The requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) have been introduced gradually since 1996. Part III of the DDA covering Disabled Access - officially called 'Rights of Access - Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises' covers those providing goods, facilities or services to the public and those selling, letting or managing premises.
The Act makes it unlawful for service providers, landlords and other persons to discriminate against disabled people in certain circumstances.
The duties on service providers are being introduced in three stages:
- since 2 December 1996 it has been unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability;
- since 1 October 1999 service providers have had to make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people, such as providing extra help or making changes to the way they provide their services; and
- from 1 October 2004 service providers may have to make other 'reasonable adjustments' in relation to the physical features of their premises to overcome physical barriers to access.
The Disability Rights Commission
The Disability Rights Commission was set up under another Act of Parliament in 1999. The commission works towards
- the elimination of discrimination against disabled people
- promotes equal opportunities for disabled people
- encourages good practice in the treatment of disabled people.
A Code of Practice covering Disabled Access can be obtained from their web site.This gives good advice to actual or potential providers of services and guidance on what constitutes 'reasonable adjustments'.
If, as a disabled person you feel that you have been discriminated against by a provider of goods, facilities or services, you should
- talk to an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau
- contact the Disability Rights Commission on-line at Helpline Enquiry or
Tel. 08457 622 633 or
Textphone 08457 622 644
Also on devon.gov.uk