Understanding Disability

Government statistics for 2020/21 claim that disability affects at least 22% of people in the UK, that’s over 14.6 million people. In April 2021 the government estimated that over 1 million people had developed Long Covid. By June 2021 researchers at Imperial College London believed that figure had doubled to 2 million people, indicating almost 25% of people in the UK are likely to be disabled.

Mobility impairment is the most common physical impairment affecting over 50% of disabled adults. The next highest group, 36% of disabled adults, have impairment of stamina, breathing or fatigue. Such impairments are more appropriately called ELCIs – energy limiting chronic illnesses.

Being disabled is expensive. We often have to buy our own specialist equipment or wheelchairs. Our heating bills are nearly always higher too. Even after receiving benefits, such as PIP – Personal Independence Payment, disabled adults face extra costs of at least £583 per month. For 20% of us, those extra costs can be as high as £1,000.

Many of us also have invisible disabilities. These can also impact negatively on our lives. Conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS or cardiovascular disease, can all take a heavy toll on our ability to carry out day to day activities. The percentage of people with mental health conditions has risen by 2% over the last three years with 29% of people now having a mental health diagnosis.

Those of us with neurodivergent conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or dyscalculia also need reasonable adjustments. 

Many of us have several different conditions, or a mixture of both visible and invisible disabilities.

Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 gives people with protected characteristics such as disability, gender identity, religion, sex, race or sexuality, protection from discrimination. To ensure that people with disabilities are not disadvantaged companies and organisations have a legal duty to provide Reasonable Adjustments – RAs. That duty is also anticipatory, which means that organisations and companies need to plan hoe they will provide services which are fully inclusive.

RAs are vital for us compete with able-bodied authors in the publishing world. RAs may mean that extra time is factored in to ensure that deadlines are met. It will often be easier for meetings to be held over Zoom or similar and for there to be breaks during the meeting to allow for low energy levels or pain. 

The best way to find out what reasonable adjustments authors  need is to ask us. Our life experiences mean we are familiar with what will help us most. Very often the RAs needed are neither costly nor difficult to organise.

We believe that our members should be free to define themselves as they wish. No one should have to declare what their disability is, only what RAs they would wish to be put into place

We are a unique group of writers because each of us is an Expert by Experience on our own health conditions. Sometimes that expertise informs our writing and many of us have disabled characters in our novels. We want to work with writers who wish to portray a disabled character authentically. This why we now have a directory of authors who can advise others. Please reach out to us, we are here to help.

Many of our authors are also willing to speak to the media. Again, this information can be found on our directory – which is coming soon.

We look forward to working with you!