Intro - History - Issues - Rights - Resources - Service
Rights and advocacy:
Your Right to Gain Accessible Services
"To be aware that others have not considered me in their decisions causes me to question my worth. No voice can be heard from a faceless statistic or a symptom of my disability. What about my abilities and rights as a parent ? By denying me a say, society and this world cannot be complete and whole. We are interconnected and what you do affects me, please remember that", tells Noni, strongly expressing her frustration at the lack of services to assist her as a parent with a disability.
Being a parent with a disability can be more difficult because of the lack of accessible and appropriate support services available to meet your individual needs. For example, many parents with mobility disabilities are often isolated from baby groups, kindergartens, schools and contact with other parents because of the inaccessibility of buildings, yards etc.
Christine, a mother who uses an electric wheelchair and has a two-year-old daughter, believes that "Most of the places where I could meet other parents are inaccessible to me because they have steps up to their front doors. Moreover, my daughter is discriminated against. She can't do some of the things that other children do such as join a play group - because I can't get there."
You may not know that service providers have a responsibility to cater for your needs in the provision of their services, and may be breaking the law if they donít. There are several federal and state laws and standards which declare that services must not discriminate on the basis of disability and must cater for individual needs.
A law which has been specifically developed to address disability discrimination on a federal level is the Disability Discrimination Act (1992). The DDA makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability. Discrimination has occurred if a person with a disability is treated unfairly or less favourably than another person without that disability.
This can be direct discrimination, for example, if a local mothers group refused membership to a blind mother and told her to join a blind mothers group. Discrimination can also be indirect. This happens when a condition unfairly excludes a person with a disability from doing something. A "condition" includes physical barriers, policies, practices, selection criteria or requirements. An example of this may be that a family support agency holds its parenting education classes up stairs which would exclude parents who use wheelchairs or have mobility difficulties.
If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your disability, you can complain to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and the matter will be dealt with through a conciliation or formal hearing.