International Day of Person’s with Disabilities has been promoting public awareness, understanding and acceptance of various conditions since 1992.
Thursday, 3rd December is a day in the UK in which the nation observes the struggles and society recognises the challenges faced by those around us who live with a disability.
The day is known for encouraging discussions, forums and campaigns which aim to generate a better understanding of people affected by a disability all around the world.
Unsaid spoke to Francesca Dean, who shared her story with us.
Francesca Dean’s story
Francesca Dean, a 26 year old marketing assistant was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at just 18 months old.
A neurological brain disorder in which the NHS website says is caused by a problem with a child’s brain development before, during or soon after birth.
It can affect movement and co-ordination as people with the condition are usually unable to walk. It can be recognised amongst young children/babies when they fail to hit essential milestones in their early development.
She said:“I cope with my cerebral palsy really well because it’s all I’ve ever known so I’ve become accustomed to adapting to it. I don’t let it bother me as I don’t feel like I’ve missed out!”
Francesca has the condition on her left side meaning she is still able to communicate and express her emotions, however she told Unsaid she feels lucky as people who have the condition on the right-hand side often struggle to talk and eat independently.
Francesca wasn’t able to talk until she was five as a result of her Cerebral Palsy so it was assumed she would need extra help from the SE schools.
But she believes that for this period she was ‘soaking in everything around her’ so when her speech did arrive it was ‘like a light bulb going off.’
Now she uses her hard-earned voice to advocate for people with conditions like hers so they don’t feel alone or singled out. As Francesca believes disabilities aren’t at all a fault, they’re what make you unique.
Attending a local Lancashire primary and high school, she told Unsaid she felt privileged to experience mainstream education as many others in her position will be put into special educational needs sector, attending an ordinary school gave her the same chances as everyone else.
Francesca optimised her opportunities and went on to study law and business at Blackburn College.
Francesca and ITV
2018 was the year that Francesca worked alongside ITV Granada creating a news report which promoted the youth centre in Blackburn, Lancashire in which she works mentoring young people aged five to nineteen.
Through working with ITV she inspired journalists with her drive and enthusiasm to demonstrate there was no stopping her in spite of the challenges Cerebral Palsy provided.
Francesca believes appearing on the TV representing the North-West youth zone is her biggest achievement.
She hopes to continue bringing more inclusivity to TV channels and through the camera ensuring all those with a disability are heard.
She said: “Just because I have cerebral palsy does not mean I cannot do anything, I’m not sat like a statue! I have a purpose and I was brought here for a reason. That is my drive and I won’t let my disability define me.”
Meeting TV anchors Lucy Meacock and Tony Morris who sadly passed earlier this year, Francesca was determined to show off the amazing work supporting children with and without disabilities, Blackburn Youth Zone undertakes.
Disabilities: A message of hope
The centre works to provide positive role models for the children and offer opportunities to improve their prospects and equipping them with skills which will improve their chances of employment in the near future.
This work carried out by the youth zone, Francesca and her team believe has never been more important. With the virus creating anxiety and stress it’s essential that children are given the support and mentoring they need in this troubling period.
Francesca engages with the children, passionately striving to prove to the young people that her disability never holds her back. She told us: “Cerebral Palsy is all I’ve ever known but I refuse to let it stop me! I want to use my voice to tell children in a similar position I’m in – there is hope.”
“I feel so lucky to have my voice. I might have Cerebral Palsy but it does not define me. There is so much I want to do to make this world more inclusive and I won’t stop until I get there. The youth zone brings people with and without disabilities together and as one.”
Her impressive work with young people shows in the short film promoting awareness for the youth centre and it’s importance has reached over 1000 viewers on YouTube. It was also aired on ITV news at 6.
“I do all my work to be a voice for them so they don’t feel singled out of society, I want to be an advocate for people with conditions like mine.”
You can watch Francesca in action through the following link – https://youtu.be/Ufi0NZSmFK4.
What does the charity Disability Rights UK say?
The charity Disability Rights UK told Unsaid: “A disability is for life, not just for IDPWD. It’s important to have conversations which drive forward education and change every day – not just once a year.
“Employers need to be ensuring their recruitment practices are open to all and they welcome diversity of experience. They should acknowledge the valuable experience and perspectives of disabled people and employ us at all levels of the organisation.”
The charity run by people with lived experience of disability or health conditions believe employees should be challenging their organisations to employ more disabled people and make the workplace more inclusive.
They say that days raising awareness are useful, but not enough.
They told us: “The government are not doing enough to ensure disabled people benefit from new government programs like The Access to Work scheme which provides disabled workers with adaptations they need in their workplace.” Disability Rights UK claims many companies remain unaware of the scheme.
“The culture change will not come until it is embedded within the firms, because the knowledge needed to drive change comes from employing a truly inclusive diverse workforce.”
Learn more about Disability Rights UK via their website- https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/about-us/our-organisation.
More about International Day Of Person’s with Disabilities
The 3rd of December will be a day of raising awareness to the 15% of the global population who are known to have some sort of disability like Francesca.
The day is about education and inclusivity towards both mental and physical disabilities but also celebrating the strength of people with these conditions and their mighty achievements.
The Equality Act 2010 sets out that someone is considered to be disabled if they have a mental or physical impairment and that impairment has substantial and long-term adverse affects on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
SCOPE, A disability equality charity
The charity provides practical information and emotional support for people when it’s most needed, they campaign relentlessly in the hope of creating a fairer society.
SCOPE use a helpline to communicate with service users, they have also developed an online community which gives access to a range of employment services and more to aim towards their goal of everyday equality.
Figures from SCOPE, the disability equality charity in both England and Wales states there are 13.9 million disabled people in the U.K. Their statistics also demonstrate that disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people.
Alison Kerry, head of communication at Scope, told Unsaid: “Many disabled people face an unnecessary struggle to get into and stay in work, largely due to employers’ outdated attitudes and inflexible work practices.
“This is demonstrated by the size of the disability employment gap, which is larger than for all other protected groups.
“If we are to improve attitudes towards disabled people there needs to be an increase in meaningful interaction between disabled and non-disabled people.”
The charity also claims 1 out of 3 people see disabled people being less productive than non-disabled people.
However the aim of the International Day of Person’s with Disabilities is to recognise the struggles but rectify the stereotypes often given to people with disabilities in the workplace, schools and communities.
Scope told Unsaid: “Day’s of recognition are vital because disabled people still regularly face discrimination and barriers to inclusion such as accessibility and people attitudes towards them.”
“We have come a long way since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, but there’s a lot more to be done to ensure that disabled people have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”
You can find out more about the work Scope does on their website https://www.scope.org.uk
Diminish the discrimination for people with disabilities
The day brings hope of diminishing the prejudice attitudes which are represented in these statistics and create a better understanding and more catered society to the needs of those who have a disability.
Like Francesca and both charities aim to do, National Day for Person’s with Disabilities gives those who are often forgotten about a voice and a chance to speak out and educate others about their condition.
It aims to start conversations about inclusivity and diversity in society and reduce the stereotypes disabled people are often met with and making sure they are always considered and treated fairly and with respect.