disablism


I think most people who read/have read here know that I am deaf; and I have explored some of my feelings about this before. Tonight a TV programme was shown, exploring some of what it feels like to be Deaf, rather than deaf.

Before you all think I’ve completely lost the plot, I should explain: for the Deaf community, there is a key difference between Deaf and deaf. Deaf means linguistically deaf, sign language deaf, culturally deaf. You may have grown up being deaf, learned sign language from your parents, but if not them, from your classmates, your deaf friends, at a deaf school, or later, at a deaf club. Friends are deaf, jokes are done in sign language, gossip in sign language, sorrow in sign language. It is a hidden community, almost, because a Deaf person, in isolation, on the street, looks no different to a hearing person: the linguistic differences are not visible until communication begins. Some of the Deaf may be almost militantly deaf, speak of deaf pride, proud of their language, their culture, their history, fight against things that they see as taking away from their community, such as Cochlear Implants. They celebrate when their children are deaf, as it means they’ll be like them. They see themselves as a linguistic minority, rather than a disabled one, and reject overwhelmingly the medical model, the idea of deafness as a loss. Its not hearing loss, hearing impaired. They reject disability negative language, and focus on pride. They are DEAF. In sign language, it is emphatically signed with two fingers held out from the hand, the rest closed in, and strongly, firmly, proudly placed on the ear, blocking the sound. There is no mistaking it.

This is all in opposition to the deaf, those who see themselves as having a hearing loss, perhaps going deaf as they get older, who wouldn’t dream of doing that funny handwaving in the air and making a spectacle of themselves, who prefer to quietly wear in the ear, invisible hearing aids, who might go to the lengths of attending a class on lipreading, but who would never dream of hiring a lipspeaker to interpret at important events. They focus on being as normal as possible, just a little bit deaf, they can talk and understand what’s going on and they absolutely are not DIFFERENT. They’re not DISABLED. They’re not like those poor mites who can’t talk. Just a bit… you know… hard of hearing. They won’t understand the Deaf community, any more than a hearing person who has had no contact with a Deaf person would; and will almost certainly emphatically reject any kind of association with Deafness.

These are two extremes, and I have deliberately polarised them from each other, almost as a caricature so, in order to demonstrate the differences between them. Its important to realise that Deaf/deafness is a spectrum, and that there are many people at many points along that spectrum, and that each person’s position on the spectrum is right for them: in other words, I’m trying not to criticise anyone for choosing where they lie along this spectrum, to criticise them for the choices they make in their self-identity. I am explaining this purely in order to explain some of the language I use in the rest of this blog post.

What has prompted this post is the programme I saw tonight. Grayson Perry, the artist, has made a series of programmes and artworks exploring the central question of identity, “who are you?” [4 On Demand has the programme here, but this will NOT be available after 4th December 2014, nor if you are outside of the UK]. He explored this through three groups tonight; the others were Northern Irish Loyalists, exploring their attachment to and celebration of Britain, of a Britishness that most people living in Britain today would struggle to recognise, and a group of BBWs (Big Beautiful Women), who are on the same path towards acceptance and equality that – as Perry said – gayness was a decade ago, that women were a century ago. And then there were the Deaf. He interviewed a family; Tomato and Paula, both in their late thirties, from North London, both … many might describe them as being militantly deaf. They have two daughters, both of whom are deaf, but the film showed Perry going with them to the audiologist when their youngest daughter’s hearing was checked over. Perry asked a key question: “how do you feel about the audiology exam, the language that the audiologist has used”, as the audiologist was saying that it was good that their daughter’s hearing had not deteriorated any more. Tomato explained that he felt it was almost abusive, because he remembered his own childhood, of similar exams, of watching his parents anxiously watching him, praying that there had been some improvement in his hearing, and wanting so much to please his parents, reading their body language and the audiologist’s to give a false reading, and the … joy of his parents, reinforcing the message that was given to him: your deafness is bad, a horrible thing. It brought memories back of my own in the same situation: of watching the back of the audiologist’s hand, of wanting so badly to be normal and to make my parents happy and the deep fear and sorrow when I felt that I had let them down.

