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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

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)

If you have a disabled child who you think has suffered unlawful discrimination, you can normally make a claim to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (Sendist). This tribunal can order the discrimination to stop, but it cannot order financial compensation.

However, if your complaint is about your child being refused admission to, or being permanently excluded from, a local authority-run school, you must complain to the local authority, not Sendist.

If you want to make a complaint to Sendist under the Disability Discrimination Act, you must send your complaint on the form called Notice of a Disability Discrimination Claim. This form is in the booklet ‘Disability Discrimination in Schools: how to make a claim’, which is available:

  • from the Equality and Human Rights Disability Commission; or
  • by phoning the Sendist service helpline.

See ‘Further help’ for contact details for these organisations.

If you want to take a case to the tribunal, you must start it within six months minus one day from when the discrimination first happened. You must send your claim form to the tribunal, which will then decide whether it can deal with the claim.

If it can, it will send a copy of your form to the school you are complaining about. Both sides have 30 days to provide further information, called a ‘case statement’.

The tribunal will then fix a date for a hearing. The whole process from starting a complaint until receiving a decision should take around four months.

You or the school can appeal against the tribunal’s decision to the High Court. But you can appeal only on whether the law was applied correctly, not on whether you thought the tribunal’s decision was fair. You have 28 days after the decision to start an appeal.

The appeal process is free and designed to be informal so that parents can present their case themselves. In practice, however, you may find it useful to get advice and help with preparing or presenting your case at the hearing. You may be able to get free legal help and advice, depending on your circumstances. See ‘The Community Legal Service’ for how to find out more about this.

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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