It is important to remember that people are not defined by any singular characteristic. Social determinants such as ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexual orientation combine and intersect to affect health and wellbeing, often varying across the life-course.   Everyone has at least five protected characteristics.

A narrow focus on one aspect of an individual´s or a group´s identity may therefore work to the detriment of understanding and responding to the reality of their lives and experiences.

The Equality Act 2010 merged a number of main pieces of equalities legislation including the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995.  The DDA was amended in 2005 and this introduced the Disability Equality Duty which placed a duty on public bodies to promote equality between disabled and non-disabled people and required them to produce an action plan evidencing how disability equality will be achieved. This disability legislation has been superseded by the Equality Act 2010 which has enhanced protections for disabled people against discrimination.

In terms of the Equality Act 2010, Disability can be defined as difficulty in performing day-to-day tasks for a period of twelve months or longer because of a physical or mental impairment. This includes people with visible disabilities, such as wheelchair users, as well as those with invisible disabilities such as people with dyslexia or mental health conditions.  From 2005, people with certain long-term illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, coronary heart disease or HIV were also considered disabled from the point of diagnosis.

There are different definitions and models of disability. The individual or medical model focuses on the individual and their impairment, where the social model emphasises the restrictions imposed upon the person by their social and physical environment.

Surrey Coalition of Disabled People:

The East Sussex Disability Association enables disabled people in East Sussex to achieve independence and control over their own lives:

MIND (Mental health information, support and advice):

Disability Rights: