Tackling the bureaucratic barriers faced by disabled people, a list of the top disability-friendly employers, and recruiting more disabled teachers, are just some of the suggestions for how the government can improve disabled people’s lives.
The ideas were among more than 500 responses to Fulfilling Potential, a discussion document issued by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) in December, which will feed into the new cross-government disability strategy that is due to be published in late spring.
ODI says it wants the strategy to “tackle barriers to realising aspirations and individual control, as well as change attitudes and behaviour towards disabled people”.
And it says it will build on the Labour government’s work, including the Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People report, the Independent Living Strategy, and Roadmap 2025, as well as the UK government’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Nearly half of the responses to the discussion document came from individual disabled people.
Among the suggestions in the “realising aspirations” category were for ODI to have its own “red tape challenge”, asking disabled people to identify wasteful and bureaucratic barriers; to spend more of the special educational needs budget on supporting disabled children in mainstream education; and to fund a list of the top disability-friendly employers, similar to the annual league table of gay-friendly workplaces produced by the charity Stonewall.
Among comments in the “individual control” section were calls for stronger advocacy programmes and support for disabled people’s user-led organisations; a warning that some support services were being restricted to disabled people with “critical” needs; and calls for a focus on barriers to buildings, transport and information to ensure people enjoy choice and control of their support.
In the changing attitudes and awareness category, suggestions included a call for more disabled teachers, healthcare professionals and local councillors; a greater focus on implementing and enforcing the Equality Act; and fresh claims that Department for Work and Pensions press releases on benefit fraud have increased disability hate crime.
Maria Miller, the Conservative minister for disabled people, told an event held to discuss the feedback last week: “I want to make clear that from the very top of government we are absolutely committed to achieving a step change in supporting disabled people to fulfil their potential in every area of life.”