The Disability Equality Duty (DED) is an important new duty aimed at promoting disability equality across the public sector. The DED, also referred to as the general duty, sets out what public bodies must have due regard to in order to promote equality of opportunity.Most public bodies are also covered by specific duties, which set out a framework to assist public bodies in meeting their general duty. All public bodies covered by the specific duties must:
Publish a Disability Equality Scheme (including within it an Action Plan)
Involve disabled people in producing the Scheme and Action Plan
Demonstrate they have taken actions in the Scheme and achieved appropriate outcomes
Report on progress and review and revise the Scheme regularly.
In direct response to this new Disability Equality Duty which comes into force in December 2006, organisations of Disabled People from across the South East are joining forces to launch South East Disability Equality Council (SEDEC), a regional one-stop-shop for public bodies to be able to get informed, consistent advice and guidance around Disability Equality.
The new Duty gives rise to new challenges for public bodies, in particular the continuing involvement of Disabled People and for the first time ever, public bodies will have to take responsibility for tackling the institutional discrimination that Disabled People face.
SEDEC can offer public bodies information, advice and support in order for them to fully understand their responsibilities regarding the new Duty. SEDEC can also assist organisations to draw up their Disability Equality Scheme and monitor their progress.
Through SEDEC, subscribing public bodies will have access to relevant, up to date information gathered through consultation and audit processes as well as professional advice and guidance to enable them to meet the standards through publications, events and an ongoing dialogue.
SEDEC will be made up of Disabled People from across the South East who are well informed about the issues and the Social Model and will be setting the standard for Disability Equality in the South East. SEDEC also offers an opportunity for Disabled People to become involved by offering Disability Equality Training and a chance to be part of the council. Ian Loynes, Chief Executive of Southampton Centre for Independent Living said ‘ SEDEC will be an opportunity for Disabled People to lead the way in achieving true Disability Equality’.
There is still time to register to attend SEDEC’s launch event ‘Ten Years On’ at The HG Wells Conference Centre in Woking, on December 4th, giving public bodies and Disabled People a chance to reflect upon what has been gained since the implementation of the DDA and what we hope to achieve in the future with the new duty.
The keynote speaker will be Caroline Gooding who is Director of Legislative Change at the Disability Rights Commission. Caroline is responsible for advising on key long term cross cutting disability issues, as well as the overall impact of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Conference participants will also hear froim Disabled People across the region about the impact that the DDA has had on their lives and what they hope to see happen in the next 10 years.It will also be an opportunity for public bodies to share best practice.
Whether you are a Disabled Person interested in getting involved with SEDEC or you work for a public body and want to find out how SEDEC can help you, it will well worth attending. You can register on the SEDEC website or for more information, you can call Amanda on 023 8020 2650.