Letter: Legal rights for disabled people

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The Independent Online
Sir: Richard D North suggests that disabled people risk losing society's "generalised affection" in their struggle for legally enshrined rights (21 June). Unfortunately, even if disabled people were content to rely on able-bodied people's sympathy, their is little sign that it has any positive effects.

In research carried out for Scope among 1,500 disabled people, 38 per cent said they had suffered abuse because of their disability; over a third had been turned away from a pub, restaurant or other leisure facility; nearly a fifth said that other people's attitudes stop them going out when they want.

If this is disabled people's daily experience, they are unlikely to have much faith in the power of compassion to improve their access to buildings, their job prospects or their financial situation. Legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Bill going through Parliament, while flawed, will be more successful than general niceness in tackling discrimination.

Of course, legislation cannot change people's attitudes. But it can change a situation whereby discrimination against disabled people is endemic and so help disabled people play their full part in society.

Yours faithfully,


Chief Executive


London, W1