What do you want to change in the next 20 years? – #DDA20

November 2015 marked 20 years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act, the first piece of legislation which provided disabled people with protection from discrimination under the law.

Whilst the law improved the lives for many people and the campaign inspired a movement, there’s still lots to be done. Campaigners Layla Harding and Sulaiman Khan tell us what they want to change to make equality for disabled people a reality. 

This blog is shared as part of a series of stories to celebrate the campaigners who fought for civil rights. You can find out more on our website or on social media using #DDA20.

Layla Harding

Layla is 21 and from London and currently studying for her Masters. She’s recently got involved in campaigning on disability and equality issues. 

It’s really important that we change attitudes now. I think the media has a huge role to play creating positive and realistic representationsA black and white photo of Layla Harding. We need greater visibility in the media. Not stories that are just based on the character’s impairment as the focal point of their story line, but instead the fact that they’re disabled should be just one part of who they are.

Providing early opportunities in schools for children to learn more about disability issues is also vital to improve attitudes. Many children do not have any lessons about disability issues and so this can make make them unaware or fearful about disability and how to approach the subject of disability.

I’d also like to see more of a focus on disability equality issues at university as there is so much scope to have a big impact on attitudes there. There should be more campaign weeks focusing on various issues affecting the lives of disabled people. My university held a ‘Don’t Dis My Ability Week’  but I didn’t even know about it as it wasn’t well publicised!

I’d like more integration for disabled people. I want disability being less awkward subject to discuss.

Sulaiman Khan

Sulaiman wearing a suit and tie in his wheelchairSulaiman is 30 and from London. He works as a researcher and is also a wheelchair user.

I’d like us not to be talking about ‘disability issues’ by 2035. I’d like the lives of disabled people to be very much like those of non-disabled people. I don’t want to be talking about accessible transport or providing more social care support.

I don’t want to be saying that more disabled people should be able to enjoy careers like everyone else or that it’s odd for a disabled person to be in a relationship with a non-disabled person.

I don’t want disability to be an issue at all!

We all must work to make disability a part of everyday life. I know that won’t be easy, but people have always been telling disabled people they couldn’t do things and then disabled people went ahead and did them anyway.

We have to take back the reins again as those disabled people did in the ‘80s and ‘90s when they were campaigning for civil rights.

I hope a disabled person my age is able to look back with their friends and family to 2015 and wonder what all the fuss was
about and wonder why it wasn’t sorted out sooner!

Who on earth would argue against disabled people being equal?

Find out more about the activists and campaigners who fought for civil rights and about the Disability Discrimination Act