In today’s world, where appearances seem to matter more than ever and conformity seems to be the rule, it can be difficult to be different. The social inclusion of disabled people in particular is an issue and a concern everywhere in the world, even in a developed country like Britain.
I Disabled people and governments’ policies
1 Everyday difficulties and challenges
Handicapped people are regularly denied the rights that non-disabled people take for granted. They find it difficult or sometimes even impossible to access what everybody else does: public transports, restaurants, theatres, housing, administration buildings or jobs.
In London underground, for example, only one quarter of the stations are wheelchair accessible. In the UK, the employment gap between the disabled and the non-disabled stands at 30% and hasn’t changed for a decade. That’s why Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission says disabled people are still treated as second-class citizens.
2 Governments’ efforts
However, laws have changed and in Britain and many other countries, improvements have been made for physical access to public places for the handicapped. “Diversity Confident” campaigns, for instance, were launched in 2013 in Britain and in 2016 in New Zealand to encourage employers to hire disabled people and thus try to bridge the employment gap.
• to take sth. for granted: considérer qqch. comme acquis
• to tackle the problem: s’attaquer au problème
• a stare: un regard fixe
The Global Disability Summit, which took place in July 2018 in Britain, shows the world leaders’ attempts to tackle the problem. British Prime Minister Theresa May then insisted on Britain’s commitment in ending disability discrimination. There is a general willingness to include disabled people in society… but its effects aren’t always visible enough in their life.
II Other people’s perceptions of disability
1 Prejudice and mockery
Many disabled people suffer from other people’s stares and the way they are considered by non-disabled people. Getting rid of prejudices is probably the main problem to solve. If people don’t see them as their equals, how can disabled people ever feel included in society?
In 2017, the British newspaper The Guardian asked his disabled readers to write diaries about their everyday life. In one of them, Nina Grant, a 31 year-old wheelchair user, remembers how ill at ease she felt on the day a woman with a baby buggy got off the bus for her to get in: she couldn’t ignore the accusing looks of all the other passengers. Such moments in handicapped people’s daily lives may suggest their social inclusion is still out of reach.
➞ Read the diaries: bit.ly/PbacAng_13a
2 Changing views
• a diary: un journal intime
• a survey: une enquête, un sondage
However, in the UK in particular, the London 2012 Paralympic Games had a real impact on attitudes to disabled people. This was highlighted in a survey carried out in 2014, a year after the launching of the Disability Confident campaign: 68% of the people answered these attitudes had improved and 56% of handicapped people agreed.
But things are slow to change. Christopher Reardon wrote in The Guardian he sees reasons to be optimistic about people’s humanity and progress: every time an architect designs a stylish building with handicapped access, or a couple decide to raise and love a disabled child, it is a step forward to disabled people’s inclusion.