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The Act 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

If you are disabled, the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it unlawful for you to be discriminated against in:

  • Employment
  • Trade organisations and qualifications bodies
  • Access to goods, facilities and services
  • buying or renting land or property, including making it easier for disabled people to rent property and for tenants to make disability-related adaptations
  • education.


Discrimination is treating a disabled person less favourably, on the ground of disability, than he would treat a person not having that particular disability whose relevant circumstances, including his abilities, are the same as, or not materially different from, those of the disabled person.

Who has rights under the Act?

The act gives rights to disabled people – those with a ”physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day to day activities”.

This includes not just people with obvious physical disabilities or visual or hearing impairments but also people with conditions including dyslexia, learning disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy or heart disease, severe disfigurements etc.

Anyone with cancer, MS or HIV is now protected against unfair treatment from the point of diagnosis.

What employment is covered by the Act?

1. Employers of any size are covered by the Act.

2. Employees includes temporary, part time and permanent employees, and contract workers are also covered

3. Occupations such as police officers, barristers, partnerships and “office holders” (such as magistrates, and chairs of the equality commissions) are covered.

4. The only major occupation not covered by the Act is service in the armed forces.

What does the Act make unlawful

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person

  • In the arrangements he makes for determining to whom he should offer employment, i.e. in the recruitment process.
  • In the terms on which he offers that person employment.
  • By refusing to offer him employment.
  • The terms of employment afforded to him.
  • The opportunities afforded to him for promotion, a transfer training or any other benefit (such as bonuses), or by deliberately not offering him these opportunities.
  • By dismissing him or subjecting him to any other detriment.

Do I have to tell an employer about my disability?

There is nothing which states that you have to tell an employer about your disability. However, there is no obligation for an employer to make a reasonable adjustment where they do not know or could not reasonably be expected to know, that you would need any adjustments.

What are reasonable adjustments?

  • The extent to which taking the adjustment would prevent the effect in question
  • The practicability of taking the step
  • The financial and other cost in making the adjustment and the extent to which taking it would disrupt any of its activities
  • The extent of the employer’s resources
  • The availability of financial or other assistance for making the adjustment
  • The nature of his activities and the size of his undertaking
  • Where the step would be taken in relation to a private household, the extent to which taking it would disrupt the household or disturb any person residing there.

Employment services Employment services – vocational guidance, vocational training, or services to assist a person to obtain or retain employment, or to establish him/herself as self-employed – are also covered by the Act. They include organisations such as Job Centre Plus, which help you to find work.

The Act makes it unlawful for a provider of employment services to discriminate in

  • Refusing a service
  • Providing a service on different terms
  • Providing a different manner or standard of service
  • Failing to make reasonable adjustments

What if I have been discriminated against?

You can take a case to an employment tribunal which can award compensation and can make recommendations for the employer’s future conduct. Claims must be made to the tribunal within six months of the act of discrimination.

Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline Telephone: 0808 800 0082

Access to Goods, Facilities and Services

Who has obligations under the Act? 

Definition of a ‘service provider’ under DDA – a service provider includes anyone providing a service directly to the general public, whether a public authority, private agency, or an individual and whether for payment or for free.

For example: Hotels, shops, banks, local authorities, sports and arts venues, surgeries and hospitals. Information services and information about services are also covered. Manufacturers who provide goods through retailers will not be covered by the Act as they are not providing services directly to the public.

Right of access to goods, facilities and services For those providing goods, services and facilities directly to the general public, it is unlawful: to refuse to serve a disabled person for a reason which relates to their disability.

Changes the service provider will have to consider There are three broad types of ’reasonable adjustments ’ which the service provider has to consider.

1. Changes to practices, policies and procedures To ensure that they do not make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to access the goods, service or facility.

2 . Provision of ’auxiliary aids and services ‘ To provide additional help or assistance to enable a disabled person to make use of a services or facility

3. Making the service accessible by another means This applies if the service is physically inaccessible to a disabled person.

For example: A staff member of a takeaway restaurant without wheelchair access coming outside to take and deliver orders for customers who are wheelchair users.

4. Making buildings where services are provided more accessible

by removing a physical feature by altering it so that it no longer is inaccessible by providing a reasonable means of avoiding a feature This part of the DDA came into force in October 2004

Buying or Renting Land or Property

Whilst discrimination in relation to premises has been covered by the Act from the start, no duty was imposed on property landlords etc to make reasonable adjustments. The Act has now been amended by the 2005 Act to introduce a duty to make certain adjustments in relation to let premises.

