Disability bill overcomes parliamentary hurdle

Legislation providing greater protection for people with
disabilities moved one step closer to reality, as the Disability
Discrimination (Amendment) Bill completed its committee stage at
the House of Lords.

The private members bill, introduced by Lord Ashley of Stoke, is
intended to extend the scope of the 1995 Disability Discrimination
Act, including the definition of disability, and to close existing

Key amendments called for the provisions of the 1995 act to be
extended to cover voluntary workers with disabilities, students
with disabilities wanting to pursue professional qualifications,
pupils with disabilities trying to obtain work experience or sit
examinations, and anyone over 18 with a disability wanting to
attend a polling station to vote.

The bill would also close a “damaging anomaly” introduced by the
Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, which could
result in non-educational services provided by schools being
excluded from the protection of the 1995 act. Unless amended, this
could mean people with disabilities no longer being covered in
relation to careers services, leisure services, parents’
evenings, and other community services provided at schools or
colleges of further or higher education.

In terms of widening the definition of disability, the bill
calls for a greater understanding of mental health problems and
their impact on day to day life.

Only an amendment calling for an extension to the 1995 act to
cover the armed forces failed to make it through the committee

The bill will now be scheduled for the report stage, and its
third reading in the House of Lords. It will then need to wait for
a time slot before it can be heard in the House of Commons.



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