This week’s Medical Monday post has been co-written by 24 year old Poppy. A couple of weeks ago I posted about my personal experience with job hunting & this post tells the story of a job training day from hell that Poppy experienced a while ago. In her story Poppy mentions The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 & I’ve added some information about the Act onto the end of the post.
Poppy herself has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder. The condition, which is often referred to as EDS, can cause a huge range of complications & issues, but the main ones are joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility & tissue fragility (this information has come from The Ehlers-Danlos Society webpage which you can find here).
“The fact that I have EDS means I can’t stand for very long, so job hunting is a lot harder than normal as it narrows down the search, this is because I have to look for roles where I’m sat down all day. I once had an interview for a receptionist role at a gym (the irony as I can’t even go to the gym ha). I got the job, my contract was sorted, and a week later I had to go in for a few hours to shadow another receptionist in preparation.
“I noticed the receptionist was stood up, so I explained to the woman who was taking me through the process that I’m disabled and need to sit down. She told me that wasn’t possible. I told her it wasn’t optional, I can’t physically do it. So, she went and asked the manager and he said no, sitting down wasn’t allowed. I knew I wasn’t being taken seriously because I ‘look’ completely able-bodied & instead of pushing, I agreed to “give it a try and see how long I could last,” like the woman told me to… which is an absolutely ridiculous thing to say to a disabled person; but I did it because I was desperate and it was all happening so quickly.
“I lasted 20 minutes and was gripping onto the desk to hold myself up. I told her I couldn’t do it and had to leave. I cried all the way home as I was in so much pain and felt close to collapsing. My one regret about this experience is that I never pursued how wrong it was – I’m fully aware of The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and I know that reasonable adjustments have to be made by bosses for disabled employees, but I knew the whole process would be lengthy and I didn’t have the time or energy. But, if I could go back, I would, and I’d tell anyone else in that position to do so too.”
Laws Protecting the Disabled in the UK
In the UK there is more than one law in place to help protect the disabled community in education, work & healthcare facilities; these laws are The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), The Special Education Needs & Disability Order 2005 (SENDO) & The Equality Act 2010. There is also an act under the UN called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which also helps to protect the disabled.
The DDA & SENDO help to ensure that the disabled do not experience discrimination whilst going about their everyday lives, e.g. going to the shops, leisure facilities & places of worship, but they also protect the disabled when they are buying or renting homes & when using public services like healthcare & transport. You can read more about the DDA & SENDO on the NI Direct government services page.
The Equality Act 2010 is another law that helps protect the disabled, but it is not limited to only protecting the disabled. The Equality Act was put in place to help stop discrimination in places of work & wider society & the Act covers age, transexuality, marriage status, pregnancy, disability, race, nationality, ethnicity, national origin, religious views, sex/gender & sexual orientation. You can find out more about The Equality Act 2010 on gov.uk.
Laws like this are very important because they help to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated differently from those who are not disabled; these laws do not just cover physical disabilities, but mental health conditions as well. If you’ve recently experienced something similar to Poppy’s story then it may be worth you looking into the laws to see if you have a case – it is important that we stand up for ourselves so that society doesn’t think it’s acceptable to discriminate against us.
Thank you as always for taking notice of my posts, & thank you to Poppy for volunteering her story to my blog – we both hope that you’ve learnt something!