jackandahat: (Default)
Jack ([personal profile] jackandahat) wrote in [community profile] accessibility_fail2010-02-04 05:44 pm

When the people who claim to help are the problem.

Right now I'm looking for work, and I've just been sent to an agency - Remploy - who deal with getting disabled people into work. I'm hard of hearing and I have arthritis so I walk with a cane.

I was sat with "my" advisor, Jonathan, getting lectured on how I would be wonderful in this job and I had to think positive thoughts. He yet again pulled the "All you need is adaptive technology" speech - I've discussed with them several times that adapted phones just don't work for me - I've never met one that does, and frankly, it's too much of a bloody struggle.. I was sat down, my cane was propped against my backpack.

The other advisor - I don't know his name, call him Stupid Fuck - picked up my cane and put it behind his back, and started giving a speech about how now no-one would know I was disabled, and I had to think of it like that.

The only thing that kept me from getting up and punching him was knowing I'd lose my benefits if I did. Oh yeah, and the fact he had my cane.

Did I mention this is an agency designed specifically to deal with getting disabled people into work?

So there was absolutely nothing I could do. If I did anything, they'd have stopped my dole money and I wouldn't have been able to afford to, you know, pay rent and eat. I told Jonathan that being told "You don't look disabled" is not helpful, but I was too much in shock to work out what to say about the cane thing - when I go in tomorrow I Will be having words with Stupid Fuck, I just didn't know what to do and he was standing over me.

Anyone else faced this kind of thing? Any ideas what to do/say to him? (I know the obvious is "Put in a complaint", but if that's how the staff act, I suspect they'd laugh in my face.)
ext_400088: edited Get Medieval icon (Get Medieval)

[identity profile] ladygzb.livejournal.com 2010-02-04 06:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Consider it this way:

What would you do if you went to a restaurant, and they took away your cane? What would you do if you went to a grocery store, and they took away your cane?

You wouldn't just complain to the management--AND the corporate management--but in the US you'd also complain to the BBB, the ADA, maybe the police, and possibly consult a lawyer. It doesn't sound like you're in the US, so I don't know what the analogous associations are in your area.

Just because they were supposed to be helping you doesn't absolve them of the same need for basic human decency and--you know--not to STEAL YOUR FREAKING CANE. This sounds like abuse of a disabled person, and possibly kidnapping (ie, holding someone against their will). If they think this is acceptable behavior in any way, they need a serious wake-up call.
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[identity profile] ladygzb.livejournal.com 2010-02-04 07:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Let's be clear here: he took away the tool that you use to walk. He kept you trapped as clearly as if he put handcuffs on you. Holding someone against their will is the legal definition of kidnapping.

Someone who thinks it's okay to do that *casually* needs as hard a kick as you can give them. If that means consulting the police or a lawyer, then it might. That's not over the top; that's protecting yourself and other disabled people who this jackass might power-trip on in the future.
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[identity profile] ladygzb.livejournal.com 2010-02-04 07:35 pm (UTC)(link)
But his intent doesn't matter. What was going on with you doesn't matter.

What he DID is what matters, and what he DID was to take away your means of locomotion. Even if it was temporary--after all, how could you know that when he did it?

Not only that, but it *is* abuse to take someone's freedom like that--even temporarily--and make someone feel that helpless, that trapped. It doesn't matter what he was thinking; all that matters is what he did and what it caused.

If he'll do it to you, he'll do it to others. If you complain and also make sure he ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT DO IT AGAIN, then he can't do it to you *or* to anyone else ever again.
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[personal profile] pauamma 2010-02-04 09:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Or taken away his shoes.
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[personal profile] jadelennox 2010-02-04 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
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[personal profile] jadelennox 2010-02-04 06:45 pm (UTC)(link)
no, you REALLY weren't overreacting. Even people who aren't in disability services should get reported to their managers for taking away the adaptive aids of a disabled person. People who work in the disability services profession should without question know better.

You need to report him to his agency. There has got to be some bureaucratic paper trail.

I mean, seriously.
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[identity profile] ladygzb.livejournal.com 2010-02-04 07:24 pm (UTC)(link)
You don't lock someone into a room just because you expect someone not to be going anywhere for the next few minutes. You don't take and hide somebody's glasses, just because they happen to have their eyes closed for a moment. You don't take someone's seeing eye dog just because they happen not to be walking anywhere at this moment. You don't take someone's wheelchair just because they happen to be using another chair briefly.

YOU DON'T DO THAT. And if, against all logic, you DO do that, what you've done is constrain someone against their will--kidnapping them.
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[personal profile] niqaeli 2010-02-04 07:53 pm (UTC)(link)
The glasses comparison might make the point in a way; most people understand that glasses are not something you take away from the person who wears them. Even if they've taken them off for a moment, you don't take them. Not even when you'd "give them back the moment you asked."

