Gooding, who died on 19 July, was an equality consultant and author who played a leading role in securing improvements to disability rights legislation as a member of the Disability Rights Taskforce, and later as director of legislative change at the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) throughout its eight years.
She also helped to set up the Disability Discrimination Act Representation and Advice Project, known as DDA RAP, and was its first director.
DDA RAP was set up by lawyers who were concerned that, as the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) came into force, there was no body to enforce it, in the years before the launch of the DRC.
She and other experienced discrimination lawyers took DDA cases on a pro bono basis, with funding from the Nuffield Foundation.
Gooding also wrote the first guide to the DDA, and wrote, or co-wrote, books on disability rights in Europe, on the law for lesbians and gay men, and on disability rights in Britain and America.
Among her other roles, she was a former advisor to RADAR, an associate of the Employers’ Forum on Disability (now the Business Disability Forum) for 18 years, a former practising solicitor, and chaired the Trade Union Disability Alliance (TUDA) for more than 10 years.
Disability Rights UK (DR UK) said Gooding was “an incredible campaigner for disability rights and law reform” and “personally helped make Britain a more inclusive place”.
Liz Sayce, chief executive of DR UK, and a fellow director of Gooding at the DRC, said: “Caroline made a massive difference to disabled people’s rights.
“She had an exceptional combination of vision, intellect and practicality.
“That’s why she succeeded in influencing government to extend disability rights again and again (for instance, in 2005, achieving the positive disability equality duty, and improved rights for people with cancer, ms and depression); and how she led effective programmes to persuade service providers and public bodies to make changes happen.
“She was a fantastic colleague – funny, strong-minded, imaginative – and engaged passionately in issues from LGBT rights to trade unionism.”
Other leading activists and campaigners paid tribute to Gooding on Twitter.
Dr Ju Gosling said she was “very saddened” by the news of her death, and that she had been “privileged” to co-chair TUDA with her for two years.
Julie Newman, acting chair of the UK Disabled People’s Council, said Gooding was an “inspired campaigner”, and consultant Tracey Proudlock said she would be “a great loss to everyone campaigning for a fairer Britain”.
Researcher Louca-Mai Brady said Gooding was “an inspirational champion for disability rights who will be much missed”, while James Partridge, chief executive of Changing Faces, said she was a “dedicated articulate champion of disabled people’s rights”.
Former DRC colleagues also paid tribute. Neil Crowther said Gooding “leaves a world behind her so much improved for her contribution”, while Neil Coyle said she was “a dedicated champion of equality and significant contributor to anti-discrimination law”.
24 July 2014