Activists to meet commission over bill

Disability campaigners were due to meet the Disability Rights
Commission this week to discuss their concerns about the draft
Disability Discrimination Bill after staging a five-hour protest in
the commission’s Manchester office last month.

About 25 members of the Direct Action Network conducted the protest
to raise the issue of independent living and to complain that the
bill did not represent the views of disabled people.

They met DRC chief executive Bob Niven and asked him to sign a
letter to the prime minister calling for the right to independent
living to be included in the bill. Niven phoned DRC chairperson
Bert Massie but did not sign the letter.

DAN member Tom Comerford said that, despite the Disability
Discrimination Act 1995, disabled people were still treated like
second class citizens. “We know there are lots of people who can’t
go on transport, can’t get rehoused and can’t get into
employment… so we want some teeth in the bill.”

He added that DAN also wanted the DRC to be “fully independent”
arguing that it was currently too close to the government.

Niven said the DRC believed the bill could be strengthened but
warned that the letter was unlikely to achieve this.

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