Or they might not... but these people may understand it in the context of glasses since they are more commonly used.
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[personal profile] lady_ganesh 2010-02-05 01:00 am (UTC)(link)
It also might be good to point out that the last person who took your cane away tried to rob you. It sends/reinforces the 'this is outside acceptable behavior' message.

I'm so sorry.
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[personal profile] lady_ganesh 2010-02-05 01:05 am (UTC)(link)
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[personal profile] maevele 2010-02-04 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
I can't help but feel like that is as big of a personal violation as physical contact with your body would have been. I tell my kids to treat someone's mobility devices the same way they do someone's body parts, so to me it reads like assault as much as grabbing your person would have been. I'm coming at this as an outsider though, as my disabilities are not physical.

So, Stupid Fuck deserves an assbeat, and lacking that, I guess a strong letter to his supervisors? Because it needs to be clear to people working with disabled people that there are some fucking boundaries.
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[personal profile] pauamma 2010-02-04 09:47 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd suggest both. Tell them, and make sure they understand you expect a written official confirmation of whatever you're told.
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[personal profile] phoenixsong 2010-02-05 12:41 am (UTC)(link)
This. It's easy to deny a conversation took place. Stuff like this should be in writing, whether they send you a confirmation or you hand them a written complaint when you go to speak to Stupid Fuck's boss.
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[personal profile] jadey 2010-02-04 11:40 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't know if they would respond to this argument, but this guy didn't just take away your cane - he took away your autonomy, your ability to choose to sit or stand. He might have given the cane back if you'd asked, but that essentially means that you would have had to ask permission to stand up, which is all kinds of fucked up. :( I would really hope that this agency would understand that assistive devices, whether they be wheelchairs, service dogs, canes, etc., are part of a person's body and personal space, and, just like our bodies, are supposed to be out-of-bounds without consent, especially in relationships with as unequal a power dynamic as an essential service provider and a client who is in a marginalized position. Then again, hope is not the same thing as reality. :( I think the reason that my place of employment had to emphasize things like, "Don't pet service dogs or push wheelchairs around without asking!!", was because so many clued-out people do crap like that.
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2010-02-05 12:26 am (UTC)(link)
+10 to what the others have said.

I can totally understand the initial I can't complain cause they control my dole! reaction, which is why all of us are so damn pissed. It's because they have so much power over you that this abuse is so wrong!

In the U.S. I would definitely recommend a written complaint over something in person. The written complaint creates a "paper trail," evidence of what happened and how you responded. This discussion can also serve as a record. In the unlucky case that you have to deal with this shitheel again, it would be great to make notes of every interaction.

One other thought is it's always easier to face this kind of discrimination in a group. Is there a DAN chapter or arthritis society or mates from the pub or whatever who you could connect with, see if they'd be willing to stand together with you to make a fuss if complaining to the supervisor doesn't help?

[personal profile] yarram 2010-02-05 03:00 am (UTC)(link)
My general take is measured steps:

1. Talk to Stupid Fuck. (Politely and civilly, if you can.) If that fails,
2. Talk to SF's Boss. (Again, politely and civilly, if you can.) If that fails,
3. Write a letter to the head of the agency. If that fails,
4. Skip everybody else and write/contact your local MP. CC your local newspaper, the agency's board (if there is one), and any other agency that might even remotely have supervisory authority or financial clout, including major donors/supporters if you know who they are. Include in the letter, in very clear language, that the agency you depend upon for survival is abusing their authority through intimidation and by endangering your source of financial support. (They took away your mobility! and got upset when you pointed it out to them! they're Big Meanies! Playing "Abuse The Cripple" is really, really bad PR.)

My sense from what I've read is that probably steps 1 and 2 are as far as you might have to take it. But be aware that steps 3 and 4 are options, if you feel safe exercising them. Threatening to withhold finances is a tactic straight out of domestic abusers' playbooks, pure and simple. It doesn't negate the fact that it's a valid and real consideration, but it is abuse, nevertheless.
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[personal profile] anjak_j 2010-02-05 06:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd have asked for my cane and left. Then I'd have phoned the DWP as soon as possible telling them why. No-one has the right to take away your walking aid, to belittle your disability or to tell you to pretend that you aren't. All of that smacks of ableist privilege. The whole point of Remploy - who from my own experience are useless - is to help disabled people find employment. How are they supposed to make employers respect your skills when they treat you like that?
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[personal profile] anjak_j 2010-02-05 07:48 pm (UTC)(link)
It almost makes you wonder why they apologise when they're just going to patronise you some more straight after. (I now feel a bit stupid for saying phone the DWP now you've said that you're HoH.) At the end of the day, you know your abilities better than some employment adviser.

I understand that annoyance only too well - not having enough energy or will to fight back at the time. Migraines really suck and are a common occurrence in my life.