Disablism: How to Tackle the Last Prejudice
The disability lobby has successfully pushed for discrimination to be outlawed but 'institutional disablism' will not be stamped out without a political commitment to changing public attitudes, according to a new report from Demos called Disablism. Another part of the Disability Discrimination Act relating to employment comes into force in October 2004, but as the Demos report shows, disabled people suffer much more extreme forms of discrimination and oppression in all parts of their lives."Legislation is only a start and compared to other equality agendas disability is behind the game. There is a long way to go before equality is achieved," say the authors of the report, Paul Miller, Sophia Parker and Sarah Gillinson. "While the legislation is on a par with that for race or gender equality, the lived experience of disabled people is still extremely poor because of disablism."The report argues for collaboration between disabled people and non-disabled people. In fact the project itself came out of a unique partnership between Scope, the disability charity, and Disability Awareness in Action (DAA), which campaigns for disabled people's rights. The report will be launched on Wednesday 26 May 2004 as part of Scope's new Time to Get Equal campaign. In a joint foreword by Tony Manwaring, chief executive of Scope, and Rachel Hurst, director of DAA, they acknowledge that neither the large disability charities nor rights-based campaigners acting alone will be able to eradicate disablism from society."On its own, the disability rights movement is unlikely to achieve the scale of change that is required to achieve a 'step change' in the lives of disabled people in this country," they write. "Such a step change will require a fundamental shift in attitudes and culture in British society, underpinned by law, rooted in the human and civil rights of disabled people."The absence of disabled people in the workplace is one area where 'institutional disablism' is most apparent. Less than half of all disabled people of working age (49%) are in work compared to 81% of non-disabled people. The Demos report argues that only once disabled people are properly represented in employment will society adapt to the needs and aspirations of individual disabled people."Many more disabled people who want to work would be able to work with changes in employment practices and a proactive - but not expensive - approach to adaptations within the workplace", says the report.
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