The weekend saw the latest high-profile example of discrimination against a disabled person, when it was reported that Ruby Blyth-Smith, who is partially sighted, was told by a taxi driver that her guide dog would have to be put into the boot of his car if she wanted to travel.
Sadly, as depressing as it is, these stories have become part of the norm.
Sense continually receives feedback from the deafblind people that we work with, that there are still huge barriers preventing them from living independently and playing an active part in their community. We know that disabled people are being refused access to transport, struggling to enter public buildings or losing jobs because of lack of appropriate support. An inquiry that we carried out earlier in the year with the support of Lord Blunkett revealed that one in two disabled children have been turned away from play settings and activities.
It’s unacceptable that despite the Equality Act, disabled people are still experiencing multiple counts of discrimination in their everyday lives. Currently, the onus appears to be on disabled people to fight for their rights through the courts, when they just want to live a normal life like everybody else.
Equality shouldn’t be seen as a red tape issue, it is an opportunity to increase life chances for disabled people. The Government must act on their duties and urgently look at why the Equality Act isn’t working for disabled people. It’s time for them to accept the current failings and make a serious commitment to begin breaking down the barriers that are preventing disabled people from participating in society.
We’ll continue to see more examples of people unfairly discriminated against until the Government commit resources to breaking down barriers and raise awareness of the duties designed to enable disabled people to participate in society.