Disability inequality in Wales
In 2007 the prevalence of Disability (as defined by the DDA), in South Wales, was estimated to be 179,800 (7.9%). Blaenau Gwent with a disabled population of 11,400 (27.4%), Merthyr Tydfil 8,300 (24.6%) and Caerphilly 25,000 (24%) has the largest numbers of disabled people in terms of their total populations. The figures for other local authority areas in South Wales are: Bridgend 19,000 (23.8%); Rhonda Cynon Taff 32,500 (22.8%); Torfaen 14,000 (21.8%); the Vale of Glamorgan 13,400 (18.1%); Cardiff 35,600 (17.1%); Newport 14,200 (16.9%) and Monmouthshire 8,500 (16.7%).
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhonda Cynon Taff have the largest number of economically inactive disabled people (64%); followed by Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen (58%); Caerphilly and Newport (50%); Bridgend, Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire (45%).
For those of working age people the largest number who have physical, respiratory/heart problems, long standing/progressive illness or other health problems live in Cardiff (31,500) and RCT (31,200); followed by Caerphilly (24,800), Bridgend (18,000), Newport (15,400), Vale of Glamorgan (11,900), Torfaen (11,700), Blaenau Gwent (9,800), Monmouthshire (7,700) and Merthyr Tydfil (7,400).
All surveys show large variations in the levels of illness, disability and infirmity within Wales, with the south Wales valleys having substantially higher levels of disability and long-term illness than the rest of Wales.
There are specific needs and issues relating to disabled people. Most disabled people have below average incomes, are likely to live below the poverty threshold and are dependent on benefits for a large proportion of their income. Lack of confidence, inaccessible buildings, public transport, housing, information and limited employment, learning and social opportunities and inadequate social care are just some of the issues that persist for many disabled people. Calls to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s helpline indicate that employment issues are significant for disabled people with over half of the calls in 2008-09 related to employment issues coming from this group.
Know your rights
If you are disabled, or have had a disability, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) made it unlawful for you to be discriminated against. The DDA defined discrimination in a number of ways and outlined four specific types of discrimination: direct discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjustments, disability-related discrimination and victimisation.
The Equality Act 2010 replaced the Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005. The Equality Act 2010 changes what has to be done in order to prevent and address disability discrimination and disability-related harassment when goods, facilities and services are provided to the public. The changes include new provisions on direct discrimination, discrimination arising from disability, harassment and indirect discrimination.
Previously, protection did not extend to people who are mistakenly thought to be disabled, or people who experience discrimination because of their association with a disabled person. These people are now protected against direct discrimination and harassment.
Discrimination arising from disability occurs when a disabled person is treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability and the unfavourable treatment cannot be justified.
Discrimination arising from disability is different from direct discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs when a service provider treats someone less favourably because of the disability itself. In the case of discrimination arising from disability, the question is whether the disabled person has in practice been treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability.
Treatment can be justified and will be lawful if it can be shown that it is intended to meet a legitimate objective in a fair, balanced and reasonable way. This means that a service provider must strike a careful balance between the negative impact of a provision on the disabled person and any lawful reason for applying it.It is important to understand the need to apply this flexible approach when it is clear that a rule or practice disadvantages a disabled person.
Also, discrimination arising from disability will not be unlawful if the service provider can show that it did not know, or could not be reasonably expected to know, that the person was disabled. This means that service providers should take reasonable steps to find out whether someone is disabled, though care should be taken to ensure that any enquiries do not infringe the disabled person’s privacy or dignity.
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