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18 Rights for Disabled People

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1. Introduction

2. When discrimination can happen

3. What the law says

4. What counts as a disability

5. When discrimination is allowed

6. Discrimination at work

7. Discrimination when buying and using goods and services

‘Goods, facilities and services’ include things that are free, as well as those you pay for. The term covers many businesses and services, including:

  • shops, including mail-order and internet shopping services;
  • hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs;
  • bus and railway stations, airports and leisure centres;
  • bank accounts, loans, credit cards and insurance;
  • government departments, courts, doctors and law firms;
  • services offered by local councils, such as parks;
  • trains, trams, taxis, mini cabs, most rental vehicles and buses (though for now, the Act does not cover aircraft).

The Disability Discrimination Act says that, as well as treating disabled people as favourably as anyone else, service providers must anticipate problems that disabled people might face in using their services, and take reasonable steps to improve access. This means they might have to:

  • change the way they provide a service (for example, a theatre might provide a sign-language interpreter at some performances for people with impaired hearing); or
  • make it easier to get into and out of a building (for example, by widening doorways or building ramps for wheelchair users).

Organisations do not have to change or avoid every obstacle to access. For example, an organisation does not have to make every entrance to their building accessible to someone in a wheelchair, as long as there are enough ways into a building that would not be difficult or humiliating to use.

Special rules apply to trains, buses, trams, taxis and minicabs. Transport providers do not usually have to change the structure of vehicles, but they may need to change policies or procedures that make it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use them.

There are also special rules covering insurance, guarantees and deposits.

For more examples of the changes it would be reasonable to make, see the codes of practice available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (see ‘Further help’).

8. Discrimination by public authorities

9. Discrimination by private clubs and associations

10. Discrimination when buying or renting a property

11. Discrimination at school or college

12. What you can do about discrimination

13. Going to an employment tribunal (ET)

14. Going to court

15. Going to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (Sendist)

16. The Human Rights Act

17. Further help

18. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Andrew Short, a barrister at Outer Temple Chambers and specialist in discrimination law.

Leaflet Version: August 2008

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