British disabled people 'treated like second-class citizens', says human rights watchdog

20 July 2016

The new chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said disability rights in the UK are 'a badge of shame'.

Progress by governments, businesses and wider communities to promote improvements has stalled, said David Isaac, chair of the EHRC. Many disabled people in Britain are still being treated as 'second-class citizens'.

The commission highlighted several areas where disabled people are not treated equally:

  • landlords refuse to make properties accessible
  • there is a 'disgraceful lack of space' at sporting and concert venues
  • disabled people need more political representation

'It is a badge of shame for our society that thousands of disabled people are still not being treated as equal citizens and the everyday rights non-disabled people take for granted, such as being able to access transport, housing, restaurants, theatres and sporting events, are still being denied.

'Successive governments have failed to implement rights for disabled people in full, and now is the time to move this forward. Implementing the remaining provisions of the Equality Act relating to areas such as transport and reasonable adjustments to common areas of rented houses would help put an end to this discrimination, increasing disabled people’s independence and ability to participate in society.' — David Isaac, EHRC chair

'What you really want is just to get to work'

Selina Mills trying to hail a taxiA BBC report yesterday featured a member of our own press team, Selina Mills, who has a visual impairment.

She described her frustrations after trying to book a taxi to work:

'You can quote the Equality Act 2010 all you like, but people can still drive away. There's no way of enforcing it.

'You can campaign, you can argue, you can get upset — but actually, what you really want is just to get to work.'

Disability is not about other people

Patrick Olszowski, head of campaigns at Leonard Cheshire, says the government must act now:

'We need a seismic shift in people’s attitudes. Disability is not about other people — it’s about all of us having access to work, rest and play.

'Disabled people face myriad challenges — but a key one is the ability to safely get around.

'We have heard from disabled people, specifically wheelchair users and blind people, about taxi drivers refusing to pick them up or being overcharged for their journey.

'The government must urgently address this by enacting Section 165 of the Equality Act. There is no excuse for keeping disabled people waiting.'

Section 165 of the Equality Act would impose duties on the driver of a taxi for wheelchair users. They would be required to carry the passenger while in the wheelchair (and not to make any additional charge for doing so), or if the person chooses to sit in a passenger seat, to carry the wheelchair.

They would also have a duty to give the passenger 'such mobility assistance as is reasonably required'.

The section has not yet been enacted.

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Having an implant (i.e. a false hip and joint where there has nevere been one, a recent hip op and a very dodgy lower back due to fused discs, I thought a seat with more legroom would be the thing on a flight to and from Edinburgh. I really need to have my legs out a little, especially as they also swell due to have a severed lymph drainage gland! The airline says in their 'blurb' these seats are not suitable for disabled people as at the front of the plane there is the bulkhead and in the centre (or near) there are the emergency doors and if anyone sits by these they would have to help open them in case of emergency (Health and Safety evidently doesn't cover the general public - a let out for the staff?).

What, then, does anyone do? It is nonsense; why are there not some more seats with legroom - there would, I guess be less room to squeeze in more cattle!

I would call this discrimination.

What does anyone else think?

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