The Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission have published their Annual Report for 2019.
The report makes for interesting reading when looking at the statistics relating to disability.
Of 672 queries made to IHREC in 2019 relating to the Equal Status Acts 2000 - 2015, 29% were made on the disability ground. This is almost one-third or all queries, significantly higher than housing assistance at 17% and race at 12%.
Of 474 complaints made under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2015, 36% were made on the disability ground. Again, this significantly outnumbers the next two highest complaints, which were gender at 24% and race at 12%. Disability related complaints are in fact, equal to both gender and race combined.
These figures can be viewed two ways.
Discrimination towards people with disabilities is, as former IHREC Chief Commissioner, Emily Logan stated last November "Persistent, pernicious and prevalent in Ireland". When these figures are viewed in conjunction with figures published by Eurostat last year, it paints Ireland in a very poor light.
According to Eurostat, people with disabilities in Ireland have a higher chance of ending up in poverty and social exclusion than in any other country in Western Europe, and many countries in Eastern Europe. The chances of someone with a disability living in poverty more than doubled as the last decade progressed. So, as Ireland became richer and moved from bust to boom once more, we left our largest and most diverse group behind.
This is a shocking indictment of societal and employment attitudes towards disabled people in Ireland.
On the positive side, disabled people in Ireland are no longer accepting unequal treatment. Equality is being sought through recruitment processes, in work supports, training and job promotion. Discrimination is no longer accepted when seeking goods and services. People are no longer accepting that microaggressions are a part of daily life. Nor should they.
Advocacy and representative groups such as the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) and Independent Living Movement of Ireland (ILMI) are giving disability an unabashed voice and an equal seat at the table. For people with disabilities, there is a now rising tide of rights recognition in Ireland, supported by stronger representation.
People can choose to view statistics through the lens that suits them most. Data interpretation too often is flawed by confirmation bias. But these statistics are worrying, regardless of what lens we view them through.
Only through greater awareness of what disability is, as well as what it is not, will we remove direct and indirect discrimination as well as our bias.
At Ability Focus, we believe lack of disability awareness is the primary barrier, which permeates throughout all other barriers which exist in Ireland. Only through greater awareness of disability can we remove barriers which simply should not exist in 2020.
Hopefully, for the IHREC Annual Report in 2021, the figures will look a little better.
If you want to find out more about Ability Focus and Disability Awareness training for your organisation, please get in touch on (01) 699 1150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org