What progress has been made in disability policy in the last 20 years?
Is it time to revisit underlying concepts and engage in wider social and economic debates?
- There have been some key improvements in both the socio-economic experiences of disabled people in the last 20 years, and in related government policies. Nevertheless, few disabled people are optimistic about what the future holds.
- Some aspects of the arguments made by disability organisations have been capitalised on by the politics and ideology driving recent and current policies in ways which disadvantage disabled people. In particular this has happened with the social model of disability and concepts of ‘independent living’, ‘user involvement’ and ‘co-production’.
- In engaging with dominant policy agendas, we may risk losing touch with more fundamental issues concerning the welfare state. This may unintentionally contribute to the undermining of collective responsibility and redistribution.
- In order to experience equal access to full citizenship, disabled people require some kind of collective and redistributive mechanism. Such redistribution needs to be in the context of a value system which values diversity and in which disabled people are treated as belonging and contributing to the communities in which they live.
- There is little room for making progress within the ideological framework driving current disability policies. We need to develop more radical challenges to the current disability policy agenda and engage in wider debates, particularly those which question the continuing pursuit of economic growth regardless of the damage done to the environment, to values and to humanity.
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