Mainstreaming the disability equality duty and the impact on public authorities' working practices
Implemented as part of the 2005 amendments to the Disability Equality Act, the Disability Equality Duty (DED) placed new and important demands on public sector bodies. All such organisations are required to develop policies and working practices which actively promote the equality of disabled people as employees, consumers or visitors. Equality has to be proactive as opposed to reactive and disability equality has to be mainstreamed into the normal day to day activities of organisational working practice. Whilst it follows on from the framework of previous anti-discrimination legislation set in place over the last fifteen years, it represents a significant change in equality legislation since it demands that public sector bodies instigate fundamental changes in their approach towards disability and their working practices. This article reports on the initial stages of the implementation process of the DED across a range of public sector organisations in England, focussing in particular on how this policy has impacted on mainstreaming. Discussion shows that although organisations show awareness of mainstreaming and its implications for disability equality, there is limited evidence to suggest that the public sector has fully embraced this agenda.