Good news for Not Every Disability is Visible.
In an important step forward for our campaign, a local councillor in the city of Oldham has proposed that Not Every Disability is Visible signs are installed in accessible toilets in all council-run buildings, including sports facilities and libraries.
Oldham Town Hall
If the motion to the council is passed, on-site staff will also receive awareness training to ensure nobody is inappropriately challenged when using the facilities.
Councillor Louie Hamblett, who represents the Crompton Ward, says: “I am so happy to support this cause; I live with a hidden disability and know exactly what it feels like to see the ‘eyes of judgement’ gaze at you, wondering if you ‘deserve’ to have that radar key, or should be using that toilet.
“I felt impassioned to move a motion at our council meeting and help ensure that folk visiting Oldham can feel welcome and unimpeded when going about their daily lives.”
Crohn’s & Colitis UK Campaigns Manager Sarah Hollobone says: “Oldham Council are doing the right thing by putting this motion forward to install our Not Every Disability is Visible signs in their public buildings and encouraging retailers in the area to do the same.
“They’re acknowledging, as shown by our 2018 survey, that one in two people with Crohn’s or Colitis have faced verbal or physical discrimination just for trying to use accessible toilets that they so urgently need.
“We know that 93% of people who confront people who ‘look-well’ for using an accessible toilet, do so because they think they are sticking up for disabled people – so educating people that not all disabilities are visible will go a long way to challenging outdated perceptions.
“We hope that the council recognises the importance of this motion and passes it as soon as possible so people with Crohn’s and Colitis can go out and about with more confidence.”
Councillor Hamblett heard about the Not Every Disability is Visible campaign, which is supported by Janssen-Cilag Limited, after pub chain JD Wetherspoon signed up to install our signage across its accessible toilets last autumn and it was promoted in CAMRA’s ‘What’s Brewing’ magazine.
His motion to Oldham Council has yet to be approved and will need to be passed by an oversight and scrutiny board. Crohn’s & Colitis UK will provide evidence if required, alongside people living with Crohn’s and Colitis in the local area.
Councillor Hamblett says: “The requirement to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport has started to raise public awareness that people can be exempted from their use because of a hidden disability.
“Accessible toilets, often opened using a radar key, are also sometimes needed by people who have a hidden disability. This campaign is centred around raising public awareness of that fact to help stop stigma and discrimination, and inappropriate challenges by staff, against those who have ‘invisible illnesses’ such as Crohn’s Disease. We would also like to see retailers and leisure outlets across our borough encouraged to do the same.”
Elsewhere, Three Rivers District Council is also considering the implementation of Not Every Disability is Visible signage across its council premises.
We're grateful to everyone working on this and will keep members updated as it progresses. In the meantime, if you'd like to support the campaign please visit: noteverydisabilityisvisible.org.uk/take-action