A brief guide to the Disability Discrimination Act DL40 From November 1995 For more copies of this leaflet telephone 0345 622 633 (textphone 0345 622 644) or write to: Disability on the Agenda FREEPOST Bristol BS38 7DE This leaflet is also available in braille, audio cassette, signed and subtitled video, and in a version for people with learning disabilities. If you would like to receive more detailed information when it becomes available, please ring the telephone/textphone number or write to the Freepost address above. This leaflet gives general guidance only and should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law. Issued on behalf of the Minister for Disabled People. Introduction The provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act will come into force over the next few years. This leaflet gives a brief outline of: 1. What the Act does 2. Who is affected by the Act 3. The new rights for disabled people 4. Other measures in the Act 5. When the new measures begin 1. What the Act does The Disability Discrimination Act brings in new laws and measures aimed at ending the discrimination which many disabled people face. The Act gives disabled people new rights in the areas of: employment; getting goods and services; buying or renting land or property. The Act requires schools, colleges and universities to provide information for disabled people. The Act also allows the Government to set minimum standards so that disabled people can use public transport more easily. In addition, the Act sets up the National Disability Council and the Northern Ireland Disability Council to advise the Government on discrimination against disabled people. 2. Who is affected by the Act Many people with and without disabilities will be affected by the Act. 2.1 Disabled people The Act gives new rights to people who have or have had a disability which makes it difficult for them to carry out normal day to day activities. The disability could be physical, sensory, or mental. It must also be substantial and have a long-term effect (that means the disability must last or be expected to last for 12 months). Conditions which have a slight effect on day to day activities, but are expected to become substantial are covered. Severe disfigurement is also classified as a disability. 2.2 Employers and service providers Employers and people who provide goods and services to the public will have to take reasonable measures to make sure that they are not discriminating against disabled people. Some people will have to take measures both as a employer and as someone who provides goods and services to the public. 2.3 Landlords and others who are responsible for letting or selling property People who sell or let property will have to ensure that they do not unreasonably discriminate against disabled people. 3. The new rights for disabled people 3.1 Employment What employers will have to do It will be against the law for an employer to treat a disabled person less favourably than someone else because of their disability, unless there is good reason. This applies to all employment matters (including recruitment, training, promotion and dismissal). In order to help a disabled person to do the job, employers will have to look at what changes they could make to the workplace or to the way the work is done, and make any changes which are reasonable. Employers will be able to take into account how much the changes would cost and how much they would help, when considering what is reasonable. In the same way, it will be against the law for trade associations, trade unions and professional bodies to treat a disabled person less favourably than someone else. Employers will still be able to recruit or promote the best person for the job. Employers will not be expected to make any changes which would break health or safety laws. Employers who are exempt The employment part of the Act does not apply to employers who employ fewer than 20 people. However, they will be encouraged to follow good practice guidelines. It also does not apply to operational staff employed in the armed forces, the police, the prison services, the fire services, or to anyone employed on board ships, hovercrafts or aeroplanes. Complaints Disabled people who feel they have been discriminated against can take their case to an industrial tribunal. Where a complaint is made to a tribunal ACAS (the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service), or in Northern Ireland the LRA (Labour Relations Agency), will make available the services of a conciliation officer who will attempt to help the parties settle the complaint without the need for a tribunal hearing. ACAS, or in Northern Ireland the LRA, can also assist in this way without a formal application to a tribunal being made. Changes to current employment rules Registration as disabled and the Quota Scheme will end around the end of 1996. This will mean that when the employment rights begin: disabled people will no longer need to register employers will no longer be required to employ a quota of registered disabled people. The National Advisory Council on Employment of People with Disabilities The National Council on Employment of People with Disabilities (NACEPD) will advise the Government on those parts of the Act which cover employment, and on employment issues in general. 