One in five people in the UK has a disability. Yet this important demographic is significantly underrepresented in our academic, legal, and political institutions. Thus, whilst 19% of the working age population have a disability (DWP 2018), only 4% of barristers identified as disabled (Bar Council 2011) and, worryingly, there is no data on the number of the members of the judiciary who have a disability (2020). Although many law firms have Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion policies far fewer have translated this into concrete action (Foster and Hirst, 2020). There is an important relationship between an inclusive legal curriculum, an inclusive legal profession and the inclusive legal norms which shape society and enable the full participation of disabled people within it. The Equality and Human Rights Commission have recently recognised the importance of this relationship and the need to better include disability in education for law students, and training in the legal profession, in order to achieve ‘effective justice’ for disabled people in the courts (ECHR, 2020).
The global COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the growing inequality gap disabled people increasingly face (UN, 2020). The United Kingdom government’s response to the pandemic led to far reaching changes to the law affecting disabled people under the Coronavirus Act 2020; affecting all aspects of disabled people’s lives. Never has teaching and research on disability law and policy been more important in legal education. Now more than ever, we need inclusive legal education which better integrates the complex intersection of disability and law and better enables law students to perceive and critically analyse the law’s impact on disabled people.
The tumultuous context of the coronavirus crisis creates an even greater imperative to develop a vision for disability rights for the next generation. Research and teaching on disability law is fundamental to achieving this vision.
About the speaker
About Meeting Minds Global 2021
Meeting Minds Global 2021 is a week-long virtual event, bringing Oxford alumni and associates together from around the world.
The series will feature a wide variety of exciting and interesting talks streamed live across four time zones; New York (EDT), London (BST), Hong Kong (HKT) and Tokyo (JST). Join several speakers, who will share their experiences and expertise across a diverse range of topics; from science and technology, the humanities, and the medical and social sciences.
The Faculty of Law will be hosting sessions throughout the week and all alumni are welcome. To join, please book your ticket through the Meeting Minds site.