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Date posted: 26th July 2023
The UK Government has launched a consultation on its new Disability Action Plan, outlining initiatives set for 2023 and 2024 aimed at improving the lives of disabled people.
The plan, published by the Minister for Disabled People Tom Pursglove MP, is open for consultation for 12 weeks. It sets out actions the UK Government plans to take this year and next to improve disabled people’s lives.
Together with the Sight Loss Councils we support, we have been active in lobbying government for an action plan and welcome the launch of this consultation. After the aborted launch of the National Disability Strategy last year, which was subject to legal action, we hope lessons have been learned and that the government will openly engage and importantly act upon the feedback they receive on the action plan.
Below are some of the headline areas we’ve picked out from the action plan that we think will help blind and partially sighted people.
We welcome the commitment in the action plan to launch a consultation this year on the existing accessibility standards on the UK rail network. A 2021 Plan for Rail announced proposals for a National Rail Accessibility Strategy and it is disappointing two years later this has still not seen the light of day.
We welcome the action plan proposals to enhance penalties for refusing access to guide dogs. Despite existing legislation that makes clear this is against the law, challenges like being denied entry into cafes or taxis persist, so tougher penalties are welcome. We’d like to see more action from government to raise awareness of this issue amongst service providers.
The plan aims to make the UK a global leader in accessibility, including a specific commitment to raise the profile of assistive technology in government policy. This is welcome news and needs to be designed into public services from the start. However, we remain concerned that affordability and skills to use technology can remain a barrier for many visually impaired people.
The action plan proposes a review of support for disabled election candidates. We hope this will improve the experience of visually impaired candidates and encourage more people to get involved in elected office. Without a more representative democracy, locally and nationally, many blind and partially sighted people will remain shut out of decision-making.
The action plan proposes a new “Disability Enabled Badge” to encourage businesses to improve accessibility standards. Promoting disability awareness training for staff and improving accessibility is something our Sight Loss Councils have been leading the way in delivering. The new badge could be a welcome initiative to shine a spotlight on the need for improvements.
The action plan commits the government to improving the Disabled Students’ Allowance process and reducing waiting times for support to be agreed and in place. Our student support service and education team has been working hard to tackle this issue and we welcome the government’s commitment.
The action plan proposes the establishment of a task force to improve opportunities and wellbeing for disabled children. We hope this will help to tackle the existing discrepancies in support across different regions and government departments for children with visual impairments.
The Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) provides an opportunity to improve the experiences of education for blind and partially sighted children and young people and those who support them. The framework looks at 11 areas including Health: Social, Emotional, Mental and Physical Wellbeing, Social, Sports and Leisure and Preparing for Adulthood, which align with the action plan aims.
You can read the plan and share your thoughts with the Government by participating in the consultation before October 6. You can access it on the government’s official website: