Sounds like the beginning of a joke doesn’t it. It’s a line I use in my Disability Awareness Training to highlight the discrimination that occurs on a regular basis by staff that simply don’t have the training to know better.
This time, I’m referring to the case of the young woman out celebrating her 21st birthday when she was turned away by security staff at the Marlborough Hotel in Newtown, Sydney. Why was she turned away? Because she as cerebral palsy but security staff thought she was drunk.
Now, I can understand that they may have thought her to be drunk as CP can affect speech and movement. But it’s reported that rather than having a conversation with her, the security guards instead “belittled and laughed at” her.
As you would expect, there is general outrage at yet another instance of a person with a disability being discriminated against. Here is a group of people out enjoying themselves and the night was ruined by ignorance. All of this could have been avoided with some simple communication and awareness from staff.
The Marlborough posted a public apology admitting it had “screwed up” after investigating the incident.
“We apologise to the young lady, her friends and family. Unreservedly,” the post said.
“We apologise for the humiliation and distress that we have caused.
“We are committed to building awareness of this issue with our entire team through intensive anti-discrimination training.”
Apparently the staff involved have been fired.
We can only hope the “intensive anti-discrimination training” will also cover Disability Awareness Training. Because without that component I’m not sure the training will help.
Disability Awareness Training is a must. It will make staff aware of the different types of disability and how to communicate and interact with people appropriately. And I’d be able to stop saying ‘did you hear the one about…’.
You can see more on this story on the ABC website.