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Disability History Month
Ever since 2010, Disability History Month has been a fixture in the ED&I calendar and, as many of you will already know, we’re in the middle of it right now. This year it is taking place between 16th November and 16th December, pretty much mirroring the World Cup in Qatar, but struggling to get the airtime they deserves is nothing new to the organisers so that’s why we are giving Disability History Month 2022 a shout out.
While more visible causes get plenty of coverage, our disabled community all too often drift, involuntarily, into the background, but Disability History Month is supported by a wide range of disability and voluntary groups. Each year has its own theme and this year it is Disability, Health and Wellbeing.
The COVID pandemic demonstrated around the world just how easily disabled people can see their rights, opportunities and assistance eroded. The Office of National Statistics reported that people with a disability were more likely to die as a result of COVID 19, with people with disabilities accounting for six in ten COVID deaths, while 46 per cent of people with disabilities said that the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health, compared with 29 per cent of non disabled people. In terms of access to services, the Health Foundation reported that disabled people were more likely to have treatment disrupted by the pandemic, while the Women and Equalities Committee said the economic impact of COVID had a bigger effect on disabled people and the disability pay gap widened.
All too often the rights of disabled people are ignored or ridden over by politicians and medical professionals, though the NHS has announced its support for Disability History Month 2022, promising to ensure its workplaces are open and inclusive and a place where people can feel they belong. The NHS held a Disability Summit today (7th December) with a theme of ‘Creating a disability positive NHS’ and chaired by entrepreneur Shani Dhanda. The health service also promises to celebrate the achievements of staff with disabilities and raise awareness of non visible disabilities.
Schools too can get involved as Disability History Month presents a chance for teachers to talk about disability and create a culture of respect, while removing barriers to help everyone reach their full potential. The Department of Education has reported that over 75 per cent of children with disabilities experience bullying and are eight times more likely to be suspended than children without disabilities.
Those two statistics are shocking and, as a society, we should hang our heads in shame.
The department is encouraging schools to promote to message of acceptance and understand that not everybody will behave, act or think the same way as them.
This is more important now than ever before, in our schools, hospitals, care homes, businesses and offices. The recent crises of global pandemic and war in Europe, with the resultant spiralling inflation and cost of living crisis, has created more mental health issues, and support and services for those suffering do not appear to have improved. And on the back of years of austerity, which ate away at disability support, the current climate has created a perfect storm.
Access to services and participation is society is a fundamental human right for everyone. Disability History Month will shine a light on the plight of the disabled and we all need to up our games moving into 2023.
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