Disabled access just a dream as public sector ignores responsibilities

The
Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has claimed many local authorities are
taking little notice of new disability duties and that thousands of disabled
people will be unable to use key services from October this year.

New
duties under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) require local authorities
to make their services, such as libraries, swimming pools, council offices and
town halls accessible to disabled people from this October.

However,
according to the latest DRC survey sent to over 125 local authorities in
England:


more than 30 per cent of councils do not have a lead member on disability
despite 80 per cent being aware of the new duties


some 40 per cent of these authorities have no plans to draw up a strategy to
deal with disability-related issues despite this being another important
DRC/local government association recommendation


more than 30 per cent did not know how many of their services will be
accessible for disabled people by this October when the law goes live.

Marie
Pye, head of public sector duty at the DRC, said: “It seems that councils would
rather bury their heads in the sand than turn awareness into action by getting
ready for the changes in the law.

"As
a result there will be thousands of disabled people in England with a right to
access important council services – such as swimming pools, libraries and
housing offices – yet be unable to do so,” she said

A
separate survey, carried out last year for the DRC by NOP, found that 70 per
cent of disabled people had difficulty accessing services.

By Mike Berry

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