Disability - policy discussion

DU [deactivated account] Public Seen by 338

As someone who has a disability (invisible), I know that it is time to restart the excellent disability policy discussions that our previous president Daniel Bertinshaw (Laserface) started.

We should push for equality of opportunity for all people would be a good start.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 23 Sep 2014 11:49AM

Excellent to see something happening at the policy side of the party as well. Can you provide a link to those previous discussions you are referring to?


Hubat McJuhes Tue 23 Sep 2014 1:38PM

My first attempt would be to criticise the term 'disability'. The term translated into German is 'Behinderung', which means and is recognised as exactly the same thing: being disabled. But the term 'Behinderung', despite being used only in the above sense, is actually ambique as it allows to be read similarly to 'facing an obstacle' as well. Why do I call this slight variation of meaning ambique? The guy in the wheelchair being unable (disabled) to go up the stairs is the same thing as the guy in the wheelchair facing the obstacle of those stairs, isn't it?
It is not, really!
The difference being: If the wheelchair guy is disabled, then HE has a problem with those stairs. But if the stairs are an obstacle for the wheelchair guy, then the stairs are the problem.
Another example would be the left-handed, who in former times would have been either wrong or at least having a bad habit. Today it is obvious to everyone that the person is right, but those scissors and that mouse are badly designed.
You can radicalise this to the parole: 'Du bist nicht bedindert; du wirst behindert.' -> You are not disabled, you are facing problems that others don't (and they don't mind [so they are the problem]).

If you follow this thought to the end, then you change the paradigm. It's not about that poor person, that needs our affection and support anymore. It is this badly designed object that seemed to be a solution for so many (the majority), who then don't realise that their solution is actively exluding others, just because their needs are not considered because a high enough number of others are happily enjoying their comfort zone.
But actually those stairs are a problem also for parents with their buggies and elderly people and couriers who want to deliver heavy stuff on a trolley, and.. and, and once there is an alternative ramp, those skateboarders and scooterazzies like them, too. And on a sudden you realise: those things are not only to be reconsidered for those pitiful few; once in place, the better solution is really better for many more and often for the most. Once you think of obstacles, you start thinking of better designs. And once they are there, everyone likes them (e.g. acoustic signalling at traffic lights that are also very helpful in learning traffic rules for the halflings; and also for those who love emerging into their smartphones while waiting for the green phase).

So my first proposal would be to find a wording to replace the term 'disabled' by something that works as outlined in English, too. Native speakers, please suggest.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 23 Sep 2014 1:38PM

Now let's think about 'equality of opportunity for all people', where most or at least many people are different.

When it comes to employment, people may be measured in productivity more than in speciality. This may be enforced by the minimal load regulations, which, in the given context, are extremely important, but may not play well towards those who require particular environments to achieve the same as others without those special needs.

I wonder if a change of the system towards an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI), which would make it possible to discuss if a minimum wage would still be necessary, could be beneficial.


Andrew Reitemeyer Tue 23 Sep 2014 7:26PM

The term disabled is currently the word of choice in New Zealand. It is a matter of usage. Handicapped was invented to replace crippled and has in turn been replaced with disabled. Disabled will no doubt be replaced by something else but for now we should use what is in current usage.

The reason for having a disability policy is to ensure there is equality of access to the benefits and rights New Zealanders expect, where that is practical and as close as possible where it is not.

It should be part of a range of human rights policies that cover equality of religion, race, gender, sexual preference, age etc.

UBI can be a part of the policy in that the needs of disabled people may require interventions beyond what UBI would guarantee.


[deactivated account] Wed 24 Sep 2014 2:25AM

I would say that the UBI may be best served with a disability supplement to recognise if people are simply unable to work.
My preference for the UBI itself is to allow for people to undertake say, a) charity work with minimal renumeration from the employer. (see below)
b) corporate welfare, as in, someone can start a business while collecting the UBI and not have to worry abut their next meal.
c) family support of a disabled person and have the UBI to cover living costs, etc. (Note that family caregivers have only recently won the right to be paid.)
d) roughly the same amount as the pension is now, but paid weekly. (twice as often to make double the income)
e) UBI may allow some people to voluntary accept below current minimum wage, a fact which would win over a lot of right wingers and immigrants. (I should note this would mainly affect horticulture and hospitality work, having worked in fast food while studying.)
f) UBI would have the advantage that most interactions with WINZ staff would be reduced down to maybe the initial signup, disability allowance, etc.


