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It has been over 20 years since the Disability Discrimination Act was introduced and from that moment, those who live with a disability have had the power to make a change and be treated in the same way as everyone else.
However, in light of the introduction of this Act in 1995 and even to this very day, those with disabilities do not seem to have the same attention when it comes to equal rights as other campaigns such as women’s rights or racial equality. Legislation for both of these was introduced decades before and so, the progress has been slow.
For those who live with a disability there is still a fight to fight and that is exactly what is happening. The act has changed things and it has made those who live with a disability realise that they are not the ones with the problem because the problem lies with society and how they deal with it. The introduction of the Act was just the beginning but there are still things that need to be put in place such as fairness and equality as well as opportunities. Still, there is a pay gap in the work place and not enough people with a disability are appointed to high public positions.
It is all about being represented in an equal way to those who are able bodied and still there is an issue there. This is in public life and in entertainment because those two situations are where perceptions and thoughts are cultivated. Many people who live with a disability feel that often, they are not represented in the correct way often feeling that they get nothing more than a token representation.
Those who live with a disability are not looking for pity, it is far from that because they want power. While things are slowly changing there are many physical barriers that they need to overcome such as access to a whole range of services which includes buses, the workplace and retailers. All of this needs to be removed.
There is still a belief that more needs to be done to enhance respect and dignity because why should disabled people feel any different to an able-bodied individual? In recent years, the Paralympic Games which took place in London showed the world just how ‘normal’ disabled people are. The good feeling that came with the event has filtered into society but some disabled people still experience verbal and physical abuse.
Sometimes, society can go a little too far and make it feel like those who are disabled are being treated too differently, however, it is important to remember that there is a very fine line here. Disabled people want to feel like they are the same as everyone else and that means the same respect, equality and the ability work and live in the same way. While changes have been made throughout the years, there is still some way to go but progress is being made and that is promising.
This is a very prominent question on the lips of many people in the UK but in reality, the UK Government has been found to be failing to support and sustain the rights of disabled people in a number of different areas.
This was found following a UN inquiry and it was concluded that the UK has not done enough to maintain the convention that supports disabled people to live an independent life, work and be protected socially without being discriminated against. Therefore, the UK law and policies do not reflect this.
While the Welsh and Scottish government have received praise it seems as though the UK Government is falling short because of inconsistencies and the way in which they approach disability rights. The government has also been criticised for not acknowledging the impact the austerity policies would have on those who live with disabilities. Alongside this, it looks as though Government has not considered the impact leaving the EU will have and so, they are failing to protect disability rights here.
The findings have brought home a harsh reality for the UK government and it is clear to see that Conservative austerity policies are affecting disabled people and this is where the problem lies.
The government is not doing enough in a wide range of areas. Education is one area where disabled children are being educated in special schools as opposed to being educated in mainstream schools that have the correct facilities to be able to include disabled children. As well as this, welfare reforms and benefit cuts are also resulting in increased levels of poverty for disabled people and this has highlighted the need for a review of benefit sanctions as this is clearly having a negative impact. The lack of protection from the government is also seen in the way in which it is failing to support disabled people to live independently within the community. The correct resources are required to support individuals and this could be seen as one of the biggest failings.
It is not right that disabled people are bearing the brunt of these austerity policies and it is clear to see that things have to change and quickly at that. It is almost unbelievable when you consider just how badly the government are protecting disability rights, particularly as we are moving into a time where disabled people are now starting to see progress in terms of how they are perceived and treated within society.
So, what do the government plan to do?
There is no clear cut answer to this but only time will tell but the findings reveal a lot. However, the government has responded by saying that the report is accurate and that the progress it has made has not been recognised. The government spends £50bn per year to support disabled people which is a considerable amount but perhaps this is not enough. Despite this, how the government react to these findings will be one way of determining just how far they are willing to go to support disabled rights but right now, are they doing enough? The answer is simple, no.