Disability Equality Duty
From December 2006 The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 will be amended to place a duty on all public bodies to promote disability equality. This will affect all public bodies from local councils to government departments, to universities and hospitals.
Disability Equality Duty will require the public sector to actively promote disability equality. This is similar to the duty to promote race equality under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act.
This is a positive duty which builds in disability equality at the beginning of the process, rather than makes adjustments at the end. It will bring about a shift from a legal framework which relies on individual disabled people complaining about discrimination to one in which the public sector becomes a proactive agent of change.
How will the Duty be enforced?
In relation to the Specific Duty and those bodies who will have to produce a Disability Equality Scheme, the DRC (Disability Rights Commission) will have the power to issue compliance notices where it is satisfied that a public authority has failed to comply with its specific duties under the regulations, and can enforce the notices in the county or sheriff court.
How can we help?
At the heart of the Disability Equality Duty is the requirement to involve disabled people in producing the Disability Equality Scheme including the action plan. This has to happen at the very outset as many public authorities will have little experience of involving disabled people. We have been actively involved in writing such plans for our many DDA access audit clients including, The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Business Link to name a few.