The 8th of November 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995. 

The act made it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport with some of the protections implemented in stages.

The act was written into law after tens of thousands of activists lead the movement for change and proved to be the driving force behind the legislation.

The late Professor Mike Oliver, a leading academic and disability rights campaigner, spoke about the campaign and movement that brought about the act:

We had no resources but we created a movement, which mobilised at its height hundreds of thousands of people.

Professor Mike Oliver

Professor Oliver was clear in his views that it was barriers put up by society as a whole, such as the lack of accessible public transport that excluded and discriminated against disabled people, and was wholly down to the way society was run and organised. 

Since 1995 the act was amended in 2005 to take public authorities into its remit. 

In 2006 the Disability Equality Act placed a duty on public bodies to, for the first time, promote disability equality.

While it is clear that the DDA wasn’t going to solve all of the problems that disabled people faced, it did paved the the way for a change in the way society viewed disability.

The anniversary of the act should now be a time to take stock of how far we have come as a society. There is still a long way to go to ensure equality for disabled people.

The BBC has commissioned disability-related programmes to be aired in 2021. 

Charlotte Moore, BBC’s chief content officer, said:

Our content now and into 2021 will be exploring the significance and impact of the act as well as showcasing the creativity of disabled actors, presenters, producers, directors and writers. I hope that enabling disabled people to tell their often unexpected and surprising stories will challenge stereotypes and make us all think about the world we want to live in.