Considered to be a biological condition and a social construct, the experience of people with disabilities is bodily, cultural, economic, environmental, historical, political, psychological and social. Perspectives on disabled people are often seen in relation to the privileged position of those who are able-bodied. This is something that the video,’Your Daily Dosage of Inspiration’ by disability justice US campaigners, tries to address.

Which legislation aims to protect disabled people and promote justice?

The Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

How is disability defined by current law?

If you have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long term (12 months or more) effect on your ability to do daily activities, you come under the protection of the Equality Act 2010. The House of Lords has produced a video from the Disability Committee which considers the implications of the Equality Act 2010.

What are the general types of disability?

Physical, visual, hearing, mental health, intellectual and learning.

What is discrimination due to disability?

This is when a person is treated less well because they are disabled or thought to be disabled or they care for someone who is disabled and the unequal treatment cannot be justified.

Contemporary healthcare and disability

The gap in health outcomes of people with disabilities continues to widen. New guidance launched in June 2016 is one initiative aimed at addressing this issue – it asks prescribing healthcare professionals to review inappropriate prescriptions for people who have a learning disability or autism.

According to NHS England an estimated 35,000 adults with a learning disability are prescribed an antipsychotic, an antidepressant or both without appropriate clinical justification. Long-term use of these drugs can lead to significant weight gain, organ failure and, in some cases, death. The Stopping Over-Medication of People with a Learning Disability (STOMPLD) pledge has been signed by a range of professional bodies. NHS England has developed a toolkit to address the problem.

Improving communication and developing listening skills

BSUH NHS Trust has resources to enable staff, support workers and carers to improve communication options. Accessible communication is vital to ensure that information is understood. Part of improved communication is developing an empathetic understanding of people and finding a way to adjust how you deliver the information and check if it has been understood. The Accessible Communications Guidelines is  a handy guide which you can use along with a handy summary of the NHS Accessible Information Standard.

Further resources
Disability Now – disability rights written by the community
Disability Rights UK – disabled people leading change
Diversability movement – negotiating space for disabled people and looking at wider representation and stereotypes