Disability rights

Letters

Published on: Wed, 14/08/2019 - 11:05

Defining away impairment

My exchange with Janine Booth (Solidarity 513 and previous) started with a comment by me, in an interview with Judy Singer previewing the neurodiversity session at Ideas from Freedom.

Some neuroatypicalities, I suggested, are just “differences”; others are also “impairments”. (There’s a big grey area, as with physical atypicalities).

I cited examples from my experience as a maths teacher. Some autistic students are “just different”. Others, maybe impaired.

Example: “student B” spent most of his school time in the Special Education Unit. The SEU asked him to go to my

Letter: Disabled, not impaired

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2019 - 11:18
Author

Janine Booth

Martin Thomas is still insisting that the student he referred to in a previous letter is impaired, but has yet to offer convincing evidence of this.

He appears to conclude that if we don’t recognise this student’s impairment, then we are denying the existence or significance of impairment.

I am comfortable with being labelled “disabled” as an autistic person, because society disables me by being geared to neurotypical interactions and sensitivites. I don’t think my autism is an impairment. I accept that for some people, their neurodivergence — or aspects of it — may be impairment.

I have no

Letters

Published on: Wed, 03/07/2019 - 12:38

Difference and impairment

I can still remember my PE teacher at school yelling at me: “What’s the matter with you? Are you disabled?”

He was angry because I was clumsy and awkward. The tiny experience perhaps helps me understand why autistic and other neurodivergent people resent being called “disabled” or even “impaired”.

These days I’m impaired by arthritis, and because ageing has slowed down my brain processes: I am much slower, and fumble much more, with mathematical working today, at 70, than I did when I was 17. Luckily for me, these are impairments which carry little stigma, and I live

Making space for diversity

Published on: Wed, 12/06/2019 - 10:45

Judy Singer, the writer who coined the term “neurodiversity”, will be speaking at Ideas for Freedom, 22-23 June, about how society can and should make more and better space for the “neuro-divergent”. She talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity about some of the issues.

This is not a verbatim transcript of the conversation, but a summary checked with Judy.

Can I start from an unusual angle? In mathematics, up to the present day, there have always been many — not a majority, but many — of the most brilliant mathematicians whom later historians or biographers describe as being autistic. Those

A different PCS conference

Published on: Wed, 29/05/2019 - 08:21

The 2019 conference of PCS, the main civil service union, from 21-23 May in Brighton was the most open and interesting one in years. The great majority of motions on the Conference agenda were not controversial and nor should they be: the bulk of equality and terms and conditions motions should command support. However, on a number of issues the NEC found itself struggling to win over delegates.

The NEC was censured – an unprecedented event at PCS conference — over its inadequate response to the General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, co-signing a letter last July to the Morning Star. This

Two-and-a-half cheers for neurodiversity

Published on: Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:30
Author

Janine Booth

Since autistic activist Judy Singer coined the term “neurodiversity” some twenty years ago, it has facilitated a great enlightenment and a progressive new approach to the experiences and rights of autistic and other neurologically atypical people. It is now facing a backlash, much of which is reactionary but some of which has been helped by flaws in some presentations of neurodiversity. Here, I examine some of these issues.

This article references autism more than other neurodivergent conditions because this is the area in which most of these arguments take place. I conclude that an effective

Accessible Workplaces

Published on: Wed, 01/05/2019 - 10:50
Author

Janine Booth, Chair, RMT Disabled Workers’ Advisory Committee (personal capacity)

On 26-27 April more than thirty disabled transport workers attended the RMT trade union’s largest Disabled Members’ Conference yet.

Every delegate contributed to debates and discussions, which covered subjects including accessible public transport, mental health, and “reasonable adjustments”. On the latter, the conference stressed that our priority is to win accessible workplaces, rather than leave the onus on individual workers to ask for personal changes.

Delegates also condemned the personality testing used by many employers, which seeks to enforce social conformity in the workplace and

RMT disabled members plan fightback

Published on: Tue, 01/05/2018 - 22:23
Author

a delegate

Disabled transport workers discussed issues from workplace representation to the role of charities at their two-day RMT conference in Southend on 26-27 April.

This was only the second annual RMT Disabled Members’ Conference, after the union’s rank-and-file delegates overturned the Executive’s persistent refusal to establish the event. The conference proved its worth, bringing together twenty delegates (twice as many as last year) from different transport sectors and areas of the country.

Paula Peters from Disabled People Against Cuts told delegates about the ongoing fight against Universal

Railworkers fighting for our safety

Published on: Fri, 21/07/2017 - 14:53
Author

Joe Booth

On July 20 2017 Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organised a demonstration outside the Department for Transport, London.

The demo was also attended by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). Activists handed in a 4,000 signature petition for the return of train guards who are being got rid of by management – for disabled’s and passenger’s rights and lives.

It took officials at the Department for Transport 30 minutes to send someone to receive the petition, they may have been delaying to see if the protest would go away. The protest was very assertive and we

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