Thursday, 25 February 2016

Your Disability Living Allowance is ending.



So I received the letter from the Department for Work and Pensions telling me that '[my] Disability Living Allowance is ending.' It begins by saying:

You may already be aware that Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will end soon for most claimants, including you. This affects you even if you have an indefinite award of DLA.

A new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has been introduced to help with extra costs if you have a long term health condition or disability.

I am angry about this. I think that the DWP's actions are both immoral and unlawful. My DLA was awarded to me on an 'indefinite' basis by an Independent Tribunal - a proper court - after a number of years' dispute. I consider it to be for the DWP to follow this decision.

Instead, they and the Conservative government have come along and unilaterally and retrospectively cancelled the decision of the tribunal.

I think it is open to the government to create a new benefit for new claimants. I do not think it is open to the government to create a new benefit and impose it on existing claimants, replacing the old benefit, but with different rules, rates and conditions. This is moving the goalposts to disqualify people who previously qualified.

This is why they used to make sure that new rules for new benefits would 'not affect existing claimants.' It was consistent with the legal principle of non-retroactivity.

As a result, I wrote to the DWP, requesting a mandatory reconsideration of their decision to end my DLA. I am not an expert on social security law, but I understand that you are entitled to appeal any decision about your benefits.

This was about a month ago and I have still not heard back from them. I asked them on Twitter if they had an e-mail address that I can contact them with, but they said that they do not offer such a facility.

How can it be right for the DWP to discriminate against Deaf people like this? They cancel my benefit and then make it almost impossible to contact them to discuss the matter.



Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Petition calling for the Speaker to tell Ministers to answer the question.



I've just set up a new petition and the idea behind it is fairly simple.

We keep seeing David Cameron answer a question at Prime Minister's Questions with something other than what he was asked.

For example, Jeremy Corbyn asks about flood defences and Mr Cameron replies with mockery about the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle.

So my petition is to try and dissuade or prevent Ministers from changing the subject. I think that this is important because MPs ask questions on behalf of their constituents and we are anxious to hear what the government is doing about our problems and whether they are taking them seriously.

This is why my petition calls for the Speaker to have the power to direct Ministers to answer the questions put to them in the course of Parliamentary business.

If you support my petition, please sign it and share it, thank you!

Link to petition.

Friday, 28 November 2014

On Tony Blair

If Tony Blair did not think that he needed a second UN Security Council resolution for permission to invade Iraq, then why did he first set out to get one?

As Robin Cook said in his resignation speech:

"I applaud the heroic efforts that the Prime Minister has made in trying to secure a second resolution. I do not think that anybody could have done better than the Foreign Secretary in working to get support for a second resolution within the Security Council. But the very intensity of those attempts underlines how important it was to succeed. Now that those attempts have failed, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance."

Blair cannot go with the law when it suits him and then go against it when it does not. He knew going to war was against the law and he should be tried at the Hague.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The UK in the European Convention: fudge, or a shining example?


The UK in the European Convention: fudge, or a shining example?

My response:

The idea that the signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights intended to be anything other than fully bound by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights is absolutely ridiculous. As if the European Court of Human Rights is just some sort of advisory or guidance body and not a proper court.

Clever people come along and try to smuggle the European Union 'subsidiarity principle' into the debate and muddy the waters in all sorts of other convoluted ways, but they can’t bat away the point that I’ve just made above.

Monday, 24 February 2014

On lip-reading.



I found this on one of my google meanders.

Quote:

My Deaf client lip reads very well. Isn't that enough?

Lip reading is very tiring and extremely difficult. Whilst a person may be able to lip read you for a short time in non stressful situations on a one to one basis, lip reading may become impossible when not in these situations. If a deaf person has requested that you book an interpreter, it is probably because they are finding lip reading difficult and recognise they need an interpreter. Lip reading is also very much a guessing game as only 30 – 40% of words in the English language are distinguishable by lipreading. This means that up to 70% of what you are saying to the deaf person is not actually lip reading – but is guessing' based on the 30% they are lip reading.

