Sunday, 11 January 2009

RNID and Discrimination.

One of the principles that RNID like to adhere to is that of non-discrimination. They tend to state that they will always pick the ‘best person for the job irrespective of disability.’ Outwardly this sounds very noble and high-minded, but of course the real test is whether or not it withstands a close examination based on facts and reason. Once you have peeled away the gold plating, is this approach really as good as it sounds? Let’s see if ‘discrimination’ really is such a dirty word when placed in the context it is being used.

I would have thought that RNID saying that they pick the ‘best person for the job irrespective of disability’ is a bit like saying that we will pick the best person for the job of doctor irrespective of medical qualifications! It presumes, incorrectly, that the ‘disability’ – deafness – is irrelevant to the job. On the contrary, personal experience of deafness is an important involuntary qualification. Put simply, if you are deaf, you will know better about deaf matters.

But even if deafness were irrelevant to the job, would this approach be fair? I think not. All the evidence, including RNID’s own research has shown that deaf people face glass ceilings at every level of employment, thanks to discrimination. So by insisting that we compete with those who don’t face such discrimination, they are actually discriminating against deaf people!

And isn’t RNID supposed to discriminate in favour of deaf people? Where does it say in their stated objects that they are working for the ‘better treatment, employment and training’ of everybody, ‘irrespective of disability?’ RNID are very selective about when they are a charity. They insist on their right to exist as a charity and certainly to collect money as a charity, but all of a sudden they suspend their charitable status when it comes to giving out the jobs, especially the best jobs! This is why I have said time and time again that deaf people are being used.

On the surface, RNID’s ‘non-discriminatory’ approach seems noble and high-minded. But a quick examination of it in context shows that it is counterfeit, sham, bogus, phoney. I am not advocating that deaf people should be charity cases, but if RNID are going to insist that we are, they cannot pick and choose when to be a charity as it suits them.


Alison said...

Good points. One thing that we don't have in disability discrimination legislation is the concept of "indirect discrimination", as for e.g. sex discrimination.

I think most deaf organisations indirectly discrimination against deaf people by virtue of their job specifications. E.g. BSL as a skill is put under 'desirable', and training will be provided. Under 'essential' skills, are many skills that hearing people can prove they've acquired elsewhere (because of mainstream access) yet deaf people will find it difficult to get.

The other thing that is often overlooked, deaf people working for deaf organisations are frequently required to step outside their role. E.g. be token deaf person for the organisation or advise hearing people doing their jobs. No credit is given for this capacity, nor is it on the job description. If you turn it down, then trouble can start ...

MM said...

The eternal question is how do you address the RNID ? they couldn't care less what we think or do. We ARE charity cases for them it's in their remit for anyone to read. A charity offer support to 9 million deaf and HI.

They are simply acting as service providors on the cheap. Which makes us pretty much sad acts all around really.

What I think was a master stroke, was the RNID using the equality ACT to keep us out, and maintain that glass ceiling, BRILLIANT ! Has anyone yet come up with an idea to take charity status away from them ? or challenge that status ?

As the government wants the RNID to do support on the cheap they are allowing the RNID to act as a private company AND as a charity. Its a joke, at our expence sadly.

tim said...

Thanks for the comment, Alison, you're right, it's often the more subtle discrimination that works against us the most. Job descriptions are often drawn up in a way that is biased against us.

MM - you're right and the reason they get away with it is because, as you say, the arrangement suits the government. The Charity Commission have been described as 'gatekeepers' or 'bouncers' and I think those are good descriptions - playing the eternal apologist for charities, maintaining the status quo and the good jobs, of course.