Social policy, Disability Legislation
Key legislation and policy development with regard to people with disabilities Page 3 Analyse of society has changed in Ireland in relation to how it treats people with disabilities by reference to legislation & social policy Page 4 Analyse the factors and ideologies that influenced the key themes in the Disability Act 2005. Page 5 Evaluate how the Disability Act 2005 is implemented by organisations and practitioners dealing with education. Page 7 Conclusion Page 8 Introduction.
“Within the past few decades there has been greater awareness of and concern with the rights of persons with disabilities… This has been accompanied by an increasing emphasis on the rights of such persons and an emphasis on mainstreaming services. ” Curry (2011) pg. 206 Disability has come a long way in terms of legislation over the past 4 centuries, in this assignment I will look at how our society has changed the way it treats people with disabilities and if our legislation has gotten better or worse. I will also look at and analyse the factors and ideologies that made up the key themes in the Disability Act 2005.
Lastly I will evaluate how this Act is implemented by organisations and practitioners dealing with education. Key legislation and policy development with regard to people with disabilities. 16th century Brehon Laws 17th&18th century Penal Laws 1945 Mental Treatment Act 1960 Problem of the Mentally Handicapped 1965 Report of the Commission of inquiry on Mental Handicap 1985 The Green Paper on Services for Disabled People, Towards a Full Life 1991 Needs and Abilities: A policy for the Intellectually Disabled 1992 Green Paper on Mental Health 1996
Report of the commission on the Status of People with Disabilities: A Strategy for Equality 1998 Education Act 1998 Employment Equality Act 1999 Establishment of the National Educational Psychological Service 2000 Establishment of the National Disability Authority 2000 Equal status Act 2001 Mental Health Act 2002 Establishment of the Mental Health Commission 2004 Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 National Disability Strategy 2005 Disability Act 1. Analyse how Society has changed in Ireland in relation to how it treats people with disability.
If looking at the older legislation in Ireland such as the Brehon laws and the Penal laws, it looks as if Ireland goes backwards instead of forward. In the Brehon laws they had heavy fines imposed on those who mocked the disabled, in this time they seen people who were disabled, the same as everyone else and they had the same rights. When moving on to look at the Penal laws there is a dramatic change in the way disability was treated, they treated disability as something that was untreatable and many patients were left in ward to die.
When the Lunacy Act of 1890 was introduced it caused terrible things for people with disability. Before the advent of drugs people that were deemed mentally ill were housed in asylums. They often contained hundreds of patients ranging from people who may have disagreed with powerful members of a family, disabled people, people suffering from depression, full blown psychotics, attempted suicides, children and the elderly all thrown in together.
If people with disabilities weren’t put into an asylum they were then thrown into the workhouses, the only problem with this is that the medical staff in the workhouses didn’t know how to deal with patients with disabilities so most of the time they were left in a back ward and forgotten about. There was a long period where no new laws were introduced in terms of disability, after the penal laws the next laws introduced were the mental treatment act in 1945 which defined what mental health is and split it from disability.
After that the laws started to pick up as in 1960 the white paper, The Problem of the Mentally Handicapped was publicised, outlining the several aspects of the problem and the progress which has been made in regard to it. Then in 1965 the report of the commission of inquiry on mental handicap was introduced, it recommended that additional special school day places for children were created and an increase of residential places. The
Problem with the paper is that it did not challenge the segregation of those children with intellectual disabilities. Joining the EU in 1973 had a big influence on the legislation put forward in the years following as the Irish government seen the legislation around disability in other countries and the EU seen it necessary that up to date legislation was put in place, joining the EU had a massive impact on legislation being revolutionised.
Over ten years later in 1984 the green paper on Services for Disabled People, Towards a Full Life was realised, as mentioned by Considine&Dukelow this showed a broadening perspective on issues around disability, reference was made on the need to improve public transport and buildings to help those with a disability to have fuller participation and inclusion in society. In the 90’s legislation and policy really started to grow in terms of disability, like the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities: a Strategy for Equality in 1996.
According to Considine&Dukelow the big change came from international recognition that disability is more of a social inability rather than a medical one, the change to a more social model according to Carson is that disability is understood as an unequal relationship within a society where the needs of people with disabilities are often given little or no consideration. People with impairments are disabled by the fact that they are excluded from the mainstream of society as a result of physical, organisational and attitudinal barriers.
