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Kevin Bakhurst Kevin Bakhurst | 10:48 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Yesterday we started our coverage exploring disability issues and the lives of people with disabilities in the UK and around the world, anticipating Friday's United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Peter White

Disability affairs specialist Peter White

Access All Areas week includes themed coverage on TV, online and radio and our colleagues at 5 live will also be discussing the issues.

We hope the week will challenge assumptions, air the views and concerns of people with disabilities, tell some extraordinary stories, look at some of the changing attitudes towards people with disability and reveal some areas where it is argued that attitudes need to be changed. We also look at the financial costs of living with disability - for disabled people themselves and for businesses and government.

It's important for the BBC to reflect all aspects of life in the UK and this week gives us a chance to highlight and explore a range of topics related to disability issues. Although we've been making progress in many areas reflecting the lives, the abilities and the challenges of people with disabilities, this is still something we hope to build on.

The guidance of some members of our teams who have disabilities and have experience in this area has been crucial. We have arranged the content around five themes:

Changing attitudes: Forty years since the first disability act, disability affairs specialist Peter White looks through the archives to see how language and attitudes towards disabilities have changed and interviews the man who designed the first legislation, Alf Morris. A survey examines the shift in attitudes and we explore what life is like for people living with disabilities around the world.

Employment: Political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue explores issues around employment and age and disability correspondent Geoff Adams-Spink looks at how many people with disabilities fall through the net on education and provision of benefits and services.

Sport: We look at sports funding and ways to make sport accessible for children with disabilities. Newsnight's Jonathan Bell describes how sport helped him when returning from his army service and how it is used to support those coming back from Afghanistan with life-changing injuries.

Technology: Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones looks at how technology can transform the lives of people with disabilities and Gary O'Donoghue talks about the big and small changes in technology which have developed in his lifetime and transformed how he lives.

Invisible disability: We explore less visible disabilities and the arts and culture surrounding disabled people, as well as their portrayal in the media. Scotland correspondent James Cook finds out how a company in Scotland was created specifically to open up employment opportunities for people with autism.

I hope you'll find our coverage engaging and thought-provoking; personally, I hope it'll play a role in putting some of the issues at the heart of discussion, debate and daily coverage. Yesterday Peter White explored what has been done to end disability discrimination during the past 40 years and today Gary O'Donoghue looks at the challenges faced by disabled job-seekers. If you miss some of the coverage, you can find the key online features by searching for "Access All Areas" on the News site.

Kevin Bakhurst is the controller of the BBC News Channel and the BBC News at One and the deputy head of the BBC Newsroom.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Perhaps someone should make a point to the UN that on one day each year we all stop and contemplate what we have achieved in fostering the lives of others during the preceding three hundred and sixty four days. The simple act of 'inventing' an international day would seem to me to be unnecessarily discriminating in a world that needs to be fully conscious 24/7.

    The UN may need to play guilty conscience one day a year but I do not.

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear Sirs,

    This week is Access all areas. One client group seem to be missing out in all this is d/Deaf people.

    I would appreciate if the BBC could please subtitle the videos on the internet and supply transcript of what was being said. I.e. train in Wales for wheelchair users.

    I note it is very physical disabled led. It would be nice to air something about d/Deaf people struggle for equality in mainstream work, voluntary work (which does not get access to work funds – volunteers being used and abused and with grave concern this government thinking) arts and leisure.

    With thanks in advance,

    Merfyn Williams

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear Sirs,

    Here we are in the middle of some of the worst weather pre Christmas I have known.

    We have articles on the news about looking after animals. Nothing at all about the plight of the disabled, or challenged. They may not get deliveries, or help from care agencies, and lo money for heating. So is anyone suggesting we get neighbours to look in on them and share with them. OF course I suspect all the young people in the news room think who cares their only scroungers. What a shambles and insult!

    Please please think care not picture post card!

    Please please think disabled and challenged!

    I am sure not everyone is callas but often just unmindful!
    Best regards
    Andrew Tollett

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    So disapppointed that despite all your good work in raising disability awareness across news programmes this week, a nationwide supermarket is currently advertising in their new Gift Guide (on page 60) 'Top gifts for fun' a pair of racing grannies complete with zimmer frames. A shame that the organisation concerned is also a sponsor for the Paralympic games and as such one would think would have been more alert to such products. Furthermore the message for young children who will be bought these 'toys' will only further stereotype negative images of disabled and elderly persons and may portray them as objects of ridicule and disrespect.

  • Comment number 8.

