Disability Discrimination Act – 25th anniversary
But the fight for equality goes on.
It is 25 years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) on 8 November 1995.
This landmark act made it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport for the very first time, although some protections were implemented in stages.
And like the other civil rights movements of the last century, it was the tens of thousands of disabled people leading the movement for change who were the driving force behind the legislation.
Disabled campaigners this week celebrated the activists whose efforts helped lead to the DDA, while highlighting the continuing flaws in equality legislation and the need to continue the fight for comprehensive civil rights.
Our own CEO Tracey Lazard speaking to the Disability News Service said:
“Despite the DDA being far from the full human and civil rights our movement demanded, the DDA was a high watermark in shifting society’s perception of disability from a medicalised and individual issue to an issue of human rights, discrimination and exclusion. Since the financial crash and the repeated political choice of austerity all these advances in our inclusion and equality have been undermined, hollowed out or dismantled. We now have a mountain of evidence that shows retrogression across our all rights and areas of life. We are further away from equality and inclusion then we have been for a long time. The global shock of the Covid-19 pandemic has starkly highlighted once again the government’s apparent complete disregard of the needs and rights of our community and the deep structural inequalities that have directly resulted in the huge number of Disabled people dying from Covid. The silver lining is that this time of retrogression and targeted marginalisation, has also been the time when our community has re-discovered campaigning and protest, inspired by the direct action that brought about the DDA 25 years ago. We simply need to continue this necessary fight because we owe it not only to ourselves, but to those that we have sadly lost along the way.”