The Disability Discrimination Act part III concerning providers of goods, services or facilities came into effect on October 1 2004. The act aims to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. There are around 10 million disabled adults in this country and the Disability Discrimination Act gives them important rights of access to everyday services and employment opportunities that others take for granted.
If your organisation is not accessible to disabled people, you could be missing out on a lot of potential customers. Disabled customers have a combined spending power of over £80 billion, as well as facing the possibility of having to defend yourself or company in court for Disability Discrimination. So making your services more accessible to all disabled people should be a priority to your business.
To be able to best meet the many requirements of the DDA you first need to know in what areas your business is currently non-compliant. This is best achieved by the means of an Access Audit that will examine all areas of disability including those with Visual impairments, Hearing impairments, Physical disabilities including disabled and ambient disabled as well as learning difficulties. Many businesses have spent a great deal of money on alterations to their buildings or services in their own attempt to comply to the DDA, only to find that money had been spent in areas that would be deemed ‘Unreasonable Adjustment’ by a competent Access Auditor, or in many cases costly alterations had been made that did not comply to the many requirements of the DDA.
When employing the services of a DDA Access Auditor, care should be taken to ensure that they fully comprehend and put into practice ‘Reasonable Adjustment’ As recommended by both the DDA and the DRC (Disability Rights Commission) It is not a case of simply employing the services of an Access Auditor or Access Consultant that may be a member of the N.R.A.C (National Register Of Access Consultants) Many Access Consultants simply work to the requirements of the Building Regulations Part M or British Standards 8300 and have not comprehended or understood ‘Reasonable Adjustment’ Simply following these stringent regulations without considering ‘Reasonable Adjustment’ could cost your business a great deal of unnecessary money!
Access Audit services should offer all aspects of compliance to the Disability Discrimination Act including Reasonable Adjustment. in every Access Audit report and give great consideration to the size of the business as well as their current available finances.
So in answer to the question Should Businesses Be Afraid Of The DDA? The answer is NO the DDA should be embraced but businesses and service providers should be afraid of choosing the wrong Access Auditor/Consultant!
Since the vast majority of firms or employers have no interest in employing disabled people, the answer is no they have nothing to fear. As for the rest they meet all the rules and know what to do in employing a disabled person.
The DDA is good for what it does, it does little if an employer has no interest in employing any disabled people, which seems to be the problem, the other problem of course people listen to government and say hell the government are right most disabled people should be working, of course for me to get a job it could take forever.
I think the point about the DDA is that service providers need to make reasonable adjustments to improve accessibility for all, whether they have disabled customers or not.
Of course the ‘reasonable adjustment’ could be used as a get out clause, as what constitutes reasonable adjustment has not been properly tested yet. However service providers (trains and some others excluded) cannot use the excuse that they don’t have any disabled customers therefore don’t need to make the premises accessible.
With regard to the issues of employment, it is simply illegal to discriminate on the grounds of disability. Of course this does not mean an employer has to employ someone who say is blind to do a driving job, what it means is that if someone is able to do the job, according to the job description, then they can’t be discriminated against on the grounds of disability. For example an employer who has advertised for a warehouseperson stating that some heavy lifting is involved can’t, when faced with a disabled applicant, ask them to ‘pick up and move that box over there’. Unless the same question is asked of all applicants.
This does not alter the fact that disabled people face this kind of discrimination and although legislation is moving in the right direction, we have much further to go in persuading service providers to make their businesses accessible and employers to stop being discriminatory.
It is a sad fact that unemployment rates among disabled people are almost two-and-a-half times higher than among non-disabled people. Despite recent research showing that, on average disabled people take less time off sick and are more loyal to their employers.