Disability History Month: 'Disabled isn't a dirty word'
To mark UK Disability History month, ITV Reporter Katharine Walker has been hearing about the experiences of disabled people and finding out about their vision for the future.
The founder of UK Disability History month says disabled people in the UK need more support to tackle disablism and outdated stereotypes about disability.
Disablism can be defined as discriminatory, oppressive, abusive behaviour towards disabled people.
Around 14 million people in the UK are disabled, making up the country's largest minority group. But many disabled people say they encounter harmful stereotypes on a daily basis.
"You get treated as someone else constantly" - wheelchair user Gem Turner tells ITV News she gets lots of patronising comments and "pats on the head".
Gem Turner is a wheelchair user and says she often comes across outdated and offensive attitudes towards disability.
She said: "I'm 28 years old, but when I'm out and about I get a lot of patronising comments and pats on the head.
"You know who you are, but you get treated as someone else constantly. It does affect your self esteem. You have to remind yourself that you deserve to be confident, but it's hard when you get that a lot."
"Disabled isn't a dirty word" - TikTok star Shelby Lynch says Disability History Month allows disabled people to "finally use their voice"
TikTok star Shelby Lynch wants to highlight the diversity of the disabled community. She uses her social media platform to challenge misconceptions around disability.
Shelby said: "A lot of people are scared to say the word 'disabled'. They want to change it, but disabled isn't a dirty word. People need to understand that. We're not ashamed of that or scared."
She added: "I feel like it's a month where disabled people can finally use their voice. They should be heard by everybody no matter what."
What is UK Disability History Month and when it is?
Richard Rieser, founder of UK Disability History Month, speaking to ITV Reporter Katharine Walker
UK Disability History month runs from the 18 November to 18 December. This year's themes will explore hidden disabilities, as well as disabled sex and relationships.
The aim is to celebrate the lives of disabled people and explore what can be done to make sure disabled people are treated more equally in all areas of society.
Richard Rieser founded UK Disability History Month in 2010 to raise awareness of the barriers still faced by the disabled community, and disablism.
Richard Rieser said: "The whole point of UK Disability History Month is to put a focus on disabled people."
He added: "Disablism is systematic discrimination against people who are physically or mentally different, based on wrong or negative stereotypes that have been built up over hundreds and even thousands of years. [These stereotypes] aren't challenged, and are reproduced in our culture over and over again."
Anna Lawson, law professor at the University of Leeds’s Centre for Disability Studies, tells ITV reporter Katharine Walker that we need to understand the history of disabled rights to help inform future decision-making.
The first set of Disability Rights only came into force in the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. These laws were then consolidated in the 2010 Equality Act, legally protecting people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.
But many campaigners, including disability lawyers, say they want to see a move towards more comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, giving disabled people the right to be treated the same as non-disabled people in every area.
Anna Lawson, a law professor at the University of Leeds’s Centre for Disability Studies, says we need to understand the history of disabled rights to help inform future decision-making.
She said: "We're thinking very much about agendas such as climate change. How does disability fit into those kind of agendas? How is disability impacted by the big things that have been happening on a global scale?"
She added: "Disability Rights only came into force 25 years ago, that's very recent in some ways. How can we ensure there's more emphasis on disability inclusion on everything else that's going on? Unless that happens, we're going to go backwards."
You can follow our coverage of UK Disability History Month on ITV Regional News every Thursday night