Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis for Disability Policy

Hosted by LSE's public event series - COVID-19: The Policy Response

Online public event


Baroness Campbell

Baroness Campbell

Neil Crowther

Neil Crowther

Clenton Farquharson

Clenton Farquharson

Liz Sayce

Liz Sayce


Dr Armine Ishkanian

Dr Armine Ishkanian

This panel event will explore the potential implications for disability policy of these possible futures under the political and socio-cultural themes. It will explore questions including whether the ‘vulnerability’ framing is likely to inform future policy and what the implications are for disabled people’s lives, communities and activism.

There has been a shift in many countries over recent decades to position disability policy as an issue of rights and equality: the aim is social and economic participation, rather than a more paternalistic concern for care and containment. This found its expression in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by 181 countries by 2020. Some states, for instance Australia, have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by creating plans framed precisely in terms of disabled people’s rights to equal treatment (equality in healthcare, employment and the like). Others, like the UK, have reverted to an older framing of ‘vulnerable’ people, those deemed to require protection and practical assistance: this has met with some objections, from over-70s arguing they are contributors to society not just in need of ‘protection’ and from disabled people denied goods like help with shopping if they are not ‘vulnerable’ enough. A number of organisations have looked at the possible ‘new normals’ that could arise post-covid crisis and NESTA has pulled together projections from different sources under a number of themes. 

Jane Campbell (@BnsJaneCampbell) is an independent Crossbench Member of the House of Lords and disability rights campaigner. She became nationally recognised in the early 90s when she took over the leadership of the British Council of Disabled People from 1991-1995, during the national campaign for disability antidiscrimination legislation.

Neil Crowther (@neilmcrowther) is an independent expert on equality, human rights and social change with a particular interest in working to secure the rights of disabled people. Prior to becoming a freelance consultant, Neil was a senior Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and before that Head of Policy at the Disability Rights Commission.

Clenton Farquharson (@ClentonF), MBE, is a disabled person with lived experience of health and social care, Chair of the Think Local Act Personal partnership board, and member of the Coalition for Collaborative Care. Clenton is also a member of the NHS Assembly, set up to oversee the NHS Ten Year Plan, the current chair of Quality Matters, a trustee of the Race Equality Foundation, ambassador for Disability Rights UK. He is a director of Community Navigator Services CIC, and a Skills for Care Ambassador. He works as consultant, auditor, trainer, and coach on inclusion, equality and disability, and was named in Disability News Services' list of influential disabled people. In his spare time he supports Birmingham City Football Club.

Liz Sayce (@lizsayce) is a JRF Practitioner Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute at LSE. Liz was Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK (and its legacy charity Radar) from 2007-2017, where she led work for equal participation for all, through programmes on independent living, career opportunities and shifts in cultural attitudes and behaviour. Liz is a member of the Committee of Healthwatch England and the Social Security Advisory Committee. With a background in mental health and disability policy, previous roles include Director of Policy and Communications at the Disability Rights Commission, where she led formal investigations and a new ‘Disability Agenda’; and Policy Director of Mind. 

Armine Ishkanian (@Armish15) is Executive Director of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme at the International Inequalities Institute and Associate Professor in the Department of Social Policy. Her research focuses on the relationship between civil society, democracy, development, and social transformation. 

This event will have live captioning and BSL interpreters. 

This event is part of LSE's public event series - COVID-19: The Policy Response.

COVID-19 represents an enormous challenge for the social sciences to help governments and non-governmental organisations respond to the economic and societal consequences of the pandemic. Part of LSE's response to this challenge is a series of online public events that will take place over the Summer Term.

Why not visit the School of Public Policy COVID-19 Resource Centre.

This event in the series has been organised by the International Inequalities Institute.

The next event in this series will take place at 11am on 24 June on Peace and the Pandemic.

The International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities) at LSE brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to lead cutting-edge research focused on understanding why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSECOVID19

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download at Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis for Disability Policy.

A video of this event is available to watch at Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis for Disability Policy.

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

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