Notes from our discussions with attendees.

Session One: National Strategy for Disabled People, the current Covid pandemic and the post-covid recovery

“For disabled people, the focus is away from disabled people and just one service fits all, wellbeing service in Gloucestershire is not accessible to the deaf. Inclusive services for everyone. They have challenged the commission to improve this pointing to the charter of the equality act, govt should be enforcing this, not the users. Top-down, need to listen to the disabled, huge amount of money going into mainstream services.” 

“Feel govt tried to make disabled people invisible during covid – deaths in care homes put down to age only. No acknowledgement of the vulnerability of disabled people which is a socio-economic issue. The increased need for support and the state to this group. JCVI acknowledged 80yo were CEV but disabled older people who were CEV weren’t prioritised. Assumption of the medical profession as to what makes a worthwhile life.” 

“Climate action agenda – how is this going to have equality built into it? Local authorities increasing footfall space during covid which is now being extended. Fewer spaces for disabled vehicles to park, in Bristol parking spaces at one end of a steep incline. If you don’t listen to disabled people you might miss out on some very creative solutions.” 

“Money from govt, nothing in the budget around covid support for the voluntary sector.” 

“Access to digital services for those with visual impairment, testing is inaccessible for the blind, communication through covid.” 

“Communication through the pandemic was not accessible, no BSL interpreters in England. Legal case #whereistheinterpreter, seemed like other representations was thrown out the window, felt ignored. Isolated in lockdown, communication policy nationally and locally needs to be inclusive.” 

“Disabled people have never needed their organisations more, yet they are losing those organisations at quite a rate – not least because the vast majority of organisations that are Disabled people led at trustee, staffing and membership level are very small and unable to benefit from contracts.  Also, most community funding is angled at geographic communities, even the new NHS hubs/localities are geographic, with nowhere that equalities communities can go for their equalities-specific needs.  This way of working also means that the VCS input to the localities/hubs is not run by and for equalities communities if those communities are not especially concentrated in particular areas.” 

“While I had food parcels during covid, I lost PIP in August. Need to make sure that children and young people with disabilities are not still being failed- getting their EHCPs.” 

“Want the Government to listen to people with lived experience of disability- do what we’re doing. Thinks that Govt’s strategy towards disabled people is to forget them. Disabled people highest rates of death during covid, forcing DNRs on people- accounted for some of the deaths. Disability hate crime ignored. 

“Concerns that DPOs are not getting the support they need. Wants to see the use of the social model of disability- organisations are not using this while they say that they are. Lived experience needs to be used more. Works in the courts as a magistrate- continuously driving for better conditions for disabled people/concerned at how she sees disabled people being treated in the courts. Also works for Bristol City Council and sees similar problems there. Wants to see appreciation for disabled people and the work they do. Feels pressure to perform as good as, if not better than, able-bodied people. Crippling policies that disadvantage disabled people- sickness policies- more at risk of having contracts terminated. Proud to be disabled, but hasn’t always been that way.  A lot more done around race than done around disability.” 

“Works for a disability user-led charity- the importance of accessibility for everyone. Disability is forgotten, particularly in the covid world. Wheelchair users are forgotten. Particularly with shielding, many disabled people have closed themselves off during the pandemic- feels like they’re still being kept away from people as covid is receding.” 

“Shocked that services for disabled people are not disability-lead- no one with lived experience.” 

Session Two: Long term commitment and ideas

“What we need is a commitment to actively involve, and co-produce with, Disabled people and their organisations.  If we are to address the systemic issues that make us 43% of ALL people living in poverty, we need to be involved in policy, design and delivery so that expensive and exclusionary mistakes are made.” 

“Masks – want more flexibility on removal of masks for service providers so deaf people are less isolated. Another barrier to the disabled. For everyday life this has made it difficult, deaf people are afraid to go out as a result.”  

“Moving on from covid – create policy, consider, the equalities act has no teeth, want to see changes to make society inclusive. Mainstream services need to think outside the box and become inclusive, policies sit on the shelf and no one implements.” 

“Legislation about disability discrimination, 30yrs of discriminatory legislation, time to reverse the legislation as they have done in the states. Should be incumbent on services to get an exemption from being accessible. Sign language must be recognised as a non-disabled people should be compelled to leave disabled seats/spaces on transport etcetera, should be more spaces available to the disabled. 10% of housing should be fully accessible ( a new standard which includes VI and the deaf). Enforce the proposal that every home is accessible.” 

“80% of services for the disabled are provided by local government, central govt should give them further powers and equalities act should be extended to political posts. NHS has an accessible communication standard which is patchy but should be mandatory and extended to all public bodies.” 

“Exposure to disabled people in employment to “normalise” it – local authorities need to see the govt with best practice. Employment discrimination – employers perception of what disabled people can and can’t do. Money thrown at this problem is wasted if the jobs aren’t there. Reg would like to share details on their organisation’s experience of this.” 

“Accessibility Inclusion act to improve communication and accessibility which supports independent living. Inclusion of disabled people in society. Govt advisory groups should not be made up by the larger groups but some of the grassroots one have a place at that table. Inclusive education included in this.” 

 “GDA employment project – deaf professionals coming forward but not ‘grassroots’ deaf people, local services better equipped to represent those people and make their voices heard.” 

“A national, legal commitment to Independent Living and an Accessibility & Inclusion Act supporting it.” 

Consultation with disabled people the most important thing- regardless of what it is. Access to shops is still an issue, needs fixing. Massive assumptions are made about disabled people, positive messages need to be put out to counter this. Devon and Cornwall are rural counties- lots of people are more isolated. Deprivation in rural counties often forgotten about. Harder for people to access care in rural areas.” 

“Teach disability in schools- preventing prejudice from happening. Allow people to re-start their lives again- finding themselves trapped and left to rot. Help people who can and support people who can’t- e.g. people who can’t find traditional employment. A lot of people in Cornwall with very low income- at the mercy of the social housing/ benefits system./ Automation- taking away jobs from disabled people.” 

“Consultation- Labour only consults particular organisations. Disabled people can run their own consultations in their communities. Dignity for people on benefits- get rid of universal credit. Disability benefits should be a positive, not negative assessment- supportive rather than challenging. Stop private providers doing assessments- has to be part of public service. Disabled people face stigma if they don’t look disabled enough. Disabled people need better representation in politics. There should be a return to the access to public life fund and better accessibility. Disabled people should be able to spend more during elections- to do with their disability. Equality act is limited- doesn’t go far enough with necessitating accessibility. Consult disabled people on everything, not just disabled issues. Large print in bills. More BSL interpreters. Hidden disabilities get forgotten. Want to be involved in manifesto planning in all settings. Seems like the South West ends in Bristol- limited resources beyond this which leaves people cut off/ isolated. Limited transport infrastructure in the SW adds to isolation”  

“Plenty of data that people are more likely to be institutionalised in isolated communities due to lack of care.” 

“Equality act 2010 and various bodies exist but protections do not exist for people in reality. Regulatory bodies need to do more to inform people of their duty and take action. Place more emphasis on the law and supporting disabled people.” 

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