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Access Consultancy
Access Consultancy

Access Consultancy

Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Background

GreenDoor Consultants - Building Control Consultancy and Building Control Services

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 came into force on 2 December 2005.

The Act places duties on Employers, Service Providers and Education Providers not to discriminate against disabled people.

After the introduction of the employment provisions in the Act, between December 1996 and end of April 1999, over 5000 cases of discrimination have been taken to tribunal. This is more than those resulting from the sex discrimination and race relations legislation, taken over a similar period.

The duties on service providers are being introduced in three stages. Phases 1 and 2 were introduced in December 1996 and October 1999. The more onerous and final phase was introduced in October 2004.

The Definition Of Disabled Under The Act

There is a common misconception that disabled people are only those with mobility difficulties and sensory impairments.

The definition of disability under the Act is broad:

"a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on a persons ability to carry out day to day activities"

To be considered as Substantial it must be more than minor.

For example:

  • Inability to turn a tap or door knob
  • Inability to remember and relay a simple message correctly
  • Inability to see moving traffic to cross road safely

Employer Responsibilities

Part II of the Act places duties on employers to make reasonable adjustments to those employment arrangements and physical features of the work place, which obstruct an employee from carrying out their duties, or continuing their employment.

The duty of reasonable adjustment is triggered when a disabled person applies for a job, is employed, or when an existing employee requires adjustments.

Physical features include:

Anything that arises from the buildings design or construction, including the approach to, exit from or access to such a building. Fixtures, fittings, furnishings, furniture, equipment or materials. Any other physical element or quality of land in the premises.

Service Providers

GreenDoor Consultants - Building Control Consultancy and Building Control Services Part III of the Act places duties on those providing goods, facilities or services to the public (service providers) and those selling, letting or managing premises, not to discriminate against disabled people.

From 2004 service providers are required to remove or alter the physical features of their premises that hinder access to goods, facilities and services. Physical barriers are classified as anything that arises from the design or construction of a building as well as the approach to a building, including approaches to and exits from that building.

Enlightened business managers are advised to take action in advance of the legal requirement.

Commisioning a survey to assess any shortfalls shows intent to overcome problems.

Education Providers

Schools have responsibilities under part II and part III as employers and service providers as well as part IV as education providers under the Disability Discrimination Act. Additionally they also have duties under the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act 2001 (SENDA). The mixture of requirements is complex.

SENDA, as well as requiring strategic planning from LEA's to increase the overall accessibility of their premises also requires schools to produce accessibility plans as well as change its practices, policy and procedures to prevent discrimination against disabled people.

Schools are required to have their accessibility plans in place by April 2004.

Schools should be aware that if their facilities are let to outside groups for private functions then they would be classified as a service provider under the DDA and responsible to comply with the requirements and stringent time scale imposed by Part III.

What To Do Next

Firstly it is important to establish which parts of the Act are applicable to your business. This will help to identify the requirements and time scales which are applicable.

Having established whether you are a service provider, employer or both, the next step should be examining your practices, policies and procedures. This process will determine whether you have systems in place which discriminate against disabled people.

An access survey or plan assessment should be carried out at, or on your premises to establish which physical features act as obstacles or hazards to disabled people. If you have discovered any areas of concern, an appropriate action plan addressing these areas should be developed.

Using Greendoor as professional consultants brings you peace of mind, as we help you meet your responsibilities. Contact us Now