Choices and rights: The story of the Disability Discrimination Act

By The Ouch Team
BBC News

image copyrightLiam Proudlock

The November 2015 Ouch talk show is out and it's a bumper edition.

This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the passing of the first disability anti-discrimination law in the UK. A good time to look back at the disability rights movement, so vibrant during the period, to take stock of what's been achieved, and hear some views on what campaigners believe is still left to be done.

Barbara Lisicki was a central figure in the establishment of the group known as DAN - Direct Action Network. DAN organised protests and public demonstrations to highlight issues faced by disabled people. The group's non-violent civil disobedience helped to bring disabled people's struggle to the attention of the press and government. She tells stories of protests, arrests and inaccessible police vans.

image copyrightPA
image captionDAN would regularly hold up buses

Phil Friend concentrated his efforts in the late 80s and 90s on advocating disability rights to a powerful employer's forum which, in turn, then put pressure on the conservative government of the time to consider safeguarding disabled people's right to a job.

Agnes Fletcher and Adam Thomas, who met at a direct action event and married a year later, recount their involvement with the charities who lobbied parliament, which finally crafted, and duly passed the disability discrimination act or DDA as it became known.

image copyrightScope
image captionAgnes (second left) played an active role in campaigning for the DDA

Their tales are fascinating and their discussion illuminating - taking us back to a point in history where many factions and schools of thought managed to come together to achieve a singular goal.

How to listen

media captionOuch talk show-audio

Imagine never having disclosed your chronic pain to anyone except close family. Sandra Lawry who is 62, has lived all her life with a rare genetic disease called Niemann Pick type B. Fatty deposits build up on organs like the liver and spleen, enlarging them and sometimes causing agony. It wasn't until Sandra decided to take the plunge and go online last year, that she discovered a community of fellow-sufferers here in the UK, and came to attend their annual conference. Sandra openly shares her story with journalist Kathleen Hawkins.

image copyrightDWP
image captionMinister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, gives his first long-form interview to Ouch

Justin Tomlinson was appointed as Minister for Disabled People back in May after the general election. He gives one of his first long-form interviews since he took up the post. Listen to him answer questions on the government's plans for closing the disability employment gap, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and what qualifies him to fulfil the role. We also ask him some of your questions sent to us through social media.

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