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Disability laws will be ‘massively liberating’

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PROVIDING disabled access in all buildings is essential and would be ‘massively liberating’, the new president of a disability charity has said.

Will Ross (28931458)

Since an accident which left him paralysed in 2018, Enable Jersey’s new president Will Ross said he had faced unacceptable disability barriers, and stressed the importance of introducing laws to address the issue.

Legislation which requires all buildings to provide disabled access is due to come into force on 1 September but there are fears this may be delayed owing to Covid-19.

Mr Ross said: ‘Coronavirus will only delay the legislation; it won’t stop it. It will be massively liberating when this comes into force and highlights the progress our community has made in making those less able feel more comfortable in everyday situations. We don’t want businesses to be worried about having to make changes to provide disabled access. Enable Jersey is here to raise awareness and offer advice to businesses on how they can make those changes.’

The charity, which was founded in 1970, was originally known as The Jersey Society for the Disabled. It was set up with the aim of making change and providing better opportunities for disabled people in Jersey.

Mr Ross suffered multiple spinal fractures and was left paralysed from the chest down in an accident in 2018.

He added: ‘It’s been a truly eye-opening experience and I’ve had to adjust quickly. I am committed to actively supporting Enable’s work in lobbying for disability rights, and acting as the face of Enable Jersey to help raise awareness of these issues.’

The charity celebrated its 50th anniversary by welcoming Mr Ross as its new president, with its chairwoman, Clair Cousins, saying that his appointment would help ‘soften the impact of Covid-19’.

She added: ‘His story highlights how much needs to change to enable people with different abilities to access our wonderful Island. I’m so excited about working with Will in evaluating how we can add the most value and ensure our work continues to have focus and meaning.’

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Questions left unanswered by the government

In February, Jersey Property Holdings, the unit responsible for managing the government’s property portfolio, told a Scrutiny panel it ‘did not have enough money’ to make its buildings accessible to disabled people, in line with discrimination laws coming into force in September. Despite asking the government the following questions on 24 July, no response has been received.

What is the current situation?

Is Jersey Property Holdings being given additional money to make its properties compliant?

Will Jersey Property Holdings be liable to legal action if its properties are not compliant when the new law comes into force?

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