Speed and Pace - Disabilism

Monday, May 11, 2020 Simone Aspis

A small battle won that should not have been a battle in the first place. It’s one of those little tweets that pop out – this one was about 2 parents and a citizen who thought it was important to force the Government to collect data and publish figures of the number of people with learning difficulties and autism who have died from covid-19. Please note this is about the publication of data – not about anyone’s life at stake.

Of course as you might expect I wrote a strongly worded tweet about why people with learning difficulties were not invited to become claimants. This was important because the media and Gov talked about the publication of figures for parents and families during a daily covid-19 news briefing. No mention of accountability to us, disabled people with learning difficulties. Well if we are not taking the Government to court how can we expect them to be accountable to us directly?

It leads to a heated argument about the need for urgency and speed and that these people could not just slow down and wait to engage us. This same old chestnut argument that has been used for non-engagement of people with learning difficulties in any legal proceedings about us during the covid-19 policy reforms.

It took a number of strongly worded tweets that included me saying that there is a sense of ableism, elitism and disabilism taking place. Yes other people who are able to act more quickly than those with learning difficulties and use this as an argument for telling us there is insufficient time to engage with us is nothing more than ableism and disabilism. I much rather not write such strongly worded tweets – I would like whoever is taking the initiative particularly those in our community to start with a position of co-production and one of equality.

As you might expect my frustration and anger has been increasing because there have been a number of judicial review cases about the impact of Government covid-19 policy is having on people with learning difficulties without our engagement. However, this is only beginning to change when I see the tweets and challenge individuals and groups bringing forward legal action without any input from People with learning difficulties on twitter.

I really much rather not get into a twitter storm - I would like whoever is picking up the reigns in anything to do with us, court cases, policy work, knocking up media story ideas to involve us, people with learning difficulties right from the start – it is not rocket science nothing about us without us. If we want Government, public bodies and alike to be accountable then they must also be accountable directly to us, people with learning difficulties as well as other groups such as parents. If we are not there where it matters i.e. when legal action is taken then that leaves the accused only responding to parents, academics, lawyers and whoever else are the named claimants.

What I have picked up so far is just how much other people do not see their speed as a form of disabilism that discriminates against those who for whatever reason cannot act at the same speed as non-disabled campaigners. I very much hope the locked down will actually help to slow us down and be more thoughtful about how we campaign.

By Simone Aspis