Warrington Disability Partnership

Why Disability Awareness Day is more important than ever!

Information really is power

The late and much missed Sir Bert Massie once said that “for disabled people information really is power” and never have those words meant more than they do today. But it isn’t just the simple, yet at the same time incredibly complex fact that information is important that matters right now. It isn’t just that disabled people need accurate, timely and accessible information in order to balance the environmental and very human issues that actually “disable” us. No, it is also about how such information is presented and delivered to not just disabled people but everyone who consumes it. Presentation really is becoming crucially important.

The 2018 Disability Awareness Day takes place on 15th July and frankly never has this amazing pan disability celebration of positive news about disability had more relevance. DAD as it is known to the 20,000 plus visitors it has every year for over 27 years, is all about “information” presented positively, in a most accessible way, face to face, with clarity of explanation. DAD is an eye opener, a bit of blue sky thinking, a learning experience in the midst of a lot of fun and entertainment. Few leave without having learnt something new and at times for many this is a game changer.

Here’s the thing……

Disabled lives are not all about DLA to PIP, or the impact of BREXIT or political posturing and dark negative news. It is true of course that much of the disgusting impact of the benefit re assessment changes are horribly destructive. The way Motability cars are ripped from their disabled drivers on the often cruel and worse, inaccurate and undeserved, whims of PIP “points scoring” is a modern day disaster and without exaggeration lives are being destroyed.

The same applies to the absurd, and impossible to justify, loss of funding for independent living and the crucial and clearly deserved support DLA (now PIP) gives to help some disabled people achieve their potential and play their impressive role in communities, both local and national. But there is a sense that the so called “general public” are becoming disconnected from the reality of “cuts” and have found it hard to summon up the empathy and yes, outrage, that might force a re think by Govt. For me part of this is down to an almost non stop diet of negative news in some parts of the media.

There is no real high-reach specialist disability press in this country. We have the Disability News Service which is dedicated to addressing the paucity of disability related news in mainstream media. But frankly it remains a publication dominated by politics and its daily diet of PIP and anti govt dept positions, however “real” and important, feels so repetitive in a world where there is so much else to look at ?

DNS gives coverage to some issues that would otherwise never see the light of day. But there’s only so much anyone, even under attack disabled people and their families can take of day after day after day of PIP type stories.

I know some will not agree, certainly not the dedicated and utterly determined John Pring who runs DNS !! But I have a similar view about the red tops media in our country. So much of their admittedly woefully limited disability reporting is negative content. Or at least it feels that way. I guess there has to be some of the “Disabled driver loses car lifeline” content else how will the public ever see, well, anything, about the reality of some disabled people lives under this govt. How else will the mess that is Universal Credit policy become real for those not directly involved or the scale of ongoing dire access to public transport be effectively explained to a mass audience ? But where’s the balance ? We are not all disabled Olympians and nor can we all be a Sir Bert Massie, a Stephen Hawking, a Tanni Grey Thompson or the marathon “Wolfman” (what an amazing list that is !!) but hey, actually, whilst unlikely to catch the same attention as our heroes names, everyday reporting of some hugely positive aspects of life for disabled people may just start a trend in re balancing the story of our lives.

Which brings me back to DAD on 15th July 2018. Everyone with an interest of any kind in disability needs to visit DAD at least once, but if you go every year you will always find new “information” to support the yes, very ordinary, very “everyday” lives of disabled people and their families.

At DAD you will find innovation everywhere you look. Dedication from the exhibitors and of course the amazing DADs Army of staff and volunteers from organisers Warrington Disability Partnership. You will find charities and other hugely dedicated and passionate organisations, commercial and voluntary, that enable living in ways too many to detail. You will find nothing but positive “information” to highlight ways to overcome that still very disabling environment. DAD 2018 will as always be for everyone and trust me, it’s well worth a visit and as Sir Bert said, go grab some information, go grab some power !!

Mark Wilson.

About the author

Mark Wilson was a trustee on the WDP Board for five years, and a social media management lead until 1st May 2017. Mark's personal blogging website, The Blue Badge Blog, covers a wide range of disability issues, particularly accessible travel.

26th June 2018