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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A disabled woman who waged an online campaign to challenge Atos’s refusal to record her Work Capability Assessment (WCA) says she hopes her small victory encourages people undergoing the test to assert their rights.

Jayne Linney, whose condition causes pain in her joints and muscle spasms, was a community worker before she gave up work in 2010.

Ms Linney said that it was important that her WCA  was recorded because she had experienced three assessments where the reports had contained wrong information about her condition and which had even got her name wrong.“It was so disheartening to have to challenge all this, and didn’t inspire any confidence in the fairness of the system either.”

After several requests to record her fourth assessment, Ms Linney was told that her assessment could not be recorded because all the machines were broken.

“I decided to start my website petition out of indignation because I knew that the WCA could be recorded, Chris Grayling was saying it could – so how dare Atos say that it couldn’t. I wanted it challenged publicly.”

Atos relented after Ms Linney’s campaign attracted messages of support from thousands of disabled people.

“When I heard that they’d back down, I felt elated and like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

She added: “The fact that my assessment was recorded made a huge difference. The doctor was polite and I wasn’t asked to stand up or balance which they usually ask you to do, even when you say you can’t.”

Ms Linney said that her successful challenge against Atos had been empowering and she urged other disabled people to follow her example if they found themselves in a similar situation.

“I hope that my victory will give people belief. At least three people who have contacted me to say that because I had challenged Atos’s refusal to record my WCA, they would too.”

Kaliya Franklin, who has successfully made use of the internet and social media as tools to campaign against the Government’s welfare reforms, welcomed Ms Linney’s victory over Atos.

“Ms Linney’s campaign proves that with determination and persistence disabled people can make a difference to an unjust system. Whilst it seems unlikely that we will see the back of either Atos or the WCA, Jayne’s efforts just go to show that improvements can be made to the current system by speaking out and criticising in a constructive manner.

Social media allows us the opportunity to make both criticism and constructive suggestions, and is something the private sector particularly understand can make or break their reputation.

Disability Now