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The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

Find out about the legislation that is in place to promote civil rights for people with disabilities and to protect people with disabilities from discrimination.

Protection against disability discrimination

There are two laws that seek to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people by banning disability discrimination and which give enforceable legal rights to disabled people. These are the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Special Educational Needs & Disability (NI) Order 2005.

The Disability Discrimination Act

This is the main disability discrimination law. It bans disability discrimination by employers against disabled job-seekers and employees and by service providers against disabled service-users. It is most notable for imposing a duty on employers and service providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people to help them to overcome barriers that they may face in gaining and remaining in employment and in accessing and using goods and services. The main activities covered by the DDA are-

  • employment, including access to employment
  • access to and use of goods, facilities and services, including access to public buildings, shops and leisure facilities and to healthcare, housing and transport
  • certain other functions carried out by public bodies, such as policing and issuing licences
  • membership of private clubs and use of their facilities

The legislation requires public bodies to promote equality of opportunity for people with disabilities. It also allows the government to set minimum standards so that people with disabilities can use public transport easily.

The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) website offers further information, including details on the changes made by the DDO 2006.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) website has plenty of information on disability discrimination and highlights the changes made under the DDO.

Getting hold of a copy of the Disability Discrimination Act

The Act is published on the website.

The DDO 2006 is also published on the website.

Print copy

Print versions of the legislation are published by the Stationery Office (TSO) and can be bought. The ISBN number is 0105450952 for the 1995 Act and ISBN 0110800206 for the 2006 Order.

Autism and the DDA

The Autism Act (NI) 2011 has amended the DDA to clarify whether the term disability applies to autism spectrum conditions. It makes it clear that a condition which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on someone’s ability to take part in normal social interaction or in forming social relationships can constitute a disability.

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