Scotland is pushing for a bill on disability discrimination to be equivalent, but not more than, what is practised in England and Wales.
Disability campaign groups want an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill so that disabled people and the elderly are not at the mercy of a ‘postcode care lottery’.
Dolls in wheel chairs, with guide dogs or with hearing aids: these are all added extras to the new craze of ‘disability dolls’.
Half way through…four contenders remain in the race to become Britain’s Missing Top Model.
Scotland: Extending Sentences Is Enough
“Disability hate crime is not what we're talking about. The way these acts often come out is very specific: often in cases where people see a disabled person's behaviour as different to ‘normal’. This will be a wide law to be made more specific according to the individual cases.” Green MSP Patrick Harvie said.
The Sentencing of Offences Aggravated by Prejudice (Scotland) Bill will allow for Scottish courts to impose an extended sentence on cases which are proven to be aggravated by hostility towards a persons disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Mr Harvie said: “This mechanism is working in England and Wales and we can see clearly how sentences are being passed and how the courts and police are increasingly addressing the issue.”
A report from Capability Scotland in 2004 claimed that 47% of their respondents had experienced a hate crime because of their disability.
Faye Gatenby, Capability Scotland, said: “These crimes can have a serious effect on people and we need to move forward to have this represented in our justice system.”
Mr Harvie said: “The main difference in Scotland is that we want this to be seen as a disruption of the peace. This is, in part, to preserve free speech.”
“I know in England you passed through a similar bill without dissent and I will be hoping this for Scotland.”
Scotland currently only considers hate crime relating to race or religion.
Postcode Care Lottery
Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton, Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has pushed for the amendment, she has spinal muscular atrophy. In the House of Lords on the 1st July she said: “I am, almost a prisoner of one’s local authority, unable to enjoy the same social and economic mobility and freedom of movement as our non-disabled counterparts.”
“Those who do move often face agonising stress, hardship and uncertainty.”
Care packages cover the cost of ‘care time’ by support workers and medical staff. Currently, if a disabled person relocates, then they loose their care package and often have to wait for a period for a new package to be assessed.
The charities say this can often leave a disabled person in a humiliating and vulnerable position of having to rely on families for help, or trying to cope themselves.
Support is gathering as more MPs back the amendment alongside the charities RADAR, Scope, the British Institute of Human Rights, Age Concern, Carers UK, Mencap, the National Centre for Independent Living and Help the Aged.
Ann Garret, domestic supervisor at Scope’s Mulberry Court, Gillingham: “Disabilism has in the past has not been highlighted and it must be. Everyone is entitled to equal rights.”
“The care is essential. Here, we help the residents be more independent, as even thought this is a small community people still stop and stare.”
Anna Purcell, kidslikeme.co.uk said: “We aim to sell the dolls to disabled and non-disabled children. There is no reason they should be seen as shocking as this is just another part of our society that children need to learn about.”
Kidslikeme.co.uk, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, is just one of many companies that are developing a range of ethnic and disabled dolls. One of their bestsellers, the Asian Girl Disability Doll, can have its own personal hearing aid, glasses, guide dog and cane, wheelchair or leg braces. The company say they are aiming to promote learning through play.
The dolls have however caused a flurry of debate on chat forums questioning where the boundaries lie between political correctness in contrast to the idea that this is a welcome change from dolls which are based on ideas of physical perfection.
The most controversial of these dolls is the ‘Downs Syndrome Doll’, is made by Helga Parks in the United States. The doll has a flattened bridge across its nose, its tongue is slightly protruding and ears and eyes are low on the head.
Ms Parks sells around 2000 of these designs each year. The Guardian reports that she started making the dolls commercially after giving one to her niece. The neice was then so happy to see a doll that looked like her, it made Ms Parks understand that it is important for dolls to reflect the children they are for.
Ms Purcell said: “Dolls have traditionally fitted a kind of ‘ideal’ image: with blond hair and blue eyes. We aim to be multicultural and educational.”
Britain's Missing Top Model
Jessica Kellgren-Hayes, Kelly Knox, Kellie Moody and Sophie Morgan are competing on the show that claims be ready to train eight wannabes how to be a model.
But…Is the fashion world committed to opening its arms to a model with a disability?
Louisa Summerfield, director of disabled fashion online store, WheelieChix, said “I am sure the winner will have a fabulous year but I think this will be temporary fame.”
“I once went to do a show at the London Fashion Week and there was no way they were going to entertain us.”
Ms Summerfield runs an online fashion store to provide clothes for women with disabilities which are glamorous and practical. She claims it would take a long time for the fashion world to change its habits, she said: “If you can not even get a size 12 model on the catwalk the likelihood of having disabled models long-term is small.”
However fashion magazine, Marie Claire, are offering the winner of the competition a photo-shoot with top-photographer John Rankin.
Magazine editor, Marie O’Riordan, a judge on the show, told the BBC that she will keep track of all the contestants after the show has finished; claiming that the magazine wants to use women of all different images.