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  1. The Equality Act 2010
  2. Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  3. SENDA 2001
  4. Disability Discrimination Act 2005
  5. Town & country planning act 2004 Section 42
  6. Regulatory Reform Order 2005


The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 replaces the DDA from October 2010, with the Public Sector Equality Duty expected to come into force in April 2011, and decisions have yet to be taken on the implementation of some of the Act, such as auxilliary adis for schools and accessible Taxis.

What is the Equality Act 2010?

The Equality Act 2010 aims to streamline and strengthen anti-discrimination legislation , and provides the legal framework that protects people, including disabled people, from discrimination.

It replaces a range of anti-discrimination legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 [DDA], and is intended to be easier to operate and understand than previous equality legislation.

The provides a legal framework of equality law for all people with 'protected characteristics' including disability, age, race and gender.

What is the difference for disabled people between the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010?

The EA generally carries forward the protection provided for disabled people by the DDA, with some key differences:

  • The DDA provided protection for disabled people from direct discrimination only in employment and related areas. The EA also protects disabled people against direct discrimination in areas beyond the employment field (such as the supply of goods, facilities and services)
  • The EA introduces improved protection from discrimination that occurs because of something connected with a person’s disability. This form of discrimination can be justified if it can be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
  • The EA introduces the principle of indirect discrimination for disability. Indirect discrimination occurs when something applies in the same way to everybody but has an effect which particularly disadvantages, for example, disabled people. Indirect discrimination may be justified if it can be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
  • The EA applies one trigger point at which there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. This trigger point is where a disabled person would be at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people if the adjustment was not made
  • The EA extends protection from harassment that is related to disability. Previously, explicit protection only replied in relation to work. The EA applies this protection to areas beyond work
  • The EA provides protection from direct disability discrimination and harassment where this is based on a person’s association with a disabled person, or on a false perception that the person is disabled.
  • The EA contains a new provision which limits the type of enquiries that a recruiting employer can make about disability and health when recruiting new staff. This provision will help prevent disabled candidates from being unfairly screened out at an early stage of the recruitment process

What is the legal definition of disability?

The EA generally defines a disabled person as someone who has a mental or physical impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

This differs slightly from the definition in the DDA, which also required the disabled person to show that an adversely affected normal day-to-day activity involved one of a list of capacities such as mobility, speech, or hearing.

Detailed guides available to download at


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Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA 1995)

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 imposes a duty on service providers not to discriminate against disabled people in the provision of goods or services, or in employment.

The Act has several sections:-

Part I Identifies who is covered by the Act

For a person to be covered by the Act, their impairment has to have a substantial and long term effect on daily activities, and includes:-

  • People with long term health conditions, such as diabetes
  • People with progressive conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis, HIV or Cancer ( DDA 2005 covers these conditions from point of diagnosis)
  • People with learning disabilities
  • People with mental health conditions
  • People with mobility difficulties, including wheelchair users
  • Blind and partially sighted people
  • Deaf and hearing impaired people

Remember - it is not always obvious that someone is disabled when you meet him or her.

Elderly people, who think of their impairment as part of the ageing process, may also covered by the DDA

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Part II Covers the employment of people with a disability, and applies to ALL employers.

This section imposes a duty to carry out physical adjustments to a place of work or adjustments to work duties for an employee with a disability.

Work only needs to be reactive ie -carried out when an employee requires it due to their disability.

Funding is available to meet most of the costs over 300, administered via the local Job centre plus.

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Part III Covers the duties of Service Providers.

The duties of service providers are:-

  • Not to treat disabled people less favorably than others for a reason relating to their disability
  • Not to provide services on worse terms than for other people (eg charge more)
  • To make 'reasonable adjustments' policies, practices and procedures
  • To provide auxiliary equipment where appropriate
  • To make reasonable adjustments to premises to facilitate physical access

Service providers should anticipate that goods and services will be required by people with a disability, and make anticipatory adjustments, not wait until a disabled person advises that the service can't be used by them.