In addition, the Act contains a new Part 5B, which will assist certain tenants in England and Wales to make improvements to their dwelling houses unless it is reasonable for a landlord to withhold consent to these improvements.

Who has duties under this part of the Act?

The premises provisions apply to those who are disposing of premises (ie selling them or letting them out ) and those who are managing premises.

Not only may private and social housing property owners be liable under the Act for discrimination in connection with selling, renting or managing premises but so may

  • The managing agents of commercial premises
  • Property management agencies
  • Tenants management committees
  • Accommodation bureau
  • Housekeepers
  • Estate agents or rent collection services.

What is unlawful?

1. It is unlawful for anyone with power to dispose of premises to discriminate against a disabled person: For example:
A social housing landlord offers less security of tenure to a visually impaired person with a guide dog. This would be letting the premise on different terms.

2. It is unlawful for a person managing any premises to discriminate against a disabled person occupying the premises:
For example:
A landlord limits the times at which a disabled person can use a communal kitchen in a block of flats, while other tenants can use the kitchen at all times. This may be unlawful.

3. It is unlawful for any person whose licence or consent is required for the disposal of any premises in a tenancy to discriminate against a disabled person by withholding his licence or consent for the disposal of the premises to the disabled person

For example
A visually impaired person who wants to rent a flat is told by the landlord that they will not let them live there because they have a guide dog.


From September 2002, all schools have had new legal duties under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 (as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001) not to discriminate against disabled pupils and disabled prospective pupils. These new duties interact and combine with the Special Educational Needs Framework and new planning duties for schools and Local Education Authorities (LEAs).

Who has duties under this part of the Act? All schools are covered, including independent and publicly funded schools, mainstream and special schools, nursery, primary and secondary schools, non-maintained special schools and pupil referral units. The “responsible body” for a school is ultimately liable and as such is responsible for the actions of all employees and any agents.

Responsible bodies The following lists the bodies responsible for various types of educational provisions for blind or partially sighted children.

  • Maintained school – The governing body, in general
  • Pupil referral unit – The local education authority
  • Maintained nursery school – The local education authority
  • Independent school – The proprietor
  • Special school that is not maintained by a local education authority – The proprietor.

How does the DDA affect Special Educational Needs?

The SEN framework in England and Wales The duties in the Disability Discrimination Act are designed to dovetail with existing duties under the Special Educational Needs (SEN) framework. The main purpose of the SEN duties is to make provision to meet the special educational needs of individual children. The duties in the SEN framework are based on the definition of SEN in 312 of the Education Act 1996. This says that : A child has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty that calls for special educational provision.

Finding out about a pupil’s disability Schools are advised to take reasonable steps to find out whether pupils or prospective pupils have a disability in order to ensure that disabled pupils are not discriminated against.

However, where a school could not have reasonably known that a pupil or prospective pupil has a disability, then they may use this “lack of knowledge” in their defence if a case of discrimination is brought against them.

Disabled pupils and their parents do have a right to require confidentiality. It is acknowledged that where this is asked for, it may limit what a school is able to do to ensure that the particular pupil does not experience discrimination or disadvantage.

What are the new duties?

From September 2002, it is unlawful under the DDA for schools to discriminate in:

  • Admissions
  • Education and associated services
  • Exclusions

Admissions Responsible bodies must not discriminate against a disabled person:

In the arrangements that they make for determining admission of pupils to the school. This includes any criteria for deciding who will be admitted to the school when it is over-subscribed, and it includes the operation of those criteria;

  • In the terms on which the responsible body offers pupils admission to the school;
  • By refusing or deliberately omitting to accept an application for admission to the school from someone who is disabled.

