Last week, I was delighted to attend the launch event of the SignLive app, which provides real-time face-to-face British Sign Language interpretation for customers visiting Lambeth Customer Centre.
This app is a way of improving equality and accessibility within local Council services, allowing members of the British deaf community to access the services they need without obstacles. It was an honour to be invited to this launch event and I’m excited to see future work from the developers in the fight against ableism.
I was also invited to Sense’s Parliamentary drop-in by Daniel, my deafblind consituent, to get a better understanding of these complex communication needs. People like Daniel face the double difficulty of hearing and sight loss but this should never mean that they’re left isolated as a result of this. Along with other members of the deafblind community, he taught me how to sign my name and even made me my very own Braille name badge.
Sense are doing amazing work to highlight the lack of social care funding for disabled people of working age. Accessible communication enables those with visual and/or hearing impairments to feel included and connected in the community.
Successive Tory governments have made the lives of disabled individuals harder with every cut they’ve made to the benefits system, the NHS and social care. Shamefully, they knew these cuts would disproportionately affect people with disabilities and they went ahead anyway.
A recent BBC Panorama investigation revealed that over the past four years, the DWP has paid out almost £1m to former disabled employees in discrimination cases. This exemplifies the total lack of care for disabled people at the heart of the Department under consecutive Conservative Ministers.
In recent years, I’ve met disabled people who’ve experienced this first-hand and have essentially been told it’s their fault if they feel marginalised. It’s vital to understand the systematic manner in which the burden of integration has been shifted onto the shoulders of disabled people over the last ten years.
Labour’s 2019 manifesto flipped this idea on its head. It should be our collective responsibility to ensure everyone is empowered to participate fully and equally in society. That’s the outlook I will continue to defend as the Tories continue to kick the long-term social care plan they promised us further down the line.