Disability Rights Commission

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is an independent body set up by the Government to help secure civil rights for disabled 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 the Government on the working of disability legislation (the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 and the Disability Rights Commission Act 1999).

Functions of the DRC

In order to carry out these duties, the DRC has a number of specific functions:


Assisting disabled people to secure their rights, and arranging for legal advice and help where appropriate.

Information and advice

Providing information and advice to disabled people and to employers and service providers about their rights and duties under the DDA.

Codes of Practice

Preparing and reviewing statutory codes of practice, which provide practical guidance to employers and service providers on meeting their obligations under the DDA and on good practice.


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.


Undertaking formal investigations into how disabled people are treated in a particular organisation or sector, and into unlawful acts by particular organisations.


Carrying out research to inform discussion and policy-making and to ascertain how well the law affecting the rights of disabled people is working.

Background and History

The Government is committed to developing comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people. In October 1997 it announced that it would: establish a Ministerial Task Force to undertake a wide consultation exercise on how to implement comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people; go ahead with implementing the later rights of access to goods and services in the Disability Discrimination Act; move to establish a Disability Rights Commission (DRC).

In July 1998 the Government published a White Paper for consultation, setting out its proposals on the role and functions of a DRC. This was based largely on the recommendations of the Disability Rights Task Force.

The responses to the White Paper showed that there was widespread support for a DRC. A majority of respondents supported all the main proposals on what the role and functions of the DRC should be.

The Government introduced the Disability Rights Commission Bill in the House of Lords on 3 December 1998 and in the House of Commons on 24 March 1999. The Bill received Royal Assent in July 1999.

The Commission opened for business on 25 April 2000.

In carrying out its duties, the DRC is building links with disability and advisory groups, networks and organisations representing business and employers.

The DRC is also working with other public and statutory bodies on issues relating to discrimination where a joint approach is appropriate. The DRC will report on what links are made, and how effective those links are, in its Annual Report.