The return of ‘de-humanisation’ tactics

CONCERNED Andy Bundy champions the rights of the disabled

CONCERNED Andy Bundy champions the rights of the disabled

Mary Berry

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When I was a lad…. No, it is not going to be like that.

When I started working with disabled people, I soon noticed how most people would always speak to the carer, and not the person in the wheelchair, irrespective of whether or not they could talk.

While grounded often in fear or ignorance, it was still, in our opinion, rather rude.

Thus, we’d often agree a pre-arranged routine to ‘educate’ the culprit into better manners. We had some fun!

Over the years, the community has integrated much further than I would have believed and the problem has almost disappeared.

While even I’ve experienced the sugar question, while sitting right there, it is quite rare.

However, the same ‘de-humanisation’ tactics have returned, from professional departments of health, local authorities and other care providers, who really should know better.

In true Monty Python style I’ll write a little sketch:

<me> “Good morning, my name is Andrew Bundy, and I would like to speak with my social worker.”

<person> “OK, can I take your date of birth and re-confirm your address please?”

<me> “providing details, etc”

<person> “Please can I ask who this call is about?”

Now – my speech is normally quite clear and for short sentences I rarely get stuck or forget my words, thus given the possessive ‘my’ at the start, the ‘who is the call concerning’ is just plain rude.

This happens with almost every call I make.

Now, perhaps I’m unusual being a middle-aged fairly ‘normal’ sounding person, with a ‘telephone voice’ adapted to speaking to colleagues around the world where English is not their first language.

To add to that, I’m now a ‘service user’, and all service users are presumed to need someone else to speak for them.

Now to send you youngsters (technically me too) again to Google, “I am not a number, I am a free man!”

While I’ve messed up the reference here, from the Prisoner, the subtle dehumanisation of ‘service users’, and the fact this contradicts with government policy and indeed legislation, is escaping everyone.
n Andy Bundy, who is not a ‘Prisoner’, nor played in any medium by Patrick McGoohan, is secretary of the Havant Area Disability Access Group.

Visit hadag.org.uk for more information or phone 07518 008 091.

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