Disability Bill Gets Royal Assent
A new law to promote the rights of disabled people has been enacted - honouring a 2001 manifesto pledge.
The 2005 Disability Discrimination Act strengthens existing legislation by widening the definition of disability and setting a deadline for rail access.
Campaigners have welcomed the new measures, but say the act fails in a number of key areas.
Disability Rights Commission (DRC) chairman Bert Massie described it as "a major advance in civil rights".
The 2005 act contains a number of measures which disability campaigners said were missing from its predecessor, the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.
- Widening the definition of disability to include people with progressive conditions like MS, HIV and some cancers from the time they are diagnosed.
- Improving access to transport by including transport operators in the requirement to make their services accessible, and by setting an end date of 2020 by which all "rail vehicles" will have to be disabled friendly.
- Placing a duty on all public bodies to promote positive attitudes to disability.
- Extending the protection given to people with mental health problems by removing the requirement that conditions should be "clinically well recognised".
- Giving tenants the right to make reasonable, disability-related alterations to their homes.
- Making disability rights legislation apply to private clubs with more than 25 members, including political parties.
- Placing a duty on local authorities not to discriminate against disabled councillors.