Indifference is the Enemy Disabled Struggle to Overcome
- Written by Roberto Castiglioni
Calling people with disabilities the forgotten ones is not far from reality; indifference towards disabled issues is so deeply embedded in society it has become an accepted common practice.
With the only exception of the United States, indifference towards issues and problems of people with reduced mobility and disabilities is a global virus, the main enemy the disabled are up against.
How can we set things straight if, when things go wrong, the world looks past the issue, as if it did not matter? As I said in the opening, indifference is so deeply embedded in modern society that even mainstream media avoids mentioning the issue unless some sort of miracle occurs.
Let me provide a couple of examples showing how awful things are for people with disabilities in the U.K. and other countries versus the United States.
At the end of August, a group of six disabled elderly ready to board an Easyjet flight to Belfast from Edinburgh Airport missed their flight because of a row between Menzies Aviation, BAA, and Easyjet. Apparently, mainstream media thinks it is perfectly normal for the most vulnerable to be left having to pay the cost of others' mistakes. Hence the incident, first reported by David McCann at the Scotsman.com, got a mention on this and a handful of other websites. Not one single mainstream newspaper reported the news, not even the public service, the BBC.
Yes, the U.K. mainstream media, starting from the BBC, totally ignored an incident were six disabled elderly have been bullied, humiliated and discriminated. Editors decided this was not newsworthy. How can these editors look themselves in the mirror is beyond me.
In Australia, 75-year-old Sheila King has finally managed to get Jetstar airline to court for discrimination against passengers with reduced mobility. Her court case highlights the limits and failings of current Australian regulation intended to protect the rights of disabled people travelling by air.
She got mentioned in local Aussie news, and that was it. Not one single U.K. mainstream media outlet writes about this woman who is fighting to ensure wheelchair bound passengers are no longer discriminated. This news is of relevance for tens of thousands of people with reduced mobility. Even more so, because it highlights the problems disabled passengers face when traveling by air. Then again, not significant to most editors, who apparently believe the disabled belong to Forgottenville.
I mentioned the exception of the United States. I know mocking Americans is Britain's preferred pastime, but when it comes to making sure there is full recognition of problems and issues of people with disabilities, the Americans have every right to claim their superiority.
Last week, a rather controversial case involving a disabled veteran hit the headlines. Most U.S. media outlets reported the case. Sadly enough, even the U.K. Daily Mail, who was among those who ignored the serious incident in Edinburgh, reported the case.
As for Edinburgh and other incidents that never make it to the news I can speculate about a hidden agenda to the reigning indifference as to why the U.K. has all interest in keeping a lid on these stories. News like these could easily throw a serious doubt on the status of preparation of services for the upcoming Paralympics.
I can also understand why the disabled going through unpleasant experiences would rather move past them then report them. The set of laws intended to protect their rights are widely inadequate, the costs to pursue those responsible enormous, the time it takes to get a case heard appalling.
All this has to change. People with disabilities have to be proactive in reporting what does not work to the media. Mainstream media have to snap out of their indifference towards the issues of the disabled. If this happens, lawmakers will be under pressure to ensure laws are effective, and culprits will not only be held accountable, but most importantly publicly shamed for their wrong doings.
It is time to get rid of indifference. It is time to move forward.