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The DDA - has it worked?

06 Nov 15

Twenty years ago the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) came in to force.  At the time it was carried through by the then MP William Hague and the latter stages by Alistair Burt.  So what has changed in that time.  There were many different views at the time.  Many disability rights campaigners didn't feel that it went far enough as it didn't outline direct and indirect discrimination and also protested at their lack of involvement in developing the legislation.  However many also feel that at the time it was the best chance of getting anything on the statute books.  I remember saying way back then that I would have preferred an Equality Act that would wrap all forms of discrimination up together. That is what we have now but in many ways the DDA was better because it was specific enough.  

Growing up, people did treat me differently although my parents did a lot of ensure that it didn't happen.  I wasn't allowed to go to the local school that my sister was at, because I was in a chair.  After a bit fight I was allowed to go to mainstream school but nowhere near where I lived.

That attitudes towards disabled people (and hate crime towards them) is not in a good place right now, but twenty years ago it wasn't even considered.  Many disabled people didn't get much of an education let alone had the opportunity to get in to work of live independently.  

When I went in to the Lords I got to meet three people who had an immense impact on my life.  Mary Warnock (who is still there) defined education legislation that let me go to mainstream school.  But I also met Jack Ashley and Alf Morris (who have both sadly passed away now).  I remember reading about them, about what they had done, and then meeting them both for the first time.  Both introduced themselves to me as if I wouldn't know who they were.  To be able to sit and listen to how they got legislation through in times when a lot of people didn't think they should be doing that was amazing.  Just the historical context of a life I didn't know was interesting

So has life got better?  In many ways it has.  There are more dropped kerbs and accessible toilets.  Disabled people have a better chance of getting in to work than they did (although it is not great for anyone in the North East right now).  And at least disabled people aren't locked away like they used to be.  But it is not perfect and the fight for inclusion goes on.  I wonder what we will be saying in another twenty years.


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