Creating a fairer Britain
The duty contains three requirements that apply in situations where a disabled person would otherwise be placed at a substantial disadvantage compared with people who are not disabled.
A practice may have the effect of excluding disabled people from enjoying access to your services. Or it may create a barrier or hurdle that might put disabled people at a substantial disadvantage to access your services.
It might be reasonable for you to stop the practice completely, or to change it so that it no longer has that effect.
Ask yourself, for example:
In addition, where you provide information to customers or clients you must take steps to ensure that the information is provided in an accessible format.
The second requirement involves making changes to overcome barriers created by the physical features of your premises, if these are open to the public or a section of the public.
Where a physical feature puts disabled people using a service at substantial disadvantage, you must take reasonable steps to:
It is better for you to look at removing or altering the physical feature or finding a way of avoiding it (such as replacing steps with a ramp or, if it is reasonable for you to do this, a lift) before you look at providing an alternative service. An alternative service may not give disabled people a similar level of service.
Exactly what kind of changes are needed will depend on the kind of barriers your premises present. You need to look at the whole of the premises that are open to the public or a section of the public, and may have to make more than one change.
Physical features include: steps, stairways, kerbs, exterior surfaces and paving, parking areas, building entrances and exits (including emergency escape routes), internal and external doors, gates, toilet and washing facilities, public facilities (such as telephones, counters or service desks), lighting and ventilation, lifts and escalators, floor coverings, signs, furniture, and temporary or movable items (such as equipment and display racks).
Physical features also include the size of premises (for example, the size of an airport where a clearly signed short route to departures might enable people with a mobility impairment to use the airport more easily, or of a shopping centre, where wheelchairs, buggies and extra staff to help shoppers find their way around are made available). This is not an exhaustive list.
Sometimes you will need to ask your landlord’s permission to alter rented premises. Equality law gives service providers the right to do so even if the lease states that the alteration in question is prevented by the terms of the lease.
The landlord cannot withhold their consent unreasonably although they may put in place a condition, provided that it is reasonable to do so.
If you are not sure if you are allowed to change the physical features at your premises, but you think you need to do this as a reasonable adjustment, then you should get advice, There is a list of organisations who may be able to help you in Further sources of information.
The third requirement involves providing extra aids and services such as providing extra equipment or providing a different, or additional, service (which equality law calls auxiliary aids or auxiliary services). You must take reasonable steps to provide auxiliary aids or services if this would enable (or make it easier for) disabled people to make use of any of your services.
The kind of equipment or service will depend very much on the individual disabled person and what your organisation does. However you may be able to think in advance about some things that will help particular groups of disabled people.
Technological solutions may be useful in overcoming communication barriers, but sometimes a person offering assistance will be what is needed.
Asking a disabled person with a visual impairment if they would like assistance in finding goods in a shop or having information read to them.
Taking the time to explain services to a disabled person with a learning disability.
If someone is being asked to make a major decision, providing a disabled person who uses British Sign Language (BSL) with a BSL to English interpreter, if it is reasonable for the organisation to do this.
If you do provide equipment, the equipment must work and be maintained. It is also important that staff know how to use the equipment
The duty is slightly different for associations, in relation to management of premises, and for transport services. These differences are explained at the end of this section of the guide.