Let’s talk about the budget and cuts to disability benefits, and let’s frame the issues within a Social Model approach.
The most important thing to us about the Social Model is that it says that disability is something that is created by society; it does not belong to the individual.
What disables people in our society is the way that society treats difference. For example, on an individual level, how do we introduce ourselves for the first time?
1. You probably say your name:
In an environment where people understand total communication and are well supported everyone can introduce themselves.
“Today over 100,000 children and adults, use Makaton symbols and signs, either as their main method of communication or as a way to support speech”
Can you introduce yourself in Makaton?
2. You probably say what you do for a living:
In a society that knows that everyone has something of value to contribute everyone would have an equal access to employment.
“Less than 1 in 5 people with a learning disability work, but we know that at least 65% of people with a learning disability want to work. Of those people with a learning disability that do work, most only work part time and are low paid.”
How many people with a learning disability label do you work with?
3. You probably say where you live:
In a society that recognises the right to freedom of movement everyone would have the opportunity to choose where they live and who they live with.
"Less than a third of people with a learning disability have some choice of who they live with, and less than half have some choice over where they live. "
How many people do you know who didn’t choose where they live and who they live with?
4. You probably mention your relationship and friends:
In a society that recognises that being social is part of being human everyone would have a social life.
“We have found that lots of people with learning disabilities aren’t able to lead full and active social lives because their support workers finish at 10pm”
How many adults do you know that don’t get chose when it is time to go home?
5. You probably talk about your interests or hobbies:
In a society where everyone has equal access to what they are most passionate about everyone would get to opportunity to try lots of different things.
“Disabled people trying to buy gig tickets sometimes have to "wait hours" on "premium rate telephone lines" and are often seated separately from family and friends”
How many people do you know that could not do what they wanted last weekend just because they were ‘different’?
So, what has this got to do with the budget? It is great that so many people are outraged by the cut in disability benefits BUT keeping/changing/abolishing PIP will not create a society of equal opportunity where there is no disability.
Perhaps in a society that applied a Social Model approach and believed that everyone has something of value to contribute PIP would not be needed at all.
If everybody started asking “why doesn’t everyone have the same opportunity to do what I am doing?” and “what can I/we/our parliament/our society/our country do to change that?” equal opportunity would become more than just a pipe dream, it would become a reality.
We invite you to tell us how you are being the change you want to see in the world. What could you do to change the answers 1.4 million people with learning disabilities’ may give to the 5 questions; be part of making our society #Inclusive.