Education and associated services It is unlawful for the responsible body to discriminate against a disabled pupil in the education or associated services provided for, or offered to, pupils. These terms are not defined, but the Code of Practice (Pre-16) which has been produced by the Disability Rights Commission gives some examples of the sorts of things which are likely to fall within this term. The Code is not the law itself, but it has to be taken into account by courts and tribunals where relevant. “Education or associated services” will essentially cover all aspects of school life, such as:

  • Preparation for entry to the school
  • The curriculum
  • Teaching and learning

What can parents do if they feel that their child has been discriminated against? There are several options available to parents

  • Taking a case to a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, Admissions Appeal Panel or Exclusion Appeal Panel
  • Contacting

Disability Equality Duty

An outline of the duty

Since 2006 there has been a general duty which applies to most public authorities including Peterborough City Council and Peterborough Primary Healthcare Trust. Public sector organisations include:

  • Central and local government
  • Libraries
  • Hospitals
  • Schools and colleges
  • National Health Service (NHS) trusts
  • Police forces

The Disability Equality Duty (DED) covers the full range of what public sector organisations do – including policy making and services that are delivered to the public.

People who work in the public sector have to consider the impact of their work on disabled people, and take action to tackle disability inequality. This should mean that disabled people have better employment opportunities and do not come across discrimination when, for example, using a service. It should also help promote positive attitudes towards disabled people in everyday life.

Disability Equality Scheme

The scheme must include:

  • A statement of how disabled people have been involved in developing the scheme
  • An action plan that includes practical ways in which improvements will be made
  • The arrangements in place for gathering information about how the public sector organisation has done in meeting its targets on disability equality

A year after the publication of the scheme, an annual report needs to be produced. It should contain a summary of the steps the organisation has taken to fulfil the duty, the results of the information-gathering exercise, and how the information has been used.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has responsibility for enforcing the Disability Equality Duty and they can take legal action against public sector organisations that have not done as they are required.

The basic requirement for a public authority when carrying out their functions is to have due regard to do the following:

  • Promote equality of opportunity between disabled people and other people
  • Eliminate discrimination that is unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act
  • Eliminate harassment of disabled people that is related to their disability
  • Promote positive attitudes towards disabled people
  • Encourage participation by disabled people in public life
  • Take steps to meet disabled people’s needs, even if this requires more favourable treatment.

Due regard” means that authorities should give due weight to the need to promote disability equality in proportion to its relevance.

At the heart of the Disability Equality Duty is the requirement to involve disabled people in producing the Disability Equality Scheme including an Action Plan. All the Public Bodies in Peterborough should have produced a Disability Equality Scheme and anyone can request a copy to find out what disability action plans are in place, and find out how they can be involved with future scheme reviews and forward planning.

From the 26 July 2008, a new European regulation on air travel will mean all airports will have to provide services that enable disabled passengers to board, disembark and transit between flights. The rights will also apply to people with reduced mobility, such as someone with a broken leg, and will give a right to assistance once on the plane.This might change after 31st Oct 2019 ( Brexit)

This is the second stage of measures designed to protect disabled passengers when travelling by air and creating a consistent standard across Europe. Last year it became illegal for airlines, travel agents or tour operators to refuse a booking on the grounds of disability or to refuse to board a disabled person who has a valid ticket and reservation. This might change after 31st Oct 2019 (Brexit)

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“These new laws will ensure that disabled people and those with reduced mobility have the same access and standards of services that we all expect when they fly.”

“It is appalling that in this day and age there can still be instances where disabled people are treated differently when they fly. These measures will give greater protection to disabled passengers and create a consistent standard right across Europe. If an airline or airport dos not maintain these high standards, strong action will be taken and I am sure everyone will welcome this action by the European Commission.”

Baroness Jane Campbell, chair of the EHRC Disability Committee, said:

“Airports have told us this will be the biggest ever single shake-up in customer service and we believe this new regulation will bring real improvements for disabled people and those with reduced mobility.”

It should also be very good for business. Disabled people alone have a spending power of some £80 billion and people who previously dare not risk flying for fear of problems, can now confidently give it a try.

The Commission has considerable powers to ensure that the air travel industry meets its obligations and we shall be monitoring complaints carefully and ensuring these are used to improve services.’

Richard Jackson, Group Director of Consumer Protection at the Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“The new regulations will bring significant benefits to disabled travellers and those with reduced mobility. We have worked closely with UK airlines, airports and tour operators to ensure that they are fully familiar with the new rules.”

The Commission has a responsibility to promote the new regulation to the public and any person who feels that there has been a breach of the law has the right to complain to the Equality and Human Rights Commission[1].

The Commission will handle and monitor complaints and offer conciliation where appropriate. It can support people to take civil action and could refer the matter to the Civil Aviation Authority who will have the power to prosecute. If guilty an airport operator could face an unlimited fine. Those who feel there has been a breach in the law can contact the Commission on  0808 800 0082