What is an Access Group
There are two types of access groups, and alongside that, a number of organisational model, and straight away I’m using big complicated words. Let’s put it simply.
Some groups cover the whole spectrum of disability. Other groups choose to focus on just one aspect. There are many reasons for this, which can be explained upon request.
Whatever type of group exists, some started out inside their Council, providing in–house consultation. Other groups were independent from the start. We were the former, and when we were politely asked to ‘move along’ it was a shock.
Going it alone
We lost half our membership, not to mention a fair number of hairs. In the process however a small core group managed to create a constitution, open a bank account, and gain charitable status. In fairness, we would have struggled without ongoing help from our local Council for the first few years, but we are coping.
While we are small, we do try to keep above a list such as below:
- Regular Meetings
- Attending meetings with
- Local authorities, including adult and childrens services, transport, planning, roads/highways
- Transport providers
- Shops and other service providers from cinemas to theatres, supermarkets to sweet shops
Why are we still so small?
When we became independent, many of our members were, quite naturally, very wary of change in general, and taking responsibility in particular. Our group has always been biased towards an older age group (I consider myself young still at 47!). Equally, there is a very British belief that for any job, task or role, there is always somebody else who will do it.
Like complaining and queuing, we assume that regulating and enforcing accessibility and disability discrimination, is handled by the Police or the Council. Many recent laws are written without any funding for enforcement, or which require us, the public, to prosecute privately for justice.
The Men (or Minions) in Black
THEM, THEY or THOSE people, like the mythical Men in Black (MIBs of Hollywood movie fame) simply don’t exist. Once this fact is understood, then it is obvious that we have to stand up and be heard.
With Accessibility issues covering so much different legislation, including:
- Planning Law
- Building Regulations
- Equality Act (2010) and Disability Discrimination
- Access of Criminal Law
- And of course a good local knowledge of who does what and where they work…
The majority of disabled people will have their own collection of horror stories ranging from ignorance to discrimination upto actual abuse.. Ever worse, the biggest offenders are those where we would least expect to find problems.
It is a sad fact, that after the Department of Work and Pensions (hated by all, I think) the worst offender towards disabled people is your local large hospital. With the move to ‘super hospitals’ training standards have plummeted. As more services are out-sourced, accountancy is almost impossible to find, let alone prove, that nothing gets fixed.
So Where are You?
The question is then, WHY ARE YOU NOT INVOLVED? If you are the kind of person, not unlike myself who sees something on tv or in the paper and says “they should have done something”, you need to ask who THEY are, and in this case, THEY is YOU.
As disabled people, or family members of disabled people, we frequently suffer discrimination, whether deliberate or otherwise, direct or indirect, or even experience such discrimination simply because we are related to, or associated with, a disabled person. Check out a separate page on the types of discrimination.
But just remember, there is power in numbers. you need not act alone.