    Discounting the voice of the vulnerable disadvantaged

    Disabled people in continuing care are facing a new and worrying situation. It has long been the situation that disadvantage has been recognized and remediated by providing community care, which safeguards against relapse and a worsening situation for which statutory bodies like social services and Healthcare incur a multiplication of costs if they do not implement preventive intervention and provide a social base for vulnerable people to focus and rebuild their lives.

    For mental health, the last few years have seen these bases for social and specialist support falling like a house of cards. In our area, first the Resource at Duncan Macmillan House changed its independent basis for clients and carers to being reclaimed by the Healthcare Trust to serve the trust’s interests as an Involvement centre. Next went Manor Road Day Centre for older people, not replaced, and its clients shunted in the direction of the Broad Street Centre, which in turn closed a year ago last March, with no efforts being made to relocate a vulnerable clientele and all the specialist infrastructure that SPAN had built up with many years’ experience of working with our needs. The Healthcare Trust needs to Protect its Investment, instead of sweeping it all away, which sets in motion a slide in care standards and a proliferation of costs which have to be met later. These personal and social costs show in rates of relapse - the old ‘revolving door’ - and social problems which are left unmet and unmeasured except in high profile catastrophies like suicides and violations of the Law.

    The creation of an underclass of ignored people is very damaging to social cohesion and devastating for the people so ignored. Where the situation is changing it is in being not simply ignored but in being actively targeted with inappropriate expectations that the disabled ‘must work’, that Day Care should produce outcomes that move people on - when these people are there with incurable illnesses and recognized vulnerabilities when working functionality is an unrealistic expectation. The protection of these people is safeguarded by Statute. The extent to which the catalogue of pre-meditated closures described here is in violation of statute is contended here to highlight what some people are hoping will not come to light, but this is something which is reaching scandalous proportions.

    As the futures of Beeston Day Centre and the Jewel in the crown of community provision - SPAN Foster Drive currently lie in the balance, the conclusion here is that statutory commitments to continuing care in the community are jettisoned each time a day care facility is swept away. These outcomes serve to hit the most vulnerable people the Hardest! Withdrawal of the investment in specialist provision that these have afforded recklessly throws a proliferating social and financial cost into an indeterminate future, with maximum distress and hardship for the blameless targeted people who deserve better than to be mal-treated in this way.

  • Comment number 9.

    Backward system that provides more incentives to be unemployed than to be employed. Discrimination in hiring continues to exclude individual with diabilities from the world of work. The status of individuals with disabilities is more a reflection of social norms than disability. The lumping of individuals into these categories restricts hope. Both the medical services and social services have a ready population and it is not in their interest to have advance in any meaningful way. There is a difference between ability and opportunity. After many years of advocacy the results have been that individuals with disabilities have advanced to the state where their role in society is to make everyone feel better about themselves and provide "inspiration" to the able-bodied world. This is better than institutionalization...but not much as progress toward integration and equal opportunity. the attitudes of the greater society creates barriers for those who acquire a disability to return to work and the employers support that process. A system that supports being a recipient of welfare rather than self-support. the system was designed to be progressive when in reality it has become only another barrier of self-interest to be overcome. Over-priced devices, monthly payments, social service and rehabilitation agencies all have a vested interest in keeping individuals with disabilities in their current status. Like most things, this is about who is making the money.

  • Comment number 10.

    I am sorry to have to comment that it is not likely that long written statements on 'Discounting the voice of the vulnerable disadvantaged'. are likely to reach a sympathetic audience and it seems to me that if the house rules prevent broadening the scope of opinions given then it will lack interest from a wide audience and be very boring to many.

  • Comment number 11.

    Access All Areas...except the "Panorama:Fifa's Dirty Secrets" Post.
    At a time when there is much debate about England loosing the 2018/2022 World Cup bids, surely your recent post on Fifa's Dirty Secrets should not be blocked from comments. It smacks of censorship or rather - free speech when it suits the BBC. I am sure there would be people expressing both sides of the argument, on whether the Panorama programme had any impact on England's bid. I suppose this debate will have to take place on other sites, both online and offline, instead of the place where the story actually originated.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thank you to the BBC for your coverage of "access all areas". I understand the challenges faced daily by those people who have to live with dibilitating conditions. However, I would like to highlight the difficulties facing people who live in that "no mans land" between living a "normal" life, and living with a clearly defined diability. Those living with a condition which is rarely mentioned, often misunderstood and therefore dismissed.

