Disability Discrimination Act
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 provides for disabled people to have the legal right to be treated equal to able bodied persons. This means that all service providers have to ensure that their business is accessible to do business with people with disabilities.
What does the Act require people to do?
From the 1st October 2004 the final part of The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requires service providers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their premises so that there are no physical barriers stopping or making it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use services.
Who does it apply to?
The final part of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) applies to employers, service providers and those selling or letting land and property. It also applies to anyone providing a service to the public, whether you are a public or private operation no matter whether your services are paid for or free.
It has been estimated that over 11 million people in the UK are covered by the provisions of the Act with a combined spending power of £50 billion per year. By complying with the Disability Discrimination Act you can meet your legal requirements and make your business accessible to this market.
How do I comply?
Providing a better service for disabled people doesn’t have to involve investing big sums of money but it does require a full consideration of their needs.
It is recommended that you make a list of the full range of disabilities of people who may visit you. Consider in particular persons who may use wheelchairs or who have partial sight or hearing. It is strongly recommended that wherever possible you consult with disabled people on these matters.
Every company should have written policies and effective and practical procedures on how to approach disability requirements. These should also be made available to all staff and the performance of these practices should be monitored. As a first step here is a 10 point plan that will help you prepare for compliance:
- Follow the route that customers and staff take into and around your premises and consider what particular access needs a disabled person may have at each stage.
- From the car park to the entrance point, consider whether you have provided for disabled car parking, whether you have an unobstructed route to the entrance and whether ramps are available at sufficiently low gradient to allow wheelchair access.
- Look at whether the entrance to the building is easily accessible? Is the intercom or bell at sufficiently low level?
- Can persons with partial hearing be understood at Reception? Would a portable induction hearing loop help with two way communication for
- persons with hearing aids? Are customer toilets accessible on the ground floor, if so are these indicated clearly?
- Are the corridors in the building well lit and provided with sufficient signage that is large enough for partially sighted persons to read?
- Are routes clearly marked and any change of floor level indicated, is there a ramp available where a change of floor level exists?
- Can doors be easily opened? Are they unobstructed and light enough for wheelchair users to open them?
- Can disabled people reach all the floors they need to access, if not what provisions can you make to allow this?
- Have staff kept all routes clear for wheelchair access, are they aware of their responsibilities to help disabled people get around the building? E.g.: help reading signs, keeping routes clear, setting up removable ramps, operating enhanced hearing facilities etc
Don’t wait until it’s too late!
From 1st October 2004 disabled people will have the right to use the power of the courts if they find it unreasonably difficult or impossible to access services and products available to every one else.
For full details of the Disability Discrimination Act please visit www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts1995/1995050.htm.
Further information can also be obtained form the Disability Rights Commission www.drc-gb.org
In order to provide for accessibility for disabled people there be instances where you will need to make alterations to your buildings, this must of course be made in strict consultation with your landlords if applicable.
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