Politicians need to do bit more to change the attitude of society towards disability
By philip smith in Lib Dem Voice
By Anita Prabhakar | Thu 19th August 2021 (First published on Lib Dem Voice )
Disability is something which is not by choice but by accident or misfortune, as all of us want to be healthy and lead a perfect life. But sometimes we are the victim of time and circumstances, and we must lead the kind of life due to our disability that we never imagined.
We all should be sensitive about this subject and eager to collaborate and do something in this field, as we all experience this issue in our lifetime either ourselves after certain age, or through our loved ones. But unfortunately, when we are young and healthy, we are so engrossed in our day-to-day routine that we hardly pay enough attention about the attitude of society towards disability or the government's disability inclusion policy, whether effective or not. We only awake when we suffer ourselves, or our loved one in our family gets affected by disability.
There are so many unconscious barriers of our society which deny people with disabilities the opportunities to achieve their dreams - dream to go beneath the ocean, or to fly. And with our little effort we can help them to achieve those dreams though it might take bit longer, but I am sure it is not something which is impossible. And there are many people in our society who have proved that their disability does not hold them back to achieve their dreams, whether it is to contribute to society or to enrich this planet, or in other ways.
Most of us are aware of the barriers which limit the inclusion of people with disabilities in the mainstream. But somehow we don't' pay enough attention to remove or improve them. For example, attitudinal barriers, the society's attitude towards disabled people, this one is the biggest obstacle to providing equal opportunities to disabled people and to remove this barrier we need to change our outlook as we, and we only, can help to eliminate this barrier. Environmental barriers, such as inaccessible buildings, also restrict people with disabilities to participate in mainstream society. Further, institutional barriers, like many policies, strategies and laws, are also a hindrance for which we all must work together to raise awareness and force the government to do something.
Along with day to day struggles another problem which a disabled person must endure in our society is disability hate crime. Though disability hate crime came into law in 2003 as part of the Criminal Justice Act, prosecutions are low as most of the time it's hard for the victim to prove that it occurred against them. Since it's difficult to prove it rarely gets reported by the victim, although we all can imagine how it must be impacting a disabled person's mental health and hitting their confidence.
A disabled person needs assistance on a daily basis to live their life, but then we all need assistance from each other to live a complete life. The difference is they need a bit extra assistance as they face some further obstacles to fulfil their dreams or to live their life; with a little assistance we can contribute a lot to their life. We all together can support, help, and change the society. And I believe the world is full of wonderful people; we all have good intentions, just we need bit more compassion to understand what they go through in day today's life.
Although improvement has been made, more needs to be done. We need more forward planning and coordination to include disabled people in the mainstream society.
I think disability should be a priority theme for all the parties and especially for our party, the Liberal Democrats.
* Anita Prabhakar is a solicitor. She has been a Lib Dem PPC three times and is the diversity officer for Liberal Democrats for the Heart of England. She is a member of the Vice-President's Advisory Group, Diversity Champion of the East Midlands Regional Executive and Vice-Chair of Newark Liberal Democrats.