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  • Writer's pictureTheo Huckle QC

When the going gets tough…

As we approach a winter bringing greater and greater fear for the huge numbers of people who don’t know how they’re going to pay for ordinary living, it’s worth remembering back to 2020, the pandemic, lockdowns and other government responses. Just as now, the vulnerable were made even more vulnerable, and afraid.

I am delighted to be acting (Stewart-Taylor & 275 others v Cabinet Office) for a small but representative sample (mainly profoundly deaf and some with additional visual impairment) of our many deaf citizens who found their isolation and fears greatly worsened by the pandemic and the isolating lockdowns, yet even the simple expedient of arranging British Sign Language signing for the daily Covid briefings from Westminster seemed too difficult - though (of course 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿) the governments in Cardiff and Edinburgh did somehow manage to achieve it - despite this being essential public health information for citizens.

It was a happy coincidence to be appearing in the case in court yesterday in London at the end of the World Federation’s International Week of the Deaf 2022. It was a new experience for me to speak to our clients with the fantastic assistance of BSL signer Helen, so many of them that we took over the whole of the enclosed foyer area outside the old Master of the Rolls’s Court, Court 3 at the RCJ!

Being in this case has, of course, caused me to reflect again on the challenges for disabled people in this country, and the enormous variation (diversity perhaps? 😉) in forms and effects of disability. By chance, almost, I happened upon 2 wonderful TV programmes this week, which showed me that despite working hard to uphold and improve the rights of the injured and disabled for many years, I still have so much to learn and understand:

First, John Bishop‘s film about his decision to learn and ultimately do a gig in BSL (amazing!), because of his son’s profound deafness, and their wish to try to gain a better perspective on and parental approach it:

Second, see if you can the terrific ‘When Barbara Met Alan’, a recent film on Netflix about the setting up and feisty but peaceful disobedience campaign of the Disability Action Network in their fight to promote civil rights for the disabled, leading to the start of statutory intervention with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It is, of course, a different world of attitudes in this country now, although the many criticisms of the Equality Act 2010 made after its first 10 years demonstrate that we still have a long way to go…

Good weekend all!

😉TH (will get it changed to ‘kc’ shortly!)


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