Disability is a problem that affects millions of people. In the last few decades, several pieces of legislation were passed to help eliminate discrimination of disabled people in the workplace and in other areas of society. The main legislation on disability is the DDA 1995 or the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. With an amendment added in 2003 and a second version of the Disability Discrimination Act in 2005, these acts were set by the government to increase the range of recognized disabilities and protect a disabled person’s rights in society and mainly in the workplace. While there are positives to the implementation of these acts, there are also potential dangers.
DDA or the Disability Discrimination Act’s overarching advantage is its ability to reduce discrimination towards disabled people that live and work in the United Kingdom. It offers fundamental egalitarianism via equal rights in employment and other aspect of society that will be covered in a later section. Major advantages exist in the field of education because disabled students now receive the kind of assistance they otherwise would not have prior to the passing of the Act. For example, designing curriculum and classroom participation requires thinking with inclusivity in mind.
Design integrates a problem-solving facet, with similarities to problem-oriented policing but likewise covering problem-finding/formulation. Early on, the efforts of applied researchers centered on getting designers to create ideas from outside influences. However, today, the focus is on getting designers and security practitioners to come up with purposeful interventions. This is because interested parties often have multiple aims with multiple stakeholders involved. Those who experience disability require an inclusive design that helps them participate as much as those not disabled. “Inclusive design, championed by the Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art, seeks to make designs usable and welcoming to groups with diverse abilities for example, the elderly or disabled” (Gill, 2014, p. 134).
The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 prohibits discrimination against anyone disabled under a variety of situations, covering occupation, transport, employment, occupation, and the provision of services, goods, facilities, premises, as well as the application of public functions. “Only those people who defined as disabled in accordance with section 1 of the Act, and the associated schedules and Regulations made thereunder, will be entitled to the protection that the Act provides” (Great Britain: Department for Work and Pensions, 2006, p. 10). While the act provided assistance to end discrimination for those who are disabled, the amended act of 2005 sought to add major changes.
The Disability Discrimination Act of 2005 was in force beginning December 5th 2005 to September 30th 2010. The amended act widened what is deemed as ‘disability’ and placed a new positive responsibility on any public body to promote equality of opportunity for those that are disabled. Prior to the Act of 2005, the Disability Rights Task Force had prompted the government to public a draft of what was called the Disability Discrimination Bill. After 2010, both the act of 1995 and 2005 were put together to form the Equality Act of 2010. ” … when, upon the coming into force of the Equality Act 2010 on 01 October 2010 that repealed the Act of 1995 and 2005, most of the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 were subsumed into the equality Act 2010″ (Wright, 2011, p. 15). While the Equality Act remained in effect, the Act of 1995 was used as the main Act for the purposes of employment.
Another aspect of the Act of 2005 that was not included in the DDA 1995 was the categorization of those with multiple sclerosis, HIV, as well as other major cancers as being disabled. ” … provided that people with illnesses such as HIV, multiple sclerosis and major cancers were to be regarded, from the point of diagnosis, as disabled for the purposes of the DDA 1995, … Mowat-Brown v University of Surrey (2002)” (Hughes and Ferrett, 2009, p. 513). These laws helped make discrimination against those that are disabled illegal. However, there are examples when disabled people can be reprimanded for certain behavior if their job is made conditional upon getting professional assistance. There are several instances when a disabled person suffering from a mental illness became a danger to people around him/her because that person did not get the help he/she needed (Manley, 2009).
Taking into consideration the DDA 1995, employers that hire disabled employees must provide reasonable accommodations for them. For example, a paraplegic employee who requires a wheelchair ramp in order to make his trip from his car to the office easier, is a reasonable accommodation. It is not a costly endeavor and can help anyone needing a ramp for easy access to the office building. Inclusive designs are just some the positive consequences that come from recognizing the rights of disabled people. However, there are negative consequences.
Disabled people sometimes are not in their right mind when they behave a certain way. For example, anyone with a mental disability or are mentally impaired, may act violently should they feel threatened in some way as discussed in the Martin case (Herring, 2011). This is something to take into account when dealing with a disabled person. While it is important to not discriminate against a disabled person, it is also important to discern whether or not a disabled is a threat to anyone in the workplace. Some people suffering from mental illness or are mentally disabled may perceive someone or something as being a direct threat and act out violently as seen with several examples of people shooting their co-workers.
It is important to understand that some people need help in order to perform their job adequately and just like a ramp is a reasonable accommodation, so is enabling the disabled person to get psychiatric help should the person require it. Just like a non-disabled person, disabled people can act out in anger. The person should be assessed and evaluated as would anyone else. By enacting these acts, sometimes employers are hesitant to reprimand disabled workers for fear of lawsuit. However, there are always ways to work around the legislation and provide the help the disabled employee needs.
For example, people with disabilities can receive additional training should they feel unable to or have difficulty performing certain work requirements. In the case of individuals that stutter, thanks to the passing of the DDA, people that have speech impairments can request reasonable accommodation in order to perform their job responsibilities adequately. If they do not receive reasonable accommodation or an employers does not identify the need for reasonable accommodation, it could lead to creation of a stressful work environment not just for the employee, but the employer as well. This can then lead to potential violent outburst as earlier examined.
Aside from potential misinformation and lack of recognizing problematic workers, there are many benefits to having the DDA in effect. A clear advantage is preventing disabled from finding work due to their disability. It is hard for anyone to find gainful employment. It is even harder for someone with a disability. By requiring businesses and schools to accommodate people with disabilities, it gives those with disabilities rights and options they otherwise did not have. For example, going back to disabled students, thanks to the DDA, disabled students do not have participate in certain things if they cannot do so due to their disability and not worry about failing the class.
Students with learning disabilities may have a harder time learning the curriculum. The DDA provides options for that student so the student can learn at his or her own pace and still graduate from school. The Act also provides room for organizations to form and fund initiatives that further help people with disabilities. These initiatives help people gain jobs through career and job counseling, resume building, and so forth. The DDA creates an overall increased level of awareness of disability and the lack of options available for the disabled.
However, because of the growing opportunities for assistance for those who are disabled, there will be people seeking to get those benefits without actually being disabled. This then leads to another negative of the Act, and that is fraudulent behavior. When people see that disabled people get more benefits, have the option to get paid and not work, can claim disability benefits, they will try to feign a disability in order to get those benefits. These unscrupulous actions generates a level of distrust among employers and creates a bad image of the disabled person.
The reality is, many people that claim disability are disabled. However, because of the small percentage that are not disabled, but pretend to be, it ruins what could be a benefit to truly disabled people. To avoid such a negative consequence of the DDA, employers and those working in schools and the government, must learn to accurately discern whether or not someone is faking disability or is truly disabled. By exercising proper discernment, these…