Every Day Disability Hardship and the glass ceiling

Today I write on the topic of every day disability hardship.  Across my life I have noticed a kind of paradox of late.  It is a kind of impairment based glass ceiling.  On the one hand, life seems to be more accessible than ever before.  The opportunities are greater, technology helps to make things easier, employment more flexible.  The possibilities are there.

Scratch the surface though and you’ll see people hitting the glass ceiling every day.  Just in my life of late, I know three people who have been adversely impacted by the continuing cuts that are having a debilitating impact on the lives of disabled people. Thankfully we are emerging from winter, a time which can be harder for many people as the cold exacerbates their impairment(s).

In each of these cases, people had their cars or other means of transport taken away from them.  These are people who already buck the trend in holding down jobs.  In order to get to their jobs they need reliable, accessible transport.  The impact of their transport being removed is that they can’t get to work.  They can’t get to work so they can’t pay their taxes and make a valuable contribution to society in numerous other ways.  These are people with specialist skills and abilities whose capacity to use their lived experience of disability in conjunction with the technical expertise they have makes them priceless assets in their respective fields.

I really loathe this analogy, but it feels like there is a war going on for disabled people.  A war where they have to fight to do the everyday things on the one hand, and are being compelled to have to justify the help they need to live their lives on the other.  Even more depressing, it feels like a war that is being lost.  I’ve also been aspirational in referencing employment.  There are those people for whom getting up and out of bed is an achievement.  As i’ve discussed before, Social Care is on its knees so even just doing the everyday basics is a feat in itself.

It saddens me to be this negative.  In my various guises I often hear requests for more time and money to make things happen.  In this instance that would undoubtedly help but I think the issue is an even more fundamental one: Try actually understanding the needs of disabled people, to understand the issues they are facing.  This understanding is something we are light years away from and which is badly needed.  With such an understanding the true impact of this war and the everyday casualties it is taking can at last be understood.

Every day I see people who are just trying to do their best, who want to contribute in all manner of senses, but who are unable to do so.  These people are tenacious, talented people whose resolve is being grounded away by the barrage of issues that face them.  If this is the case for those who have had the stomach for a fight, i’ll leave you to imagine what has happened to those who do not or are no longer able to.

As for me, i’m fired up.  The ceiling is glass which means it will be smashed.  I’ll keep working and writing and winning so I can show that there is a way ahead.  Every day disability hardship won’t count me as a casualty.

About the Author

Chris Whitaker was born and grew up in Cheshire, arriving in the world with cerebral palsy after a complex childbirth. Apparently, he was lucky to be here at all and has tried to make the most of life ever since! Chris has worked in the third sector for a few years now and is also a charity trustee. Making a positive difference every day is what drives him and he gets to see the impact the third sector makes. Chris has also been able to use his own lived experience as a disabled person to make an input into his working life.

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