Disability Wales

The national association of disabled people's organisations

Disability Wales - your first port of call for information, comment, opinion and opportunities for getting involved in campaigning for disability equality.

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Disability Wales was established in 1972 as the ‘Wales Council for the Disabled’ following Welsh Office recognition that a national coordinating voluntary body was required to liaise with central and local government that could speak on behalf of disabled people on matters of common concern.

The Council for Social Service in Wales (now known as Wales Council for Voluntary Action) was commissioned by the Welsh Office to undertake a series of consultative conferences across Wales to seek the opinion of disabled people and their local organisations. Receiving enthusiastic support, the identified priorities to be tackled by the proposed new body included finance, employment, mobility, care services, access, education and recreation.

Forty years on these issues remain as relevant as ever notwithstanding the transformation in legislation, social policy and public attitudes towards disabled people.

Key Achievements

Since 1972 Disability Wales has contributed significantly to the development of disability related policy in Wales, pioneered innovative services, established new organisations and initiated campaigns to secure the rights, equality and independence of disabled people. Noteworthy achievements include:

  • The first Aids and Equipment Resource Centre in Wales (1978)
  • Access Building Awards Scheme (1979 -91) and the first ever Access Design Guidance Notes (1978)
  • Mobile information service (DAI) (1989-97)
  • Development of new national and local disability organisations in the fields of sports, the arts, young people and access (1980s – )
  • First programme in Wales to train disabled people to become Disability Equality Trainers (1992)
  • Providing advice to over 2000 disabled people about establishing their own business through the Enter DW Project (2001-8)
  • High profile campaigns on Access to the High Street, Disability Hate Crime, Independent Living and Welfare Reform (2008- )
  • Leadership role in Coalition on Charging Cymru (2000 -) actively contributed to development of Social Care Charging Measure 2011


Vital to Disability Wales’ success over forty years is the role and support of our membership, enabling us to speak to Government authoritatively on the everyday experiences of disabled people with the purpose of informing and influencing policy. To add your voice to ours, or to find out more about our work, explore our website and contact us

Disability Wales Timeline

Some of the significant dates in the history of Disability Wales and its members include:

1972: Wales Council for the Disabled (WCD) established as a committee of the Council for Social Service in Wales.

1976: WCD becomes an autonomous voluntary body

1981: During the International Year of Disabled People, WCD hosts a worldwide conference in Swansea University for disabled people

1991: Introduction of the Community Care Act

1994: WCD members vote to change its name to Disability Wales to reflect the changing aspirations of and attitudes towards disabled people

1995: Introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act

1996: Introduction of the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act

2003: During the European Year of Disabled People, DW members vote for the organisation to be run and controlled by disabled people and to formally adopt the Social Model of Disability

2005: Introduction of the Disability Equality Duty

2008: DW commences a three year programme to involve members and stakeholders in developing a Manifesto for Independent Living

2010: Introduction of the Equality Act replacing the DDA (1995 & 2005)

2011: DW publishes its Manifesto for Independent Living prior to the National Assembly Elections. The Welsh Government responds by announcing plans to develop a Framework for Action on Independent Living underpinned by the Wales Public Sector Equality Duties

2012: DW celebrates its 40th Anniversary through a range of activities including an oral history project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund – the Story at 40: the lives and times of disabled people in Wales.