Landmark ruling, Dave Morris obituary; RADAR challenges political parties

What a lovely weekend! The BBQ was trundled out of the garage and ceremonially cleaned! (My granddaughter spotted a spider making a bid for freedom from under the grill. It was last seen climbing the table leg!) There is something about a Sunday in the sunshine surrounded by friends and family I hope you did something equally lovely! The garden is looking stunning with everything bursting into colour! It’s a real pity that the local rabbit population have also discovered the lushness of our plants!! I’ve refused point blank to read Peter the Rabbit to my grandchildren as a way of registering a protest!
Disabled woman secures £125,000 in landmark discrimination case

A disabled woman who secured a ground-breaking discrimination ruling from the House of Lords is to receive £125,000 in compensation.

Elizabeth Boyle, from Warrenpoint, County Down, Northern Ireland, had alleged disability and sex discrimination, victimisation and unfair selection for redundancy against her former employer, SCA Packaging.

A vital ruling in the case by the House of Lords last July also meant that more disabled people with fluctuating conditions would be protected by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

The DDA says that someone with a condition that does not currently have a substantial effect on them but varies in severity should still be viewed as disabled if they are “likely” to become substantially affected again in the future.

But the Law Lords ruled that this use of “likely” meant “could well happen”, rather than the previously accepted definition of “more probable than not”.

Boyle had worked for SCA Packaging for 32 years.

She had developed vocal nodules, which she helped to manage by speaking quietly, limiting the use of her voice, and other measures.

But her employer decided to remove partitions near her desk, even though it meant she would have to speak more loudly and risk her condition returning.

In October 2001, she began proceedings under the DDA, alleging she was being discriminated against through her employer’s failure to make reasonable adjustments.

Seven months later, she was made redundant and brought further claims, including victimisation under the DDA.

The company argued Boyle was not disabled as her condition no longer had an adverse effect on her life.

But after ruling in Boyle’s favour last July, and finding that she was a disabled person under the DDA, the Law Lords referred the case back to an industrial tribunal.

Boyle and SCA Packaging then agreed on the financial settlement without the case needing to be heard, although the company did not admit liability.

Boyle said: “This has been a nine year battle that caused so much stress to me and my family.

“However, because of the ruling made in my case, other disabled people can benefit too.”

Eileen Lavery, head of strategic enforcement for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said the case had “broadened the protection” to disabled people under the DDA.

She said the Lords ruling was “particularly important” for people with conditions that can be controlled by treatment, or fluctuating conditions that have temporarily ceased to have an effect but are likely to recur, such as arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
Movement mourns loss of David Morris

The disability movement united this week to mourn the loss of David Morris, a hugely respected campaigner, artist and pioneer of the independent living movement, who died suddenly on Sunday.

The UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) said his passing left a “major gap in our landscape”, while other leading activists paid tribute to his passion, commitment and “incredible contributions” to equality and human rights.

There was a two-minute silence in his honour on Tuesday at an election hustings hosted by Inclusion London, the new pan-London Deaf and disabled people’s organisation that he helped develop.

Liz Sayce, chief executive of RADAR, said Morris had “helped shape the independent living movement in the 1980s”.

In 1989, he founded Independent Living Alternatives, which supports disabled people who need personal assistance. On its website, he described how disabled people have “an inalienable right to independent living”, but added: “In essence, independent living is a misnomer: as disabled people we should be able to just think about living as anybody else.”

Morris played a leading role in nearly every major development around disability equality in London over the last 10 years, including both Liberty – London’s annual disability arts festival – and the mayor’s Disability Capital event.

He had recently played a key role in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, as the organising committee’s external access and inclusion coordinator, on secondment from his job with the Greater London Authority.

Last September, he told Disability Capital that 2012 was a chance to leave “a real legacy for generations to come” and that London in 2012 would see the largest ever number of disabled and Deaf people in any city at one time.

Kirsten Hearn, who chaired the Inclusion London event, told the audience of disabled activists that Morris would be “the most enormous loss to our community”.

She worked with him after he was appointed senior disability adviser to the then mayor, Ken Livingstone, and said he helped deliver Livingstone’s vision around access to transport, leading to the current fleet of low-floor, “talking” buses.

She said: “Some of the changes and differences that were made in London for disabled people were made because Dave was dogged and persistent in all that he did.

“He was a quiet but vociferous man. He didn’t make a lot of audible noise but he never shut up. He would simply persist. I personally will miss him hugely and I am sure that many of us will.”
ELECTION 2010: RADAR’s plan for new government’s ‘first 100 days’

A campaigning disability organisation has laid out seven “radical but practical” measures the next government should introduce in its first 100 days in office so that it can “blaze a trail for disability equality”.

