TWO-FACED SNEAKY OR WHAT

Surely this has nothing to do with disability, with being a disabled person or having an impairment; but has it?

For years  I could read for a short while with an ever- strengthening   powerful magnifying glass with its own light. Great. I used to boast that I could see to read cheques but not bills. We all  know what a challenge it is, even how difficult it is, to get about if you have a significant visual impairment; but I  managed to travel the country to see a special girl. Did I stand and look helpless to get attention while, later in  the day running to catch that bus? Of course. And what about the State Benefits game and the way you have to make sure you get all, or a bit more than, you are entitled to? Well I was fortunate  and never had to get involved with that one until I applied for the Attendance Allowance, now PIP. It seems that, having been thoroughly drilled to be independent and capable for years, you all of a sudden have to paint a picture of yourself as    scarcely having the ability to wipe your own bum.

No wonder our charities and our government struggle to keep things going to meet ever-increasing demand on their services and benefits. And no wonder things are not changing because we, as recipients of either or both, we don’t want to lose out. But there is a solution which at least aught to be talked about even if it can’t be easily implemented.

So the ground source of the trouble, at lease as far as sight loss is concerned, is this two million number game, so important to fundraisers. I wasn’t there at the time but I guess RNIB, deafblinduk and Blind Veterans   and most local charitable organisations, got off to a good start with a few caring  people  round the table including two or three actually  with no sight or actually not able to see or hear,  who directly or indirectly inspired the new venture. Fabulous and wonderful how they grew, raised funds and delivered much-needed services.

But watch for the signs of the rot setting in.

  1. Changes in terminology: Embarrassment about the word blind or deaf and the coming of words like visual impairment, sight loss, and visually challenged.
  2. The commercialisation of services: We have even reached the stage that other charities have to support blind people to benefit from the large blindness charities’ product or service. The cost of a wonderful guide dog is over £50,000 and the whole totally worthwhile guide dog venture requires a huge commercial and fundraising  operation including TV adds and the whole works.
  3. A dreadful blurring of need: Those with absolutely no vision are often treated no  differently to those, like me  who have been for most of my life, with some useful sight, though significantly sight-damaged.
  4. Selling off the family silver: Those really blind or really deafblind do need the opportunity to be together to learn new coping strategies and re-kindle their self-esteem. Notice how gifts of land or property to blind children or adults for this purpose have been sold off to sustain the bank balance.

 If you think of services as being like a jam sandwich, there should be plenty of jam for the totally blind and less for  those with some sight, possibly a generous portion for those losing their sight. As things are, there are just too many in the queue for those jam sandwiches and it almost appears as if the main effort is now directed towards paying to keep in post those providing that thin jam service.

So, unpopular as this will make me, I admire the government for at least trying to re-define disability even though I hate to think of really deserving individuals being  wrongly assessed  and denied what they need and have a right to.

Would it be possible for our leading charities to take a similar line, revive their strategies and dare to focus on the fewer most needy service-users? Would it be possible for their leaders to dare to draw back from the two million rising to three million and re-define significant  vision or hearing disability around the old-fashioned blind or nearly blind and deaf or nearly deaf concepts? Sadly I doubt it so long as they can get  away with not having to do it. But maybe there will come a time when shaking the money-tree fails to drop fruit into their laps and perhaps that could be no bad thing. It sadly looks like the numbers game, the two/three million and the number of services provided will continue to rule unchallenged.

Surely this has nothing to do with disability, with being a disabled person or having an impairment; but has it?

For years  I could read for a short while with an ever- strengthening   powerful magnifying glass with its own light. Great. I used to boast that I could see to read cheques but not bills. We all  know what a challenge it is, even how difficult it is, to get about if you have a significant visual impairment; but I  managed to travel the country to see a special girl. Did I stand and look helpless to get attention while, later in  the day running to catch that bus? Of course. And what about the State Benefits game and the way you have to make sure you get all, or a bit more than, you are entitled to? Well I was fortunate  and never had to get involved with that one until I applied for the Attendance Allowance, now PIP. It seems that, having been thoroughly drilled to be independent and capable for years, you all of a sudden have to paint a picture of yourself as    scarcely having the ability to wipe your own bum.

No wonder our charities and our government struggle to keep things going to meet ever-increasing demand on their services and benefits. And no wonder things are not changing because we, as recipients of either or both, we don’t want to lose out. But there is a solution which at least aught to be talked about even if it can’t be easily implemented.

So the ground source of the trouble, at lease as far as sight loss is concerned, is this two million number game, so important to fundraisers. I wasn’t there at the time but I guess RNIB, deafblinduk and Blind Veterans   and most local charitable organisations, got off to a good start with a few caring  people  round the table including two or three actually  with no sight or actually not able to see or hear,  who directly or indirectly inspired the new venture. Fabulous and wonderful how they grew, raised funds and delivered much-needed services.

But watch for the signs of the rot setting in.

  1. Changes in terminology: Embarrassment about the word blind or deaf and the coming of words like visual impairment, sight loss, and visually challenged.
  2. The commercialisation of services: We have even reached the stage that other charities have to support blind people to benefit from the large blindness charities’ product or service. The cost of a wonderful guide dog is over £50,000 and the whole totally worthwhile guide dog venture requires a huge commercial and fundraising  operation including TV adds and the whole works.
  3. A dreadful blurring of need: Those with absolutely no vision are often treated no  differently to those, like me  who have been for most of my life, with some useful sight, though significantly sight-damaged.
  4. Selling off the family silver: Those really blind or really deafblind do need the opportunity to be together to learn new coping strategies and re-kindle their self-esteem. Notice how gifts of land or property to blind children or adults for this purpose have been sold off to sustain the bank balance. I must make very clear that there are circumstances when it is totally right and proper to sell off land or premises which no longer serves the original purpose of the gift.

 If you think of services as being like a jam sandwich, there should be plenty of jam for the totally blind and less for  those with some sight, possibly a generous portion for those losing their sight. As things are, there are just too many in the queue for those jam sandwiches and it almost appears as if the main effort is now directed towards paying to keep in post those providing that thin jam service.

So, unpopular as this will make me, I admire the government for at least trying to re-define disability even though I hate to think of really deserving individuals being  wrongly assessed  and denied what they need and have a right to.

Would it be possible for our leading charities to take a similar line, revive their strategies and dare to focus on the fewer most needy service-users? Would it be possible for their leaders to dare to draw back from the two million rising to three million and re-define significant  vision or hearing disability around the old-fashioned blind or nearly blind and deaf or nearly deaf concepts? Sadly I doubt it so long as they can get  away with not having to do it. But maybe there will come a time when shaking the money-tree fails to drop fruit into their laps and perhaps that could be no bad thing. It sadly looks like the numbers game, the two/three million and the number of services provided will continue to rule unchallenged.

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