Disabled workers in Scotland sound the alarm over face masks and access to public transport as the “new normal” begins.
The STUC Disabled Worker’s Committee have raised their concerns over life in the “new normal” and additional challenges that will be faced by disabled workers. Members of the Committee have raised issues with mandatory face masks for people who rely on lip reading, and public transport access for blind people.
Julie Ferguson, Chair of the STUC Disabled Workers Committee stated:
“As we move into the “new normal”, we are pleased to see further guidance put in place to allow more people to socialise and participate. Mandatory face masks will undoubtably help to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, and for people who are shielding there is hope that the widespread use of masks will allow many to have more freedom.
“However, many disabled people are feeling cut adrift from the enthusiasm. Those who rely on lip reading are deeply concerned that use of face coverings will reduce their ability to communicate with others. While we support the wider usage of face masks, we are looking to the Scottish Government and employers to ensure that clear face masks are provided to allow people to communicate easier. Non-verbal communication is critical for many, and the ability to see someone’s mouth as they speak could be a lifeline for many.
“Additionally, while public transport has often been difficult for disabled people to use, new restrictions of enclosed spaces will make this even harder for many. We’re hearing from members that people with sight loss are instead choosing to stay at home completely, as it’s nearly impossible to travel by train or negotiate enclosed spaces unless accompanied by someone. It is much harder for a visually impaired person to socially distance. Likewise, buses have become even more difficult to navigate, with very little assistance and no way of knowing what seats are free to sit on.
“As always, we wish to emphasise the great importance of keeping wheelchair spaces and priority seating available for disabled people who need them.”
For more information, please contact Rachel Thomson, Campaigns & Communications Officer, on 07974966227.