LETTER: A flawed sidabled Bill is better than nothing

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The Independent Online
AS A blind person who has been on more demonstrations than I can count, I am second to none in seeing the need for profile-raising events that help to push things up people's agendas. But anyone can see the need to supplement this with the grind of drafting amendments, writing briefs, lobbying and persuasion. Does it really help the disability movement to denounce leaders as Uncle Toms rather than to harness as allies people whose forte lies in persuasion rather than in organising demos?

Parker says that the disability movement is "a movement whose history is written differently depending on what position you take in the current debate". On the evidence of this article, I would say it depends more on whom you talk to. If you talk only to activists you might come away with the idea that "the first real institutional sign of the disability movement's arrival in Britain was the setting up of BCODP (British Council of Organisations of Disabled People) in 1981". If you do that you miss out on all the rich history of, for example, blind and deaf people's organised struggles over a century to establish sign language as a recognised means of communication, the Braille script, integrated education, a decent income and much more.

The sharp antithesis between rights and charity is greatly overplayed. A charity like RNIB is nowadays a professional service provider as accountable to its users as, say, a social services department. The umbrella of charity law is just a convenient legal framework for the voluntary sector to operate under. BCODP is a charity, though this is less frequently proclaimed. Disability activists cry "piss on pity". "Piss on humbug" say I.

Colin Low

London E8