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DDA anniversary highlights progress and pitfalls

DDA anniversary highlights progress and pitfalls
10th November 2020 Ian Streets

The BBC is marking the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act with a series of online articles and broadcasts.

The coverage highlights the protests which put pressure on the government to introduce the DDA in 1995. It also looks at the changes which resulted, the impact they have had and the additional steps which came about as a result of the Equality Act in 2010.

The BBC’s timeline notes the criticism  arising from the fact that the DDA was rolled out in stages.

It reports that although the DDA made it illegal for employers to discriminate against someone on the grounds of disability, there had already been 14 attempts since 1982 to push the legislation through Parliament.

Employers had to make reasonable adjustments to their workplaces from 1996 but until 2004 that only applied to firms employing more than 15 people.

It was not until 1999 that service providers had to adjust their policies and procedures and it was 2004 before the requirement was introduced for them to take reasonable action to reduce physical barriers, such as widening doorways.

Laws preventing discrimination on transport and ensuring reasonable adjustment to housing did not take effect until 2005, and legislation could only be enforced in a civil court, making it potentially expensive to pursue a case and meaning that companies or authorities might be liable for damages but could not be punished.

The Equality Act made changes in England, Scotland and Wales, with Northern Ireland retaining an amended version of the DDA.

The aim of the legislation was to simplify and strengthen anti-discrimination law and remove inconsistencies but the BBC reports that many disabled people feel life was easier under the DDA.

They suggested that, unlike other groups protected by the Equality Act, disabled people may need more favourable treatment in order to have equal opportunities and that employers in particular should be more aware of this.

Transport is also a key issue because accessible taxis didn’t have to accept and assist wheelchair users until 2017 and many private hire vehicles remain inaccessible.

To find out more visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-54823810

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