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Disability Discrimination Act 1995: what the law says

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 protects you against the discrimination you may face as a disabled person.

The Act says it is discrimination if you are treated less favourably than someone else just because you have a disability, or for a reason that is to do with your disability.

The law also says that employers, public authorities (such as your local council or the police), private clubs, schools, colleges and service providers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people who are disadvantaged by the way things are done, or by existing rules or by the physical environment. A reasonable adjustment could be, for example:

  • widening the entrance to a building so that people who use a wheelchair can get in;
  • providing information in a different form for people with impaired vision (for example, in Braille or on tape); or
  • changing a policy that says people must apply for a service in writing to allow someone who does not write to make a verbal application (over the phone, for example).

However, in certain situations, organisations may not have to make adjustments. 

If you want to complain about being discriminated against (or if you are helping a colleague who is complaining), you may fear that your employer may treat you less favourably for doing so. If they do, this is called victimisation, and it is unlawful in the same way discrimination is.

The Act is linked to codes of practice. These set out the things that employers and organisations you deal with (like shops, banks and your local council) should do to make life easier for you, such as changing the way they provide services (for example, a restaurant could provide large-print or Braille menus). The codes are available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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