against disabled people in society.
As the government published a review of what it has achieved during
Year of Disabled People has promoted activity across the country.
It's given disabled people, often ignored by society, a platform on
which to demonstrate the positive contribution they can - and do -
'The government's own achievements - set out in the report published
today - have been significant from funding 170 grassroots projects
across the UK and giving formal recognition to British Sign Language
to publishing draft legislation extending rights for disabled people.
'But it doesn't stop here. 2004 looks set to be a watershed in terms
of civil rights for disabled people. From October, service providers
will have new duties to tackle physical barriers that prevent
disabled people accessing their services. The exemption of small
employers and occupations such as the police, fire and prison
services from employment duties will also be ended.
'Add to this pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Disability
Discrimination Bill and we are sending out the strongest signal yet
that discrimination against disabled people is unacceptable.'
Highlights of today's report - 'Government and the European Year of
Disabled People 2003: A year of progress' - include:
- 170 grassroots projects funded across the UK with a contribution
from the European Commission, to the tune of more than£2.3m,
including a disabled people's parliament and the first ever
international multi-disabled football league.
- Recognition of British Sign Language as a language in its own
right, plus£1m funding to support recognition.
- Regulations taken through Parliament to end the exemption of small
employers from the Disability Discrimination Act and to clarify the
right s of blind and partially sighted people under the DDA.
- Publication of the draft Disability Discrimination Bill to extend
the DDA in relation to transport, the public sector, premises,
private clubs and people with HIV, cancer or MS.
1. 'Government and the European Year of Disabled People 2003: A year
of progress' can be found at www.disability.gov.uk