    I suffer from Neuralgia. Very few people know what it is, and fewer know how dibilitating it can be, and I often have periods where I seriously struggle to continue with a daily routine, and find it difficult to maintain a good level of mental health as a result. Since there is a lack of understanding about my condition, I find very little help or support, which makes maintianing a normal way of life even more difficult.

    I'm sure my condition is not the only one that receives a lack of understanding. I would very much appreciate the BBC raising the issue of those less known dibilitating conditions which people live with - without support.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Kevin, I think it's great that coverage is being given about this and the range of topics is most relevant - sports and disability, employment and even technology quite often get coverage with respect to disability but certainly less so for the likes of invisible disability.

    One would hope there would be sufficient coverage to at least the challenge the stereotypes of the disabled in the minds of the public. And not just the disrespectful types as mentioned by Veronica (#7) above... I'm talking specifically about those disabled that are actually capable of living, dreaming and achieving as well as any able-bodied person. Having done some volunteer life coaching work with the disabled community in South Africa a few months ago, it was quite disturbing to see the amount of unnecessary stress these stereotypes cause for the individuals in question. It is precisely these changes of attitudes that need to be brought about by this coverage for it to have a significant impact.

    @ghostofsichuan (#8) - a cynical view but I have to agree with you. Still, my experience of the UK when compared to Africa is miles apart when it comes to care of and managing people with disabilities. Until people's attitudes actually change toward inclusion and acceptance of the disabled, nothing will really change.

    Anna Sempe (Social issues blog)

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm with #3 MW,

    The BBC is failing in its duties in not providing subtitles on the video clips and transcripts on the radio clips.

    (even a link to a text file would be good enough for me)

  • Comment number 17.

    On consideration of the disabled and how society treats the disabled, the flavour seems to be bottled in the poem 'The English are Nice' by D H Lawrence. There is it seems a dichotomy of disability concept. Those in wheelchairs: stupid people and those not in wheelchairs: Feckless, bone idle, social security scroungers. In a recent confrontation with a barrister as a witness in court, I suggested that we swop jobs. I will spout Platonic argument and we will break his hips and knees with a baseball bat and chop the end of his foot off with a meat cleaver. For some reason, he declined the offer. Perhaps he thought me too stupid to argue Platonic argument?
    Whereas civil disobedience would be difficult, because we are dependent on the citizen politic for our survival, one wonders how the culture in Westminster can be turned from treating the disabled as feckless scrougers and giving us a decent living income that is above the subsistence level of income support. Indeed, as much as the world of work needs to be opened up, for the individual to get there a level of income needs to be above the temporary support designed to stop people dropping out of the community completely. We are not fifth class people.
    I argue that if you are scraping along the bottom, it is almost impossible to begin to rise above it. I speak from the experience of having to develop sharp elbows to get needs, benefits and an education met. It is a good job I did not embark on this journey with the idea of becoming popular.
    As a man, white, aged 56 and physically disabled I am to all intents unemployable. An honours degree has no effect on this status.

  • Comment number 18.

    Also: From a slightly different angle; The idea that those who make the effort can break through the glass ceiling and be 'successful', is a lie. It is an absolute lie and a narrative fiction. The Roald Dahl, Willy Wonker, glass ceiling does not exist. It is more like a jar of fleas. If you take a jam jar and put fleas in it, screw on the lid and wait, the fleas will jump and hit their heads on the lid. After a while they learn not to jump so high as to bang their heads. So it is safe to take the lid off now, the fleas will never escape. If one does manage it you can brag loudly to the rest that if they did but try, it can be done.

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm glad you have shone a light on how disabled people are treated. How about commenting on how they are treated by the media, by say, news readers and editors such as Ben Brown and yourself who think it is ok to speak over disabled people with a speech impediment and repeat ridiculous accusations at them when the have been victimised. Why do you not comment on how condescending you have been to disabled people who were offended by this, by insinuating they do not want to be treated equally or challenged.

    Any reason you don't comment on this?

  • Comment number 20.

    Talking about disability issues...when do we get a respsonse to the Jody McIntyre interview charade?

  • Comment number 21.

    "We hope the week will challenge assumptions..."

    Let's hope it does. On the subject of assumptions, how about an editorial response to the thousands of complaints regarding the Jody McIntyre interview. Surely this might lay to rest the assumption that editorial accountability at the BBC has not been compromised.

  • Comment number 22.

    I find it hard to believe that you have frozen the other post's comments section(1065 seems a random number to automatically freeze at). The juxtaposition of this and your later post is highly ironic, especially now considering your lack of transparency in the matter, your title becomes another lie to the list('Access All Areas').

  • Comment number 23.

