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Disability Bitch, stop working now!

16th September 2010

• Disability Bitch is published every Thursday on
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Readers, readers, readers. There’s so much disability news this week I can barely keep up. One of the stories goes like this: education watchdog Ofsted says that a fifth of all children are classed as having Special Educational Needs and that teachers should stop labelling them, teach them better and give them more support. Unsurprisingly, the teaching unions seem to disagree.
Jane Cordell - image courtesy of RNID
Jane Cordell
After reading the other big disability story of the week, in which a deaf diplomat got promoted and then had the job offer taken away because her employers’ believe her support needs are too expensive, I did begin to wonder why we bother educating disabled children at all.

If we're not going to bother supporting them in gainful employment as adults, what's the point? And - actually - how is the government going to get disabled people off benefits and into work if it's not going to support the costs of us being there.

Here’s the story: Jane Cordell, the diplomat in question, is suing her employers, the Foreign Office. Apparently they offered her a top embassy job in Kazakhstan, then withdrew the offer because they believe paying for the support she needs will cost too much. She disagrees.

As you may know, Britain’s Disability Discrimination Act requires employers to make so-called 'reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate their employees’ impairments. In this case, the Foreign Office do not believe the costs involved are 'reasonable’.

So here we are having to define what 'reasonable means; the term is not defined in our existing piece of anti-discrimination legislation.
The foreign office
The Foreign Office
Although I do hate to be well-balanced and sensible, I can’t help thinking that it might be quite sensible to lay down some ground rules in this area. I mean, when I started writing my weekly column of hate, I did request that the BBC provide me with a daily supply of candy floss and doughnuts, all delivered by semi naked male models, who would also provide me with a sensual massage whenever I might require one, and the BBC declined.

I thought this was unreasonable: after all, we all know that having cerebral palsy limits your stamina, and a burst of candy floss sugar would surely perk me up immediately. I also get very stiff and achy thanks to CP, so a massage is the clear remedy.

Only joking, readers! I do have an Access to Work grant but it’s extremely modest and pays for the occasional PA to help me out with the stuff I need a hand with.

If you’d like to get a general idea of the kind of adjustments this diplomat, Jane Cordell, might need, you can find them here, in an interview she gave to the RNID about her previous job.

And, incidentally, if you’d like to know whether she was any good at her previous job – Clue: the answer’s Yes – read this article written by a former colleague of hers.
hand signing
In all of the bleating about this particular case, I’m especially taken with the notion that, once you’ve spent a certain amount of money meeting a disabled person’s support needs, anything else is wasteful.

Readers, I don’t mean to brag, but – whether it’s my Access to Work grant or my Disability Living Allowance – that money almost always pays for people, actual human beings, who support me in my various life roles.

That’s right, readers, I’m an actual employer of support workers and if I didn’t receive the money to pay for them, those people would be unemployed. In fact, if all disabled people stopped employing all their state-funded support workers tomorrow, not only would most of us become significantly less functional, efficient human beings, but thousands of people would become unemployed as a result. In short: the economy needs disabled people who need assistants.


This week on Facebook, me and my 2800ish friends have been posting nonsensical comments on my wall and generally faffing around in the virtual world instead of having a life. Feel free to join me.


    • 1. At 09:07am on 21 Sep 2010, BBC Ouch team wrote:

      Hi all. This is a quick post to note that we're aware Disability Bitch's Facebook account seems to have been suspended. We're sending out a few emails and hope it'll be restored soon. Until it is, please feel free to leave your comments here below her article and she'll join in as she usually does on her Facebook pages. Fingers crossed all will be OK.

      Complain about this comment

    • 2. At 09:37am on 21 Sep 2010, DisabilityB1tch wrote:

      It's true, readers! My Facebook account has been... disabled. Oh, the irony! Obviously I have been at home weeping ever since I realised, but we're trying to sort it out.

      Complain about this comment

    • 3. At 5:24pm on 22 Sep 2010, DisabilityB1tch wrote:

      My Facebook account remains disabled. Maybe I should get on Twitter? DB x

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    • 4. At 8:55pm on 22 Sep 2010, grim wrote:

      Just had to register on here to reply to your post! Twitters no good because you have to be famous! lol. Why dont you use Blogger or something like that. Why have you been suspended? Its not a Russell Brand thing is it??

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    • 5. At 10:35pm on 22 Sep 2010, DisabilityB1tch wrote:

      I don't know why I have been disabled. Maybe Facebook have an overdeveloped sense of irony? I have written to ask them. They seem to think I am in gross breach of their terms of service. I am outraged, naturally. DB x

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    • 6. At 8:30pm on 24 Sep 2010, grim wrote:

      Its okay. We all know you HATE FACEBOOK!!! lol

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    • 7. At 3:14pm on 07 Oct 2010, Lew wrote:

      It was probably suspended because of the word "bitch"

      Simple answer make another FB profile, but change the word to something else?

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    • 8. At 10:11am on 16 Oct 2010, M M wrote:

      DB says, "I don't know why I have been disabled.."

      Me neither lol...............

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    • 9. At 04:35am on 11 Feb 2011, bkraj wrote:

      please, help me get in touch with Jane Cordell - her contact info isn't posted anywhere (perhaps for a reason) - administrators, please share with her my e-mail. We met in GLIWICE a long time ago (I no longer live there and have changed my last name since too) and I lost her address some time in 1994. - perhaps when she needed friends most - I had no idea she'd lost her hearing...Wishing her all the best and that we'd meet again.

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    • 10. At 2:02pm on 17 Feb 2011, John Howard Norfolk wrote:

      Back to the point of DB's article......Access to Work.
      I applied for this and was unsuccessful. When I was visited by the A2W "adviserr" I found he was helpful and knowledgeable about support needs for my hearing loss. HIs recommendations made sense and would have been available for a one off cost of several hundred pounds.
      The Human Resources Department of my company failed to attend the meeting and therefore missed the only opportunity to help me. When the written report of recommendations was supplied they declined the invitation ot make a contribution towards costs. Within a couple of months I was prematurely reitred on a reduced pension. I was cross as I loved that job which I had done well for more than 15 years. The moral of the story is that you really must insist on your personnel officers actually meeting the A2W adviser.

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