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More MS news articles for December 2003

More Social Change Needed, Survey of Disabled Finds

December 19, 2003
Multiple Sclerosis Society

Society needs to change more if the diverse population of disabled people are to have equal social rights, says a Government report based on research into their attitudes and experiences. Discrimination is widely thought to stem from ignorance, fear and lack of awareness.

The report, from the Department of Work and Pensions, looked into disabled people's perceptions of identity in terms of disability, ethnicity, gender, age and sexuality. It also explored experiences of discrimination in employment, training and non-work areas like the provision of goods and services.

The main findings were:

Disabled people from all groups believed a great deal of progress had been made in recent years in increasing opportunities. Despite aspects of diversity being associated with heightened vulnerability to disadvantage, the increasing recognition of diversity among the population of disabled people (and in society more generally) was welcomed as a positive step.

People from all groups were positive about the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and the work of the Disability Rights Commission (DRC). But views were mixed on whether the DDA went far enough. Some argued that new legislation was needed to help secure equal opportunities, while others felt existing legislation was sufficient.

Strong support was given to the idea that society needs to change further if all disabled people are to have equal social rights. Discrimination was widely believed to be a result of ignorance, fear and lack of awareness.

It was commonly felt that issues relating to diversity and disability should be central to the policy making process. All groups called for the involvement and consultation of disabled people from a diverse range of communities in the forming and delivering of social policy.

'Diversity in Disability: Exploring the interactions between disability, ethnicity, age, gender and sexuality' is published in the Department for Work and Pensions Research Report Series (Report No. 188 ISBN 1 84123 570 9). It can be downloaded from

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