Once this was taken into notice the Irish government started changing the laws and policies around disability and somewhat around mental health also, this can be seen when looking at the box provided above, there are little changes in legislation up until 1991 but it is clear that in the 90’s a huge revamp of disability legislation and policy had taken place. This ‘revamp’ of our policies and legislations can still be seen coming into the 2000’s as some very important things happened for disability in the past 10/11 years.
The introduction of the Equal Status Act had a huge effect on many people’s lives as it gave those with disability the chance to go to court if they feel they may have been discriminated against by an employer, service etc. This gave those with impairments a feeling of independence and a sense of self-worth as it was then illegal for someone to discriminate against them. EPSEN was another extremely important Act that was introduced in 2004 which was put in place so that children would be assessed if a parent/teacher/principle thought it was needed.
The most shocking bill in these years was the National Disability Strategy, the reason this shock many people (mainly advocacy groups) was that it was so badly put together, and when it was looked over many advocacy groups took a stand and told the government that it was not substantial for the needs of those with impairments and that it needed to be reviewed. From this the Disability Act 2005 was produced, it came from the reviewed and fixed National Disability Strategy. 2. Analyse the Factors and Ideologies that influenced the key themes in the Disability Act 2005.
“Under the Act, the term ‘Disability’, in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry out a profession, business or occupation in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment. ” Ahead (2014) webpage As mentioned in task one the Disability Act had come from a prior proposed National Disability Strategy which got refused by advocacy groups for not meeting the needs of those with impairments.
In the Disability Act 2005 there were 7 key themes mentioned by Inclusion Ireland which are: Allow for an assessment of needs of people with disabilities and a service statement-A person may apply for an assessment if they think they have a disability. The hope of the assessment is to establish the person’s health and educational needs and the services the person would need to meet their needs. Improved access to public buildings, services and information- An obligation was placed on all pubic bodies to make their buildings and services accessible to people with disabilities.
However there was an exception if these changes changed the nature of the business or if it had risk to the health of any person Ensure that certain Government Departments brought out sectoral plans outlining what improvements that department would take-This involved Departments producing plans on codes of practice or regulations, complaints procedures, monitoring and review procedures, level of access to services outlined in the plan.
Place an obligation on public bodies to be pro-active in employing people with disabilities-An obligation was placed on all public bodies to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities, at least 3% of their workforce is to be disabled. Restrict the use of information from genetic testing for employment ,mortgage and insurance purposes-The act makes sure people do not process genetic data in relation to employment, insurance policies, health insurance or mortgages. Establish a Centre for Excellence in Universal Design.
The Centre would be charged with developing best practice guidance on how to design, build and manage buildings and spaces so that they can be readily accessed and used by everyone. Miscellaneous-The Commission shall make rules requiring each broadcaster to take specific steps to promote the understanding and enjoyment by the deaf/persons with hearing impairment, persons who are blind/partially sighted of programmes transmitted on any broadcasting service provided by him/her. I will analyse and look at the themes of assessment of needs and access to buildings in more depth. Assessment:
Under the act people have the right to apply for an assessment of needs if they feel they are disabled, in getting this assessment the hope is to find out the person’s health and educational needs and what services they should avail of to meet their needs. An assessment officer will carry out the assessments and once this is completed the person should receive and assessment report which will inform them if they have a disability, the nature of the disability, the needs due to the disability, the services ideal for meeting those needs and how often they should be used, when a review of the assessment should be taken.
After a person has gotten their assessment report they will get a service statement which will indicate to them what services can be provided for their needs, this is one of the downfalls in the act as you are told in your assessment report what services you need but the state doesn’t have to supply them services if there is another service which is ‘adequate’. This stops people getting the services they need because it costs less for the state, this is the big difference between the service statement and the assessment report as the service statement takes into account cost which in the economic downturn plays a
major part in people getting the right/wrong services. A person may also take a complaint to health board if, according to Ahead, it was found during the assessment that the person doesn’t have a disability, the assessment was not carried out with the standards set by the Health Information and Quality Authority, they are not satisfied with the service statement and/or if a service was not provided as specified in the service statement.
