Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Links: Other ideas and discussions

Sorry to have been away for a while; I was busy, then disheartened (more on which below), then ill. I'm still ill, but I'm spending some time on this.

So, first thing's first, there's some discussion on this whole idea going on at a new forum set up for the purpose, as well as the Google Group I set up. It can be found at http://ndorg.freeforums.net/

Also, with a sad heart I share this valedictory message from someone who I've worked with before, and helped me a lot by letting me bounce ideas off her: http://loopys-rollingwiththepunches.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/an-unfond-farewell.html. Spoonydoc was instrumental in the original 'spartacus report', Responsible Reform, and has been a key contributor in several other projects, including ones I've been involved in. She's also helped amplify many other projects, and contributed to discussions on many topics in activism. My feelings about the sort of response that has led to this reaction from Spoonydoc have already been covered in a post on this blog: http://unionofdisabledpeople.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/people-and-personalities.html.

I'd also like to share ideas from another blogger, Mel, on the idea of creating this new organisation: http://thesocialworkerwhobecamedisabled.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/union-of-disabled-people-my-ideas.html. There's some definite similarities with my own thoughts there, including some I haven't shared here yet, but some definite differences as well. I encourage you to check them out.

Don't forget the Google Group as well - information is at http://unionofdisabledpeople.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/google-group-set-up.html.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Google Group Set Up

Okay, given the difficulties with using IRC for the live chats, I've set up a Google Group for discussions. This can be accessed as an email list, or through the web interface, as you prefer. You do, however, have to have a Google account set up to join - this doesn't have to be a gmail address, Google allow accounts to be set up using other email addresses.

Alternatively, I can manually add people who don't have Google accounts (I think). Let me know if you want me to do that.

You can join on the web at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/union-of-disabled-people-discussion/ or by email by emailing union-of-disabled-people-discussion+subscribe@googlegroups.com.

Being usable as an email list makes it more accessible for visually-impaired users, among others. If you would prefer not to receive loads of emails into your inbox, there are several options. You may choose to receive digest emails (all of the activity for a certain time at once), you can access it over the web and optionally get notifications of new messages, or you can get all the emails, but set your email to automatically sort them into a folder.

IRC didn't work too well, but let's see how this works.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

What's in a name?

A surprising amount of debate that's happened since I first suggested this idea has been about the name. The name used on this blog is just the phrase I used to describe the idea, 'cause it also works as a name, and I felt like I needed to put something as the title.

Some people wanted something amusing or quirky - a name giving the initials "DLA", for instance, or "PIP". "Disability Enforcement Agency" was also suggested, though I suspect more in jest than seriously. Personally, I think serious is better than quirky, but I can still see the amusement in these ideas.

A more serious concern was about the word "union" - that it may create too much of an association with the trade union movement, and might thus be off-putting to conservatives (small c) - and even more so to Conservatives (big C). One self-described conservative, and Conservative voter, objected to that generalisation, and felt that it was the right word.

Another suggestion was to say directly, right in the name, what the organisation is for - Equality for Disabled People was suggested, and I turned it around and suggested Disabled People for Equality, emphasising that the organisation is intended to be by and for disabled people. I'm not sure, though, if that's a good summary when the idea is to be intentionally broad in scope.

I feel that anything we do ultimately comes down to equality, that's for sure, but I'm not sure it speaks to all those meanings for most people. Access to employment, transport, providers of goods and services, that's all equality to most people's understandings (excepting disagreement about vocabulary - more on which below). But would most people put the kind of social security system that works for us under the heading off equality? Those of us who think in terms of a disability equality sort of approach would, mostly, but I'm not sure many people think that way. Of course, it could serve a good purpose in promoting that sort of thinking.

Even the word equality can cause problems - some feel it too closely evokes the idea of equal (by which is meant essentially identical) treatment, and prefer 'equity' or 'fairness' - though I doubt the person on the Clapham Omnibus would understand those the way such people intended, either.

