Whilst equal opportunity policies, related research and subsequent curricula changes over recent years may have begun to have a positive impact in some areas of nursing education and practice, 'disability' struggles for recognition as an equality issue. Disabled people, making up approximately six million of the UK population, experience discrimination as part of their daily lives and this is also evident in the nursing services they receive. Far from challenging discrimination, nursing education may simply sustain the negative dominant ideological view of disability. Drawing comparisons with 'race', which has an established equal opportunity dimension, this paper explores disability equality, which is relatively neglected in nursing curricula. From this review it is argued that nursing as a profession has a role beyond patient care in influencing public perceptions concerning disabled people and should take more positive steps in promoting social justice by challenging discrimination. Stakeholders in nursing curricula and nursing practice have both legal and professional responsibilities to ensure that nursing and nurses become part of the solution to disability discrimination. Including disability in equal opportunity policies and strengthening their impact on pre and post registration nursing curricula, provides nursing with a tangible opportunity to do just that.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam. All rights reserved.
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