3.2 Goods, facilities, services and property The Act will affect anyone who provides goods, facilities or services to members of the public whether paid for or free. This could range from buying bread in a supermarket, using the facilities in a launderette, or borrowing a book from a public library. Private clubs are not included. Providing the same standard of service to everyoneIt will be against the law to refuse to serve someone who is disabled, because of a reason relating to their disability. For example, it will be against the law for a supermarket owner to refuse to serve someone whose disability means that they shop more slowly. It will be against the law to offer a disabled person a service which is not as good as the service being offered to other people. For example, it will be against the law for a restaurant owner to insist that a person with a facial disfigurement sits out of sight of the other customers. It will be against the law to provide a service to a disabled person on terms which are different from the terms given to other people. For example, it will be against the law to ask a disabled person for a bigger deposit when they are booking a holiday. Exceptions If, the health and safety of the disabled person or other people would be in danger, it would not be against the law to refuse to provide the service to a disabled person or to provide it on different terms. Other exceptions would arise if: the customer was not capable of understanding the terms of a contract; providing the service or the same standard of service would deny other customers. Making changes to the way goods, facilities and services are provided It will be against the law for someone to run a service, or provide goods or facilities, in a way which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use the service or goods. For example, a restaurant which does not allow animals will not be able to refuse admission to a disabled person with a guide dog. It will not be against the law, however, if the way the service is run is fundamental to the business. For example, dim lighting could be considered essential to a nightclub even though it causes difficulties for someone with poor eyesight. People will have to provide equipment or other helpful items which make it easier for disabled people to use their service, if it is reasonable to do so. For example, an induction loop might make it easier for people who use hearing aids, or a hand rail for people who find walking up stairs difficult. People will have to remove physical obstructions (for example, widening entrance doors) or provide other ways of letting disabled people use their services, if it is reasonable to do so. For example, if a library’s reference section is on the first floor and there is no lift, library staff could offer to bring the reference books to the disabled person. Service providers will not be able to charge a disabled person more to meet the cost of making it easier for them to use their service. Selling or letting land or property It will be against the law for anyone who sells or lets land or property (and their agents) to unreasonably discriminate against disabled people. For example, a landlord could not charge a disabled person a higher rent than he would charge anyone else. A landlord who rents six or fewer rooms in his own home would not be affected. People selling or renting property do not have to make adjustments to make it accessible. Complaints If a disabled person feels they have been wrongly excluded from the provision of goods or services, or the selling or letting of land or property, they will be able to go to court to seek damages for any financial loss they have suffered and for injury to their feelings. There will be an upper limit on the amount of damages that can be paid for injuries to feelings. The National Disability Council and The Northern Ireland Disability Council The National Disability Council and the Northern Ireland Disability Council will be independent bodies which will advise the Government on ending discrimination against disabled people; on how well the Act is working; and on whether any changes need to be made. They will also give advice on how to put the new rights about goods and services into place by preparing codes of practice. They will publish an annual report. 4. Other measures in the Act 4.1 Transport The Government will be able to set minimum standards for new public transport vehicles (taxis, buses, coaches, trains and trams) so that disabled people, including people who use a wheelchair, can use them. For example, disabled people who use wheelchairs will eventually be able to hire taxis in the street or at a taxi rank like everyone else. 4.2 Education The Act ensures recognition of the needs of disabled people wishing to study and the provision of better information for parents, pupils and students. Schools will have to explain their arrangements for the admission of disabled pupils, how they will help these pupils gain access and what they will do to ensure they are treated fairly. Further and higher education institutions funded by the Further and Higher Education Funding Councils will have to publish disability statements containing information about facilities for disabled people. Local Education Authorities will have to provide information on their further education facilities for disabled people. 5. When the new measures begin The measures in the Act will be introduced over a number of years. The Government will consult on a number of areas of the Act first. Consultation Before any of the measures are introduced there will be a period where the Government will seek the views of people affected by the Act. Consultation has begun within the transport industry and users on implementing the new standards. The regulations will be introduced over a period of time. Views will also be sought on: how the employment provisions are likely to work in practice (December 95-March 96); matters relating to the definition of disability (December 95-March 96); educational measures (January-March 96); goods and services - the right to be served (March-May 96); access to land and property (March-May 96); the timing of the introduction of the remaining goods, facilities and services provisions (March- May 96). Implementation February/March 1996 The National Disability Council and The Northern Ireland Disability Council will be set up. Around the end of 1996 It will be against the law for an employer to treat a disabled person less favourably, without good reason, because of their disability. It will be against the law to refuse to serve someone who is disabled, because of a reason relating to their disability. 1997 onwards (subject to consultation) It will be against the law for someone to run a service, or provide goods or facilities, in a way which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use the service or goods. People will have to provide equipment or other helpful items to make it easier for disabled people to use their service. People will have to remove physical obstructions or provide other ways of letting disabled people use their services.
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