Disability Discrimination Act 1995

As from 1st October 2004 the final part of the act came into force The duties on service providers were introduced in three stages:

  • Since 2 December 1996 it has been unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability;
  • Since 1 October 1999 service providers have had to make ‘reasonable adjustments” for disabled people, such as providing extra help or making changes to the way they provide their services; and
  • From 1 October 2004 service providers may have to make other “reasonable adjustments” in relation to the physical features of their premises to overcome physical barriers to access.
  • The Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person:
  • By refusing to provide (or deliberately not providing) any service which it provides (or is prepared to provide) to members of the public: or
  • in the standard of service which it provides to the disabled person or the manner in which it provides it: or
  • in the terms on which it provides a service to the disabled person.

From 1 October 2004, where a physical feature makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of services, a service provider will have to take reasonable steps to:

  • remove the feature
  • alter it so that it no longer has that effect
  • provide a reasonable means of avoiding it
  • provide a reasonable alternative method of making the services available

Examples of these are:

  • widening a doorway;
  • providing a permanent ramp for a wheelchair user:
  • relocating light switches, door handles or shelves for someone who has difficulty in reaching; providing appropriate contrast in decor to assist the safe mobility of a visually impaired person;
  • installing a permanent induction loop system:
  • providing tactile buttons in lifts.

Auxiliary aids and services

A service provider must take reasonable steps to provide auxiliary aids or services if this would enable (or make it easier for) disabled people to make use of any services which it offers to the public.

What is a “physical feature”?

steps, stairways, kerbs, exterior surfaces and paving, parking areas, building entrances and exits (including emergency escape routes), internal and external doors. gates. toilet and washing facilities, public facilities (such as telephones, counters or service desks), lighting and ventilation,lifts and escalators, floor coverings, signs, furniture, temporary or movable items (such as equipment and display racks).