The definition of disability covers a wider range of impairments beyond the modifications for physical access. This also covers, for example, visual impairments, hearing impairments and learning disabilities as well as any other conditions that have a substantial and long-term effect on a person’s ability to carry out their normal daily activities. It is estimated that 70% of disabled people have a hidden disability (ie, one that is not apparent from looking at the person).
The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace or in society as a whole. Under the Act, it is against the law to treat someone with a protected characteristic, for example, a disability, less favourably than you would treat others.
Importantly, the Equality Act also states that service providers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against. These adjustments relate to how a service is delivered, physical features of a venue, and the provision of additional equipment for a disabled person.
If a feature of your venue puts a disabled person at a disadvantage in comparison to someone who is not disabled, you are required to take reasonable steps to remove the feature, make changes, or provide a reasonable means of avoiding it. What is considered as ‘reasonable’ will depend on the size and nature of your business and the type of service or event being delivered.
Although the Equality Act provides the framework for what service providers are required to do by law, the business outlook should not simply be about meeting basic compliance, but should be about taking practical steps and creative solutions to improve access and enable the enjoyment of the service or event.
This toolkit expands on some of the adjustments that can be made to improve accessibility which are quite inexpensive.