THE EQUALITY ACT 2010
From 1 October 2010, the Equality Act replaced most of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and aimed to simplify the existing anti-discrimination laws with a single act. The Equality Act 2010 aims to protect disabled people and prevent disability discrimination. It provides legal rights for disabled people in the areas of:
- access to goods, services and facilities including larger private clubs and land based transport services
- buying and renting land or property
- functions of public bodies, for example the issuing of licences
More information about the Equality Act 2010, and how you can obtain copies of the Act, can be found on the Government Equalities Office website.
Equality Act: Improving Accessibility At Work
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As part of the Government’s battle to cut bureaucracy for businesses, Home Secretary Theresa May has recently turned her attention to The Equality Act 2010 and is currently looking at areas of the legislation that could be scaled back.
However, a key part of the legislation that is likely to be ring fenced relates to rights of access for disabled people. Under this legislation, service providers have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to premises, or to the way they provide services, in order to accommodate disabled visitors, customers and employees.
Although many businesses still fear this legislation, usually it only takes a few minor changes to make a service accessible and can be as simple as installing a wheelchair ramp or allowing guide dogs into premises.
Generally the key to compliance is identifying the features or practices that put disabled visitors or employees at a substantial disadvantage compared to people who are not disabled and then taking reasonable steps to remedy them.
These features can broadly be divided into three categories which include practices such as excluding dogs from the premises, physical features like flights of stairs or a lack of auxiliary aids such as an induction loop to assist deaf customers.
Reasonable adjustments include removing, altering or avoiding the item in question or else adopting an alternative way of providing the service. Offending physical features might not just be down to a building’s design or construction, instead they could involve changes to a building’s fixtures, fittings or furniture, which could include reasonable adjustments to stairways, steps, parking areas, entrances, exits, doors and gates, toilets and washing facilities, and lifts and escalators.