Pandemic exclusion led to confusion and worry, says ground-breaking Welsh report – Incapacity Information Service
The level of marginalization disabled people experienced in Wales during the pandemic led many to report confusion, helplessness, abandonment, isolation, fear and frustration, according to a groundbreaking disabled-led report.
The Locked Out report, commissioned by the Welsh Government, details how the pandemic has transformed medical discrimination, restricted access to public services and social support, exclusion from public spaces and life, restrictions on independent living and an erosion of fundamental human rights led.
The report, which was controlled and co-produced by disabled people, concludes that evidence accumulated over the past year suggests disabled people feel that their lives are “less valued” in Welsh society.
This is particularly reflected in their experiences of discrimination and exclusion when trying to gain access to public services during the pandemic, the report said.
It describes how disabled people do not have access to public transport, maternity services, family doctor offices, emergency numbers and public information about pandemics.
The report also highlights how official statistics showed that 68 percent of COVID-related deaths were from disabled people, even more than the 58 percent in England.
But the report says there is “nothing inevitable about these statistics”.
Instead, it describes how social factors such as discrimination, poor housing, poverty, employment status, institutionalization, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), “poor and incomplete service” and “inaccessible and confusing public information” have “significantly” contributed to this figure be high.
The report concludes: “Official statistics show how disabled people in Wales bore the brunt of COVID-19 deaths: a fact that has received little comment from national or regional media.
“This is a ‘silence’ that suggests a certain acceptance of a certain inevitability among politicians, the media and the public, which we do not and cannot accept because we would be complicit with the implicit conclusion that the lives of disabled people” are more dispensable. “
According to the report, many disabled people believed that the problems they faced during the pandemic were not caused by the Welsh government, but rather by the “cessation, inaction and marginalization” of other public institutions it funded.
They believed the Welsh government was “largely accessible and responded quickly and appropriately to the issues raised”, but this contrasts with the treatment of disabled people by some local authorities.
The report argues that “human rights violations of disabled people” during the pandemic were “largely a consequence of abandoning a social model of disability, the knee-jerk resumption of a discredited medical model and the associated devaluation of disabled people”. .
It also cites evidence reported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on ‘Medical Discrimination’ against Disabled People During the Pandemic, and calls on the Welsh Government to introduce compulsory training for the Welsh NHS that would be co-developed and jointly developed – Supplied with Welsh disability organizations.
The report calls on the Welsh Government to launch a national investigation into the factors that have led to the disproportionate death rates of various groups during the pandemic, including disabled people.
And he asks the UK government to conduct a similar investigation.
Among many other recommendations, the report says that the Welsh government should “give urgent priority” to its commitment to incorporate the UN Disability Rights Convention (UNCRPD) into Welsh law.
It also called on the Welsh Government to appoint their first Minister for Disabilities and, finally, a Commissioner for Disabilities in Wales.
And it is proposing a national campaign to improve public understanding of Ableism in Welsh society and incorporate the history of the disability rights movement, including the development of the social model, into the national curriculum in Wales.
The investigation was commissioned by the Welsh Government’s Disability Equality Forum after hearing how disabled people were negatively affected by the pandemic.
Both the chairman of the investigation, Dr. Debbie Foster (pictured above right), Professor of Industrial Relations and Diversity at Cardiff Business School at Cardiff University who wrote the report, and the chairman of the study steering group, Rhian Davies (pictured above left), Chief Executive Officer of Disability Wales, are people with disabilities.
Among other areas where the pandemic has impacted disabled people, the report said many have encountered new travel barriers that “limit mobility and increase isolation,” with disabled people “increasingly reliant on expensive private taxi services”.
They also fell disproportionately behind in household bills due to their “disadvantaged position on the labor market, poor living conditions and increased costs in connection with disability”.
It also describes the “multiple possibilities” of how disabled people were “physically and practically excluded” and “psychologically and emotionally excluded in everyday public life” during the pandemic, including the fact that accessibility as a public space was not sufficiently taken into account Cities and municipalities were reorganized.
In its response to the report, the Welsh government said the document “highlights the toll the pandemic has caused on disabled people and exacerbates inequalities”.
Jane Hutt, the minister for social justice who commissioned the report, said the government had “already put in place many of the key building blocks for eliminating inequalities in these areas”.
She said that the incorporation of the UNCRPD into Welsh law “represents a significant commitment to support and improve the lives of people with disabilities” while a minister-led task force “would address the inequalities highlighted in the report and monitor the implementation of measures “.
She added: “In all areas highlighted in the report, we undertake to further review the evidence presented and have a meaningful debate on how best to mitigate the harmful effects on people with disabilities.”
She said the pandemic meant that the government’s framework for independent living with disabilities, published in September 2019, now needs to be reviewed.
Disability Wales welcomed the report and the commitment by the Welsh Government to set up a ministerial task force.
This is “crucial to find solutions that combat inequality rather than perpetuate it, as well as the cultural assumptions that disabled people are needy and vulnerable rather than questioning active citizens with rights”.
The report shows how “laws and guidelines to ensure the rights of disabled people have not done this, even when it was most needed”.
Rhian Davies said: “In Wales, we can rightly be proud to produce such a compelling report.
“Locked Out is considered the first of its kind to be commissioned and published by a UK national government and is evidence-based, and has been co-produced with disability organizations.
“It highlights ‘the ingrained inequalities’ exposed by the pandemic that disabled people in Wales have experienced firsthand.
She said the impact of the report was “already evident” with the Welsh government accepting that the social model of disability “should be the organizing principle for action”, agreed to set up the task force and affirmed its intention to call the UNCRPD incorporated into Welsh law.
She said: “Disability Wales looks forward to playing a full and active role in promoting the rights and equality of people with disabilities in Wales at this important moment.”
* Locked Out: Liberating the lives and rights of people with disabilities in Wales beyond COVID-19
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