Esther Leighton

Drawing on her personal experience of tackling disability discrimination, Esther Leighton will be speaking at PLP’s conference 10 years of the Equality Act: Where are we now?

Esther has promoted equality for disabled people by taking a series of cases – mostly as a litigant in person – about common failures to make reasonable adjustments. Earlier this year, Esther was the claimant in an EHRC funded judicial review of costs rules which prevent many disabled people from enforcing their rights under the Equality Act 2010. 

We asked Esther what she thinks are the strengths and limitations of the act, and what is the biggest equality challenge of 2020.

What do you think is the biggest equality challenge of 2020? 

“People who are dying in the greatest numbers and who are impacted most by lockdown are often not being considered in decisions about the recovery from Covid19. “Build Back Better” must mean reducing, not worsening, inequality. For example, track and trace by phone needs ways to work for deaf people, any coronavirus app needs to be accessible to blind people, and cycling needs to be affordable for people who need specialist equipment.”

What is the greatest strength and biggest limitation of the Equality Act 2010?

“The greatest strengths are the anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments in some areas, and that it partially codifies the social model of disability which is so transformative for disabled people. The biggest limitation is the lack of meaningful enforcement – particularly proactive enforcement – which means that in many areas it is less effective than it should be and in some areas things are going backwards.”

What are you looking forward to most about #EA10YearsOn?

“Learning from the amazing line-up and reflecting on how the law has dented inequality.”

Esther is co-founder of Reasonable Access a peer support organisation that empowers and enables disabled people to assert and enforce their access rights.