People with Disabilities need to keep putting their hands up

December 3rd celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disability, and it is a reflection of all the hard work that history suggested we needed to do well before now.

Don’t get me wrong, life for people with disabilities has improved so much, but there is a taboo surrounding it that still exists.

The perception of disability has so often been negative, that disability is something to avoid, and as CCS Disability Action’s Samuel Murray wrote this week, days like December 3rd try to get rid of that mindset.

It is mindsets that drive the disability sector forward, but these can also do their part in holding it back. 

Due to it being discussed at length over the past couple of years, it almost seems a bit cliche, but we are entering the next big revolution in this diverse, rich, and debated disability sector. Giving people with disabilities more choice has been discussed for years and years, but only now are we seeing some of the bigger service providers having to change their systems to suit this model.

Change is the theme of this revolution, and the choice for people with disabilities needs to be the key driving force behind it all. In other words, people with disabilities want supports that fit around them, but in order to see this reach its full potential, they need to keep putting their hands up to be counted.

This change is going to take time to implement and certain people are going to have to be brave, bold, and uncompromising in their stance on some things.

The talk of change needs to stop and the action needs to kick into another gear. It is crucial that the Government rolls out the Enabling Good Lives approach to other regions in New Zealand. The pilots have both had a lot of learning taken away, and it is clear that many people with disabilities and their families are still trying to come to grips with having so much more choice than they ever had before.

That, in itself, says a lot about where this disability sector has been in the past and the positives of where it is heading. The choice for people with disabilities has been so limited in the past.

However, let’s look a little deeper at the history of this special day, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme throughout the years has concentrated on three key areas:

  • Putting People in Control of Supports and Funding. 
  • Employment.
  • Fair and Equal Access for People with Disabilities. 

There, three of the big drivers that need to shape the future of our sector. People with disabilities have a right to be the leaders in their own lives, it is not something that should be celebrated for achieving. It says a lot about our society that many with disabilities still struggle in all the three key areas mentioned above.

Let’s not forget though, change takes time, and the last big revolution that the disability sector saw took nearly 20-years to fully implement. The last of the institutions closed down in the late 2000’s. The change of self-direction, and all the ideologies that come with that, could take just as long for the sector, and the public, to fully understand.

Always, keep putting that hand up and strive to be counted.

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