Disability campaigners have expressed dismay at the failure of the
draft disability bill to set a deadline for making public
transport, including coaches and trains, accessible to disabled
Although the draft bill gives the transport secretary powers to end
the exemption of transport from the Disability Discrimination Act
1995, it does not include a deadline for completing this.
“The legislation leans too closely towards the interest of
transport providers rather than disabled people,” said Andy
Rickell, chief executive of the British Council of Disabled
All service providers covered by the act must make reasonable
adjustments to ensure their goods and services are accessible to
Disability charity Scope’s parliamentary officer Giles Roddy said
that the charity would like to see the lifting of the exemption
included in any final legislation to ensure it takes place. “The
secretary of state could change, or the government could change,
and it could never happen,” he warned.
Other measures in the draft bill include putting a duty on public
authorities, similar to that imposed by the Race Relations
Amendment Act 2000, to promote equality for disabled people. It
will require bodies to produce clear policies and action plans
aimed at proactively tackling discrimination.
Further measures extend the definition of disability to cover
people with long-term progressive conditions, such as cancer, HIV
and multiple sclerosis, from the point of diagnosis.
Although Scope welcomed the move, it said it still had concerns
about the status of people with fluctuating conditions, such as
bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia.
“The bill does not talk about mental health at all in regard to the
definition of disability and we would like to see that looked
into,” said Roddy.
Disability charity Leonard Cheshire described the draft disability
bill as a welcome step towards the government’s manifesto
commitment of creating full civil rights for disabled people, but
warned against the bill being lost in a congested legislative