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This page is split into 3 sections:

1 The Disability Discrimination Act(s) (DDA)

2 What is a Disability

3 The Social Model of Disability

The Disability Discrimination Act(s) (DDA)

DDA chronology

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) was passed in 1995 to address the discrimination that many disabled people face.

Different parts of the legislation took effect at different times, and the original Act has been subject to a number of amendments. The legislation now protects disabled people in:

  • Employment (Part 2)
  • Access to services, premises and private clubs (Part 3)
  • Education (Part 4)

Some of the key dates in the history of the development of the DDA are as follows:

December 1996

  • Part 2: unlawful for employers with 20 or more employees to discriminate against disabled employees.
  • Part 3: unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability.

December 1998

  • Part 2: employment provisions extended to cover employers with 15 or more employees (previously 20 or more)

October 1999

  • Part 3: service providers must alter a policy, practice or procedure which prevents a disabled person accessing a service, or provide an auxiliary aid or service, or provide a service by a reasonable alternative means.

September 2002

  • Part 4 (amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act): schools, colleges, universities and providers of adult education and youth services are required to ensure they do not discriminate against disabled people.

April 2003

  • Definition: People who are registered as blind or partially sighted, or registered as blind or partially sighted by a local authority, automatically deemed as disabled for DDA purposes.

September 2003

  • Part 4 (amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act): post-16 education providers are required to provide auxiliary aids as a reasonable adjustment.

October 2004

  • Part 2: unlawful for all employers (with the exception of the Armed Forces) to discriminate against disabled employers, regardless of the number of people they employ (previously applied to businesses with 15 or more employees).
  • New occupations such as police and partners in firms are covered. New relationships such as practical work experience and employment services are covered.
  • New provisions on discriminatory advertisements.
  • Four kinds of discrimination – direct discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjustments, disability-related discrimination and victimisation.
  • Justification is not relevant in cases about direct discrimination or failure to make reasonable adjustments.
  • New provisions on harassment.

October 2004

  • Part 3: service providers must make reasonable adjustments to physical features of their premises to overcome barriers to access

September 2005

  • Part 4: post-16 education providers are required to make reasonable adjustments to physical features of premises where these put disabled people at a substantial disadvantage. 

December 2005

  • (Definition): The scope of the DDA was extended to cover, effectively from the point of diagnosis, people with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis. 
  • The requirement that a mental illness must be “clinically well-recognised” is removed.
  • Part 2: third party publishers (eg newspapers) are liable for publishing discriminatory advertisements. 
  • Unlawful for locally-electable authorities to treat their members less favourably.
  • Part 3: A new DL56 questionnaire - relating to complaints under the DDA relating to rights of access - came into force.  
  • Less favourable treatment of disabled people by private clubs is unlawful.

September 2006

Part 4 : The post-16 provisions of Part 4 of the DDA were amended by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) (Further and Higher Education) Regulations 2006. The main changes were:

  • a new direct discrimination duty
  • the removal of the justification defence for a failure to make reasonable adjustments
  • a new harassment duty
  • the reversal of burden of proof
  • a new duty prohibiting discriminatory advertisements
  • a new duty prohibiting instructions or pressure to discriminate
  • new specific duties that apply after the relationship between the student and education provider has ended
  • new specific provisions in relation to qualifications
  • the introduction of competence standards.

For further information on accessibility, disabilities, discrimination and the DDA plus other matter relating to the disabled - please visit the website below:

Some of these measures against disability discrimination in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) became law for employers in December 1996. Others were introduced over time (as indicatd above).

Please click on this highlighted area here to read further details on the affects of the DDA on business and individuals.

"It is important that service providers do not assume that the only way to make services accessible to disabled people is to make a physical alteration to their premises (such as installing a ramp or widening a doorway). Often minor measures such as allowing more time to serve a disabled customer will help disabled people to use a service. Disability Equality Awareness Training for staff is also likely to be appropriate. However, adjustments in the form of physical alterations may be the only answer if other measures are not sufficient to overcome barriers to access."

The question of what reasonable adjustment means in practice will probably require testing in the courts so watch this space as they say.

On "reasonable adjustments" it's also worth noting that a service provider is not allowed to pass the cost of these on to disabled customers.

What is disability?

Disabled People and The Social Model of Disability

It is important to have an understanding of the meaning of the word disability and who disabled people are. It can be confusing when people use different definitions of the word disability. Disabled People generally follow the Social Model of Disability because other models of disability are all individual models and do not address the real issue of disability. For example, the medical model, which is the best-known model, looks at only the impairment. Other models include the administrative model, which looks at disability and doing an assessment process and the charity model looks at disability as a personal tragedy.

Who are Disabled People

Disabled people are those people with impairments who are disabled by society.

What is Disability

Disability is a disadvantage or restriction on doing things that is the fault of society and the way it is run. The world takes no account of people who have impairments and leaves them out and stops them from doing things other people do. Disability is discrimination very much like racism and sexism.

What is Impairment

Impairment is when a person has an injury or a disease for a long time that makes them different to other people. It can affect the brain or the body it can also cause pain, make the person feel tired, affect the way the person talks or they may not remember things very well. Impairment does not cause disability and impairment does not make disability the right thing to do.

The Social Model of Disability

·        The Social Model was developed by disabled people to help them describe and take action against discrimination.

·        The model does not blame the disabled person for the problems they have.

·        Disabled people, by using the social model can find areas in the world that need changing and find out about bad attitudes towards disabled people, why some people will not talk to disabled people and why disabled people cannot get into some buildings.

·         The Social Model allows disabled people to get together to campaign for better things, like people being considerate towards disabled people, and more access to buildings no matter what the disabled person's impairment is.

·        The Social Model helps disabled people to talk about themselves and to talk about human rights and equality.

·        Disabled people can talk about what they can do to make people more equal rather than telling everybody what disabled people cannot do.

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