Later, Tomato showed Perry the home made punk style hearing aid covers from his youth. These, simple metal covers designed to fit over a hearing aid, with a row of spikes protruding from them, like a row of mohican spikes, spoke eloquently to Perry, and to me, for quite different reasons. Tomato, evidently, had chosen to celebrate his deafness in his youth, to play up his hearing aids, to be, almost, ‘in-your-face’ about his deafness and his hearing aids. It spoke eloquently of a pride and a confidence that I could only watch, enviously. I think back to my own formative years, and while I was never into the punk movement, so would never have reached out for the same kind of imagery, I also cannot find an example of any way that I was similarly celebratory about my deafness.

Quite the opposite in fact.

I experienced my deafness through the prism of school. I mixed with other deaf people in deaf clubs for a very short while after leaving school, for perhaps a year or two, and then for around 5 years with people who were more like me – who spoke, who might know sign language but who came from hearing families and sort of straddled both worlds, the hearing and the deaf. And then I left it totally and had no deaf friends at all, no deaf contact. These days, when I think of my experiences with the Deaf, I think of school. And since I had a bad time at school, my thoughts about the Deaf, about the Deaf community, are pretty negative.

But what I was seeing with Tomato and Paula showed me, clearly, that they didn’t see it that way. And I thought about a conversation I had recently with someone who was hearing, but who had Deaf parents, and who had grown up in the Deaf community. I had talked to her about why I chose not to be involved in the Deaf community, about my negative experiences of it. I found it cliqueish, closed minded, unaccepting of anything different from the mainstream (ironically so). I detested that, so I left it. She simply said at the time that she didn’t see it that way, which I accepted – perhaps she instinctively understood that I wasn’t ready to see her world the way she saw it, I don’t know.

But now, having watched that programme, I wonder: have I, in rejecting the Deaf community so wholeheartedly, condemning them all for the actions of a few, dismissing them as being cliqueish, narrowminded, have I done damage to myself?

I don’t mean here, in terms of what I’m potentially missing out on, although that’s an element too. [I certainly know that Deaf Culture can be expressively beautiful and joyous.] I mean: in relating the term DEAF with something so overwhelmingly negative, what message am I sending to myself, about myself? Am I hating on myself, to use the American term, in a way that is doing overwhelming damage to myself? And even more key: if I hate, and am ashamed, and embarrassed about, and feel I have to excuse and make up for my own deafness…. how the hell can I ever expect anyone else not to? How can I expect, demand even, that other people step up to the plate and make the amendments that they SHOULD make, on the basis of equality? And in having such a negative image of the Deaf, am I setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy for when I do encounter Deaf people?

Again, this goes to the heart of a conversation I have had with one of my interpreters, who is turning into a good friend but who is also, slowly (bless her heart), helping me to see that the Deaf world does not have to be the overwhelmingly negative one that I was subjected to for so long. And I suppose tonight is the nex step along the path she’s been dragging me along for the last 3 years: that deaf people are people, that they behave both well and badly, that there are people who are good for you and bad for you, and that to reject someone on the basis of their chosen linguistic style and choice of culture/community, even by dint of just choosing not to interact with that culture even when multiple opportunities are laid in front of you, is wrong. It is disabilist in the worst way. And that’s something I need to stop doing if I am to develop a sense of pride in who I am, deafness, warts n all. If I am going to demand that people accept me as I am, deafness, warts and all. If I am going to demand that people give me the access to make the most of myself, deafness, warts n all.

I’m not sure where I’m going to go from here. But I think even just writing this, realising this, is quite a breakthrough. Perhaps the next step is to stop resisting joining the Deaf community, to reach out, see who’s out there, and to form some healthy, positive friendships with people who are good for me, and where I am good for them. Perhaps from that a new, positive sense of deaf self-identity can grow within me, and merge to join the rest of my identity, to form the whole that is me.

I just went back to read last year’s BADD offering. There, I confidently stated that I hadn’t experienced disabilism at uni and didn’t expect to. I wish… oh… how I wish I could say the same thing this year. But I cannot, and that makes me extremely sad.

I’m very unsure how much in the way of detail to give about this, mostly because lessons have been learned, which is the most important part. I feel its important to get that out there right away: that the response of the University was fantastic, they acted straight away to ensure that what happened that day never happens again to anyone else. Which makes it sound far worse than it actually was, but I do want to write about it… and the impact that it has had on me.

