Emily Howlett: We need to stop thinking that government changes won’t affect us

Posted on August 21, 2014



There are such a lot of insidious, barely noticeable changes happening right now that it’s pretty much impossible for anyone outside of Westminster to keep up. (Personally, I’m not even convinced anyone inside has managed to keep up.)

There’s been a lot of talk about Access To Work recently. Facebook and Twitter keep flashing up the occasional article, rant or essay of despair.

I’ve kind of noticed it and not noticed it; I know that there’s a lot of new barriers to being granted sufficient support, but I’m not entirely sure exactly why.

Interpreter agencies are also coming under fire for being unscrupulous, and a lot of deaf people have less than polite things to say about the very people who are assisting them with communication. I know there are divides springing up, but I’m not entirely sure exactly why.

The NHS is being privatised and generally, slowly, dismantled. Services, staff and patients are suffering from cutbacks, new red tape, and a thousand other small things that haven’t made the news. I know this is going to be bad, but I’m not entirely sure exactly why.

There’s also been some talk about cloning dodo DNA and bringing one back to life. I’m not entirely sure exactly why anyone wants to, but I guess that’s another story.

So, why have I told you all this stuff is out there? Why have I admitted I don’t know enough about any of it, and you probably don’t either, without actually finding the answers and giving them to you?

Well, because it’s not my place. I don’t know the details. I don’t want to run the risk of passing on information that might not be 100% correct. I’m not a campaigner. I don’t want to stick my neck out and risk getting noticed.

And, frankly, none of it has affected me directly yet. Well, it has a little bit. And some of my friends are already suffering quite badly from various cuts and rule changes. But it’s still alright at the minute. If it gets worse in the future, I guess I will just deal with it then.

Except… The future. Hmm. I’ve a sneaking suspicion that’ll be too late. I will sit on the fence and watch indifferently until there’s nothing left to watch. The NHS will be a dodo; dead. Access To Work will be a dodo; dead. The very notion of deaf and disabled people being fully independent, happy and fulfilled members of a society they contribute to and feel welcomed by will be a dodo; dead.

We are in danger of waddling blindly up to the big humans who have all the power but look friendly. They steal our attention towards the tiny morsel of good news in their left hand, and we never notice the musket in their right.

In fact, we are so easily distracted that it doesn’t even have to be good news; we can’t help but forget about the comparatively insignificant changes happening close to home when we are being constantly bombarded by horrific news and images from around the world.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about the wider world. But we need to stop being quite so blasé about our own lives. We need to work together, we need to educate ourselves and each other. We need forums and voices and, sorry to be the one to say it, but we need to listen more carefully.

And, more than any of this, you all need to stop thinking like me. You need to stop thinking it won’t affect you, or that you’re only one person and you can’t do anything. Find out what is happening in your world, and if you don’t like it, find out how you can help stop it.

Don’t just let it slide, until that very last bird has been shot. After all, there would have been an easier way to bring back the dodos than DNA cloning; just never to have let them die out in the first place.

Be less dodo. Be more you. Let’s do this.

Emily Howlett is a Contributing Editor to this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer, horsewoman and new mum. Emily used to be found all over the place, but motherhood has turned her into somewhat of a self-confessed homebody. She now has not one, but four grey eyebrow hairs. C’est la vie. She tweets as @ehowlett

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