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Disability duty comes into force December 5, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Disabled, Discriminate, Discrimination.
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A new duty for public bodies to promote the rights of disabled people has come into effect.

UK – The Disability Equality Duty (DED) will affect around 45,000 bodies in the way they plan and deliver services to the UK’s 10m disabled people.

Bodies including the NHS, local councils and government departments will have to publish a plan showing how they intend to meet their obligations.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton described the DED as “ground-breaking”.

The duty is similar to the race equality duty introduced in April 2001.

Mr Hutton said it was a step on the route to the government’s vision of achieving equality for disabled people by 2025.

Barriers

“Discrimination of any sort is unacceptable, yet the truth is that many disabled people still face barriers in all walks of life which prevent them from reaching their full potential,” he said.

From now on public bodies will have to take account of disability from policy formulation to the way services are delivered and publish a plan, called a disability equality scheme, showing how they intend to do it.

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) says that it has been pressing for the introduction of the DED since 2000.

DRC chairman Bert Massie said it would have “a major impact on the lives of disabled people”.

“Public bodies – from the local library to the NHS – will have to consider what disabled people need when planning their services,” he said.

The DRC says that the duty marks a “step-change” from the previous system whereby people had to complain about discrimination after an incident had taken place.

Redressing the balance

It says the DED was needed in order to tackle the “endemic discrimination” that disabled people encounter when accessing public services.

For example, according to the DRC, people with disabilities are less likely to receive a full education, less likely to get a job, are more likely to be discriminated against by the NHS and more likely to be victims of crime.

Minister for disabled people Anne McGuire agrees that the DED amounts to a step-change – both in terms of the way disabled people can access services and in their involvement in policy making.

“It’s not going to be a tick-box exercise,” she told the BBC News website.

She said the DED was needed “to redress the balance that – for too long – services were often tailored to meet the needs of the provider and not those who actually received the services”.

The DRC is expected to scrutinise public bodies’ plans to promote disability equality. The ultimate sanction for organisations that fail to meet their obligations would be legal action.

Monday also marks the beginning of new rights for disabled people on public transport.

People with disabilities must now be treated fairly and have the right to “reasonable adjustments” on buses, coaches, trains and taxis.

Significantly, the new transport duties do not cover shipping or air travel – something that the DRC would like to see included in future legislation.

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: BBC News

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