labour party, the disabled people’s movement and wider society?


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5 Responses to “Sick of Exclusion”

  1. Kirsten Hearn writes: Sick of Exclusion | Sisters of Frida Says:

    […] Read the rest at Kirsten’s blog […]

  2. Sylvia Says:

    You’re right that disabled people are not exactly a recent invention, but attitudes of equality probably are. I’m very sure that a lot of people grew up with the mindset of “if you can’t participate then that’s your problem not ours” (until of course it happens to them). I’ve found this in lots of areas, Paganism, Transition, even social work, despite their rhetoric.
    So maybe one reason why the Labour party and others drag their feet so much is that they truly don’t “get it”. They see inclusivity as an irritating optional extra, just another fringe interest to bat off, rather than integral to the whole project. Though they would not of course like to say so out loud, and certainly not to a person with a disability themself. So maybe more attention needs to be given to basic consciousness-raising?
    (Even my spell checker, I notice, supports my argument, by recognising “exclusivity” as a real word but not “inclusivity”).
    And well done for battling on. You make a major contribution to the fight, in all that you do, even though it must seem a thankless task.

  3. Sylvia Says:

    Tessa Jowell said something good recently, in a Guardian interview, that when there’s too much to do and things need to go down the priorities list, a good question to ask is “where am I most irreplaceable?” It’s a rarher opposite viewpoint from the somewhat solipsistic New Age “what is my true purpose in life?”. But more useful.

  4. kirstenhearn Says:

    Home year/month/day/title-with-dashes-between-each-word/

    Kirsten Hearn Phone: 020 7281 0852 Mobile: 07774 267 342 Email: Twitter:@kirstenhearn

  5. web site Says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find educated people for this topic,
    but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!

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