What is the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995?
The UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995 aims to stop discrimination against disabled people, including people who are deaf and hard of hearing:
in the workplace
- in education
- when accessing goods and services
Goods and service providers include:
- places of worship
- conference halls
- courts and tribunals
- shopping centres
- yachts (sail and power)
- training centres
- bus and train stations...
Employers must not discriminate against their deaf and hard of hearing employees and potential employees. In particular, they must ensure that their staff is not placed at a substantial disadvantage as a result of their hearing loss, for example, by not being able to hear what is being said in an interview or a staff meeting room. You could overcome this by providing an induction loop in the meeting room or a small portable loop for the one-to-one interview. This would be a reasonable adjustment.
Making adjustments and taking reasonable steps
The Disability Discrimination Act says that service providers may not discriminate against a deaf or hard of hearing person by refusing to provide a service or offering a service of a lower standard or on less favourable terms, on the grounds of their hearing loss. Service providers must also make adjustments to the way in which they provide goods or services to enable deaf and hard of hearing people access to them.
The Disability Discrimination Act requires service providers to make changes to their services to ensure that disabled people can make use of them. Service providers must do this if, without these changes, it is impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to access the service.
The effect of a service provider’s practices, policies or procedures (the way it provides it's services) may make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use it's services. If this happens, the service provider must alter these practices, policies or procedures to remove this effect. This is part of the duty to make 'reasonable adjustments'.
‘Reasonable adjustment’ also includes providing additional aids like induction loop systems, radio systems or infra-red systems. Service providers have to do this, even if it means making a permanent or physical change to their premises or fixtures and fittings.
If it is not reasonable to provide a permanent loop or infra-red system, then the service provider should provide a temporary system. These do not need any permanent physical changes.
British Standards Institution (BSI)
The BSI produces the "British Standard Code of Practice for Audio Frequency Induction Loop Systems (AFILS) BS 7594, 1993". This is the essential reference for anyone installing or operating an induction loop system in a public place.
British Standards Institution, Customer Services, 389 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4AL
Telephone: 020 8996 9000
Fax: 020 8996 7001