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DR UK on Radio 5 Live: Attitudes to disabled people

24 February 2016

Liz Sayce and DR UK ambassador Stephen Brookes were interviewed on Radio 5 Live’s Nicky Campbell programme today.

The theme of the programme was about public attitudes to disabled people and how we can improve them.

Link to the programme

Stephen appears 20:23 minutes into the broadcast.

Liz appears 31:10 minutes into the broadcast.

Stephen said that people now see disability but nobody has the faintest idea of understanding it. Stephen co-ordinates the Disability Hate Crime Network and the worst problem he faces is persuading disabled people that the things that happen to them are incorrect.

Working in Lancashire he notes an 80% increase of reports of hostility to disabled people. This is not because of a rise in incidents but purely because disabled people now have the confidence to work with other disabled people and the police to get justice or a solution.

But this is only a small part of it. Stephen has a disability which means that, at certain times, he has to use walking aids. Although the use of walking aids obviously does not affect his ability to understand a question, passers-by frequently choose to ask his wife how he is feeling rather than Stephen himself.

Stephen is interested in the engagement of disabled people with public life. He is working with the Office for Disability Issues and Disability Rights UK in trying to get disabled people involved in creating difference.

The Disability Action Alliance have just done a project with Blackpool Transport where disabled people with sensory and/or physical disabilities have been training drivers on disability awareness. The improvement in service delivery has been massive.

As a further example, Stephen would like to see more disabled school governors. He was once asked to be a school governor where it was suggested that he could sort out ramps, when in fact he should have been used to inform and teach others about disability issues.

Disabled people want to be understood and engaged. It’s not just about seeing disability but also having an in-depth experience of it. The moment we start getting that we start seeing an improvement in overall understanding and acceptance of disability as a way of life.

Liz agreed with Stephen Brookes in wanting to see more disabled people in leading roles – as teachers, as doctors, in restaurants, indeed in every walk of life.

DR UK is run by disabled people. So we are setting an example. We have career development programmes as well as campaigns led by young disabled people.

Knowing disabled people and learning from them changes attitudes and breaks down barriers.

She believes creating more opportunities for disabled people creates a positive cycle which in turn leads to yet more opportunities for disabled people.

DR UK is are glad to see that disabled children now mix with others in playgrounds but we also want to see disabled people more involved than that – they should also be teaching the children.