On Friday I will be in the house with my Labour Party Colleagues to support the Disability Equality Training Bill being championed by Andrew Gwynne MP. The Bill will make it a legal requirement for taxi drivers to take a Disability Equality course to learn about their legal obligations towards disabled people as well as how to make the journey easier for them.
I spoke to representatives from Guide Dogs who told me that three in four disabled people have been turned away from Taxi’s and buses despite it being illegal to do so. When people are turned away they can be forced into arguments with taxi drivers or even get stranded on the street, some disabled people feel that it is simply too much hassle to try and get a taxi. No assistance dog users should be made to feel that they have to choose between going out with the dog they need and getting in a taxi when both are necessary for getting around.
During my time as Minister for Disabled People in the DWP I am particularly proud to have steered the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 into law giving full civil rights to disabled people for the first time. Amongst other things it made it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people in the provision of service on the grounds of their disability. It required that reasonable adjustments be made to facilitate access for disabled people. This means that assistance dogs should be allowed and that disabled people should not be charged extra for a service such as a taxi ride. It is disappointing that in 2016 disabled people still face discrimination when doing something as simple as getting a taxi.
I support the Disability Equality Training Bill because it will educate taxi drivers about their legal obligations, stopping them from falling afoul of the law, and it will give much needed reassurance to everyone with a disability that they are able to travel in any way they choose.
This bill is another important step towards getting equality for disabled people in practice as well as in law. I will be in parliament to vote for this Bill on Friday and will continue to help push it through parliament over the coming months.