Information produced by the service provider, web sites, and means of communication all need to be designed with all users in mind.

The final duties imposed by the Act came into force on 1st October 2004, and require 'reasonable' adjustments to be made to services to give access to people with physical, sensory or learning impairment.

There are no grants available to cover the cost of work, but costs may be claimed as a revenue or capital expense by a business.

Individual disabled people who have been discriminated against can bring a civil action through the court, and may receive support from the Disability Rights Commission.

The DRC publish helpful Codes of Practice - see our 'links' page.

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Part IV Covers the duties of Education Providers, and has been re-enforced by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act. (SENDA 2001)

Duties imposed under SENDA are similar to those under part III of the Act, and came fully into force in October 2005.

Part V Covers means of Transport - Coaches, buses and trains. There are extensive technical requirements for the design of new vehicles, with time frames extended to 2016-2020 for all vehicles to comply with these requirements.

Train and bus stations, and other infrastructure are covered by part III of the Act.

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The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA 2005)

The DDA 2005 introduces a duty on all public bodies to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people.

This means that they must take account of the needs of disabled people as an integral part of their policies, practices and procedures, and not as something separate or as a tag-on.

Public Bodies will have to have due regard to the need to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination and disability-related harassment;
  • promote equality of opportunity and positive attitudes to disabled people
  • encourage disabled people to participate in public life.

These duties apply to anyone carrying out functions of a public nature, and if perceived as failing to comply with these duties then anyone, and the DRC, could apply to the High Court for judicial review.

Disability Equality Scheme

Many public bodies, including Government departments and local councils, will be required to produce a Disability Equality Scheme explaining how they intend to fulfil the duty to promote equality.

This will mean that public bodies will have to think through the implications of the duty, and gather appropriate evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of their schemes. They will also need to demonstrate that disabled people have been involved at the centre of planning their policies.

Private Clubs

DDA 2005 also extends part III duties to private clubs with more than 25 members


Transport operators will need to meet Part III duties for transport services ie - using a bus or train, though air and sea transport is currently regulated by a voluntary agreement of the carriers.

The new legislation came into full effect on the 4th December 2006.

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Building Regulations Approved Document Part M 2004 (ADM)

ADM - access and use of buildings extends the scope of inclusive design, requiring buildings submitted for building control approval after May 2004 to include many additional access features to enable all to use the buildings easily.

Designers of new buildings should note that compliance with building regulations is not the same as complying with DDA legislation - The DDA is about services, ADM is about new buildings, or extensive alteration or refurbishment.

New developments: Town & Country Planning Act 2004 Section 42

T&CPA 2004 requires new non- domestic buildings to be accompanied at planning stage by a 'Design & Access statement' to outline the inclusive design of the proposal - this can be developed through the building control, construction and occupation stages of the development to demonstrate the provisions made for people with a disability.

Guidance on design and access statements is available for designers from CABE, and for planning authorities from PAS

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The Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Services) 2005 (RRO)

From the 1st October 2006, the RRO will change the statutory duties of the fire service, requiring that the 'responsible person' in charge of premises carries out a risk assessment, to ensure that fire risk is minimizes and that all users of a building are effectively evacuated in case of fire.

Existing building managers will need to ensure that a fire risk assessment is carried out, and acted upon - including the evacuation of any person with mobility, hearing, vision or learning disability.

Guidance is published by Communities and Local Government Office at

New developments should have a preliminary risk assessment carried out by the designers and engineers, to include all users of the building.

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January 2011

New public sector equality duty guidance

The new public sector equality duty for public authorities comes into force on 6th April 2011, replacing the duties under DDA.

The EHCR has published guides to provide an overview of the duties imposed by the Equality Act 2010; copies are available at


The guides detail what public authorities should do to meet the duty, and includes information on the general equality duty, the specific duties and who they apply to. 

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