Let Disabled People Speak For Themselves
There are two sayings in disabled people's organisations. The first is "Nothing about us, without us". This was developed more than three decades ago because professionals saw themselves as experts about our lives and made decisions based on professional prejudice that imprisoned and oppressed us. The recent residential care scandals show that we haven't come as far as we think we have. What struck me about Winterbourne View was that I could see no reason that any of those residents should have been in an institution in the first place. It was the bad practice in adult social care by social workers and commissioners that meant those residents were in the private residential institution on an industrial estate on the edge of Bristol. Disability is good for business and profits, but not necessarily good or appropriate for disabled people.
The second is that professionals should be "On tap, not on top". All those "experts" gathered in your roundtable (Society, 27 November) seemed to be very much talking about us, without us. How can you discuss how family members and community can come to the rescue in the face of unprecedented cuts to funding and rising demand without a proper voice from ordinary disabled people, family members or carers? The lack of diversity (in any sense) around the table is shocking.
The proposals Norfolk council is "consulting on" for next year's budget signal the end of the personalisation and the return of institutionalisation, 21st-century style. The only difference is that the institution is people's homes, not a hospital or workhouse on the edge of town. The proposed retreat to statutory duty means those lucky enough to pass the raised eligibility bar will be able to get out of bed but little else. Disabled people are becoming prisoners in their own homes, if they haven't had to leave them because of the bedroom tax.
This violates the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The coalition, through its pernicious and unnecessary austerity programme, is targeting disabled people for their welfare reforms and cuts. The lack of any dissenting professional voices standing up and speaking out alongside us is scary. The scale of stress and misery being heaped on disabled people and our loved ones is a scandal.
CEO, Equal Lives
Source : http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/02/disabled-people-speak-for-themselves