As part of my degree studies this year, I had to take part in a group project, delivering a group presentation which was graded – everyone on my course did. Its a fairly standard part of degree studies these days as so many people have to go on to take part in a group project or give at least one presentation in their working lives at some point and having the group project experience really adds to the C.V. I really enjoyed my group project. I won’t say what it was about, its irrelevant to this, but the people I was working with were fantastic – five of us in total and they worked really well with my interpreter, and made allowances for me the few times we had to meet without an interpreter (including the memorable, and unavoidable occasion we had to meet in a very noisy student’s union – and they were fantastic at scribbling things down!).

No, my experience of disabilism wasn’t from them; although one might have expected that. It came during the group presentation. We’d been told that we had to give the presentation to two other groups, we were all doing presentations on similar period of history, and we all had to listen to each other’s, and to pose questions to each other at the end of each other’s presentation – how well we responded to those questions would form part of the grading structure. I had arranged, since it was going to be a long afternoon, for two interpreters to be present, to spell each other. they were sat at the front, next to the people giving the presentation, in a largish room (and for a notetaker to be present – who was seated to the rear). the first presentation began: one of their team was late and kept us waiting for 15 minutes. Eventually they were told to start without him, which i can imagine rattled the team quite badly (and he showed up 5 minutes into the presentation, to murderous looks from his team!). One of the team then began to speak. He was undeniably nervous, whether the lateness of his fellow team member had made that worse, I don’t know, but he was mumbling and speaking very very quietly. Neither of the interpreters could hear him, and they were sitting 2 yards away from him! The assessors were at the rear of the room. The interpreter stopped him, apologised, said that she could not hear him and asked him to repeat what he had just said. he did so. the presentation continued. The interpreter had to stop him again… and again. On the third time that she stopped him, one of the assessors got up, came to her and asked her to stop interrupting him. The interpreter protested and said that it had been agreed with the other assessor that she could do this, and that She (pointing to me) had a right to access what was going on.

What we didn’t know then was that the assessors had been told by the university that they were not allowed to interrupt on the basis of not understanding what they were saying. If the presenters could not be understood they were to be marked down accordingly. This was to give everyone a fair chance, to make sure that each and every team being assessed was being treated equally. Which was fair enough; except that no one had told us. And it led to a situation where the Assessor was torn between making sure I had equal rights and obeying the rules governing the assessment (which were, and are, and need to be, as strict as the rules governing examinations, for example). Unfortunate, bad planning, yes, absolutely, but the only incidence of disabilism thus far was in the university’s failure to plan ahead and to see a situation where this could have arisen. Its not like they didn’t know I was there and the University has an AccessAbility office which should have been involved in the planning for this kind of thing – as it was, it was left to me and my interpreter to bring up the issue of communication support a couple of weeks before the assessment.

That much, I could understand, as could the interpreter, although we found this all out later. It was what the assessor did next that was really beyond the pale. When the interpreter protested that I had a right to access what was going on, the Assessor’s response was: “she’ll have to make do with the handout”. and that was the end of it – he sat down and the interpreter had no choice but to continue to interpret what she could hear, and do the best she could in a bad situation.

Now… this was disabilist on several levels. 1) it was directly discriminating against me, preventing me from accessing information on the same level as everyone else. 2) It was discriminating against me because it was telling the rest of the people in the room that it was okay to discriminate against me, that its convenient to shove the rules aside when it suits them. 3) The tone in which he spoke implied, and perhaps I am being oversensitive here, that he thought I should be damn lucky to get the handout and that I really should just siddown and shuddup and stop making his life difficult. And finally, it was actually discriminating against my classmates. By preventing me from accessing what was going on, it prevented me from asking questions at the end. The purpose of the questions is not just to be marked; it was also to give the group a chance to consider alternative perspectives from outside the group, which could then subsequently be built into their group report, giving them a chance to increase their marks, expose any weaknesses, and so on. While I don’t claim to be any kind of genius, by preventing me from being able to ask those questions, it essentially meant that any feedback I could have offered the other two groups was removed.

