National Disability Strategy fails to address Disabled people’s rights
ALLFIE’s Campaigns and Policy Coordinator, Simone Aspis, on how UK Government’s National Disability Strategy, released today, will do nothing to tackle the on-going onslaught attack on Disabled people’s rights.
The National Disability Strategy has always been doomed to be a big failure, when the Government is continuingly failing to engage with Disabled people and our organisations in any meaningful manner.
From the outset, the consultation was flawed with big cracks in the process: the survey design is poor, patronising and insulting; the questions being asked give no opportunity to explain the barriers we encounter every-day; and the lack of infrastructure and support to bring our networks together is not addressed.
Personally, I felt overwhelmed by the length of the questionnaire, and it required ample time to complete the survey. As far as we know, Disabled children, pupils and students have not been formally consulted. Tokenism has generally been the way for the Government to consult with Disabled people. Time and time again, this practice fails to value Disabled people’s expertise and contributions we have made to society, through our representative organisations, networks and lived experiences. Now, it is for the courts to decide whether the Government has met the standards and requirements for effective consultation later in the year.
In the 120 plus page document, there appears to be no real proposals that will tackle the disablism and intersectional discrimination that Disabled people face in their every-day lives.
Yet again, it is clear the Government has not used UNCRPD Monitoring Committee’s Observations and Recommendations to inform this National Disability Strategy, to help achieve the progressive realisation of Disabled people’s human rights and create an inclusive society for all.
The disability survey highlighted a range of issues that show a high percentage of Disabled people are on the receiving end of hostility and victimisation, alongside experiencing barriers in accessing public services and the education, employment, social and leisure opportunities taken for granted by non-disabled people. The government has given an agreement to inclusion in areas such as playgrounds and housing design, Queen’s honours list and other work, without any specific policies.
In the education section, there was an obvious omission of acknowledging that education must have an inclusive ethos. The education section does not offer any new inclusive education policy, but retains the status quo, the continuation of business as usual.
There is nothing in the Government’s National Disability Strategy to stop the special school population rising. It has been projected that there will be an increase from 113,000 in 2020 to 121,000 in 2024, that includes the establishment of 75 new special schools for children with complex special education needs.
The identified themes running through the education section will not deal with the root causes of disablism within the education system. There is no mention of curriculum, assessment arrangements, teaching, accountability measures and dealing with all forms of exclusions, seclusions, and segregation within and outside mainstream education. These are the issues that have created the hostile environment that Disabled people encounter every day.
The more Disabled people are segregated from the experiences of ordinary life, the greater the hostility and discrimination.
How can we expect to develop inclusive societies where children, with and without protected characteristics are not playing, learning, relating, working, and living together, side by side?,
We will need to see the Department for Education up its game, in reforming a SEND framework that will support inclusive education and societies.
Simone Aspis, Campaigns and Policy Coordinator