The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
What is the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995?
The purpose of the DDA is to prevent Service Providers treating people with disabilities
less favourably than other customers or employees and to oblige Service Providers to
make reasonable adjustments to all aspects of their service to ensure it is accessible to
people with disabilities.
The DDA makes it unlawful for service providers to discriminate against disabled people in
the service they provide by either:
1. Refusing to provide a disabled person with a service which is provided to others;
2. Offering service on different terms;
3. Offering a different standard or manner of service; or failing to comply with a duty to
make “reasonable adjustments”, such that it makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult
for a person with disabilities to use that service.
Who is classed as disabled?
The DDA defines a person with a disability as someone with a “physical or mental
impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out
normal day to day activities”
In addition to customers who use wheelchairs or who have mobility problems, there are
millions of potential customers affected by some degree of hearing loss, learning
disabilities, facial disfigurement, visual impairment, mental illness or a condition such as
arthritis or incontinence.
Who is a service provider?
The DDA defines a service provider as “[someone]….concerned with the provision, in the
UK, of services to the public or to a section of the public, with or without payment.”
A few examples of service providers to whom the DDA applies are:
Banks, Advice Agencies, Local Councils, Hotels, National Parks, Pubs, Building Societies,
Sports Stadia, Post Offices, Charities, Theatres, Voluntary Organisations, Art Galleries,
Cinemas, Museums, Places of Worship, Leisure Centres, Shops and Government
Departments & Agencies.
What should Service Providers do?
The DDA is being brought into force in three phases:
December 1996 - It became unlawful for service providers to treat people with disabilities
less favourably than other people for a reason related to their disability.
Since October 1999 - service providers have been obliged to:
1. Alter practices, policies or procedures that make it unreasonably difficult for a person
with a disability to use their services;
2. Provide alternative methods of making their services available where the physical
features of their premises make it unreasonably difficult for people with disabilities to
access services; and provide auxiliary aids and services to assist people with disabilities
to access goods or services.
By 1st of October 2004 service providers will have had to have made “reasonable
adjustments” to the physical features of their premises to overcome barriers to access
faced by people with disabilities. This must be done by:
1. Removing the feature;
2. Alter it so that it no longer has that effect;
3. Provide a reasonable means of avoiding it; or provide a reasonable alternative method of
making the services available.
What is a "reasonable adjustment"?
The extent of adjustments that will be deemed ‘reasonable’ for a service provider to have
made to their building and premises prior to 1st October 2004 will be judged by the Courts
on a number of factors. These factors will include the resources the service provider had
available to make the adjustment, the disruption that making the adjustment would have
caused and the improvement in access that would have been achieved in making the
Its not always an easy call to make. The key is to recognise best practice and to correctly
identify your access issues with an appropriate access audit.
The most important barriers to access for people with disabilities arise from the physical
features of premises, from staff communication and training, and from the business
policies and practices that service providers adopt. In achieving inclusive access it is
equally important to implement effective staff equality training as it is to alter obvious
physical barriers to access such as steps and poor signage. A common sense approach
towards people’s access needs combined with often relatively minor physical adjustment
can dramatically improve access.
Tel : 01773 741500 Fax : 01773 741555