Disability Campaigners Recognised in 2014 New Year Honours


Posted by The Mobility Superstore:

In a world that is dominated by and designed for non-disabled people, those living with disability and relying on mobility aids often have to work harder and shout louder just to compete on a level playing-field. However, for a select few, meeting those challenges – or helping others to meet them – has been recognised through the New Year Honours.

Media coverage of the list was dominated by the usual TV celebrities, former politicians, business leaders and sporting icons, yet there was a place for people showing amazing fortitude and commitment despite facing the social and economic challenges that disability often poses.

As well as those fighting a personal battle, recognition was given to campaigners, charity workers and policy-makers. Not only is this a welcome sign of changing attitudes towards disability in the UK, it is just reward for the exceptional fervour and determination demonstrated by people seeking to bring down the barriers of discrimination and ensure access for all.

According to Action on Hearing Loss, more than 800,000 people in the UK have profound hearing problems, so it was encouraging to see so many people recognised for their efforts to support deaf people. The former editor of the See Hear programme on the BBC, Dr Terry Riley, was awarded an OBE for his services to deaf people and broadcasting. As well as being a highly successful TV executive, Dr Riley has risen to the positions of chair of the British Deaf Association and chief executive of the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust. The award is testament to his five decades spent improving the lives of deaf people.

Another beneficiary of an OBE was Jane Hunt, who has led the Association of Disabled Professionals for more than a decade. She also protects the interests of disabled taxpayers by sitting on a government committee. And Dr Margaret du Feu, profoundly deaf herself, was awarded an OBE for services to deaf people in Northern Ireland. Her work on mental health programmes for deaf people has enhanced the life of thousands over the years.

There was also some welcome recognition for those working to improve the lives of those with learning difficulties. Jayne Leeson, chief executive of the Changing our Lives charity, is awarded an MBE for services to people with learning difficulties. For her extensive work in social care – involving getting people with learning difficulties the housing and disability aids they need – Aideen Jones from the Southdown Housing Association is awarded an OBE for services to the local community.

Sue Bott, director of policy and development at Disability Rights UK, was recognised with a CBE for her services to disabled people. The award is public recognition for her tremendous work as chair of the Think Local Act Personal partnership. Her previous work in setting up the Shropshire Disability Consortium has also helped thousands of disabled people cope with the barriers they face in their daily lives.

The number of people honoured for their work in the disability area in 2014 shows a growing appreciation throughout society for the work that is done every day to prevent disabled people from being defined by their impairments.

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