Access for Disabled
Disability Discrimination Act 1995
If you are a disabled person or a person who has had a disability, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 makes it unlawful for you to be discriminated against in the following areas:
- access to goods, facilities and services, and
- the management, buying or renting of land and property.
The definition of disability is wide; disabled people are not only those with sensory disabilities (hearing or visual impairment) or physical disabilities. People with learning disabilities, mental distresses, asthma, diabetes or epilepsy along with progressive conditions such as aids or multiple sclerosis, for example, can all be "disabled" under the DDA.
- Treating a disabled person less favourably ( for reasons relating to their disability ) than someone who is not disabled,
- failing to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the disabled person, and
- if the less favourable treatment or the failure to make adjustments is not reasonable.
The DDA was passed in 1995 to introduce new measures targeted at ending the discrimination encountered by many disabled people.
The first rights under the DDA became law for employers on 2nd December 1996. Others will gradually be introduced.
For "a provider of services" (such as, organisations and businesses):
- Since December 1996 it has been unlawful to treat disabled people less favourably than other people for a reason related to their disability.
- Since October 1999 they have had to make "reasonable adjustments" for disabled people; for instance, providing extra assistance or changing practices, policies or procedures which make it "unreasonably difficult" for a disabled person to use a service.
- From 2004, where a physical feature makes it either unreasonably difficult or impossible for a disabled person to access a service available to the public, "a provider of services" will have to make provisions, where reasonable, to:
a) remove the feature, or
b) alter it so that it no longer has that effect, or
c) provide a reasonable means of avoiding the feature, or
d) provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service available to disabled people the latter duty has been in force since 1st October 1999).
The DDA, also:
- allows central government to set minimum standards to assist disabled people to use public transport more easily,
- requires educational establishments (such as, schools, colleges and universities) to provide information for disabled people.
To view a complete copy of the Disability Discrimination Act, please visit the Government's website: www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts1995/1995050.htm
The Disability Rights Commission
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is an independent body established by central Government to help secure civil rights for people. Its statutory duties are:
- To work to eliminate discrimination against disabled people.
- To promote equal opportunities for disabled people.
- To encourage good practice in the treatment of disabled people.
- To advise central government on the working of disability legislation (the DDA and the Disability Rights Commission Act 1999).
In order to undertake these duties, the DRC has a number of specific functions:
a) assisting disabled people to secure their rights, and arranging for legal advice and help where appropriate
b) providing information and advice to disabled people and to employers and service providers about their rights and duties under the DDA
c) preparing and reviewing statutory codes of practice, which provide practical guidance to employers and service providers on meeting their obligations under the DDA on good practice
d) providing an independent conciliation service in the event of disputes between disabled people and service providers over access to goods and services, and monitoring the performance of the conciliation service
e) undertaking formal investigations into how disabled people are treated in a particular organisation or sector, and into unlawful acts by particular organisations
f) carrying out research to inform discussion and policy - making and to ascertain how well the law affecting the rights of disabled people is working.
Source: Disability Rights Commission
Further guidance and assistance is available from the Disability Rights Commission.
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