Lip reading is a very tiring way of receiving information in a one to one situation (eg: appraisals or interviews), even with a person that is aware of clear communication tactics. Many people can speak up to 200 words per minute (http://www.lipspeaking.co.uk/fact_lipspeaking.htm). In small or large groups (eg: team meetings or training courses), it is impossible to follow what is happening by lipreading alone.

Although the deaf person may seem to lip read very well, on what basis are you making this decision? Just because they may have hearing aids, this may not help them with reception of what is being spoken, depending on their level of deafness.

Unquote.

Give that person a medal, please. There has been many a time when somebody has come along and just assumed that because I can lip-read a small number of very clear speakers for a very limited period of time, that somehow 'carries over' as the ability to lip-read anybody for any length of time.

Lip-reading is the love of oralists, not of mine. To me it is like tea-leaf reading or astrology or pin the tail on the donkey.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

AOHL ignoring Deaf people and their needs again!


Recently somebody drew my attention to a petition calling for proceedings in the Welsh Assembly to have subtitles and BSL, so that Deaf people can follow the politics that they are interested in or that affect them.

Agreeing strongly with this petition and seeing that it had only just started, I tweeted "Action on Hearing Loss" (sic)to see if they supported it. Unfortunately, not for the first time, they completely ignored me.

I then mentioned on the AOHL forum what had happened and my post was removed, along with the contributions of another Deaf person on the same matter.

I don't know exactly what is going on, but it seems that everything about Deaf people is being done without Deaf people and this is not a good comment on AOHL's attitude to Deaf people.

My hunch? AOHL is doing secret deals with BBC/providers/Ofcom, entering into hidden agreements on what is an "acceptable" level of access through subtitles and BSL. If you can shed any light on the matter, please leave a comment, thank you.

I am reminded of some important maxims and why they are important:

'Nothing about us without us.'

'Rights, not charity.'

News report.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Some more thoughts on 'medical model' terminology used to refer to Deaf people.


Since my last blog post I have thought some more on the issue of ‘medical model’ terminology and after reading Charlie’s thought-provoking blog post and having a good Twitter discussion with him, Alison and others, I have decided that I am going to have to retract part of what I said, to quote:

“The new terminology around ‘loss’ is strictly medical model and while I have no problem with people seeing and describing their own deafness this way...”

This seemed pretty reasonable to me when I said it. It was about respecting differences of opinion and perception, and the right to self-determine. As Charlie had quite fairly questioned, ‘is it right to tell other deaf people they shouldn't call themselves something?’ However, I don’t think anybody is quite doing that; people will use whatever terms that they like, as they are entitled to do so. I think it is more about just debating which terms are better and hopefully agreeing on something that is not damaging or oppressive to Deaf people and then encouraging their use.

So what is the problem with people describing themselves as ‘hearing impaired’? That’s their choice, right? Yes, but I think there are two issues here. Firstly, it could be argued that the term is oppressive or even abusive and that it is biased, of the medical model and imposed on us from a hearing perspective. ‘Impaired’ is in the same bracket as 'loss,' ‘broken,’ damaged,’ ‘defective,’ ‘lacking,’ etc. If somebody self-harms, we wouldn’t just shrug our shoulders and say ‘well that’s his choice’ and then leave it at that. We might encourage him to seek help, etc. So is somebody psychologically self-harming by referring to himself in such terms? I used to do this sort of thing and it didn’t feel at all good for me.

Secondly, Alison referred to John Donne’s famous quote that ‘No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.’ If you give people the OK or nod to use oppressive terms to describe themselves, or you just let them get on with doing so, doesn’t that have implications for the rest of us? It may be self-perpetuating, giving other people the impression that it’s acceptable to refer to us in this way.

I am glad this debate is now underway, as I think we need to push away the old oppressive terms.