Charles Crawford: Are some disabilities just too expensive to be supported?

Share
Related Topics

When I heard that the FCO was sending a profoundly deaf first secretary to work in the embassy I did not believe it could work. Diplomacy turns on nuance – deaf officers surely would miss too much.

But Jane Cordell arrived in Warsaw and rose to the challenge. Before coming to Warsaw she had taken Polish language skills towards "operational" FCO standard. This stunned her Polish counterparts. It was hard enough for any Brit to learn Polish – how had a deaf person managed it?

As her posting developed I put to Jane a tough proposition. We did not want to exploit her disability to help promote UK and EU disability policies. But a trail-blazer makes a difference. She could make a unique impact. Jane boldly took on this further portfolio, to the point of speaking Polish on Polish TV and helping the Polish parliament to draft new disability legislation.

In short, Jane Cordell did a superb diplomatic job for UK plc in Warsaw. Her success came at a price: the salaries, accommodation, travel and other costs for security-cleared lip-speakers for a deaf diplomat added up impressively.

This case opens a painful question: are some disabilities just too expensive to be supported at the workplace?

People with disabilities are necessarily super-realistic about fairness and what works and what doesn't. Any organisation grappling with these tough issues should bring in the disabled colleagues concerned to help sort policies and procedures – and the way decisions are communicated.

Talk about irony: if the FCO does lose this case, it may well be because it did not listen.

Charles Crawford is former British ambassador to Warsaw

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Mark Steel: What a triumph! We have persuaded Starbucks to relocate its European HQ from Holland to the UK

Mark Steel
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year  

David Cameron needs to tread very carefully when ‘doing God’, especially when it looks like a way of countering Ukip

Mary Dejevsky
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal