Not promoting the social model of disability


Now here’s a personal story. It happened to me today. For a change I’m going to give you the facts and let you draw your own conclusions based on questions that I set you to help through the exercise.

A central government agency has set up a conference some time next week. It is open to teams drawn up from local authorities and the voluntary sector. I applied to be a team member and will attend with a local authority rep. I asked for directions to the venue. The organisors replied;

“Turn east when leaving the tube station. Cross the road in about 100 yards when you see a really distinctive looking building”.

Below this really useful piece of advice was an email to the organisors from the local authority member who will be my team leader. Within the text I read the following;

“In terms of support needs Richard has a speech difficulty (heavy stutter) but is a committed and valuable member of our team”.

Now in exploring these statements you might want to ask yourselves these sets of questions.

a) Are there any disabled people who would find the instruction to turn east and find a distinctiive looking building useful? Why would it be useful? To which groups of disabled people would the instructions be particularly unuseful? What resources would a disabled person, or any other person for that matter, need to follow the instructions?

b) What support needs if any have been identified in saying that I have a speech difficulty (heavy stutter) if any? Is there any difference between a support need and an access need? What would my support/access needs be? Are there any first principles of support needs that have not been followed here? What are the implications about disabled people that follow on from the adjunct “but is a committed and valuable member of our team”?

c) Are there any other questions that I have not asked that you would like to ask? I would be pleased to respond to these.

No need to send the answers on a post card. Just reply to the blog.

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2 Comments »

  1. Colin said

    I got this the other day regarding a presentation for a job I am interested in. The job is open to people with learning difficulties and as dyspraxia is a specific learning difficulty I thought I would attend. I emailed to say that I would be interested in attending and this was the warm and friendly response I received:

    “Dear All
    This is to confirm that I have reserved places for supporters plus the
    people they are supporting on the day on the above date. Attached is a map
    for directions. Please note that for those of you who will be using the
    tube, Exit on the South Bank exit at the Elephant and Castle on both
    Northern and Bakerloo lines.”

    It is interesting that this person places “the supporters” before “the people they are supporting”. And this also makes the assumption that everyone applying for the job needs or wants a supporter. Are you only allowed to apply for the job if you have a supporter? Why even mention anything about supporters?

    When I turned up people had gained entrance without booking so what indeed was the point of reserving places?

    The directions say ” Please note that for those of you who will be using the
    tube, Exit on the South Bank exit at the Elephant and Castle on both
    Northern and Bakerloo lines”. Elephant and Castle is not an accessible station but if you do exit what next? Look at the badly drawn map sent as a gif. And if you are not travelling by tube?

  2. detrich said

    Reminds me of a blind woman in birmingham who was reputed to ask a passerby how to get somewhere.

    “Well”, said the passerby bending down to talk to the guide dog; “you go up the road and turn first left”.

    I’ve heard this so often i’m sure it can’t be an apocryhal tail (geddit?) but yes the supporters do take sugar don’t they. Especially when we tell them to.

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