    Speaking of changing attitudes to disabled people, when are we going to get a reply to the Jody McIntyre interview blog comments?

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.


  • Comment number 26.

    Pretty sickening to read this post now after the BBC has shown itself so utterly ignorant of the sort of life the disabled are forced to live. A man in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy can be considered a legitimate threat to a battalion of armed police officers?
    Definitely "thought-provoking", provokes the thought that journalism can indeed get even worse than the output during Mark Popescu's reign.

  • Comment number 27.

    We're baaaack Kevin. Time to respond to the thousands of people that have complained about JodyGate!!!! Did you really think we would just all go away? You personally created this mess. Step up and do the right thing or step down.

  • Comment number 28.

    Time to respond to the thousands of people that have complained about JodyGate!!!! Did you really think we would just all go away?
    In a word.... yes. You lefties will find some other pet-project to beat your gums and wave your placards about. You always do. Dont you think that Auntie already knows this?

    On the subject of assumptions, how about an editorial response to the thousands of complaints regarding the Jody McIntyre interview. Surely this might lay to rest the assumption that editorial accountability at the BBC has not been compromised.
    And on the other hand... it might not. You dont think the BBC is really there just for you, do you? After what happened with Gilligan???

    Talking about disability issues...when do we get a respsonse to the Jody McIntyre interview charade?

    Probably when hell freezes over. Which, judging by the way the weather is, might be sometime in the next week.

  • Comment number 29.

    Who cares about Jody McIntyre? He's so last week.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think no small amount of hypocrisy is being shown here, you claim to be shining a light on disability issues here but fail to respond to over a thousand posts on a blog relating to a disabled guest and the way he was ignorantly treated by one of your newsreaders. Laughable really if it wasn't so insulting to your viewers.

  • Comment number 31.

    Actually Fubar and Pdavies or should I say Ben and Kevin, i'm a fiscal conservative, but thanks for assuming. :)

  • Comment number 32.

    navajoblack @ 31

    You what? I've made no comments about anyone's political allegiance. You're confused.

    I'm just glad the phony internet hate-campaign fizzled out.

  • Comment number 33.

    what is it with you two? some people have complained about, and articulated very clearly why they feel the ben brown/jody mcintyre interview was biased, some of whom may be left wing some who may be right wing, some may be neither, i dont know or care. you disagree, fine - but then why continually get involved, if it's nothing to do with you. once again, for the hundredth time IT IS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING LEFT OR RIGHT WING, nor is it an internet campaign - it is a specific complaint about an interview on the bbc. the reason why people are still unhappy is because they feel the bbc has not adequately addressed their concerns. simples! jaysus!

  • Comment number 34.

    I agree. Here we have roports about recognizing the needs of disabled people and not just fobbing us off as abusing the benefits (as little as they are for some) provided and under heavy scrutiny by the government but we still have no response to the overwhelming display of condemnation of the interview of Mr McIntyre. The real issue isn't that Mr McIntyre was a revolutionary or a protester, it is that he was attacked by four policmen in a manner that would have anraged the viewing public had the same thing had happened to any other person, disabled or not. Where is the balance by the BBC when it comes to reporting crimes. We disabled are supposed to be protected by both common sense, decency and the law when it comes to all kinds of abuse of attack by it by the authorities (in this case the met officers involved) and the media. How dare you at the BBC claim to be impartial when you won't even appologise when such an insulting and outragous interigation (not interview) is conducted by one of your news readers and defended by the news editor in charge. Shame, Shame, Shame. I just hope the rest of the world has had the decency to expose you all for the double standards and abusive disrespectful way what was clearly brutal treatment of a disabled person by police.

  • Comment number 35.

    No doubt there are many instances of unmerited welfare support, but nevertheless, out of self interest of those who receive and the professionals who gain even more, their advocacy of it maintains 'care' as a civilisational norm. If the contrawise collateral damage is the desertion of actual need rather than the sometimes misapplication of resource,then justified resentment that those who have, should give to those who do not need, will be replaced by the outright strife that those who genuinely want are not given what they need by those can afford to. Either way there is inequity, one material, the other human.

  • Comment number 36.

    @jacmak (#35) - you're right, there will surely be inequity in any type of welfare model - it's always a question of where you draw the lines in terms of how you define real social need.

    The only solution I can think that would be practical is to severely punish those aiming to defraud the system and make the state investment to provide for adequate evalution prior to giving any sort of welfare support - given the current state of the economy though, I would say this is highly unlikely to happen any time soon.

    Anna (Social Issues blogger)


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