Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Bill of Rights for Sick and Disabled People - Draft discussion document?

There is currently an exercise going on by which the Government reports back to the UN on how well it has implemented the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). There are also "Shadow Reports" being compiled around the country by user led disabled people's organisation's that will outline how well they believe the Government is doing. The UNCRPD was ratified by the UK on the 8th June 2009 before the surge in online campaign groups like the WOWpetition and rather than consider how well the Government has done in implementing this Treaty, the WOWcampaign (or WOWpetition mk.ii!!) is asking what should the UK Bill of Rights for Sick and Disabled People be, knowing what we know now!

Did you know, for example, that the Government's Interpretation of UNCRPD Article 24 - Education, which calls for:

 "b) Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live;"

is that the UK's system of mainstream and special schools is inclusive so segregation is allowed and that schooling for disabled children is allowable outside of their local communities if more appropriate provision exists. Does that sound like inclusive mainstream education in their local communities to you?

Therefore, I am asking you to forget the law for the time being and just consider what the UK Bill of Rights of Sick and Disabled People should be? We can think about how to frame it in law a long way down the line.

I am not a lawyer. I am not a human rights activist. I do not claim to have expert knowledge of the law. What I am asking you to consider is, similar to the US Bill of Rights, what should the UK Sick and Disabled Persons Bill of Rights look like. To help you I have inserted a link to the UNCRPD with Optional Protocol here but please don't be bound by that.

I have started with some ideas here. Feel free to both add to them & challenge them but also be aware that some, if not many, of these rights DO NOT exist in the UK at the moment. You may think they do, but that reflects Government spin, rather than the actuality of the situation! I have also abbreviated sick and disabled people to just disabled people both for reasons of space and also because I believe it is not a necessary distinction. Please let me know if you disagree.

Disabled Persons Bill of Rights:
  • Disabled people have the Right to Full and effective participation and inclusion in a society that does not discriminate against them whilst providing Equality of Opportunity.
  • Disabled people shall have the Right to an Inclusive non-segregated education in their local communities.
  • Disabled people shall have the right to live in their local communities with the same choices as to how and where to live as others.
  • Disabled people have the Right to Work in all types of freely chosen employment with the expectation of any reasonable physical, behavioral, procedural and/or process adjustments as may be necessary to promote employment, career progression and job retention.

Disabled people - Under the Equality Act 2010 people with a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.
Inclusive Education - Inclusion is about all learners and about taking action to remove barriers to participation and learning. Inclusion also involves eliminating discrimination and promoting equality. Education Scotland
Local Communities - A community is defined in this context as a group of interacting people living in a common location.
Equality of Opportunity - The million dollar question. Before I publish my thoughts on what this is, in the context of persons with disabilities, please feel free to leave your (short) interpretation!


  1. After equality of opportunity need to put (in all activities) or the able bodied will still decide there's things we have no right to do

  2. A bill of rights for sick and disabled people is an excellent idea. Here's one suggestion:

    Independent Living as a right

    Despite the UK having ratified the UNCRPD, independent living does not currently exist as a freestanding, justiciable right in UK law. This Report argues that the existing matrix of human rights, equality and community care law, while instrumental in the protection and promotion of the right to independent living, is not sufficient. The right to independent living should be added as an outcome in any forthcoming Bill on adult social care in England.

    We also recommend that all interested parties, governmental and non-governmental,
    immediately start work on assessing the need for and feasibility of free-standing legislation to give more concrete effect in UK law to the right to independent living. The Government should publish their assessment of the need for and desirability of such legislation in the light of the forthcoming first report of the UN Committee on Disabilities.

    The Government have characterised the obligations assumed by under the Disabilities
    Convention as “soft law”. This Report regards this as indicative of an approach to the treaty which regards the rights it protects as being of less normative force than those contained in other human rights instruments. The UNCRPD is hard law, not soft law, and the Government should fulfil their obligations under the Convention on that basis, and counter any public perception that it is soft law.

    —House of Lords House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights
    Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living
    Twenty–third Report of Session