Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

8.1 Challenges to upholding rights

While in law people with learning disabilities have the same rights as other citizens, this is not always the case in day to day life.

Activity 8 The battle for equal rights

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Watch this video of Dr Lee Humber and Dr Simon Duffy talking about the challenges of ensuring people with learning disabilities have equal rights.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 8
Skip transcript: Video 8

Transcript: Video 8

There are inequalities in terms of the amount and quality of education that's available for people who-- children early on who get a diagnosis, if you like, of learning disabilities. So I think it starts in school. But then, from then on, that kind of, if you like-- for want of a better word-- label follows them through life so that there are housing inequalities. Often the best that people with learning disabilities can hope for is some kind of supported living thing. And that's getting worse and worse as we speak.
Certainly in employment, there are massive inequalities. So people with learning disabilities find themselves on the edges of poverty throughout their life really, so the inequalities are right across the board I'd say.
Through the course of human history, societies have dealt with the fact that human beings are different in very many different ways.
I'm Dr. Simon Duffy. I'm the director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, working to reform the whole welfare state, but particularly around the experiences of people with learning difficulties. There's a whole range of problems that people face, number one being that people don't necessarily know they have rights, don't necessarily know they have freedoms. And lots of the things that are going on for people, particularly with more severe disabilities, kind of take away even people's sense of information or capacity.
So for instance, you may go to a special school where the expectations placed around you are very limiting. The notion might be that, well actually, you'll go from this special school to a day Centre or a college, that you might stay at home with your family. And then you may move into a care home. I mean, that's a stereotype.
But I think a lot of the time, the expectations in and around the schooling system, in and around the information families hold, in around the way society thinks about people with learning difficulties is kind of settling there. And if you look at how the money is spent, it's still broadly there. So those expectations are real, but they're not good enough. They're not the kind of expectations that we want for our sons and daughters or for our fellow citizens.
End transcript: Video 8
Video 8
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Lee and Simon drew attention to a number of things that can prevent people having equal rights. Write down at least three of them.

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The barriers Lee and Simon identify include:

  • lack of education
  • poor housing
  • lack of employment opportunities
  • poverty
  • low expectations
  • people not knowing they have rights
  • government money being spent on the wrong things.

People with learning disabilities definitely have equal rights in law, but may find it difficult to realise their rights. Later in this course, you will explore why this is so.

If you want to know more about the Human Rights Act, click here [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   for a poster produced by the British Institute of Human Rights.


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