Fulfilling Potential consultation responses
The Office for Disability Issues held a national consultation on strategy for disability in 2011-12, around their document Fulfilling Potential, MDF sent in information to the ODI in March, 2012. This was based both on our long experience of what Merseyside groups tell us about the barriers that disabled people encounter, and also on specific information received - for example at a meeting with a number of Liverpool groups.
Points that we made in our submission included:
- The need for adaptations to be in place in good time when people start new jobs or new educational opportunities. Delay through bureaucracy or funding issues not only holds back the disabled person, but contributes to employers' or educators prejudice about the additional costs and difficulties of working with disabled people.
- The government drive for localism- for decisions to be taken at lowest possible level - may be a problem for many organisations representing disabled people. These organisations often work over quite large areas (as there are no localised communities of disabled people) and may be stretched to ensure that the voice of disabled people is heard in the much larger number of decision-taking meetings that localism could lead to.
- Acceptance of disabled people in employment might be helped by some process in which employers (and perhaps small employers in particular) could take people on in a "probationary" period. In this way employers could discover from practical experience that their fears about capacity, or about disruption because of time off, were groundless.
- Small voluntary groups could campaign to raise awareness of disability issues or of the support they could give to disabled people (both of which could help to break down barriers). But if they did they would not have the resources now (and would be unlikely to get them in the future) to deal with increased demand and expectations.
The ODI intends to produce a new nationla disability strategy during the first half of 2012.