A person may also appeal against a finding/recommendation of the complaints officer, failure of a service provider to carry out the recommendations. Accessibility: In the Disability Act 2005 it states that “a public body shall ensure that its public buildings are, as far as practicable, accessible to persons with disabilities. ” Irish Statute Book (webpage). The major problem with this part of the act is that only public bodies are mentioned to be accessible, which means only public bodies have to make themselves accessible rather than all.
There is an exception to this if it would change the nature of a business or if it would put any person’s health or safety at risk, if it would not be practicable, if it is not justified by the cost involved and/or causes unreasonable delay in making goods/services available to others. Also many Georgian houses in Dublin have not been made accessible due to their historical architecture. A person or someone on their behalf can make a complaint if the public building/goods are not accessible to a person with a disability.
Certain Government ministers are required to produce sectoral plans informing them of codes of practice/legislation, complaints procedure, monitoring and review procedure and the level of access services outlined. As mentioned by Ahead the departments that produced sectoral plans were: Health, Social Welfare, Transport, Communications, Marine and Natural resources, Enviroment, Heritage and Local Government and Enterprise, Trade and Employment. It can be seen all across the country that places are becoming more accessible for those with disabilities, night clubs are becoming more accessible, restaurants, hotels etc.
But there is still many places that have ticked the boxes with the Government but not humanely. For instance the Hilton hotel in Kilmainham does have a ramp which would bring someone in a wheelchair into the hotel but that ramp is the same ramp for cars to get into the car park, it is terrible to think if someone who was in a wheelchair wanted to stay there they would have to use the ramp into the car park to get inside. It would not have cost an unjustifiable amount to put a wheelchair ramp at the front door of the hotel. 3.
Evaluate how the Disability Act 2005 is implemented by organisations and practitioners dealing with education. The disability act 2005 does not deal with Education to a huge extent but it is dealt with in the case of assessment, a person is assessed under the fact of their health and educational needs, they may be assessed under the Disability act or the EPSEN act (Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004) but if they are assessed under the Disability Act and are found to have a special educational need their assessment if referred to the National Council for Special Education or the Principle of the school.
The accessibility part of the Disability Act 2005 also comes in to play for schools, where public schools must be accessible for those with disabilities, but it is not the law that private school/buildings have to be accessible but in saying that many are. The accessibility is not just being able to get into the school/college by ramps etc. it also means having bathrooms for people with disabilities and possibly door handles being lower for those in wheelchairs and small things like that which make school life more integrated for those with an impairment.
Many colleges/Universities which are older can be found difficult to access by people with disabilities and this may play a huge part in their education as they may not be able to attend certain colleges and/or do the course they want to. All this shows that the social model is right in saying that society disabled people rather than their impairment because due to certain things in society a person with a disability can’t take part in some things due to society blocking them from doing it.
The change in the Disability Act 2005 has made a big change to many people with disabilities lives as many children can now go to mainstream schools due to the accessibility or the fact of SNA’s being in schools now. The introduction of SNA’s changed many people’s lives as it made it easier for children to attend school and learn as they needed. The one problem to do with SNA’s is the cutbacks that have been put towards in that area, there is not enough money left to keep one or even any SNA teachers in some schools and even when they are still in place their hours have been cut which will affect the children they are working with.
With the cuts the Government are taking from the most vulnerable as Hayes said “is it not morally indefensible that the current government stands over the abolition of SNAs to the most vulnerable children in Irish education” (webpage) The EPSEN act is a much bigger influence towards Education than the Disability Act as it looks directly at education for those who need special education. A principle, teacher or parent can put the child up for assessment under the EPSEN act, this assessment is to be carried out within 3 months of the principle forming an opinion that the child may need special education.
The assessment through EPSEN is quite similar to the one done through the Disability Act but rather it is just to do with educational needs. If a child is seen to have a special educational need the council will prepare an educational plan for that child so that they can partake in school and achieve their best, this type of plan is good due to the fact it is written up specifically for that child and their educational needs. Conclusion:
It can be seen through what I have mentioned throughout this assignment that there has been a huge change in many different areas involved in disabilities legislation including the different model now used- use of social model over medical, the difference of how society treats people with a disability now in terms of legislation and the legislations that have been put forward over the past couple of years to give support and help to those who have impairments.
The change has been only for the good of those with a disability and has integrated them into our society so now there is less of a split between what used to be called ‘disabled’ and ‘non-disabled’.