Have our lives improved?

I was casting around for blog topics, and my husband asked, “Have the lives of adults with impairments improved?” Which set me thinking.

Compared to, say, forty years ago, there is now a much more comprehensive approach to inclusion, socially and in the work place, for all of us, whatever our particular circumstances.

There are laws in place, for example the Equality Act 2010, successor to the Disability Discrimination Act. I’m glad to see that at last, equality is finally established as the founding principle, replacing a piece-meal approach to abolishing discrimination but only in certain aspects – race, gender, social orientation… – and I heave a sigh of relief that we no longer have to doggedly list and recall at crucial moments all those aspects of discrimination that are illegal and those that are still to be tolerated (and the reasons why that might be so).

Things have also improved, in the sense that adults with challenges of all sorts are more willing to talk about them, campaign around them and not put up with being side-lined or fobbed off with pathetic excuses. How many of us remember being told that, because of our impairments, we were not allowed to go to the cinema, or on a boat ride, because to do these things would potentially be hazardous for us and for other people. Well, of course they might be; life has obvious hazards. Though the language of discrimination still creeps in occasionally, we no longer accept that we should be left to moulder ‘safely’ at the quayside while everyone else is laughing on the cruise.

So there is a legal framework, which in turn fosters social and work-place inclusion, and offers those with extra challenges some way to seek clarification and redress as well as more confidence to raise questions about their inclusion and participation.

That is siginificant progress.

(To be continued)

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