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"Public policy has been slow to treat disability as a matter of equality, human rights and citizenship"

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Introduction

"Public policy has been slow to treat disability as a matter of equality, human rights and citizenship" What impact will the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Equality Act 2006 have on public policy in relation to disability? "Public policy has been slow to treat disability as a matter of equality, human rights and citizenship" What impact will the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Equality Act 2006 have on public policy in relation to disability? The Equality Act1 and the Disability Discriminations Act2, compliment each other in their aims, of eradicating discrimination, from the public domain. The objectives of the Equality Act are wider than those of the Disability Discrimination Act, in that they deal with discrimination on many more different levels than, discrimination against those with a physical or mental impairment3, which is exclusively dealt with by the DDA. However what they both have in common is the promotion of equal opportunity and eradication of discrimination. One of the main features to emerge from the Equality Act4 is the creation of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) this body will be taking on the role of and replacing the Commission for Equal Opportunity (COE), Commission for Racial Equality, and the Disability Rights Commission (DRC). As is apparent, all these Commissions are aimed at inclusion within the mainstream society of disadvantaged groups, and groups from underrepresented communities. The focus being upon inclusion and being made to stand on an equal footing in conjunction with their duties, responsibilities and rights as citizens. All these commissions which have been replaced and the new CEHR, none of these commissions are actually public policy making bodies, instead they are more involved in public relations, by amalgamating the grievances of the underrepresented and discriminated sections of society and presenting them to the legislating bodies, asking for reform on the behalf of these discriminated communities. "Treatment of the disabled, at the hands of the Public Policy." ...read more.

Middle

Independence can be achieved in conjunction with the Governmental interpretation, this being independence from the welfare state. And finally and most importantly, by receiving an improved standard of education the upcoming generation, suffering from disabilities will be able to increase their chances, to find places as policy makers or opportunities to work alongside or influence policy makers. First of all in order to be entitled to protection from discrimination under the DDA 2005 part 4, a student must be able to prove s/he falls within the definition of disability under the 2005 Act, this definition is derived from its predecessor in 1995 and prior to that from the ADA definition of 1990, with added exceptions. A disability under Schedule 1 DDA 1995 has been defined as: * Physical or mental impairment. * With substantial, long-term adverse effects. * Causing inability to carry out normal day to day activities. * Including long term fluctuating health conditions. The 2005 Act has removed the need for mental illness to be "medically well recognised" Further conditions such as H.I.V, Cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis now also fall within the scope of the definition of disability. For the purposes of the new definition, whether a person is disabled, is "generally determined by reference to the effect that an impairment has on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities" and "not necessarily on how the impairment is caused, or if the cause is a consequence of a condition which is excluded.8" The emphasis under the new Act is not on the impairment or illness itself, rather on the ability of an individual to carry out normal day to day activities as a result of the impairment. However it was held in the case of Vance v Royal Mail Group9 it was held "it is not a corollary of that where a person does not, as part of his daily life, carry out an activity that is normal for others, that he is to be treated as disabled if he would not be able to do it". ...read more.

Conclusion

As I have already mentioned, there are a lot of changes being imposed, to break the cycle of discrimination of the disabled community, however these changes are understandably premature, and still in a process of experimentation. But it, as already mentioned, these changes are a long overdue step in the right direction. However, what worries me looking at the provisions', and the motivation behind such needs, is it really to allow equal footing with regards to opportunities to better life styles and independence, or is the motivation something more not mentioned in black and white. As Barnes16 already establishes the distinction between the understandings of the word "independence" for difference sectors in society, he attributes to the policy makers, an economically based understanding of the term 'independence.' The achieving of independence has been a central concern of disabled people who feel they have for far too long been made to feel their say in their life style choices is taken away from them. However the disparity in the way the two take the meaning of independence I find to be a cause for concerns. Government under the cloak of equal opportunity is pushing certain sectors of society into employment, with the benefit of reasonable adjustments' under their belt, however, are disabled all disabled people really ready emotionally to be suddenly thrown into the employment sector and off the welfare state, especially those who have grown up under the old system, whereby they have little or no qualification or experience and their health and lack of experience is working against them? Despite the figures which show the difficulties faced by disabled people in finding employment, the reality of 'finding employment,' is not as easy as the government theorists make it seem, and this sudden surge of attempt to push disabled people into employment seems like a tactic which will eventually mean lack of welfare based financial support to those who need it most in society by legally binding them with a duty to work, pay taxes and be "citizens enjoying equal human rights" but the reality of which is yet to be tested. ...read more.

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