Green Party Policies On Disability
The Green Party rejects the medical model of disability and accepts the social model:
a)that disability is a social phenomenon;
b)that while many individuals have physical or sensory impairments or learning difficulties or are living with mental health problems, it is the way society responds to these which creates disability;
c)that disability is a form of oppression.
The medical model will not be invoked with reference to ‘disability’ but will be utilised only in the assessment of impairments as part of the process of meeting an individual’s desired (or, in restricted cases, perceived) need to receive support etc. and for the purposes of defining the ‘disabling’ factors in society that are to be reconstructed.
The Green Party aims to help deconstruct disablement as a form of oppression; to assist the enablement of people whom society has previously disabled. This will be achieved through various policies which may be categorised as educational, environmental, social and political.
An enabling education system
Research has shown that prejudice against disabled people can be greatly worsened by segregated schooling. To segregate children with impairments or difficulties for any reason, when provision is potentially available in an all ability setting, is a breach of human rights. Moreover it helps inculcate prejudice in non-disabled children. The Green Party will therefore introduce the following policies for an all-ability education system:
a)Impairment will not be an acceptable reason for excluding a child from a school to which they would otherwise be entitled to admission. This means that, whilst there will be no compulsory integration of individuals (or abolition of ‘special schools’), all schools will be deemed to be all-ability schools. Schools will have a statutory duty to provide for the needs of any child, wherever this can be achieved without disadvantaging other children; the presumption will be that a child’s needs can be met in that school. And government will have a duty to provide fully adequate funding for the purpose. Children will be entitled to take legal action against any school which seeks to deny this right. Children and schools will have the right to take legal action against the Government for failing to provide the necessary funding.
Where children with emotional and behavioural difficulties are concerned, a balance must be struck between their educational needs and their present emotional needs; and also between their own needs and the needs of the people around them. However, research and practise has shown that children with emotional and behavioural difficulties do not need to be permanently segregated from others.
b)Similar principles will apply to all other educational establishments, so that practical difficulties and institutionalised prejudice will not be allowed to deny a person their right to an education using impairment as an excuse.
An enabling environment
Currently, our built environment is one of the principal means by which society disables people. On taking office, the Green Party will require all central and local government bodies to instigate immediately the necessary structural and other modifications to all their buildings, so that these buildings do not reasonably exclude people with impairments.
Building regulations will be radically overhauled with accessibility in mind, including visitors’ access, access to public buildings, access to work premises, entertainment and sports, etc. Associated social measures will also be taken to open up previously inaccessible locations and activities to people with impairments.
A comprehensive plan for fully accessible transport will be implemented, so that public transport will be usable by all members of the public. In addition, the necessary arrangements will be made to meet any extra reasonable transportation needs of disabled people beyond that which can be provided through general services.
Social and political enablement
An end to the oppression of disabled people can only be achieved under the guidance of disabled people themselves. Therefore an Enablement Commission will be established as an independent body for monitoring progress made in this area. It will be established as an independent body for monitoring progress made in this area. It will be made up of disabled people and will be accorded rights and powers such that it can allow disabled people themselves to define their own reasonable needs and ensure that these needs are met. It will receive complaints against breaches of anti-discrimination legislation, and against this legislation itself, should the latter be found wanting. It will be fully involved in the preparation of new legislation. It will have a wide-ranging, often proactive role in the deconstruction of the social phenomena of disability.