The assessor was someone who had actually taught me the previous year. He knows what I’m capable of. He has had multiple interpreters and notetakers in his class. He knows that this is not just a “tickbox exercise”, that this is a genuine need of accessing what is going on in order to contribute to the class. More to the point, and more shockingly, he was the Accessability Officer for the School of Historical Studies that semester. Part of his job is to liase with the AccessAbility office to make sure that all the material used by the School of Historical Studies is accessible to people with disabilities. For him to speak in the way that he did was not only unnecessary, but worse, disabilist as well. Not in a deliberate, “I hate disabled people” way (I’m sure he doesn’t, and would be horrified if he heard this story from someone else) but in an unthinking way, in the sense that deafness hasn’t impacted on him, that he hasn’t considered the implications of what he was saying. Which, in some ways, was worse than if it had been said with malice.

After this confrontation, I was extremely upset. I was shaking, angry, upset and distressed. That I managed to hold it together enough to deliver my own presentation was a minor miracle – I know it affected my delivery of it, rattled me enough that I stumbled a lot and it was anything but the smooth presentation I had given in the practice run a few days earlier. After the whole thing was over, and everyone bar the assessors had gone, I stayed to talk to them, along with my primary interpreter. I tried to make them understand how the whole thing had made me feel, but the assessor that had caused the issue was more interested in telling me that “I wouldn’t be penalised for the whole thing”, and refused to listen to what I had to say. In fact, he was NOT-listening and interrupting me so much that at one point I had to actually stop him and says “I was talking, would you actually do me the courtesy of letting me finish?”. I think he realised he had messed up and just wanted to be anywhere but there, which is understandable on the human level but… honestly? If he had just apologised and explained what had caused the situation and apologised for his reaction, that he was caught on the wrong foot, we would have understood. Neither of us (my interpreter and me) are PC-mad, we would have understood that, c’est la vie. Shit happens, as my father-in-law is wont to say – and let it go.

I was ready, at that point, to put in a full complaint and take it all the way to the top. The School’s reactions – or, perhaps more accurately, the reactions of the Head of the School and the other assessor, pre-empted that. the head of the school heard what had happened, realised it must not happen again, and asked the other assessor to write a report suggesting changes to ensure it didn’t happen again. That assessor asked both myself and the interpreter to meet with him to discuss what had happened and to make our own suggestions for avoiding this. We did, and the report was subsequently written. I am told that future presentations will be changed so that no assessors are put in that position again, and that some deaf awareness training will be included as part of the “giving a presentation” lecture that we all received as part of that module before the presentation. Other things have also been put in place: its clear that the University understood that what happened was unacceptable and that they needed to step up to the plate – which they did.

I haven’t seen the assessor since. I remain very angry about his reaction, because I have received no apology from him. I resolved to avoid having him for a dissertation supervisor, and thankfully, that has happened. I could well wind up with him as a teacher for next year. I don’t know how I will handle that if it does happen.

But more than that, I want to talk about how this has affected me. I feel disillusioned. Not about the University (their response was great and if anything I’m really proud of how they handled it). But about the individual. I had hoped – perhaps foolishly, perhaps naively, that things were getting better, that people were understanding more, that the idea that someone disabled should “have to accept things” had gone. Its clear that I was wrong.

This happened last December. Since then I have been plagued with dreams – no, nightmares – of an extremely misogynistic, disablist company I used to work for about 15 years ago. A company that tried everything they could to get rid of me after first hiring me to make themselves look good on the equal opportunities sheet. I don’t think its a co-incidence that they have come back after 15 years – the incidence at university has stirred up a lot of bad memories. But all that makes me wonder: Am I over-reacting – is it the bad experience from 15 years ago that is driving my feelings about what happened at that presentation last December? I find it very difficult to seperate the two – and I know that part of the anger I feel towards that assessor has to do with blaming him for stirring up all this stuff, making me have to deal with it all over again. And I need to be careful: that when, and if, I do have to deal with him again, that I don’t unfairly blame him – he isn’t responsible for what happened 15 years ago.

What is clear is that since then, I have been … ultra-sensitive to any potential incidents of disablism at uni. One of my teachers is foreign; her attitude and an incident in class made me question whether she was expressing prejudice towards me on the basis of my disability. I had to get external verification that she actually probably wasn’t, before I could let it go within myself (the teacher in question knows nothing of this, this is an internal battle). I hate that ultra-sensitivity, that anger. That’s what I mean about being dissillusioned. I feel like one of those ultra-PC people who go around with massive chips on their shoulders, seeing prejudice everywhere, even places it really doesn’t exist. I don’t want to be that way. I really don’t.

