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Work together on discrimination.

THIS year marks two decades since the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act, a landmark piece of legislation which aimed to change the way people with disabilities are treated.

Undoubtedly, things have changed for the better, but the effects have not been as far-reaching as it was hoped.

Figures released by the charity Scope show that almost two thirds of those surveyed say they are still treated differently because of their disability.

This is sad, but not surprising.

I was just 14 years old when a diving accident left me paralysed and in a wheelchair.

I lived with my disability for years before the legislation came into force and faced discrimination regularly - from shops and restaurants with no wheelchair access, to taking the train and having to travel in the unheated guard's van with the bags of post.

Now, in my work as a lawyer, dealing with people who have suffered catastrophic and lifechanging injury, most would say they are still discriminated against, but few do anything about it.

The law - now known as the Equality Act - is not perfect, but it has given us the tools to take discrimination cases to court. What we must do now is use the legislation and use it effectively.

If we are going to effect real change, people with disabilities need to work together so we can improve facilities for one another and help to challenge the perception that disability discrimination is acceptable - because it's not.

JONATHAN FOGERTY Serious injury lawyer Slater & Gordon

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 23, 2015
Words:250
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