Disability Committee

This page introduces the Commission's Disability Committee, explains its purpose, lists who is on the Committee, and provides some background information about the individuals involved. 

You can contact the Disability Committee by email

About the Committee

The Disability Committee is a statutory decision-making committee, established by the Equality Act 2006. At least half of its members must be disabled people and the chair must be (or have been) a disabled person.

The functions delegated to the Disability Committee are the Commission’s duties as they relate to 'disability matters' in:

  • promoting understanding of the importance of equality and diversity;
  • encouraging good practice;
  • promoting equality of opportunity;
  • promoting awareness and understanding of rights;
  • enforcing equality law;
  • working towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and harassment;
  • promoting understanding of good relations.

The Commission retains its powers and duties where they relate partly to disability and partly to other matters. However, the Commission must consult the Disability Committee on matters affecting disabled people.

The Disability Committee must consult the Commission's Scotland and Wales committees on disability advice to national governments. 

Members of the Disability Committee

Chris Holmes MBE

Disability Commissioner and Chair of the Disability Committee

Chris Holmes was appointed as Chair of the Disability Committee and Disability Commissioner in January 2013. He is Director of Paralympic Integration at LOCOG (since 2009) where he was responsible for leading the team that planned and delivered the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Also a Non- executive Director at UK Sport (since 2005) where he has been the Chair of the Audit Committee since 2006, also a Patron of Help for Heroes and a commercial lawyer. Chris was awarded the MBE in 1993 in the Queen's New Year's Honours List for services to sports.

Andrew Lee

In the 1990s Andrew was a Lay assessor for the Hertfordshire inspection unit and a founding trustee of PoHwer, the advocacy agency in Hertfordshire. In 1999 he was employed as Director at People First (self advocacy) and has been Co-chair of the Learning Disability Coalition since 2007. He gave evidence to the hate crime enquiry and to the All Party Select Committee on Human Rights regarding Independent Living. He was on the Learning Disability Action Group of the Disability Rights Commission and part of the team that led the enquiry into primary and social care for people with learning difficulties. He also sat on the Advisory Group that set up Equality 2025.

Kirsten Hearn

Vice chair of the Disability Committee. For the last 12 years Kirsten has been an experienced advisor to government and key agencies as a non-executive director and a freelance trainer, researcher and consultant. She is the chair of Inclusion London, the Deaf and Disabled People's organisations community interest company, and is a trustee (and former vice-chair) of the consortium of LGBT community and voluntary organisations. Kirsten was an independent member of the Metropolitan Police Authority from 2002 until its abolition in January 2012, where she chaired the Equality and Diversity sub-committee and co-chaired the Domestic and Sexual Violence board. For eight years (from 2000), Kirsten was a member of the Transport for London Board where she championed social inclusion.

Kirsten was an external member of the Office for Disability Issues Disability Equality Delivery board from 2009 to 2012. She helped set up Equality 2025 serving as a member for three years (2006/2009), providing disability equality advice at the heart of government. Kirsten was a member of the Arts Council England Independent Disability Equality Advisory Group for 18 months (until March 2011) and a member of the LGBT Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police Service from 2000 to 2002.

For sixteen years, Kirsten was an equality specialist and senior manager in local government before leaving to create and run her own successful empowerment coaching and training consultancy, specialising in evolutionary change.

Michelle de Oude

Michelle de Oude is Director of a Disability Consultancy and also works as a Policy, Performance and Partnerships Officer - Equalities, for Norfolk County Council. Prior to this, Michelle worked at the Disability Rights Commission for seven years, where she advised stakeholders on the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and had a key role in the co-ordination of DRC projects relating to employment.

Michelle is a member of the Federation of Small Businesses. She is also the Design for All co-ordinator for the British Standards Institute, and Chairs the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Area Crown Prosecution Service Community Involvement Panel. Michelle also acts as an adviser to the National Disabled Fire Association.

Saghir Alam OBE

Saghir is an expert in human rights and diversity issues and a specialist in the area of 'multiple identities'.    He has a legal and business background. He is Chairman of ADD International, a British international development agency working with disabled people in Africa and Asia to bring about positive change.  He is senior partner of Equality Group and Global Diversity.

He is Patron of Include Me Too and the Ethnic Disabled Children Society and Rotherham Advocacy Partnership. He is Chairman of United Kingdom BME Council.

Teresa Waldron

Teresa Waldron currently works as Partnerships, Projects and Social Policy Co-ordinator at Derbyshire Law Centre, an organisation that provides free legal advice and casework services in the field of social welfare law, that includes equality, discrimination and human rights. She was an advisory member of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) Disabled People Involvement Forum, advising ACAS on disability and employment issues. Previously Teresa has worked as an Equality/Disability Consultant for a local council. She has also worked as an Expert by Experience inspector for the Care Quality Commission formerly known as CSCI, having previously worked for five years part-time as a community care law practitioner at the Law Centre.

Teresa was a member of the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board and a trustee of the Law Centres Federation's Executive Committee, Deaf Equality Forward and the United Kingdom Council on Deafness (UKCOD) Boards. She was Chair and Vice-Chair of LINKS Council for Voluntary Service. Teresa used to work as a Community Development worker at Derbyshire Centre for Inclusive Living and as a Youth worker for Derbyshire County Council.

Disability Committee workplans

Disability Committee workplan 2013/14 

Disability Committee workplan 2012/13 

Disability Committee workplan 2011/12 

Disability Committee workplan 2010/11 

The Committee's role was reviewed in 2012/2013 as part of a mandatory consultation under the Equality Act 2006. Details of the review can be found below: 

Independent review of the Disability Committee.









Last Updated: 29 Sep 2014