The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act imposes a duty to make reasonable adjustments to a physical feature, which might put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage to a non-disabled person. That duty is similar, but not identical, to the DDA's test of a physical feature, which made it unreasonably difficult or impossible for disabled people to use a building's facilities.
What is the Equality Act?
11 million people in the UK are identified as having a disability. Equality legislation has been in place in the UK since the mid-1970s. Over time, the laws have become more complex as our understanding of what is meant by equality has become more sophisticated. Since October 2010, the Equality Act replaced the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), or DDA and is a vital piece of legislation to bear in mind for buildings.
Where does it apply?
The Equality Act applies to all service providers and those providing goods and facilities in Great Britain. This includes, for example, those providing information, advice and day care or running leisure centre facilities. It applies to all services, whether or not a charge is made for them. It also applies to private clubs and other associations with 25 or more members which have rules about membership and select their members. Under this legislation, service providers must make adjustments where disabled people experience a 'substantial disadvantage'.
What does this mean for service providers?
Reasonable changes are required where disabled customers or potential customers would otherwise be at a substantial disavantage compared with non-disabled people. This change could be:
- A change of policy, in the way that things are done
- A change to the built environment, improving access
- To provide auxillary aids and services (e.g. hearing loops)
For any proposed building change, the most practical choice will often be dictated by cost and the potential customer benefit.
Where do lifts play a part?
Its possible to install a lift in most buildings that have two or more floors, or to provide a ramp or step lift where there is a short flight of stairs. Any lift adds value to its commercial potential by speeding up the movement of people up and down the building, and helps the building owner meet the requirements of the Act.
What are the benefits of access for all?
The Equality Act 2010 requires that service providers think ahead and take steps to address barriers that impede disabled people. You should not wait until someone experiences difficulties, as this may make it too late to make the necessary adjustments and could damage the reputation of your business.
By having good access to your building there is the benefit it brings to other customers (ramps and lifts benefit customers with small children or those with heavy luggage, for example) and enables disabled people to use your services. With the purple pound valued at £249 billion (combined income of the disabled in the UK) can you afford to miss out?
How can Stannah help?
Stannah has worked across the UK with thousands of shops, restaurants, museums and visitor centres to enable access for all, including ss Great Britain in Bristol, Bug World in Liverpool and the Olympic park in London to name three, with many more we could add to the list. So if you are considering a DDA lift to help provide access for all in your building we can help.
Stannah offer a wide range of access lift solutions to move people and goods. With nearly 50,000 installations across the UK and over 90,000 units on our service portfolio, we know we can help.