24 August 2005 - The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) Helpline
has received more than half a million enquiries since it was established in 2000.
Enquiries have surged since new disability legislation came into force in
October 2004. This year alone, the Helpline has handled 124,368 enquiries with 70%
coming from disabled individuals, their representatives, relatives or friends.
Bert Massie, Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission said:
"We are seeing real and positive changes in the way that disabled people
are treated throughout Britain as new legislation strengthens disabled people's rights and
Government, employers and other organisations are beginning to take disability seriously.
This last year saw the introduction of new duties that require every business, large or
small to become more user-friendly to Britain's 10 million disabled people."
Employment rights for disabled people were significantly improved from
1 October 2004 when the Disability Discrimination Act was extended to cover all employers
with the exception of the armed forces. The DRC consider that two landmark employment cases -
Archibald vs. Fife Council and Miekle vs. Nottingham County Council - taken by the DRC
were successful in cementing disabled people's rights at work
and providing convincing proof that the DDA has teeth.
Bert Massie said:
"The DRC will leave a strong legacy but Britain still has a long way to go before
disabled people can take up their place as full and active citizens. In employment
disabled people remain twice as likely to be out of work and more likely to earn less;
in education they have fewer qualifications; transport remains a barrier for many; and
the right to independent living is still a dream rather than a reality. Our
Disability Debate is the first wide ranging debate aimed at breaking down the remaining
barriers to disabled people's full involvement and participation in society. Its findings
will act as the blueprint for delivering to disabled people in the new Commission for
Equalities and Human Rights . "
The DRC annual report states that 10,986 enquiries of potential disability discrimination were received in the past year.
Almost half of these (49%) were employment related, highlighting the discrimination that
disabled people continue to face in the workplace. A further 35% of potential
discrimination enquiries related to services, 12% to education and 4% to premises.
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