Why is a name so important to people in these discussions? I'm not sure. I think it's important that a name make a statement, and say what you stand for, what you do. I also think it's important not to give a wrong impression, or to confuse people. I don't know if people towards the 'right' (rather than left) end of the spectrum will feel uncomfortable with a union. I don't know if talking about equality in the name will confuse people.

So I have no answers here. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Reflections on the Live Chats

Thursday and Friday just gone, I hosted two 90-minute live chats on IRC, the transcripts of which are available on this blog (chat 1, chat 2). Various topics were discussed, but here I'm trying to reflect on them, what I think we can take from them, and where we might be going.

The first thing that's clear is that we need a better venue for discussions. After consulting some people about accessibility of different technologies with their impairments, and applying my own knowedge of the area (I do some web accessibility consulting), it looks like an email list is the best bet, but preferably one with a web interface for people who prefer to access things that way. As such, I'll look at setting up a Google Group for some free-form discussion later this week. The IRC channel may still get some limited use for really quick discussions, but I don't expect any more mass discussions there.

There are some things about which there was something close to consensus among those in the chat - we need the new organisation to be inclusive, without any hierarchy of disability, no prejudice between different impairment groups, and to be as safe a space as we can reasonably make it. We need to be able to raise money to work on whatever we decide to work on, and we need to be able to decide how to spend money in a way that everyone involved can be invested in.

More background...

Unsurprisingly, I wasn't the only person talking about this sort of idea in the aftermath of the general election. Jayne Linney posted thoughts on her blog, and in the interests of having everything to hand, I'm sharing the link here: "What NOW? #TogetherWeCan"

Saturday, 16 May 2015

People and Personalities

There's an excellent piece at Ramblings of a Fibro Fogged Mind that's relevant to this endeavour: "Tarnished with the same brush..."

For those of you who, for whatever reason, don't wish to click through and read the post, it is prompted by various rumours that are reportedly circulating (which I suppose means they are circulating, as a rumour of a rumour is still a rumour) that Sue Marsh is involved in this effort. Or that the people who are involved are people who worked with Sue, or under the same banner (the entirely accidental 'Spartacus'), and thus automatically suspect.

Should we be afraid? And other reactions to Anne Begg

The excellent John Pring of Disability News Service has spoken to Dame Anne Begg since she lost her Commons seat in the recent general election. What she said has a lot of relevance to this effort.

She outlines the kind of things she thinks we can expect as this government makes changes to save money from what they call the 'welfare' budget (I prefer the term Social Security, for reasons on which several other people have written eloquently) - restricting eligibility for PIP, and taxing PIP, seems to be ones she feels are particularly likely. She also tells us we need to be afraid.

I'd say that we need to know what's likely coming, and being afraid is a natural consequence of that. But we shouldn't stop at being afraid. I don't claim to be contradicting Anne Begg here - her interview goes on to say there seems "to be a need for an “effective voice” to speak for the different communities of disabled people", which is what I hope we can achieve with a union (or whatever we decide to call it). She also suggests "a campaigning approach centred on realism and pragmatism, and developing a “common voice so it is stronger and louder” and has “very clear achievable aims”" - a goal I think is reflected in the draft principles I have shared.

I absolutely agree with Anne Begg on this:
“You can always have your wish-list but what you probably need are some identifiable, containable, achievable goals that you can start to build up your confidence with.

“That’s a slow process, but if you start to get results and have an impact then people start to sit up and listen.”
This is relevant to our endeavour in two ways. Firstly, it applies to the strategy and approaches we take once we get going - and I've tried to reflect that approach in the draft principles. It also applies to the setting up of an organisation in the first place - not so much that we need to walk before we try to run, but that we need to work out how to build our legs. We need to get something together, and quickly, to use the momentum that's out there in the community and before we can be too preoccupied with details that can wait until later, and that spending too much time on now will just lead to argument and recrimination.