It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that 2015 marks twenty years since the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 came into place. Old footage unearthed by the BBC shows inspiring and vigilant scenes of disabled people at the 1995 lobby of Parliament standing their ground and fighting for what they believe in. Not unlike what we have seen from the suffragettes or the black civil rights movement.
The DDA has since been replaced by The Equality Act 2010, but this marked the first time full civil rights for disabled people were formally acknowledged by law. Thirty years after the Race Relations Act 1965 and twenty since the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Yet another reminder that the needs of disabled people are firmly at the bottom of the list in terms of civil rights and how change comes just that extra bit slowly.
Core concepts in the DDA include “less favourable treatment” related to a person’s disability and failure to make a “reasonable adjustment” (in the workplace or with a service provider) to accommodate a person’s disability, and the two go hand in hand. These “reasonable adjustments” would naturally include things like installing ramps in shops or ensuring hearing loop systems are in place at universities.
These are basic rights, documented in a discrimination act twenty years ago no less, to enable disabled people to contribute and participate in society. It is maddening to walk into big businesses and institutions, in this century, who have not given accessibility a second thought. Or in some instances, even a first thought.
Where “reasonable adjustments” haven’t been made, be that due to funding issues or otherwise, accessibility for a disabled person has not been catered for and that then falls under “less favourable treatment” of a disabled person. It is a never ending cycle of discrimination where somebody is left unable to do their job, access education or even buy themselves some clothes.
Here at Enhance the UK we don’t like to scare people with the repercussions of the law or beat you over the head with policies. We do however want to raise awareness of the fact that prejudice of this magnitude would not be tolerated against any other minority group.
We are fortunate enough to live in a society where multiculturalism is celebrated and
we are now in our fourth wave of feminism. Our society balks at police brutality against racial minorities and sexist ‘lad mags’ are now off our shelves after ruthless campaigns.
Let’s show that same passion for disabled people and their rights.