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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
South: Disabilities discrimination
Ian Paul
Ian Paul
The Politics Show, BBC South

My trravel needs are just as important

We've all heard about discrimination against disabled people.

But Politics Show South, this week, reveals the worrying situation of discrimination between disabilities.

The Disability Living Allowance is not means-tested, is tax-free and is paid to disabled people under the age of 65-years-old, whether they are in or out of work.

Sounds good so far. But here is the catch.

If you are able to drive, you can claim the higher "mobility rate" of 43.45 per week. So still sounds good if you are, say, a wheelchair user.

But, if you have serious sight loss, you can only claim the lower rate of 16.50.

Which sounds less good.

According to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), that is unfair, as although blind people might be able to move around more independently, there is still a cost.

And as the point of the allowance is to help people get out and about safely and independently

Lynda Brook, who is registered blind and lives in Gosport, tells Politics Show South: "You have to think sometimes 'well I can't actually afford to go there because that's not on a bus route and I can't afford a taxi.' If you can't get out and about and do things some blind people are really imprisoned in their own home."

So, with a campaign underway, meetings with the minister and an Early Day Motion planned for when Parliament meets, plus the draft of a UN Convention about to be voted on, disability rights are clearly a hot topic again.

Sailor on the Lord Nelson
Life on the Lord Nelson is all about mucking in...

On the foamy brine

The programme this week will be coming live from the Southampton Boat Show, where we will be on board the tall ship Lord Nelson.

It was specially designed for the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a charity which promotes the integration of able-bodied and physically disabled people though adventure sailing holidays.

The crew of 40 for each voyage is split half-and-half between able-bodied and disabled - so far the Trust has taken over 27,000 people to sea.

More than 4,000 of those have been wheelchair-users. The idea is that everyone should take a full and active part in the running of the ship.

It is, if you like, an example of what the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities hopes to achieve across the globe.

If it gets agreed - hopefully during the current session - it will guarantee disabled people have an equal right to life, a right to independent living and a right to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

It signals a change in thinking away from talk about benefits and entitlements and towards talk about human rights.

Some of them may sound a little vague, but they are certainly more of a rallying cry than means-testing and the minutiae of government regulations.

Life in the mainstream

Not all disabled people want a rights-based charter, though.

'All I ask for is a level playing field'

Victoria Siegler is a sparky 17-year-old from Hove, who reckons: "You can go too far, you can get to the stage, and I don't see this ever happening, but where disabled people get more rights than an able bodied person and that's wrong because percentage wise we are the minority.

"All I ask is for a level playing field."

The good news for Victoria is that things are changing: "Attitudes are better, it's still not perfect but there are a lot more people who are prepared to try to put themselves out to help.

"There's less ignorance. You're not as much of a non person now, just because you're disabled, you're not a third class citizen," she says.

So what do you think? Send us an email, and we will put your points to our invited guests.

And remember to check out the Politics Show South team's special Conference Reports.

Starting on Sunday with the Liberal Democrats, we will be bringing you all sorts of snippets of backstage information, gossip and politicking from the three conferences.

And we want you to join in the discussion by sending us your views on what we have written, or what you think of what has been happening on stage at the conferences.

Meanwhile, join Peter Henley live from the Lord Nelson ship, on the Politics Show on 17 Sunday September at 12:00 BST on BBC One.

Send us an email and we will put your points to our invited guests.

The Politics Show

The Politics Show returns on Sunday 17 September 2006 at 12:00 BST on BBC One.

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