Friday 6 November 2015

Reflections on the Disability Discrimination Act

To mark this week's celebrations of the Disability Discrimination Act, our Policy Manager Nick Medhurst looks at what this has meant for those with cystic fibrosis.

It is 20 years ago this week that the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was brought into law in the UK and it is being celebrated today as a watershed moment for equality.

It marks a moment in time when we, as a society, recognised our collective responsibility to actively support people who deal with daily challenges from a health condition or disability to achieve their ambitions.

The change in the law that it brought about, now covered by the Equality Act 2010, meant that for the first time people could request, and legally expect, for reasonable adjustments and arrangements to be made for them at work and in wider society to overcome barriers and maximise their potential.

So what has this meant for people with cystic fibrosis?

We recently surveyed 1426 people from our community about cystic fibrosis, their treatments, and what matters to them – perhaps you took part – and we are very humbled by the response we got and excited to share our findings with those who took part in the coming weeks and use those results, in every way we can, to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

One message that we received loud and clear was that managing cystic fibrosis is time-consuming (sometimes all-consuming), disruptive and sometimes impossible to balance with leading the lives that we hope for.

When fighting to keep as well as possible, people with cystic fibrosis will face hundreds and thousands of small challenges every week.

The Equality Act describes a disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities

However, when most people hear the words ‘disability’ or ‘disabled’, I can’t imagine the image of someone with cystic fibrosis immediately pops into their head.

That seems to work both ways and many people with cystic fibrosis don’t always see the fit either. I’ve even heard that some people, likely eligible, choose not to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) because they do not feel ‘disabled’.

The power of the Equality Act, and its predecessor, the DDA, is that it does not label us. It protects us, supports us and empowers us, when we can be at our most vulnerable.

For people with cystic fibrosis, it should be celebrated for the recognition it gives that people who face such challenges in their daily lives can achieve so much more if they live in a society which recognises and acts on unnecessary barriers to fulfilling ambitions.
However, we recognise that people with cystic fibrosis can and do still face discrimination and we would be interested in hearing about any challenges you have faced.


  1. I am unfortunately being discriminated against for having CF in my current job, as my boss is aware of the Disability Discrimination Act she is having to use underhand tactics to try to sack me from my job, by saying they are unable to support my CF needs as they feel changing my working hours will not make my CF better, or go away completely (i wish)

    This company is none other than the NHS itself, a company whom i rely on to provide care and treatment for my CF (not shaming any CF staff or care i receive as they have been 100% perfect)

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