Two years after it was introduced, the impact of the public sector Disability Equality Duty is to be considered by public bodies, disabled people and legal experts at a conference in the new year.
The London conference, "Doing the Duty: The Disability Equality Duty – impact so far and legal enforcement", will examine the positive impact that the duty has had as well as considering successful legal cases.
As the countdown to the Equality Bill begins, the conference will also address how a future single equality duty can build on the strengths of the disability duty and avoid any dilution.
Liz Sayce, CEO of disability campaigning network RADAR, said: "The Disability Equality Duty has begun to bring about a shift in culture across the public sector with evidence of improved attitudes towards disabled people and tangible changes in leading organisations, ranging from employing more disabled people in senior roles to improving health, fire, education and other key services for all.
"The keys to success are making disability equality part of mainstream business and disabled people being involved in shaping policy as equal partners. Disabled people are also using the duty to challenge injustices in social care and other fields.
"However," she added, "progress has not been uniform. Rigorous monitoring and enforcement will be vital to ensure the duty is brought to life across all areas of public policy.
"Looking ahead to a single equality duty, we think it vital to retain and build on what is unique to the Disability Equality Duty, for example the clear requirement that disabled people must be involved in drawing up equality schemes and action plans, and the requirement on secretaries of state to report on progress in their sector."
Has the Disability Equality Duty had a successful impact on general practice? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"No. Unlike race equality, which is enforced, therefore observed. Eg, no disabled parking spaces in pedestrianised or other city centres, GP surgeries, dentists, hospitals, leisure centres, town halls or banks, post offices, or other public spaces or goods and services. Eg, no provision of hot swimming pools for hydrotherapy exercise for lifelong mental and physical health maintenance and prevention of degeneration for disabled and elderly who physically cannot go for a brisk walk. Eg, no enforcement in any EC country of the EC1107/2006 regulation, which was intended to be effective from 26 July 2008" – M Doyle, London