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Unacceptable Face of
Railway Modelling

 

The standards of today’s society have made racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry socially unacceptable. However, some consider disability-discrimination to remain acceptable even though it too is enshrined in the Equality Act 2010.

Unfortunately, disability-discrimination all-too frequently appears in the model-railway hobby; when it does it is quite revolting as those perpetrating the discrimination do not believe what they are doing is wrong, let alone morally repugnant (often bigotry if not in breach of the Equality Act 2010).

 

Similarly referring back to the well-known phrase ignorance is no defence this remains applicable for those running businesses, events, exhibitions or media outlets potentially including some social-media.

 

The majority of these incidents come about through a failure to make reasonable adjustments; this being an obligation mandated in the Equality Act 2010. Whilst situations may arise where adjustments for disabilities cannot be achieved (it would be unreasonably practical to do so) I struggle to see valid reasons as to why reasonable adjustments cannot be made.

Sometimes this may be via an alternative solution. For example, my much-lamented local model-shop had a short set of four or five steps therein and (for reasons that aren’t important here) it was not reasonably practicable to install a lift /stair-lift. However, in taking on the premises the owner could fulfil his obligations under the Equality Act by letting mobility-impaired customers in via a rear-door or bringing items down to the lower (shop-front) level.

 

Model railway exhibitions are providing a service for which they charge and obtain revenue. At these I’ve encountered many facets of disability-discrimination whether it has been stepped only access to parts of the venue, doors too narrow to let wheelchairs pass of basic lack of ‘facilities’ (often these are present but unusable). I could list many more….

It must be said that some of these events have excellent provision for those with needs.

In attending exhibitions in every instance of issues arising the attitude of the exhibition management towards making reasonable adjustments (sometimes there and then) has made all the difference. Some having been highly supportive. By comparison those who do not reasonably seek to make reasonable adjustments run the risk of falling foul of the Equality Act 2010 (disability-discrimination through a failure to make reasonable adjustments).

However, in choosing a venue the model railway exhibition management needs to consider carefully if the venue is suitable for use by disabled persons in order to fulfil the statutory obligations required by the Equality Act 2010.

Usually this would include undertaking an impact assessment which should consider what reasonable adjustments can be undertaken to ensure accessibility and facilities remain adequate. Not to do could place an exhibition management at odds with or even in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

That an exhibition has always used (say) an old venue with stepped-only access does not mean it is okay to continue holding events there. If reasonable adjustments cannot be fulfilled at a particular venue then the exhibition needs to find premises that can provide these.

 

One of the significant problems attending exhibition is availability of blue-badge parking. If the venue is relying on (say) a municipal car park then that should have such provision.

However, if the car park is under the control of the venue (say using a school) then it is incumbent upon the exhibition management to ensure reasonable provisions are made and remain available for the duration.

It cannot be acceptable to state the school has a single blue-badge bay for its staff of twenty-five and that will suffice even when two-hundred and fifty are expected to be parking at any given time. That is clearly a nonsense and (I believe) somebody is potentially deluded to believe otherwise.

Equally to claim such parking will be self-enforced is an unacceptable response when clearly so many will just abuse the parking. In such a scenario both those parking in disabled /blue-badge bays and the exhibition management (who fail to prevent it when it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to do so) are discriminating against those with disability with indifference to the statute.

 

Recently on a forum this subject came up in response to an advertisement for a forthcoming model railway exhibition. Exchanges were well-balanced and informative (to all) discussing these issues when seeking to attend a model railway exhibition. Unfortunately, one of the forum’s moderators took great exception to this and removed posts without a reasonable explanation why. In doing to the double negative ‘not unsupportive’ <towards disability> phrase said it all.

The only opinion I could reasonably form was this forum was not supportive of those with disabilities. Indeed, by acting in the way it did was prejudice against railway modeller’s with disabilities and as such the issues of disability in respect of model railways were not welcome or wanted – i.e. effectively saying just ‘go-away’ and ‘pester’ someone else. In this respect the forum administrator has to bear some responsibility too, as the moderator was acting on their behalf. For myself I could not in any way continue to support this forum choosing to rapidly distanced myself from them.

No doubt this moderator thought he was doing a wonderful job, without any reflection upon how his ‘bigoted’ action has been portrayed to others. Particularly at a time when (in my opinion) he actually needed to step down from all such roles having just brought the hobby into disrepute.

More insidiously although details of the forum or incident have deliberately not been published by this author, the moderator concerned considers it as being acceptable to (for want of a better phrase) try and ‘create an argument’ elsewhere in respect of their actions. However, in doing so they are potentially breaching GDPR (including the ‘right to be forgotten’) along with their actions being treated as harassment. Another unacceptable face of railway modelling perhaps?   

 

 

I believe disability-discrimination remains an unacceptable face of railway modelling; forming part of an entrenched problem within parts of the hobby.

 

Obviously, there may be some who try to denounce the needs of (say) the disabled as ‘political correctness gone made’ (would these people still try to use say, the racist ‘N’ word – I doubt it) but this is only serves to demonstrate further bigotry by those who have probably never had a disabling condition or have spent some time using a wheelchair; let alone for life.

 

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