Day of Action for Disability Equality in Education

Today, QMUCU is marking the Day of Action for Disability Equality in Education and this year the theme of the day is “Organising for Disabled Workers”. Covid-19 has brought new barriers and challenges for disabled workers. We know that this virus can attack anyone and we are all in this together to defend our lives and our livelihoods. But we also know that this is an unequal crisis in which structural inequalities have caused disproportionate deaths among Black and disabled people and emergency legislation has dismantled some of our rights, including to inclusive education. Many of us are more at risk from the virus itself and this creates risk if forced to return to the physical workplace which some employers refuse to recognize; but our lives are also impacted by ableism which, according to a recent report by the CAB, means we are more likely to be made redundant, and especially if we were shielding during the national lockdown. All workers in post-16 education have seen our workloads increase and work stress rise exponentially, and for disabled members, this is compounded by barriers such as trying to sort out reasonable adjustments for blended teaching, and compressed hours on campus with back to back teaching. Members who have caring responsibilities are also more likely to be selected for redundancy and to find the return to face to face teaching a source of constant stress. 
With these new barriers and challenges, it is increasingly urgent to organise disabled workers to defend and extend our rights and equality at work. Our key campaign demands are: 

  • time limits for the implementation of reasonable adjustments
  • a review of building regulations to ensure they meet the accessibility needs of disabled people
  • a statutory right to disability leave
  • the right for disabled people to access mainstream education and a reversal of cuts to SEND provision

Please find below some disability-related resources we have put together.
Organising disabled workers webinar
Wednesday 25 November 2020, 1-2pm
Register here: https://ucu.wufoo.com/forms/day-of-action-organising-disabled-workers/

To mark UCU’s third year of action for disability equality, this event will be chaired by Elane Heffernan, UCU NEC and chair of the disabled members’ standing committee, with contributions from Themesa Neckles, vice-chair of UCU disabled members’ standing committee, Ann Galpin, co-chair, NUJ, TUC disabled workers’ committee and Colleen Johnson, NEU. A BSL interpreter will be available.

Everyday ableism webinarFriday 27 November 2020, 1-2pm
Register here: https://ucu.wufoo.com/forms/day-of-action-everyday-ableism/

Ableism is discrimination in favour of non-disabled people.  It is based on an assumption that the physical, cognitive and sensory differences with which disabled people live with are deficits, and it is rooted in the medical model of disability that assumes that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’. It is manifest in physical, environmental and attitudinal barriers that exclude and stigmatise an entire group of people as ‘less than’.
This webinar will explore, what ableism is; recognising it and how to challenge it.  The event will be chaired by Themesa Neckles, vice chair of UCU’s disabled members’ standing committee with contributions from Elane Heffernan, NEC and chair of the disabled members’ standing committee, Lucy Burke, NEC and disabled members’ standing committee and Michelle Daley, Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) (invited).  A BSL interpreter will be available.

Social model of disability UCU follows the social model of disability which looks at the ways in which society is organised and the social and institutional barriers which restrict disabled people’s opportunities.
The social model sees the person first and argues that the barriers they face, in combination with their impairments, are what disables them.
Barriers, including attitudes and perceptions around disabilities can make it impossible or very difficult for disabled people to access jobs, buildings or services. Removing these barriers is the best way to include millions of disabled people in our society.
Watch our film on the social model of disability and discuss how branches can adopt the social model: https://youtu.be/Do6U1j1vRYU

Disability History Month
This year’s Disability History Month runs from 22nd November to 22nd December. The month creates a platform to focus on the history of disabled people’s struggle for equality and human rights. The theme for 2020 is ‘Access: How far have we come? How far have we to go?’ For further information on activities being planned for DHM, visit https://ukdhm.org/.

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