For far too long, reports, research, publications and policies about disability, equality, diversity and inclusion have ignored the issue of disfigurement. #WhereIsDisfigurement? is our campaign to change that, ensuring that people who have a disfigurement aren’t lost in this important debate.
Barely a month passes without a government department, executive agency, public body or charity publishing a report or an organisation announcing a policy on equality, human rights and/or disability. And yet even when these reports and policies have come from agencies whose primary responsibility includes disfigurement (such as the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC)), the issue of disfigurement is often ignored, excluded or otherwise forgotten.
It seems that whilst disfigurement is included within disability as a protected characteristic in legislation, it is currently largely ignored by agencies, government and parliament when they conduct research. This may be justified by the fact that disability has so many different conditions and it’s impossible to cite them all. Or it may just be an oversight. But whatever the reason, it leaves those concerned with disfigurements excluded and facing an uphill struggle.
Additionally, many people who have a disfigurement don’t regard themselves as having a disability. The Equality Act provides protection to people who have a ‘severe’ disfigurement but anyone who wants to be protected first has to prove that the vitiligo on their face or the birthmark on their legs is ‘severe’. This should be unnecessary because what should matter is whether they have faced disfigurement-based discrimination. Such discrimination will only be tackled once all bodies and organisations fully include disfigurement in their research, reports, policies, strategies and other publications, and explicitly embrace Face Equality.
Example 1: In December, 2016, the Shaw Trust and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Disability both published important reports but both ignored disfigurement. Dr James Partridge has blogged on both examples.
Example 2: In September 2016, the EHRC published Crime and disabled people: Measures of disability-related harassment, with no mentions of disfigurement nor any attempt to identify disfigurement-related harassment as part of the research.
Example 3: In April 2016, the BBC published Embracing diversity in everything we do: Diversity Strategy 2016-2020 which included targets on almost all protected characteristics, and images of people from those groups, but none re disfigurement.
Example 4: In March 2016, a House of Lords Select Committee published The Equality Act 2010: the impact on disabled people in which the only use of the word ‘disfigurement’ was in relation to the written evidence provided by the Committee to by Changing Faces.
Changing Faces will monitor all relevant publications and reports on disability, equality, diversity and inclusion to identify where disfigurement has been missed out, and challenge the author or publisher to explain why this is the case.
We will do this publicly, via our Twitter feed and using the #WhereIsDisfigurement hashtag, on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and on these pages of our website. We’re doing this to demonstrate that people with a disfigurement are often forgotten, despite 1 in every 111 people in the UK living with such a condition, mark or scar that affects their appearance.
We hope that by building an evidence base of such instances, we can use this to lobby parliament, government, public bodies and other organisations to ensure they consider disfigurement as an integral and important element of equality, diversity and inclusion.
We want you to help us find examples of disfigurement being ignored. It might be in a report on disability at your workplace, or a diversity strategy for your local council. Whenever and wherever it is, please tell us so that we can investigate. You can remain anonymous if you wish.
For further information, please contact the Changing Faces Press Office on 020 7391 9283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.