“It’s May 1st!”, I yelped as we sat down to eat our evening meal. I’d spent the day either driving Michiel van Wessem to the range/home again, or with my nose in books, researching The Black Prince, and why his death in 1376 was so critical for England. The fact that it was the first of May had completely passed me by. And this is important because….?

B.A.D.D., of course! Blogging against Disabilism Day!

Posts on this subject in previous years can be found here: Demonisation of the disabled (and sadly, but not surprisingly, nothing has improved, a year on – if anything, its worse), People like Me (not written by me), Researching disability in ancient Greece, Expectations and Stereotypes, I don’t suffer from disabilism, and Prejudice from “your own kind”. I missed it in May 2010, but otherwise I’ve posted every year.

I think I’ve written some about my experiences of disabilism in Further Education (which is what I was doing this time last year) but not yet on my experiences in Higher Education. Granted, I’ve done less than a year of Higher Education so far, but hey, this is where i am so this is what you get 🙂

Its very different to Further Education. There, I ticked the box on application to the college to say that I had a disability, wrote down the nature of my disability and the college did the rest. Provided notetakers, interpreters, did an assessment, the lot. All i had to do was to get my backside into class and pay attention. And do the work, of course! If I sound somewhat cynical its perhaps because getting ones backside into class, let alone paying attention, seemed to be beyond some of my classmates. Still, that’s by the by. My notetaking team at The Manchester College were wonderful. I Miss them!!! *SOB*… they were damn professional, proper deaf notetakers – that came equipped with a laptop, a connected notebook so that I didn’t even have to sit by them if i didn’t want to, and since the classes were 4 hours long, they came in pairs so that they could spell each other. Notes were emailed to me at the end of the session and they wrote down EVERYTHING. Or tried very very hard to! Some of my more juvenile classmates thought it hiliarious to say swearwords to get the notetakers to write that down. That didn’t last long, and a bit of deaf education awareness soon sorted that one out (good thing I’m not shy with doing presentations is all I can say!).

At Uni, the onus is on you to sort yourself out. That sounds harsh – it isn’t, if you need help in getting sorted out then it will be provided, but they do want you to do as much as you can on your own. Before you start at University you have an assessment by an independent assessor, who writes a report back to Student Finance England making recommendations on what kind of funding/Equipment/personnel help should be available, and Student Finance England accepts that report. This assistance is not repayable, unless you drop out of uni without a good reason within a certain amount of time, but otherwise, they just seem to accept that its required (Cameron and Co – are we making notes?). My assessment was done last summer – a very simple process, a 2 hour conversation with a lovely chap and it was all sorted before I even got to Leicester. I’d already been in touch with the Disability unit at Leicester so they knew I was coming even before the assessment landed on their desk, and I’d given them a heads up on what I required.

My initial experience of the unit was… well. lets just say it rang some warning bells. I’d told them what I needed – i.e. an electronic notetaker. Their response was, i’m afraid, less than stellar – “We don’t do electronic notetakers”, in a tone which very much implied “you’ll take what you’re given, missy, and be grateful for it”. Thank god for my assessment, is all i can say – I’d found an electronic notetaker through my old notetaker, who went to a conference and met someone there from the Midlands who she thought might be able to help – and i’d given her details to the assessor, who listed her on my assessment report. That meant she could bypass the unit. Its a little known fact – students do not have to accept what is given by the unit, if they want to go and find their own support, and arrange for their payment by Student Finance England, they are perfectly entitled to do that. Once the Unit realised that I knew this and was perfectly capable of doing so, AND that i knew what i was talking about (i.e. I wasn’t just throwing a strop and demanding an electronic notetaker to be awkward), and that I’m a mature student their tone seemed to change completely – and I’ve had nothing but excellent support since. Well.. from the unit, anyway.

