25 years of the Disability Discrimination Act

Written by CWD Editor
Last updated Monday November 16 2020

Careers with Disabilities are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act. The act was passed on the 8th of November 1995 and disability rights has seen significant progression in the years since. However, we still have a long way to go to reach equality for all disabled people.

The Disability Discrimination Act

The Disability Discrimination Act made it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people. Specifically, in relation to the provision of employment, goods and services, education and transport for the very first time. In 2010, the Disability Discrimination Act was replaced by the Equality Act. The change saw new provisions in the protection of disabled people beyond the employment field, and introduction of the principle of indirect discrimination.

Careers with Disabilities believe passionately in equal rights for disabled people. The disability employment gap stands at around 30%; and disabled workers now earn 20% less than non-disabled workers. Careers with Disabilities exist to help improve access to employment for disabled people and work with employers to improve representation of disabled people in the UK’s workforce.

The driving force behind this landmark act was the historic protests led by tens of thousands of disabled people. Protest groups, such as the Direct Action Network, led a tireless campaign for the civil rights of disabled people; overall, more than 100,000 people took part in the protests. The act paved the way for radical change to disabled people’s lives.

Disabled inequality in 2020

While we have seen a great level of progress since the Act, we have also witnessed clear backtracks of key successes. This includes the Government abolishment of the Disability Living Allowance and replacement with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The introduction of PIP has seen over 650,000 people have their payments cut or stopped completely. This equates to 46% to all those who have moved from the old system losing out financially.

In 2015, the UK became the first member state to be under investigation by the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons (CRDP) for an alleged violation of disabled people’s human rights. The findings outlined how the changes to housing benefit and PIP disproportionally affected disabled people. It is a huge disappointment that the Government chose to dismiss the committee’s findings.

Looking to the future

Twenty-five years on from the Disability Discrimination Act is clearly a time for reflection. Going forward, it is apparent that a disability strategy is urgently required. This includes eliminating disability discrimination, enabling disabled people to live independently in their community, ensuring an inclusive education system and protecting disabled people against all forms of exploitation and abuse.


For more information, visit our advice on your rights as a disabled person, career opportunities and access to grants and financial schemes. Careers with Disabilities encourages all employers to get in contact with our team and begin your journey to creating a disability inclusive workforce.

Last Updated: Monday November 16 2020

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