It is no surprise that I read today of woman in Gloucestershire who was refused access to a Stagecoach bus.
The woman presented her bus pass, for a journey she made daily to see her daughter, as she is now barred from driving by DVLA. The driver allegedly asked the woman, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, who the bus pass belonged to, and questioned her right to use it as it was marked for a disabled person. He falsely accused the woman of either fraudulent use, theft of the bus pass, or forgery, and confiscated the pass and told the woman to get off the bus.
The woman rightly feels the bus driver stole her bus pass, and illegally refused her right to journey.
Stagecoach for their part, are “investigating internally”, to ascertain the circumstances and have apologised. The woman is still, at time of writing, awaiting her bus pass back.
This is an example of the propaganda that all disabled people are shirkers and frauds, which is propagated by some elements in the tabloid press, is now so powerful that non–medically qualified people are taking their own decisions as to what they see as being disabled means.
What are we to think when the DWP is also proposing changing the definition of disability purely for allegedly austerity and political reasons, and looking to refuse welfare payments of PIP to those who use appliances and aids in their daily life?
“Institutional discrimination” is often discussed as regards ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, religion or whatever, but the disabled sometimes seem to be a fair target for the media and DWP.
One does not have to go back far last century to find examples of discrimination using propaganda which changed peoples’ views as regards their attitudes toward various religions, the disabled and other organised and unorganised groups the Governments of the time disliked.
I will allow the driver some leeway, as his bosses probably lean heavily on their staff to do more to cut down on fraud, but probably give little or no training in what constitutes invisible or non-wheelchair disabilities, or how to recognise them through simple judicious questioning. The bus company probably give some training in recognising crude forgeries or other obvious inconsistencies, but of course, this belies the fact that bus passes for the disabled are issued through a medical examination and verification process in the first place.
So, in essence, the whole issue comes back to institutional discrimination and non–disabled people believing the propaganda of the Government and its media allies.
As far back as 1991, 5 years before the Disability Discrimination Act, academics were writing about Institutional Discrimination toward the disabled and what needed to be done to eradicate that bias.
I am not confident that this propaganda virus, unleashed into the wild of the populace, will ever be remedied effectively for any person of visible or invisible disability.