The Legal Bit
The Equality Act 2010
Some people or organisations like employers, shops, local authorities and schools must take positive steps to remove the barriers a disabled person* may face because their disability. To ensure a disabled person*, receive the same services, as far as this is possible, as someone who's not disabled, the duty to make reasonable adjustments is put in place.
What’s meant by the duty to make reasonable adjustments?
The Equality Act 2010 requires changes/adjustments be made so that non disabled and disabled* can access the same things equally. Such as:
- Employment - ask your employer for adjustments
- Housing - ask for adjustments in your home
Goods and services like shops, banks, cinemas, hospitals, council offices, leisure centres
Associations and private clubs like the Scouts and Guides, private golf clubs and working men clubs.
What’s meant by reasonable?
Adjustments only must be made if it’s reasonable to do so. However, there is no definitive explanation of the term reasonable, it can be dependent on:
- Your disability
- How practicable the changes are
- If the change you ask for would overcome the disadvantage you and other disabled people experience
- The size of the organisation
- How much money and resources are available
- The cost of making the changes
- If any changes have already been made.
What is expected of people/businesses for reasonable adjustments?
There are 3 main ways people/businesses can make adjustments to make it easier for disabled/non disabled to access their premesis or services.
1. How things are done?
Some people/ businesses may have a certain way of doing things, however this may make the task more difficult or impossible for a disabled person* to access or complete a task. This maybe a:
- Formal policy
- Informal policy
- A rule
- A practice.
- A one-off decision.
The Equality Act calls this a provision, criteriaon, or practice. However, if this creates a barrier to disabled people* from accessing a premises or service, the business should make changes to overcome this unless it’s unreasonable to do so.
2. Change a physical feature
Sometimes a physical feature of a building or other premises may make it more difficult for a disabled person* to access or use it. Physical features which might be possible to change are,
- Steps and stairs
- Passageways and paths
- Entrances and exits
- Internal and external doors
- Lighting and ventilation
- The size of premises.
These maybe able to be overcome with reasonable adjustments such as:
- Removing, changing or providing a way to avoid a physical feature (mentioned above)
- Providing ramps and stairway lifts
- Making doorways wider
- Installing automatic doors
- Providing more lighting and clearer signs.
3.Provide extra aids or services
Disabled people* may need additional aids/ equipment/services so they can access/do something. The Equality Act calls this auxiliary aids and services, an example of this is:
- A portable induction loop for people with hearing aids
- BSL interpreters
- Providing information in alternative formats, such as Braille or audio CD’s
- Extra staff assistance.
When do people have to do these things?
The Equality Act says there's a duty on businesses to make reasonable adjustments if a disabled person* is placed at a substantial (Substantial means more than minor or trivial) disadvantage because of their disability compared with non-disabled people.
Along with this I feel by ensuring their business accessible hold a range of benefits for a business, such as
- Making their business/ service available to a wider audience of potential customers with spending power
- increased repeat business
- Positive word of mouth advertising
- An ethical/moral business with a heart who recognises the needs of customers/visitors.
But what if a business doesnt make reasonable adjustmants?
If a business doesn't comply with their duty to make reasonable adjustments, the Equality Act says it’s unlawful discrimination. A disabled person* can ask the person/the business to make the necessary changes. But they refuse, the disabled person* can make a discrimination claim under the Equality Act.
*the term 'disabled people' refers to anyone with an access or mobility need or someone who may require additional support.
But What Is Accessible?
I was recently told 'how could I say a pub was wheelchair accessible if it doesn’t have an accessible toilet?' well the term wheelchair accessible is defined as:
"a method by which someone can enter or leave a place in a wheelchair:"
So the fact the premises could be access the premises e.g. get into the pub, was enough for it to be wheelchair accessible. Merely by highlighting there isn't an accessible toilet I'm making individuals aware of this to fully inform individuals. With this knowledge they can determine the suitability based upon personal needs.