Access to goods, services and the wider environment
Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) gives disabled people important rights of access to everyday services.
Services might include those provided by local councils, doctors' surgeries, shops, hotels, banks, pubs, theatres, hairdressers, places of worship, courts, and voluntary groups such as play groups. Non-educational activities provided by schools would also be included.
In April 2005, a new Disability Discrimination Act was passed by Parliament which amends or extends existing provisions in the DDA 1995. Some of the new laws will come into force in December 2005, and some in December 2006.
Since October 1999, service providers have had to consider making reasonable adjustments to the way they deliver their services so that disabled people can use them. Making ‘reasonable adjustments’ means:
- changing any practice, policy or procedure which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service (eg waiving a no dogs policy for blind customers accompanied by their guide dog)
- provide an auxiliary aid or service which would enable disabled people to use a service (eg providing a British Sign Language interpreter at a public meeting where deaf people will be present)
- overcoming a physical feature by providing services by alternative methods
Since 1 October 2004, service providers have had new duties. They are required to take reasonable steps to tackle physical features of premises, like steps or narrow doorways, that prevent, or make it unreasonably difficult for, a disabled people to access their services.