Is This ‘Reasonable’?

James Clarke, 35, has spent six months fighting to make Fitness First pay for an interpreter, which he claims they are obliged to provide under the Equality Act 2010.

Oh? Really?

Mr Clarke, from Sanderstead, suffers from Usher syndrome and was born profoundly deaf and partially sighted.He joined the gym in May and initially attempted to complete the two introductory training sessions, which come with the £34 monthly membership, by communicating with pen and paper.

But he struggled due to his poor eyesight and requested a sign-language interpreter.

And since his request wasn’t approved, is now demanding it. With the threat of law to back him up.

Mr Clarke, who in June carried the Olympic torch in Derby, said: “They kept me waiting for six months with emails making unreasonable suggestions, such as to bring a family member or friend.”

Why is that ‘unreasonable’..? Don’t you have any friends, or something?

“I don’t see it being professional and I would lose my independence. They made delaying antics such as saying they will look at the matter and left it for too long.”

But it seems your valued ‘independence’ is reliant on someone else anyway?

After six months, he received an email from Fitness First’s management stating the Purley branch was coming under different ownershipand could not help him.Mr Clarke, who is trying to get fit to complete a personal challenge of running 100 long-distance races, said: “It’s like they kept telling me that they are trying to help and then in the end have said sorry and slammed the door.

“People with disabilities will be treated the same as those without disabilities only if the disabled people have full support. This is a human right.”

No. Actually, it’s not. They offered you a reasonable adjustment of pen and paper. Or bringing a person along to translate.

That’s all they are legally obliged to do, make a reasonable adjustment, not accede to your every desire…

A spokesman for Fitness First said: “In keeping with Equality Act code of practice we can provide a service – where the cost is reasonable– to ensure disabled members are not disadvantaged.”However in James’s situation, the cost of the service in question outweighs the membership fee and so we are unable to provide this additional service.”

The activists, however, are insistent that the company must take the hit:

But deafblind charity Sense backed Mr Clarke, telling him: “Fitness First has a duty to make reasonable adjustmentsfor you to enable you to use all their services.””They are a large organisation, they are offering personal training sessions to everyone, those sessions are not accessible for you unless you have an interpreter and you only want to do a couple of sessions which will then keep you going for quite a while.”

Spending other people’s money on other people. It’s nice work if you can get it, eh?

A comment below asks why his Disability Living Allowance isn’t used to cover this. It’s a fair question. But we all know why he’s gone to the local newspaper. He’s hoping shame will do the job.

But…should they be ashamed?

6 comments for “Is This ‘Reasonable’?

  1. ivan
    December 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    This is the BIG problem with the state providing translators for all – everyone expects to get one for free.

    Here in France, if you want a translator that isn’t a friend you pay. Only once since I’ve been here has the French state paid for a registered translator and that was when I was giving evidence in a rather nasty court case.

    • December 11, 2012 at 7:05 am

      Indeed. It’s unsustainable. And the ‘reasonable’ definition is open to interpretation.

    • Furor Teutonicus
      December 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Touchy problem in Germany as well.

      You speak some sandnigger (Or evan fullnigger) language, your translator is free, French, the same, Italian, you name it.

      Any one who speaks English, Dutch, or Swedish (and other Scandinavian languages) is told, basically, to “fuck off and find your own.”

      I have started sending invoices when I am called out of bed at 3 in the afternoon (night shifts), or 3 in the morning (day shift), and on days off, I demand treble time.

      Never get/got it, but the principal is served.

      Now, I demand payment BEFORE the job is done. (Refusing to translate when not payed).

      The conversations with the duty Sergeant/Inspector (Our equivalents) can get quite interesting.

  2. Twenty_Rothmans
    December 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    He certainly goes into bat in the comments, it seems. Some highlights:

    “Level 3 is a minimum qualification requirements to match my intelligence and high standard of conversation in British Sign Language.”

    “There is plenty of DVDs that members can hire and take home. Almost 80% of DVD doesn’t have subtitles.”

    I expect it must be very hard for him. He’s not exactly going to set the world alight with a dazzling career and it must be hard to pick up girls.

    He can rail all he likes at the poor hand he’s been dealt in life. He deserves sympathy. Why, our small aches and pains are as nothing compared to what he suffers.

    And yet, when we put down our violins for a moment, he lives in a country that people die trying to get into. He is afforded food and lodging and can manage the cost of gym membership. Could he really expect all of this had he been born in Brazil, China or Africa?

    Perhaps someone could help me understand the intricacies of attending a gym that would require such highfalutin translation. I might be behind the times, but the last gym I attended did not feature a cyclotron or H{LC equipment. Times might have changed.

    Perhaps a guide dog is the answer. I know Clarke’s not completely blind, but the gym instructor can teach the dog, who can convey the messages to his master in turn.

    • December 11, 2012 at 7:07 am

      If he put half of the energy into a job as he puts into a campaign of ‘gimmie more, it’s my right !’ any employer worth his salt would pay for this leisure time!

  3. December 11, 2012 at 8:54 am

    If I have correctly identified the charity, its full name and number is

    289868 –
    SENSE, THE NATIONAL DEAFBLIND AND RUBELLA ASSOCIATION

    It has income of Income £82,261,042. I’m not good with big numbers, but I think that means ‘over £82 million’.

    It expends £78,864,188, meaning there was surplus income of (takes off shoes socks, looks for old calculator) …. about £3.4 million.

    So my question to the panel is why has Sense wasted money on lawyers when it could easily put its hand in its pocket for about £1,000 and solve this out of petty cash?

    In fact, why is Sense allowed to be a charity at all if all it wishes to be is a pressure group rather than a service provider to people like Mr James Clarke?

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