Promoting Equality - the Public Sector Duty on Disability
The Disability Discrimination Act gives the University and its staff responsibilities with regard to students and potential students with disabilities.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission website has all the Codes of Practice relevant for work in higher education - visit Equality and Human Rights Commissions Codes of Practice on the DDA for further information.
The DDA (1995) aims to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. This Act has been significantly extended, including by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. It now gives disabled people rights in the areas of:
- access to goods, facilities and services
- buying or renting land or property, including making it easier for disabled people to rent property and for tenants to make disability-related adaptations
Nothing in the DDA takes precedence over any other legislation and in carrying out their duties under the Act, responsible bodies (i.e. The University) must ensure that they comply with all other legal requirements. However, the existence of other legislative provisions and responsibilities does not provide an automatic defense in a case under the DDA. It is important to remember that it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that students with disabilities are not discriminated against.
The Disability Equality Duties
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 received Royal Assent in April 2005. The Act amends the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in a number of ways. In particular, it creates a new duty to promote disability equality in the public sector. This encompasses duties to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people, to deal with all kinds of associated harassment and bullying, and to promote the participation of disabled people in public life.
For Universities, the Act sets out two types of positive duties - a General Duty, and a Specific Duty.
The General Duty
Requires due regard in the performance of the University's responsibility to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination
- Eliminate unlawful harassment
- Promote equality of opportunity between disabled persons and other persons by improving opportunities for disabled persons
- Take account of disabled persons' disabilities, even where that involves treating disabled persons more favorably than others.
The Specific Duty
Requires the University to produce and implement a Disability Equality Scheme (DES). The University must:
- Involve disabled people in producing the scheme and be able to demonstrate how it has done so
- Decide how it will gather and analyse evidence to inform its actions and track progress
- Set out how it is going to assess the impact of existing and proposed activities on disabled people
- Produce an action plan for the next three years, showing how the University will fulfill the general duty, and implement its scheme.
Action plans are expected to reflect:
- The priorities of disabled people
- The strategic priorities of the University Specific outcomes which the University wishes to achieve to promote disability equality, within a realistic, stated timetable
- Lines of accountability
- Measurable indicators of achievement of outcomes
Useful links to further legislation information
Disability and the Equality Act - Directgov website