The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.
For those who are not familiar with the the act, it recognises nine ‘protected characteristics’ with disability being one of them. The others are:
- being or becoming a transsexual person
- being married or in a civil partnership
- being pregnant or on maternity leave
- race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
- religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
- sexual orientation
In a nutshell it protects people who have a disability from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. It builds on the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995.
One provision relating to Disability is harmonising the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.
It goes even further, under The Equality Act 2010 section 20 there is a duty:
“Where a provision, criterion or practice of A’s puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to relative matters of comparison with persons who are no disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to avoid the disadvantage”
My aim is a challenge that the refurbishment of toilet facilities in Castle Park in Colchester should include Changing Places toilets, so that people with disabilities can enjoy the same advantages of toilet facilities as those who are able bodied.
The debatable point will always be, is it reasonable?
In my opinion Castle Park provides playground facilities and sensory experiences for people with disabilities. These facilities are also enjoyed by able bodied children and adults. They enjoy toilet facilities to compliment their experience, so therefore it is reasonable to have equality for people with disabilities and additional sanitary needs to also have the same provision.
I will be bringing this to the attention of Colchester Borough Council, and have already started initial discussions through the back channels with several key council figures to gauge reaction.
In 1970 Lord Morris wrote what was referred to as the ‘Magna Carta’ for the disabled, and he soon became the First UK minister for the Disabled in 1974 (the year I was born). It faced heavy opposition from within his own party and his vision almost died when Harold Wilson PM called a General Election.
He was successful in making Britain the first country in the world to make a law to improve access and support for people with disabilities.
We should be proud of that.
The 1986 Disabled persons act and later the 1995 Disabled Discrimination Act built on Lord Morris’ original vision. It was not until the mid 1990’s that we started to see Disabled Toilets for people in wheelchairs start to become commonplace in public spaces and businesses.
As a nation we have only had Wheelchair accessible toilets for just over 20 years. It is my vision that we complete the circle and go further to include Changing Places toilets, and that in 10 years time Changing Places are commonplace across the UK.
I will also challenge Colchester Borough Council to fully endorse changing places to make Colchester not only a sanctuary town for refugees, but also for people with disabilities and all other characteristics of the Equalities Act.
Previously published on MEDIUM.