Disability discrimination, or the second-class treatment of individuals living with physical, mental and/or emotional disabilities, is unfortunately still a facet of our society. Though a variety of UK legislation outlaws discrimination due to disability, and work is underway for eligible nations to ratify an international Convention to protect the rights of the disabled, there are still situations in which those living with disabilities do not always receive fair and equal treatment. Thankfully there are many ways that individuals and organisations can work to end discrimination against individuals living with disabilities.
Disability Discrimination and UK Law
A variety of legislation outlaws discrimination against individuals living with disabilities and protects their human rights in the United Kingdom. The foremost legislation protecting the rights of citizens with disabilities is the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995 (which has since been amended and extended, including in 2005). The DDA prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, education, access to goods, facilities and services and the buying or renting of land or property. The DDA also requires public bodies to promote equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities and sets minimum standards for public transport so that disabled individuals can have equal access. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 amends and extends the DDA, and the Mental Health Act of 1983 protects the rights of individuals with learning disabilities and/or mental health concerns.
International Disability Rights
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international treaty that protects the international rights of individuals with disabilities, is in the process of being ratified by eligible nations. The United Kingdom helped to draft this Convention, was one of the first countries to sign it and is now working to ratify it. When 20 countries have ratified the Convention, it will come into force and those countries that have ratified will be required to meet its standards on disability rights.
Fighting Discrimination Due to Disability
Many individuals make discriminatory remarks or jokes about others living with disabilities, but this does not mean that others must listen to their hurtful sentiments. If it is safe to do so, confronting such individuals about what they've said will often turn the tide of a conversation. If discrimination is observed, or you are the one experiencing discrimination, letting others know that you are aware of what is happening is often enough to stop the discriminatory practices. If it is believed someone is in breach of UK legislation then taking them to court is one way of reporting and hopefully stopping their actions. Reporting discrimination due to disability to local authorities is another method of calling attention to inappropriate practices, and reporting instances of discrimination to organisations working for disability rights may also help to eradicate such behaviours. Organisations which can help are:
Fighting discrimination due to disability does not need to be grand and flamboyant. Every time an individual reconsiders a stereotype, speaks out against discrimination based on disabilities, gets to know a disabled member of their community, ceases to make jokes or pointed references to disabilities, tells others that such jokes and references are unacceptable and does all that (s)he can to learn from the talents of each individual, regardless of ability, then discrimination is also being fought. Hopefully discrimination due to disability will soon become a thing of the past, but until then everyone can play a part in helping it to end.
@Betty - I'd write a letter of complaint. He should be told that casual discrimination is unprofessional from someone of his standing.
Anna - 3-Jul-15 @ 2:09 PM
I wanted to take my 87 year old disabled motheron a boat cruise with me for my birthday, I invited my mum, but we agreed to call the company to check access.This I did, I spoke to the owner and explained the situation and he asked is she wheelchair bound and I said no, he suggested we went down there with my mother to see for herself.This we did, I left mum on car, has where we had parked was on cobbles, went into the office introduced myself to his wife and explained the situation, she said for us to take a look, as we're about to leave the office, from the back room, in a very loud voice, her husband shouted (the owner) Do you want me to get that crane organised???
His wife's response was to giggle and laugh in front of me and respond by saying Now, now! Whether that was shame on her part I don't know, but I was left feeling very shocked and hurt by this comment.
Is this how they treat disabled, elderly people?
Needless to say my mother was unable to access after all.
I am not a prude and I enjoy a bit of banter, but thought this was entirely inappropriate to speak to someone you do not know like that, If I knew these people, I could have perhaps accepted the behaviour, but I don't and why be so presumptious?
Any advice? apart from him attending lessons in PC skills!
Betty - 2-Jul-15 @ 3:09 PM
Hi I need advice I was left disbailed after haveing my son around 2 years ago when the NHS messed up and damaged my spinal cord since I've not had any form of normal life my life is full of pain my left leg has a constent tremor and I'm ona number of medications hat make me very I'll vomiting countless times a day witch means I'm slowly starving and I can't ware any of my cloths or underware I only buy underware from one shop la senza as I'm house bound I can't leave my home to go to the shop to buy smaller items and there website is not working I have no other choice but to use online shopping witch has run the risk of damaged faulty and unusedable items being sent to me this has happend countless times and the only thing ican do I contact PayPal and open a PayPal case but this is no good as the seller or trader can refuse to do anything in hope that PayPal will refuse to do anything and demand the item returned but being stuck in my home I can't leave to return damaged goods the seller or trader was made aware of my condition from the start and use it to force me to keep damaged goods I can't use then I'm down on money can't earn the items and PayPal refuse to do anything at all PayPal dose not help disablied users justones who can walk and return items they have nothing in place toprotec buyers from being ripped of then there condition used aghst them to force them to keep damaged goods then be out of pocket I need help with what to do next I've had enough of this it's happend way to many times now
Pezzer - 10-Mar-13 @ 12:05 PM
Due to a head injury I suffer non epileptic seizures. I asked to join a gym. I told them about my disabilities and copied them my medical file and they were fine. Around the 3rd or 4th time there I was feeling like I was going to have a seizure. I managed to get down from the gym, changed and down to reception. They told me to go in the cafe where I fitted. I was told I couldnt go back without a gp letter. I got one of these and the gp thought it was a good idea as I would get fit, lose weight and gain comfidence and I could use the gym despite my health problems. I was told this wasnt good enough but I needed a proper refferal form which I got and was only aloud in when the nhs referal man was there. He said if I fitted at the gym he would take me off the programme. Yesterday I wasnt feeling great but tried to finnish the session because of the threat hanging over me. I didnt fit but did faint. I was not on the machinary. Im now not allowed back as it takes other staff away from their jobs and have to call an ambulance. Im 44. I live alone and go out alone. Why shouldnt I be able to make my own decisions. Where do I stand?