Disabled people do not comprise a self-contained community distinguished by social class, age, gender, social group or political affiliation. However, as we have seen in the previous chapter, they have one experience in common; whatever society they are ostensibly a part of, they have been excluded from it. We discussed in Chapter 2 how social exclusion is the result of implementing policies of segregation of the disabled from the non-disabled in both education and employment, and how the exclusion is reinforced by people's prejudices, fears, ignorance and false beliefs about the nature and implications of disability. In this chapter, we examine how legislation in the United Kingdom and the European Union is developing to combat these negative forces. We shall look at how employment prospects for disabled people have been improved in the United Kingdom as a consequence of anti-discrimination legislation respecting disability and how future developments in that legislation are likely to create further improvements in the workplace.
Although none of the disability anti-discrimination laws referred to in this chapter identify separate categories of disability, people with different types of disability will find that they are faced with different problems when they seek to assert their rights under the law. Notably, people with hidden disabilities generally experience considerably more difficulty finding legal remedies to alleged acts of disability discrimination than people with visible disabilities. This is because the laws as they stand adopt a medical-model approach to disability, making it necessary for individuals to establish a clear link between their impairment and the needs they have as a result of it. Clearly, this is an easier task in the context of visible disabilities than it is in the context of hidden disabilities. Similarly, in terms of hidden disabilities, the needs of people that have well-defined and accepted medical conditions, such as diabetes, HIV and heart conditions, are easier to specify and therefore easier to fulfil than the needs of people with less well-defined conditions such as dyslexia.
This book is concerned with the plight of adult dyslexics, a category of disabled people that represent a sizeable proportion of all disabled people, and how they as a group can overcome the obstacles that they face in employment. Consequently, in discussing current and soon to be implemented United Kingdom legislation relating to disability generally, the