RADAR says in its election manifesto – launched this week – that introducing the seven policies would immediately improve opportunities for disabled people, “without breaking the bank”.

And it is calling on campaigners to ask their local parliamentary candidates to pledge to support the policies.

Liz Sayce, RADAR’s chief executive, said that adopting the seven measures would allow the new government to send out “strong signals” about how it would approach issues such as social care and support, and disabled people leading change.

The seven measures are:
Introducing social care “portability”, so a disabled person could take their support package with them if they moved to a home in a different local authority area.
Giving disabled people looking for work an indication of the access to work funding they would receive if they secured a job.
Setting up a taskforce to develop a strategy for ending disability poverty by 2025.
Changing the local housing allowance rules so disabled people who need an overnight support worker could claim for a second bedroom.
Drawing up regulations to ensure “effective and enforceable” public sector equality duties under the Equality Act.
Repealing the law that says MPs must lose their seat if detained under the Mental Health Act for more than six months.
Send a “strong signal” that disabled people’s leadership aspirations will be met, through issuing statements and giving a high profile to disabled politicians.

The manifesto also includes a wide range of other polices that should be introduced during the next parliament, as well as longer-term measures.

The policies focus on independent living, disability poverty and financial exclusion, access, realising the potential of disabled people, and equality and justice.

They include: a national action plan for inclusive education; an “intensive” campaign to raise awareness among disabled people of the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; stronger and more effective enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation; and the introduction of a national disability hate crime register.

Sayce said: “We have said in the manifesto that factoring disability into mainstream policies just makes for better policies.

“Think of disabled people as contributors, leaders, and think about disability when you are considering schools or housing or anti-poverty, because that will just make for better policies.”
Crow’s Resistance receives US seal of approval

A British disabled film-maker’s acclaimed installation exploring the horrors of the targeted killing of disabled people in Nazi Germany is to be exhibited at one of America’s most renowned cultural venues.

Liz Crow’s Resistance: which way the future? is to be shown at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, even though Crow has yet to find a venue willing to exhibit it in London.

This week, the film installation was brought to Mansfield, where Crow was hoping it would receive similar acclaim as at its launch at DaDa Fest in Liverpool last November.

Crow said it was “hugely exciting” that Resistance would be exhibited by the Smithsonian, but she said she was frustrated at how difficult it had been to find exhibition spaces willing to host the installation in the UK.

She said: “It seems to really connect with people and really get them thinking. My fear is that it will never realise that potential. It would be such a waste if it doesn’t get out there.”

The Aktion T4 programme is believed to have led to the targeted killing of as many as 200,000 disabled people in Germany, and possibly many thousands more, and became the blueprint for the “Final Solution”, through which the Nazis hoped to wipe out Jews, gay people and other minority groups.

Crow’s installation features a short drama about T4, a filmed conversation between three of the actors from the drama, and a series of voices of disabled people talking about their present-day, “sharp end” experiences of both discrimination and inclusion.

It explores the values that permitted the T4 programme to take place but also reveals how people found the courage to resist.

Crow said she tries to draw visitors out of the “historical hopelessness” of T4 into exploring how they as individuals could prevent the kind of oppression that surfaced in Nazi Germany.

She said: “This is an episode of history that is virtually hidden, yet the values that underpinned it still echo through disabled people’s lives today.”

Disablist hate crime, the campaign to legalise assisted suicide and pre-natal screening and abortion all “challenge the worth of disabled people’s lives and even their right to exist”, she said.

She added: “The campaigns that were needed, the resistance that was needed during the Nazi regime, are still needed now. We still need to create change on the same kind of issues.”

Disabled people who have visited the installation tended to be struck by its historical elements, she said, while non-disabled visitors tended to be affected most by the realisation that such oppression was still taking place today.

In the absence of such issues being debated during the election campaign, she said she hoped a tour of Resistance could become a platform for such issues to be discussed.

She said: “I don’t feel like this is a project of mine. I would love it if people took it and used it to create change.”

Resistance is at The Old Library, Leeming Street, Mansfield, from Tuesday 20 April to Saturday 1 May, with public access from Monday to Friday, noon-2pm, and on Saturdays, from 11am-3pm.

For further information about the installation, visit www.roaring-girl.com

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Author: PhilFriend

Dr Phil Friend (OBE FRSA) himself a wheelchair user, is acknowledged as the UK’s foremost consultant on disability matters. A powerful and highly popular communicator, his company – Phil & Friends – provides consultancy to many of the country’s best-known companies. In addition to his professional activities, he is also a respected champion for equal opportunities and diversity in general, where his special blend of humour and direct speaking has won admirers from around the world.

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