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December 8, 2006

Greater London Authority rewarded for 'Challenging Disablism'

From: - Hereford,Herefordshire,UK - Dec 8, 2006

The Greater London Authority has won the Innovation and Progress: Diversity and Equality award for the 'Challenging Disablism' project in the Guardian Public Services Awards.

Making the city an inclusive place for Deaf and disabled people to live is at the heart of Challenging Disablism.

Mayor Ken Livingstone said: "Challenging Disablism aims to promote equality and inclusion for Deaf and disabled Londoners. I want this scheme to be the starting point for real change and to move forward disability equality in the capital. I want to ensure equality for Deaf and disabled people is at the centre of the Greater London Authority's work when it makes a policy or strategy, provides a service, or employs people.

"Transport, housing, independent living and discrimination are key issues for Deaf and disabled Londoners. That is why we now have a fully accessible bus fleet, despite the opposition of some think tanks and sections of the media, who refused accept that this was an issue. Deaf and disabled people make up around 20 per cent of London's population and the community is broad and diverse. The Guardian Public Services award is recognition for the real progress we have made in this field."

The Greater London Authority regularly engages with the Deaf and disabled community through its disability independent advisory group.

The Mayor organises the annual Disability Capital conference, now in its fourth year, which is the biggest free conference for Deaf and disabled people in the UK and brings together key policy and decision makers to address London's Deaf and disabled community.

David Morris, Senior Adviser to the Mayor on Disability Equality said: "We are moving the agenda forward to recognise that disablism does exist and that it is institutionalised. Making key changes to our services benefits everybody, whether it be Deaf and disabled people, parents with buggies, or older people.

"I have experienced barriers on a day-to-day basis and I now feel like a kid a sweet shop because, for the first time in my life, I can travel to work on public transport. However, we still have a long way to go in making London truly accessible for all. I hope that the continuing works programme will enable London to become a 'beacon' for accessibility over the next five years."

In 2003, the Mayor invited Deaf and disabled Londoners to take part in an extensive survey of their experiences of living in the capital.

The report 'Another Planet' painted a stark picture of Deaf and disabled people who 'continue to face exclusion, disadvantage and discrimination on a day-to-day basis'. Inaccessible transport and services, from theatres to supermarkets and sports centres, were the biggest concerns.

The Greater London Authority's disability equality scheme (the first in the country) and action plan have produced practical improvements to London's services. For example, the capital now has the world's largest accessible bus fleet - 8,000 'bendy' buses.

By 2010 a quarter of all train stations will be step free.

The Greater London Authority is also committed to working with Transport for London in making all customer information on tube and rail systems audible and to providing 'talking buses' to inform passengers of the next stop.

Liberty is the Mayor's disability rights festival in Trafalgar Square, featuring disabled singers, musicians and performance artists. The event has become one of the largest open-air disability arts festivals in the UK.

The Greater London Authority is tackling housing accessibility by embedding inclusive design in planning controls and developing an accessible housing register for London.

© 2006