News & Features

25 Years of Disability Laws

Posted in General News on Monday, November 16th, 2020

This year marks 25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was introduced and some of the UK’s leading disability rights campaigners have marked the occasion by sharing their views on the impact of disability laws since 199The first campaigner to share her views in light of this milestone was Baroness Jane Campbell. In her view the introduction of the DDA changed public perceptions, and rather than disabled people being seen simple as “tragic victims”, it was understood that something needed to be done to improve the accessibility of transport, public buildings, goods and services and education. However, Baroness Campbell is concerned that the pandemic, and the negative impact it has had on the economy is undermining the position of disabled people. Baroness Campbell says: “I fear the notion of "survival of the fittest" could undermine all our gains over the last 25 years. We have won freedoms that I never enjoyed as a child. However, society has taken its foot off the gas.” Through our recent Baywatch campaign and continued communication with our members DMUK has seen the negative impact that the pandemic has had on disabled people and we share Baroness Campbell’s concerns. The manner in which social distancing regulations, for example, have been implemented at a number of retail outlets has had a negative impact on disabled parking provision because disabled bays are either being used as queuing areas or, in some cases, display areas. We have also heard reports from members that they have been unable to receive the assistance they have required once inside the store. DMUK has spoken out on both of these issues recently and will continue to do so.

Another activist who has shared her views on the impact of disability laws such as the DDA and the Equality Act 2010 recently was Kaliya Franklyn. Last year Franklyn used the Equality Act 2010, the successor to the DDA, to sue her employer for failing to accommodate her request to work from home due to her disability. The organisation settled before a full tribunal, and in a rare turn of events Franklyn was not required to sign a non-disclosure agreement relating to the issue and she hopes this will set a precedent. Franklyn’s concern is that the Equality Act 2010 only works well for those who have the ability to use it for themselves. She argues that one has to be very adept to use it to fight a discrimination case. Franklyn says that even though she has a law degree and the ability to obtain advice, she still struggled enormously with the legal system. Chris Fry, a lawyer specialising in disability discrimination cases expressed similar concerns. Although DMUK is not a legally trained organisation we understand these problems and we have been working hard recently to try to make sure that the rules and regulation relating to disabled parking in particular are as clear as possible for disabled motorists. For example we have expressed our desire for the Blue Badge to apply to all parking areas, including those run by private operators.

Many others have also shared their views on this topic recently including, Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Mike Adams, disability campaigner and CEO of Purple, and disability activist, Heather Lacy. You can read their thoughts at www.bbc.co.uk/news/disability-54792063.         

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