What was the Disability Discrimination Act and why does it matter?

November marks the twentieth anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.

To mark the moment we're celebrating the activists and campaigners who fought tirelessly for civil rights.

Twenty years ago, a law to ban discrimination against disabled people was passed by parliament. 


The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) made discrimination against disabled people unlawful for the first time. The law improved the lives of many disabled people but had a mixed response amongst activists. Debate about the merits of the law continues to this day (it's now been replaced by the Equality Act).
 
Many disabled people welcomed the right to goods and services that everyone else had long enjoyed - knowing that they couldn't be lawfully thrown out of a restaurant or bar just because the manager didn't like the look of them. Others have criticised the law for being unenforceable, having gaps and loopholes, and not really going far enough. 

 

Civil rights campaigners

 
While the merits of the law are debated, there’s consensus that the campaign fought by disabled people for their civil rights was a turning point for the disability community. 
 
Over the next two weeks (between 2 and 13 November 2015) we’ll be showcasing the stories of those who were on the frontline, lobbying parliament, protesting and seeking to bring about change. Through a series of blogs, videos and images we hope to show how direct actions, rallies, and lobbying inspired a movement. 

This is the story of their campaigning, as told by the disabled activists who inspired and organised, led and fought in the movement for civil rights. This is their history, not Scope’s or anyone else’s.

 We want to show a new generation what can be achieved when a community comes together and calls for change. 

Read the campaigners stories

Read the stories of the campaigners who fought to change the law and for their civil rights. 

Watch our campaigner

Some of the activists who campaigned to change the law tell us what the fight meant to them. 

Get involved

There's still lots to do to build a country where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. 

Lots to do


We'll also be sharing the ideas and activism of young disabled campaigners who are now picking up the baton to make Britain a better place for disabled people. This month we mark 20 years since the disability discrimination act but what will we celebrate in another 20 years time? In 2035 when we look back what will Britain and the world look like for disabled people?

We hope you enjoy the content and we hope it inspires you to keep fighting for a world where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else.

 

Get Involved
 

We’ve captured some of the stories and anecdotes that are out there. We need disabled activists and allies to go on sharing their stories. If you have a story, get in touch. We will be sharing some of the amazing mementoes donated over the last few months to the project. The People’s History Museum has been our partner in this effort to collect physical materials and plans to display many in its galleries.

Get in touch with us if you want to get involved or share your memories. 
 
You can only know where you should be going once you’ve learned where you’ve come from. Capturing this important moment in disability rights history before it fades from view is an important step. 
 
We’re indebted to the many disabled campaigners who have trusted us with their memories and mementoes, so that the story of the campaign can be honestly shared. It isn’t our history to share, it’s theirs, and we’re proud and humbled to bring together activists and share their memories.