The government recently changed the rules for receiving incapacity benefits for disabled claimants.“It’s not about what you can’t do; it’s about what you can do!” says the Government.
Riam Dean, 22, was just living her life working in the Abercrombie & Fitch store in London 2007, as a weekend sales assistant, whilst studying for a Law degree full time. She was born with half a left arm, which meant that she had to wear a prosthetic forearm. Riam was placed in the store cupboard away from the shop floor, because she was wearing a long sleeve cardigan, to hide the join between an upper arm and her artificial limb. She was told to work in the storeroom until the winter season because she was breaking their strict dress look policy.
But shouldn’t employers be aiming to adjust a role for the disabled staff, even if it might mean adjusting a dress code policy? She won the case at a tribunal for being unfairly discriminated against in the summer of 2009.
I can fully understand where she is coming from, as I myself have a disability. The thing is people automatically assume that our brain somehow doesn’t work properly. We can’t be creative or highly intelligent and just be one of the girls/boys at work and that we might not get hurt by inappropriate comments about our disability.
Whether you’re born with a disability or it’s acquired though no fault of you own; it’s still a lifestyle that we have to adjust to and live with it. But to be bullied for not being able bodied, and then made to feel less human because I can’t do certain things due to my hearing loss; is one of the hardest things I have had to cope with in my life. People make you feel small and stupid because you can’t hear like a normal person, so does that mean I have no right to be respected in society?
Ok! I am not proud about being deaf/hard of hearing, I have to be honest here; but I cope with it and I have learnt to live with it and most importantly I am open about it. I’m just like everyone else. I like men (what girl doesn’t…), good food, fashion, music, socialising and that naughty demon chocolate.
It’s taken me a long time to accept that my disability is part of me, it’s what makes me who I am as a journalist and a person, that is opinionated, strong a little mad maybe but who was ashamed in the past of what my own disability was doing to my confidence.
NOT anymore though…I have stood up to employers in the past just like Riam Dean did; that tried to delegate a task or an alternative job role to me, knowing full well that it was unsuitable in accordance with my ability because of my deafness, not intelligence to do the job. What part of the disability didn’t they get!
I felt empowered and strong that I was not only standing my ground for me as a person but for all people with disabilities.
We don’t all want to work in dead end jobs, with little or no prospects for progression just because of our disability!
We are not all born without a good level of intelligence or common sense.
We not all entitled to disability benefits.
Some of us like Riam Dean and myself included just want to be a normal person that has a nice job that has same likes and dislikes as our able bodied brothers and sisters.
So treat us with respect and don’t judge a book by the cover, read the inside as well!