Yesterday the Conservative Disability Group had the opportunity to be published within ConservativeHome discussing representation, accessibility, the work we are doing with the Party centrally, and the upcoming #Ability2Win project. The positive response we have received has been overwhelming, the disabled community and able-bodied disability supporting community united into a single group, with a clear appetite to ensure greater representation.
However, from a number of the comments received in response to yesterday's article, it is evident that there still exists a lack of awareness of the diversity and range of disabilities. Comments questioning the validity of certain disabilities, comments requesting the term disabled is narrowed down to only physical mobility differences, comments questioning an individual's right to use their blue badge.
Therefore Perhaps we need to start from the beginning. What is a disability? What does it mean to be ‘disabled’.
The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as having a ‘physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.
For too long many people face discriminatory and offensive labels which are being consistently used, such as ‘stupid’ in response to dyslexia and learning differences, ‘fakers’ in response to occasionally mobility equipment users, ‘benefit scroungers’ in response to mental health conditions, to name but a few. This must stop, this must stop now. These types of comments, questioning the validity of a person's disability are abhorrent and disgusting. An individual does not have the right to question the validity of another person's disability, with no experience or understanding of how their disability affects their life, whether physically or mentally. Rather than be angry towards these commenters, those who hold this outdated mindset, we must raise awareness of the beautiful diversity of disabilities and teach those who do not yet understand the complexities and challenges of living with a disability.
Whether visible or non-visible, physical or neurological, all disabilities are equally valid and deserve the same respect, awareness, and rights protection. It is clear examining the comments received yesterday that there still exists an outdated archaic stereotype of what having a disability ‘looks like.' Through education, greater representation, and building awareness of various conditions, we can correct this misunderstanding. The Equality Act protects you and it protects your rights, the Conservative Disability Group and the Party will continue to work harder than ever to ensure greater representation and accessibility across every facet of our nation.
Written by Celia Hensman on behalf of The Conservative Disability Group