Disability Rights UK Newsletter

Disability Rights UK is one of the the UK’s leading user-led disability organisations. This is their weekly newsletter, 21 August 2020.

News Round-up

DR UK statement on government school grades announcement

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “It is a huge relief that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that teacher assessed grades will now stand for those unable to take A-Levels and GCSEs this year due to the pandemic.

“We welcome the decision to allow students to take forward their most favourable outcome into the next steps of their academic or working careers.

“Given students were already worried about the new academic year bringing its own set of challenges – remote learning brings greater accessibility for some disabled students and greater challenges for others – the past week has added unnecessary stress to disabled students’ lives.

“We know that some students’ places at universities have already been reallocated due to the shambles that saw many state educated pupils downgraded from their expected results. This causes further distress for disabled students who have greater accessibility challenges in education as it is.

“It is good that the government has seen sense and backed down. However it should not be forgotten that this circumstance had no need to have arisen at all if the government had listened to experts in the field in the first place.

“As it prepares to release its disability strategy in the coming months, we call on government to continue to listen deeply to real world experts in advance of proposing change.”

Deaf pupils failed by education system five years running

The 50,000 deaf children in the UK are being failed by a ‘badly-designed, inaccessible education system that does not deliver for them’.

The damning appraisal comes from the National Deaf Children’s Society analysis of 2019 figures which shows that, for the past five years, deaf children achieved a whole grade less than hearing children at GCSE.

Almost three quarters of hearing children attain grade 4 (the old grade C) in maths and English. The figure for D/deaf children is under half.

It is calling on government to provide solutions to the key challenges which affect D/deaf children’s education.

DR UK’s CEO Kamran Mallick said: “This research is concerning, especially given that, as we wait for 2020’s results to come out this week, we know that Coronavirus has had a severe impact on D/deaf children’s ability to access their usual support.

“There are too many barriers for exhausted families to climb when it comes to accessing the support their children need. The government needs to sweep these away as it rebuilds education. D/deaf children should have parity of learning experience as standard throughout their lives at school.”

Increased fines for no face masks will ramp up pressure on disabled people

Tougher penalties for those not wearing face coverings in public came into effect today (13 August).

The new rules will see the £100 fine for a first offence double with every misdemeanour up to a maximum of £3,200.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “These moves, while designed to protect us all, will place further pressure on disabled people who are exempt from wearing a face covering.

“Not every disability is visible. We have welcomed the government’s commitment to increasing messaging to make the public aware that not everybody is able to wear a face covering, but we are receiving ever increasing reports of disabled people being aggressively challenged or disbelieved by members of the public when they are not wearing masks.

“Businesses need to join in government’s intention in clearly displaying signs explaining that not everybody is able to wear a face covering.”

Fuel Poverty Coalition calls for action before second wave

The Fuel Poverty Coalition, of which DR UK is a member, is demanding urgent action to prevent ‘tens of thousands of needless deaths’ which could overwhelm the country this winter.

Public Health England has said that there is “clear evidence on the links between cold temperatures and respiratory problems. Resistance to respiratory infections is lowered by cool temperatures and can increase the risk of respiratory illness.”

Fuel poverty puts households at greater risk from the worst effects of Coronavirus, but policy to end fuel poverty has been frozen for the past three years.

DR UK’s CEO Kamran Mallick said: “People are using more energy as they are staying at home and furlough has seen people having to tighten their belts. With the protections afforded by shielding now removed, disabled people are now having to place themselves at greater risk in wider society. We are expecting to see a rise in the number of people in fuel poverty this year – something which again compounds the risk to disabled people’s lives.

The Coalition has set up a petition calling for fuel poverty debt relief, energy efficiency programmes, an extension of the Warm Home Discount, and an improvement in energy efficiency measures within the home rental market.

View the petition.

Get Yourself Active website refresh – your feedback would be greatly appreciated

Do you use our Get Yourself Active website? If so, we would really appreciate your feedback on how it could be improved.

We would like to know your thoughts on the content of the website and its usability and accessibility.

Please complete our online survey, which should take approximately ten minutes to complete.

If the survey is not accessible to you, please e-mail anna.denham@disabilityrightsuk.org or call 0203 687 0784 and let us know if you would like to complete the survey via e-mail or by telephone. Your thoughts on how we can improve the website will be much appreciated and help us to give the website a refresh, so that it is more accessible and helpful to those using it.

New online benefits training courses

DR UK is pleased to offer two new online courses in partnership with the Benefits Training Company. Each course costs £112.50 + VAT per person for DR UK organisational members. After booking you will receive a Zoom link and supporting materials by email.

Introduction to Welfare Benefits will be held on 29th and 30th September. The course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know more about – or need a refresher on – changes to welfare benefits and social security.

The course will be run in two parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer.

  • Part 1: The structure of the system and the importance of health & disability benefits – Tues 29 Sep 9.45 – 12.45
  • Part 2: Universal Credit, the wider benefits system and maximising income – Wed 30 Sep 9.45 – 12.45

Please click here for more information and to book your place.

Preparing for an Appeal Tribunal will be held on 9th and 10th December. This course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know about how to prepare an Appeal Tribunal. A working knowledge of Personal Independence Payment and the Work Capability Assessment is assumed.

As above, the course will be run in two parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer.

  • Part 1: Assessing the case, reviewing the DWP decision – Wednesday 9 December 9.45 – 12.45
  • Part 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Thursday 10 October 9.45 – 12.45

Please click here for more information and to book your place.

Face coverings survey

In June, it became mandatory for all people without exemptions to wear face coverings on public transport. The Department for Transport is undertaking a survey to find out about any issues around compliance.

View the survey. It runs until 28 August.

Audio description petition

Disability blogger Emma Purcell has started a petition asking streaming services to provide audio descriptions of their output.

Two million people live with sight loss in the UK. At the moment, TV and film channels and streaming services only have to add audio descriptions to ten per cent of their programming. In some instances, some seasons of shows are described, but subsequent seasons are not. Box sets and catch up services often remove audio descriptions or don’t provide them across all user devices.

The petition is calling for audio descriptions to be a compulsory part of distribution.

Sign the petition.

Ones to watch

Theatre company Extant has released a new digital production, Flight Paths, which will take participants on a journey through old and contemporary tales of visually impaired travelling artists, inspired by the Goze – blind female performers of medieval Japan. The multisensory online experience features animation, interactive navigation, aerial movement, and integrated captions and audio description.

Visit Flight Paths.

A new film about the history of the Paralympics, Rising Phoenix, is coming to Netflix on 26 August.

View the trailer.

Student survey – grade predictions

Back in June, the Equality Act Review published the report ‘Predicting Futures’, which focused on the concerns of GCSE and A-level students in relation to their grade predictions. The study centred on the voices and experiences of students and their families.

It is now conducting a follow-up study with students and families who have received  their GCSE and A-level grades. The results will be shared with Government officials so that any necessary interventions can be put in place.

View the survey.

Are you the future of inclusive design?

CAE Pathways is a new 12 month programme created by the Centre for Accessible Environments to give London-based young disabled people the confidence, skills and support they need to kick start their career in inclusive design and access. Applications for its new inclusive design training program are now open.

Find out more on the CAE pathways website.

Stop Hate job vacancy

The Stop Hate campaign has a vacancy for a part-time HR co-ordinator based in Leeds. For more information about the role visit the Stop Hate campaign website or email zoe@stophateuk.org.