Wednesday, 4 December 2013

International Day Of Lip Service

Before we begin with today's offering I just want to share something with you.

I had been in the disabled toilets at the place which cannot be named for literally five seconds when there was a knock at the door. I was still decent at that point so I opened the door. There was nobody directly outside but out of the corner of my eye I could see a man actually running away as fast as he could. I can only think that he caught a glimpse of my wheelchair and ran away out of pure shame. No doubt he expected that the person in there was not disabled, and just doing exactly what he was doing, using a facility that they have absolutely no right to or need for on the basis that real disabled people can't possibly exist. Then again he might well have been disabled, but if he was I haven't seen a disabled person run that fast since Oscar Pistorius. And if it had been Oscar he wouldn't have knocked, he would have just shot me through the door. Allegedly.

And so to the matter in hand. Yesterday I found out via the dubious gift of Facebook that December 3 is International Day Of People With Disability. Now the first question which leaped directly to mind was...'what for?'. Regular readers of this column will know that I am all for promoting the rights of disabled people but it seems to me that promoting those rights and awareness of issues surrounding disability for just one day a year is a complete nonsense. Why are we doing this for just one day when we should be doing it all of the time? You might just aswell have an International Day Of Wiping Your Arse, or an International Day Of Washing Your Bollocks. Respecting the rights of disabled people should be as automatic and mundane as either of these. That it is not is a sad reflection on our society not just here in the UK, but globally.

International Day Of People With Disability has been promoted by the United Nations since 1992. Assuming that 1992 was the first and that the suits didn't just sit around their table and say 'let's think about the cripples next year', we have now had 22 International Days Of People With Disability. Without bogging you down in the mathematics, that is roughly 0.28% of the days since 1992 in which some people somewhere may have taken a moment to reflect on disability issues. Or at least spent a couple of terrifying minutes walking around in their front room with the lights off to try and get an idea of what it might be like to be blind. Probably.

If it is not bad enough that we get only one day a year of respect and awareness of our tricky plight (or 0.28% of all days whichever way you want to look at it), it isn't even that well observed if my experiences are anything to go by. As I explained I wasn't even aware of it myself until yesterday, and the whole event passed me by completely. Nobody made a special effort not to use disabled toilets when they demonstrably don't have to, nobody knocked on the door and asked if they could take my chair for a spin just to get a feel for how I have to lug myself around on a daily basis. Nobody I know had a dart at using a catheter the size of a boa constrictor. Nothing. International Day Of People With Disability should actually be called International Day Of Lip Service. I actually don't know who observed International Day Of People With Disability or what they did to observe it. It is all very reminiscent of 'Kiss A Cripple Day' which, although clearly a made up and fruitless ruse by some chancer trying to attract attention from the opposite sex, would have been a wonderful opportunity for you able bodied people to demonstrate just how aware you are of disability issues. I can't remember what date Kiss A Cripple Day is, but what I do know is that only Emma was a willing participant in my world. Reports that Joss Stone and Jennifer Lawrence left the country and hid on Richard Branson's remote island until it passed are unconfirmed.

Next week, I participate in International Day Of Not Ranting At The Ignorant.

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