Unfortunately, my electronic notetaker could only be with me for some of my lectures, because she has other bookings, so I was still reliant on the unit for other notetakers. Initially they teamed me up with a guy who used a computer to take notes, but who isn’t a deaf electronic notetaker in the same way that my other lovely lady is (*waves at Jill*). What Jill does is to take as much information down as possible, including things like pronounciation and so on, and puts a dictaphone at the front so that she can listen to the lecture afterwards to be sure that she’s gotten all the important information. the other guy simply wrote basic notes. He wouldn’t put a dictaphone  at the front to go through later – “I don’t have time for that, I notetaker over 30 hours of lectures a week!” (which is, perhaps, fair enough – for each hour of notes, i think Jill works about 3 hours in total, including the hour of the lecture). The notes he wrote were note format – what a hearing student, listening to the lecture, might note down. Which is fair enough, and perfectly fine for someone with a different disability to mine, whose ears work just fine but for some reason isn’t able to make notes of their own. For me, its not enough. If i struggled, for whatever reason to understand the lecturer, then that standard of notetaking left me clueless – sometimes worse than that, because there was very little in the way of explanation of things in the notes. I remember coming home from a lecture one night early in the semester and burst into tears, i found the whole experience so stressful, and threatened to quit there and then. Of course, i didn’t, but when the man couldn’t make it and a handwriting notetaker was sent instead, who gave me twice the amount of notes (Even by hand), I realised that electronic doesn’t necessarily equate to quality and asked for that notetaker for the second semester instead.

This semester has been better. I’ve had better notes – I’ve still got Jill, and two other notetakers who hand write notes for me. Jill also encouraged me, as a communication support worker, to consider alternative methods of communication for lessons outside of lectures, such as tutorials and seminars. It became clear quite early on that notetaking as a form of support for fast moving group work was less than ideal and Jill worked with me to find a level of sign language support that i felt comfortable with. I’ve since extended that to work with two other interpreters and things are much better – even if it means i sometimes have to show up for tutorials with two support workers in tow – my interpreter and my notetaker. My Entourage, I call them!

The teachers, lecturers, have been nothing short of fantastic. Every single one, almost without exception has been supportive in terms of making powerpoint presentations available to me after the lecture, being clear about speaking to me direct outside of the lecture, making a real effort and I love each and every one of them. I just hope it continues next year (I gather that one lecturer who teaches a second year module refuses to make powerpoint presentations available – if this is the case, then we’re going to butt heads over this. I just hope i hear wrong!).

From my classmates, I’ve had similar reactions. There’s the initial fascination with the interpreters – its a common mistake to want to watch the interpreter when you’re talking, and completely understandable! – but it soon wears off and they seem to accept me for who i am. I think my age causes more of a divide for them than my disability, to be honest – and that’s perfectly fine, that’s understandable and i don’t want to foist myself on them. They’re friendly when i see them and I have some of them on my facebook account. 🙂

Very different reactions to the experience I had last year in Further Education!

Have I experienced disabilism in the last year at University? Not by the University, and not from my classmates. Which is a real relief, and assures me that perhaps there is less far to go than we think. Then again, given the demonisation of the disabled in the media, and by the government, perhaps its a case of one step forward, five steps back…

The presentation last Thursday went very well… I’ve attached a copy of the slide show that went with the presentation, if anyone wants to view. Below that (behind the “more” link) is roughly what I said with each slide, although as I did it on the fly (rather than reading from the sheet) the actual presentation would have been different.

(more…)

After my B.A.D.D. post on researching disability in Ancient Greece, several people commented that they would very much like to read the finished article. After getting clearance from my teacher, and after doing the appropriate presentation, I can now post the essay itself, and the accompanying presentation slides. Enjoy!

Death or neglect, ridicule and pity? Analysis of disabled people in Ancient Greece.

(more…)

Reading some of the posts for B.A.D.D. today, some of them (including Goldfish’s excellent Vlog), highlighting the recent changes by the UK govt to the welfare system.. and their policy of demonising the disabled and ill in order to get these changes through the system. I got to thinking, too, that so much of the time, something like this is a drip-drip-drip thing, where, when one is trying to pass something unpalatable, they instead do slow movements towards their eventual aim – and at the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, the obvious analogy here is the process by which the Nazi Government acclimatised people to their aims.

One very simple way to see past that drip-drip-drip effect is to gather everything together, so this is what I’ve done. I’ve spent a couple of hours doing a search via Google News to find headlines by the newspapers and various other internet sites, highlighting the changes that are happening.

The results, I think, are illuminating. And this is just what I found in a couple of hours, just skimming the surface. I dread to think what I would find if a systematic, exhaustive search was done. Still, it illustrates very neatly the build up in people’s minds and the subliminal effect that such a drip-drip-drip feed can have.