Andrew Reitemeyer Wed 24 Sep 2014 9:20PM

the U in UBI, for me, is unconditional. If there are any conditions then the cost of the idea would escalate as well as allow for government to force people into poverty, as is currently the situation. The needs of disabled people must not be allowed to eat into their UBI. Any costs; medication. mobility, housing needs must be met on top of UBI. Children could also receive a UBI that would go to their guardians until of age. That could even be staggered as they grow older - no need for child support.


Hubat McJuhes Wed 24 Sep 2014 10:53PM

That's exactly right. A UBI is unconditional or it is not a U-BI. Hence it is one amount for all (with maybe a differentiation depending on age). It is all but a beneficial aid. It is a symbolic representation of each having a share of the commons. UBI and beneficiaries are explicitly uncoupled.

So I change the topic now:
A society that strives for equal opportunities needs to cater for those who have particular needs. There is many ways to do that of which many should be addressed in parallel, with a general concept binding them together. One aspect is about reducing obstacles as mentioned above. Another way is to help with unusual costs, e.g. health care expenses. The latter could be managed via a common health insurance system (as Germany does it [with huge problems]) or as a fond system similar to how ACC works.

When I mentioned the otherwise completely unrelated UBI, I was suggesting that a UBI together with dropping/reducing minimum wage would possibly be taking away one obstacle, where an employer may see difficulties to employ a disabled person because he/she assumes less productivity. (BTW: I would not accept reducing minimum wage without a UBI)


Robert Frittmann Thu 12 May 2016 2:54PM

The NZ Disability Strategy is currently being revised, with submissions closing on 22 May 2016.

I think any informed Pirate Party of NZ policy on disability needs to integrate the current NZ Disability Strategy concerning "full participation" in society, with the Pirate Wheel's Diversity spoke, concerning "citizen empowerment".

At the very least, I hope any policy formed by the Pirate Party of NZ falls under the heading of "diversity", not of "health" as most other parties seem to be doing. Disability is not solely a health issue. It concerns, as others in this thread have already discussed, the challenges faced by a range of citizens in our society. It concerns functional diversity, and acknowledges that, in civil society, we are all diverse, not just those of us who are earmarked as being "disabled", or "different".

Furthermore, it is my hope that any such disability policy formed by the Pirate Party of NZ includes a firm stance on our country ratifying the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and takes into consideration the findings of the Shadow Report on NZ's implementation of the UNCRPD. Of particular note, and perhaps pertinent to the core activities of the Party, is the current "lack of monitoring of disability issues, evident in the alarming lack of disability data/information in central and local government". It will also be important to consider the current NZ Disability Action Plan.


Hubat McJuhes Sun 15 May 2016 11:57AM

Given the short time before submissions close: would you, @robertfrittmann , be prepared to propose a submission text the party could support?


Robert Frittmann Fri 20 May 2016 11:39PM

Any political party, whether it be a fledgling one like PPNZ or an established one like Labour, would be best to seek the advice and input of grassroots experts in the relevant field when establishing their policy. In this instance, the experts "at the coalface" are the Disabled Persons Organisations (DPO's). I'd suggest contacting the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (nationwide) or Disability Connect (Auckland). There are many other DPO's throughout NZ, but these are two examples that are not specific to any one particular disability.


Danyl Strype Fri 20 May 2016 7:17AM

As another member who lives with a fairly invisible long-term disability (chronic depression and social anxiety), I'd like to thank @andrewmcpherson for starting this discussion.

the excellent disability policy discussions that our previous president Daniel Bertinshaw (Laserface) started.

Is there any record of these discussions that we could use as a starting point?


The term disabled is currently the word of choice in New Zealand. It is a matter of usage.

As you say, it does seem to be the "word of choice" at present, but I think @robertfrittmann makes a good argument that the assumptions it includes don't necessarily lead us to the best thinking on the topic. "Intellectual property" is also a commonly used phrase, but similarly, the assumptions it encourages people to make don't necessarily lead to the best thinking about copyright.

@robertfrittmann thanks for all the relevant links. Feel free to add them to the context box at the top of the discussion thread, to remind us to refer to them, and to indicate to any member coming into this discussion for the first time that they are important starting points for understanding the issues under discussion.

I think the Greens policy statement 'Removing the Barriers' is also worth examining for ideas we could adopt for a Pirate policy on disability/ diversity.

EDIT: a while back I discovered a host called DreamWidth (while looking for a new OpenID provider after the collapse of MyOpenID). They have a fantastic diversity statement that is well worth reading.