Some of you will know that I have a bee in my bonnet about the inconsistency between acts of parliament regarding the use of the word disabled.
Why is this important: MS is one of only three conditions listed as a disability in the Equality Act 2010.
What does it mean: When there is any reference to the word disabled as a descriptive term in regards to a product, service or concession (think Railcards, bus passes etc) then MS automatically falls into the category. The Act is clear that the provider may not further define disability in a way that excludes one of the three protected categories. In other words, it is binary.
Where am I at: The Disabled Railcards was an easy win as they saw sense right away. I have been making a case to my council – Oxfordshire – to acquire a free disabled bus pass. Not so much because I need on personally at the moment but it is my view that this confusion needs clarification. The Council has been concerned enough that it is now with their legal team. Yes or no is fine. Yes will set a precedent but will not be enforceable (just common sense to show to other councils) and a no means I will be taking it further. I met my MP last night at a function and we chatted briefly. We are both of the view that sometimes these things need to be clarified. I am talking to a Barrister that specialises in the Act later today. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on MS is chaired by another MP and his office has asked me to keep them informed.
It ain’t over yet, and as pwMS we need to know where we stand and why. I will, of course, keep you updated with regards to fairly accessing the services and concessions that you are entitled to. I kind of enjoy a good scrap like this 🙂