Thursday, 3 July 2008

Legislation vs social inequality

A very useful website regarding legislation on such issues as mental health, learning disabilities, and LGBT issues is that of Community Care magazine. At that site, there are frequently news stories related to legislation changes and why they matter. The magazine's search engine is so helpful that, with the help of the Community Care magazine on-site search facilities and my grasp of keyword searches, I was able to answer every question correctly in the Community Care [multiple choice] Christmas Quiz 2006. (By contrast, I have had enormous frustrations at the search facilities on Disability Now! magazine's site.)I have also taken a newsagent-reservation copy of the magazine each Friday (current price £2.25), for about the last ten years.

That was a great help to me last year when I was Green Party of England & Wales Disability Spokesperson, and around the year 2000 when I helped a Health Studies student friend with course-related news updating. A great reason for ordering the print copy is that letters page content does not appear on the Web. As an example, I note, that there is a lot of confusion regarding what constitutes a 'learning difficulty' as opposed to a 'learning disability'. Mencap -- an organisation whose name reverberates with 'cap in hand' or 'handicap' mentality -- says that dyslexia, blindness and deafness do not constitute 'learning disabilities'

By contrast, using the social model of disability, a Sense spokesperson wrote the Community Care letters page pointing out that Downs' Syndrome -- labelled a 'learning disability by Mencap -- dyslexia, deafness, blindness, and autism are all impairments that have a bearing on learning. When reasonable adjustments are not made to accommodate the person with the condition -- eg, alternative formats for information communication -- disability occurs. Yet another correspondent pointed out that Mencap's use of the term 'learning disability' is equivalent to the American use of 'mental retardation'.

Alan WheatleyDisability spokesperson for London Green Party

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