[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Disabled 'suffer worst exclusion'
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News website disability affairs correspondent

Photo of DRC chairman, Bert Massie
Disability discrimination can be worse than racism - Bert Massie
Disabled people experience greater exclusion than black people, the chairman of the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has said.

Bert Massie - launching a discussion paper on the future of disability - said discrimination had become "normalised" and "invisible".

"Our lives remain peripheral to the concerns of policy makers," he went on.

The DRC wants to influence the debate before it is merged with other equality bodies in 2008.

Mr Massie says that there is more discrimination against disabled people than that highlighted by Lord McPherson's report on the murder of the black teenager, Stephen Lawrence.

The DRC chairman stresses that he is not suggesting that institutional racism does not exist - but that the discrimination encountered by disabled people is "even more profound".

"This exclusion is more pernicious because it has become normalised - it is ever present but invisible," he said.

Under government plans to promote the rights of other minorities, the DRC will be merged into the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

Legacy

The DRC is determined to ensure that a detailed set of proposals to improve the rights of disabled people is set out while it still exists.

Your worth as a member of society diminishes as does your opportunity to make a valued contribution
Bert Massie, DRC

To this end, it is launching an extensive consultation - with a paper entitled Shaping the Future of Equality - so that disabled people and their organisations can voice their concerns.

"Over the next 18 months - through discussion and debate - we'll be developing ideas and policy to articulate a road map," DRC head of policy, Neil Crowther, told the BBC News website.

Among the questions that the DRC wants answered are:

  • How to ensure that disabled people are safe in their communities
  • How to equip disabled people with the skills to play an active role in society
  • How to ensure that people are in control of their lives
  • How to reform the welfare state so that it supports independence rather than creating dependence

Although the DRC acknowledges that substantial progress has been made since equality laws were passed ten years ago, Mr Massie says that disabled people are still a long way from being equal citizens.

"If you live in a society where you are not valued, where prejudice circumscribes in advance what you can offer and even throws up barriers to your inclusion - in work, at school, or in your community - your worth as a member of society diminishes as does your opportunity to make a valued contribution," he said.

The DRC's consultation exercise will take a number of forms.

A new website is being launched, people can take part using text messages, comments and ideas can be left by phone and a number of meetings will be held with local disability groups.

By November next year a report will be published which the DRC hopes will influence the debate long after it has ceased to exist as an independent body.




SEE ALSO:
Warning over benefit reform
17 May 05 |  UK Politics


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific