Did you know that one million people in Scotland, around a fifth of the population, identify as disabled? Disabled people are our family members, friends, colleagues, and fellow union members.
Despite being protected under the Equality Act 2010 and entitled to reasonable adjustments, Disabled people continue to experience significant inequality in the workplace. Only 50% of Disabled people of working age are in work and those who are, often face inequalities that limit their equitable participation and prevent them from realising their full potential.
The EIS subscribes to the social model of disability which considers that ‘disability’ is caused by societal barriers that arise from lack of consideration of people with certain needs or impairments in designing our physical and social environments. These barriers result in some people being excluded from many parts of society and from participating equally – if these barriers were removed, a person would no longer experience disability due to their needs or impairment.
Therefore, reasonable adjustments are crucially important, but beyond that, we must ensure that workplaces proactively consider the needs of Disabled workers and respond appropriately if they are to be truly accessible and equitable.
Equality is at the heart of the Union agenda, and solidarity between workers is key to advancing the rights and fair work entitlements of all.
Nothing about us, without us
Earlier this year, the EIS commissioned Media Education to create a participatory film project with Disabled EIS members. The project sought to spotlight the stories of Disabled teachers and lecturers, and is led by a steering group of Disabled members who have identified the project themes:
- Inclusion and language
- Reasonable adjustments
- Overcoming stigma and fostering understanding
- Celebrating the contributions Disabled people make to the Education profession
Participation in the film was open to any member who identifies as Disabled, or who is protected by the Equality Act 2010 under the protected characteristic of Disability – this includes Autistic members, and members with ADD/ADHD, mental health conditions, and others.
Please look out for the film on the EIS website, and share it widely. Let’s stand in solidarity with Disabled colleagues and demand better – more equal, and fairer work for all.
Joining the EIS Disabled Members’ Network
If you are a Disabled member and would like to join the EIS Disabled Members’ Network, which meets online, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Network meetings will act as a conduit for learning opportunities, and as supportive spaces for members to link up, discuss important issues and channel your voices within the work of the Union. The first formal meeting of the Network took place on Thursday 2nd December.