Livability welcomes the broad aims and ambitions of the Accessible Britain Challenge which is being launch today.
It is great to see the Government strengthen its commitment to making communities, more accessible and inclusive for disabled people. However we believe that this aim also needs to be supported by the Government through its actual policies towards disabled people.
Livability (formerly John Grooms and Shaftesbury Society) has been involved in creating inclusive and accessible communities for disabled people for over 140 years and we know that much remains to be done. Disabled people have a great deal to contribute to society- not just in economic terms- but the reality is that too often they face real barriers when they try to fully participating in public life and they are still some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society.
Recent Government policies, especially reforms to disability benefits, have made it more difficult for disabled people to fully participate in society and have had a negative effect on their independence. Disabled people have also often been unfairly portrayed as a ‘burden’ in parts of the media, which can have a detrimental effect on the general public’s perception of them.
The Government challenges and encourages various parts of the community such as local businesses, to be more inclusive towards disabled people but they also have a responsibility to lead by example.
We want to see this worthwhile Challenge backed by a real commitment by Government to introduce policies and reforms which would help disabled people to live fully active lives.
Disability organisations and campaigns groups are already doing fantastic work to create a more inclusive society and we will continue to collaborate with them to achieve real change. We look forward to seeing initiatives, such as the new awards, develop and for examples of good practice to be shared and celebrated.