Alex Lowery speaks about autism

Here are 6 ways that it is harder for disabled people today

Written on 4th Jan 2018 by Sylvia Lowery


The Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations (UN) Convention on disability rights help to enforce, protect and promote the rights of disabled individuals. According to social model of disability which says that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives (Scope 2017).

Here are 6 ways that it is harder for disabled people

1. Open plan offices – this is a growing trend, it saves space and is cheaper to build. However for the individual who is Autistic or struggles with background noises  this places a significant burden on their ability to function in this environment. My husband, Alex and Esther all struggle to hear when there is a background noise. They can’t pick out what someone is saying from the ambient noise.

2. Fire doors – Have you ever tried to get a wheelchair though a fire door. It is impossible. The doors are so  heavy that even with a second person pushing the chair, the doors are very difficult to open. Offices are being built even today with office doors that are impossible for a wheelchair user. Fire doors are a legal requirement but no-ne thinks about the wheelchair user.

3. Lifts – Yes I know this sounds strange, surely a lift is an aid to integration. Not in the case of a fire or power cut where the lift can’t used. This can leave a disabled person trapped in an upper floor. This can be addressed by Evac chair but this has to be designated with support. It’s easy for a disabled person to be forgotten about unless you have clear policies in place.

4. The growing trend for self reflection in academic assignments and the workplace. This is a skill that is very difficult for some individuals, my daughter did an OU creative writing course last year. She described the self reflection component as a second piece of fiction. Her brain works differently and a lot of the requirements for self reflection are very difficult for some people to engage in. If you don’t need to go through the same steps as NT’s to create something it is hard work to then write a piece of reflection saying you did.

5. Maths and English GCSE grade C or above  – Yes it’s a good idea to raise standards but the insistence that everyone has to get this or a lot of training is closed is discriminatory. One example of this is Art degrees. I have it on good authority that you have to get GCSE maths to go to University to study art. What about Autistic adults who have a spiky profile? I am sure many of our nations celebrated artists struggled with Maths. You don’t need to understand Algebra to produce a great work of art.

6. I am also concerned by the Welsh Assemblies instance that all level 3 students in Wales study the Welsh Bac. Again this places additional barriers in the way of disabled learners. For many Autistic learners a level 3 Btec or A levels will be very challenging in its own right. For those who have additional needs the study of the Welsh Bac may well be the reason why they can’t follow the course they are interested in. The Welsh Bac is very demanding and calls for a lot of social collaborative skills.

Here are some examples of the skills required. This approach to education leaves no room for the gifted artist, mathematician or film maker who is brilliant at their specialist subject but they struggle with all the social aspects. To be even allowed onto a course of their chosen subject a person has to be able to do all of this. We know this is the case because these are the barriers that Alex faces in terms of his pursuit of film making. 

  • Team building – understand roles and responsibilities, positive working relationships
  •   Use of appropriate behaviours – cooperation, compromise, encouraging, respectful
  •   Presentation of own views, value and respond appropriately to opinions and views ofothers

    In context of the Challenge Preparing a Business Proposal

    •   Organisation of meetings – agenda, minutes
    •   Production of action plan and set goal in team situations
    •   Identification and selection of appropriate resources
    •   The concept of 5Ps – product, price, place, promotion and people
    •   Production of promotional materials including the use of social media
    •   Financial planning
    •   Methods of market research
    •   Preparation of a Business Proposal

      Critical thinking and Problem Solving

      •   Identification, consideration and use a variety of facts, opinions and viewpoints
      •   Expression of own views and consideration of those of others
      •   Identification, development and analysis of arguments
      •   Identification of key information and factors – causes, changes, consequences,similarities and differences
      •   Formulation of judgements and drawing of conclusions
      •   Implementation of decisions and solutions
      •   Identification, analysis and use of information and data to solve problems
      •   Reflection on problem solving and decision making processes and implementationof solutions
      •   Consideration of the credibility of sources – reliability, validity
      •   Use of problem solving and decision making techniques
      •   Identification of problems and exploration of possible decisions and solutions

      Creativity and Innovation

      •   Generation of new ideas
      •   Ownership of own ideas and respect for those of others
      •   Identification and challenging assumptions
      •   Use of imagination and initiative
      •   Consideration of options – making the most of opportunities
      •   Assessment and evaluation of ideas – use a SWOT analysis to select the mostfeasible
      •   Combination and development of ideas
      •   Identification, selection and application of solutions to meet new requirements
      •   Implementation of solutions
      •   Reflection on processes and outcomes

      Literacy

      •   Writing compound sentences including accurate spelling, basic grammar and punctuation
      •   Creation of a personal standpoint
      •   Methods of referencing source material – plagiarism, bibliography
      •   Collation and synthesis of informationIn the context of the Challenge:
        •   Concept of global citizenship
        •   Global issues – Economic migration, unfair working conditions and practices
        •   Relevant factors – political, economic, social, technological, legal andenvironmental (PESTLE)
        •   Discussion and debate
        •   Methods for raising awareness of an issue
        •   Use of appropriate media and digital techniques

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Organisations Alex has worked with

  • Autism Cymru
  • Chester University
  • Glyndwr University
  • National Autistic Society
  • St John's Ambulance
  • Welsh Government

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