Selection of headlines from newspapers and internet sites found in a 2 hour search

Clicking on the picture twice will take you to a full size version where you should be able to read the smaller text.

[Addendum: codeman38 has, quite rightly, called me out on the fact that I’ve not put a transcript in, so I’m adding one now. And although he’s far too polite to point it out, the irony of this hasn’t passed me by, my unthinking – disablist – attitude has put up a barrier. Well, I’m fixing that one right now! My apologies, codeman38, and thank you for prodding me so nicely to remove a barrier!]

Transcript: these are all newspaper headlines, with just one true picture, a copy of the front page of the Sunday Express. The actual details of the story cannot be seen, or the date, but the headline screams “Mansions for Scroungers”. The rest are all just words, no pictures, copied into one large document, saved as a .jpg.

  • Doctors weed out 1m disability benefit claims as three out of four claimants are found “well enough to work”
  • Crackdown catches out greedy skivers
  • 900,000 caught in “fit to work” check
  • You’re not sick, just plain lazy!
  • Three out of four incapacity claimants are fit enough to work
  • Disabled man found murdered in his flat
  • Benefit Thieves: it’s not if we catch you, it’s when
  • Woman who claimed she was crippled by arthritis exposed as benefits cheat … after popping to the gym
  • £20,000 sickie sponger at Gym 3 times a week
  • Govt Crackdown on Benefit Cheat “muggers”
  • “Disabled” wife loses lifetime alimony payments after she blogs about her life as a belly dancer
  • Caught on camera: the “disabled” welfare cheat who claimed he couldn’t walk filmed dancing as a pub entertainer
  • Benefit cheat caught playing golf
  • An epidemic of benefit Fraud? the Demonisation of Welfare Recipients
  • Don’t let the cheats get away with it
  • Help us to beat cheats
  • Tories declare ware on disability benefit cheats
    and quite right too – I suspect they will find this policy strikes a chord with middle England who resent seeing people rake in benefits they are not entitled to. Labour have become tougher on benefit cheats lately, but they can’t take the Tory approach as benefit cheats are more likely to be Labour voters than Tory.
    We are talking about incapacity benefit claimants – bad backs, “depression”, drug problems – the sort of things that malingerers claim to have to avoid working!
  • The UK’s Top Ten Benefit Scandals:
    1. Falinge, Rochdale – the “Benefits Capital of Britain”
    Known as the “Benefits Capital of Britain”, Falinge, Rochdale is home to 1,141 people of working age – and only 651 of them hold down jobs. The rest of its inhabitants are supported by state benefits, with the majority of them “on the sick”, claiming incapacity benefits. Conditions that qualify for incapacity payments include alcoholism, stress and obesity. There are 2.6 million people in the UK claiming incapacity benefits for being too ill to work or seek employment; this accounts for 4.6% of the population. However, 42.9% of Falinge residents rely on sick benefits – making Falinge the sickest place in Britain.
    Cost to the UK taxpayer each week = £41,405
  • Help us stop £1.5bn benefits scroungers
  • Benefit claimants “Still seen as scroungers”, research shows
  • Sickness benefit changes making people feel like “scroungers”
  • Osborne begins crackdown on incapacity benefit cheats with plan to treble assessments
  • Tuesday’s big issue: Benefit “scroungers”
  • Benefit Scroungers made to work at last!
    Scroungers who play the system to milk incapacity benefit will be put on the dole and made to hunt for work. They recon 23% of these people are scrounging this benefit when they are fit to work. A further 58 per cent would be moved to Employment Allowance but would be prequired to make some preparation for employme
    19% would qualify for a higher payment because they are really ill, or unable to work.
    So at last someone is going to do something about these feckless work-shy scroungers that litter our streets.
  • Benefits scroungers warned: Have fewer kids or lose your dole
  • Govt gets tough on benefit scroungers

[Transcript end]

If you do nothing else today, if you read no other B.A.D.D. posts, please, please, watch this vlog. Its only 12 minutes out of your life, and it just may make you think about what the government and media are doing with regard to scapegoating the disabled. This isn’t me, by the way, but the wonderful Goldfish, who is hosting B.A.D.D., and who has a totally infectious giggle!

You can comment on the original posting here.

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