Disabled people's rights in everyday life

Find out about disability discrimination in everyday life and the rights of people with disabilities, including in employment, health and education.

Access to goods, premises and services

The two disability discrimination laws, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and the Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order 2005 (SENDO), give people with disabilities important rights not to be discriminated against:

  • in accessing everyday goods and services like shops, cafés, banks, cinemas and places of worship
  • in buying or renting land or property
  • in accessing certain private facilities, such as those owned by private clubs (with 25 or more members)
  • in accessing important social goods and services, such as healthcare, housing, education and transport
  • in relation to how public bodies carry out some of their other functions, such as policing and the issuing of licences
  • Access to everyday services
  • Protection against disability discrimination

Your rights in employment

It is unlawful under the DDA for employers to subject disabled job-seekers and employees to disability discrimination. This includes failing to comply with the important duty to make reasonable adjustments and subjecting disabled people to disability-related harassment

Your rights in health

It is unlawful under the DDA for healthcare providers and social services, such as doctors' surgeries, dental surgeries and hospitals to subject disabled people who wish to use those services to disability discrimination; this includes failing to comply with the important duties to make reasonable adjustments and to provide reasonable ancillary aids and services, such as, where needed and where it is reasonable to provide it, sign language interpreters, hearing loops and publications in different formats.

Your rights in education

It is unlawful under the Special Educational Needs and Disability Order 2005 (SENDO) for education providers, such as schools, colleges and universities to subject disabled pupils and prospective pupils and disabled students and prospective students to disability discrimination; this includes failing to comply with the important duty to make reasonable adjustments and, also in relation to further and higher education colleges and universities, disability-related harassment. SENDO also makes it unlawful for certain qualification awarding bodies to discriminate too.

Buying and renting property - your rights

Under the DDA it is unlawful for people, such as owners, landlords and estate agents, who are selling or letting or managing premises, including housing providers like the NI Housing Executive and housing associations, to subject disabled people who wish to buy or rent those properties to disability discrimination in certain circumstances and this may include, in the case of leasehold property, failing to comply with a duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Mental health and your rights

Many people with a mental health condition may not think of themselves as having a 'disability' - but they may be and, if so, will have the right under the DDA and SENDO not to be subjected to disability discrimination

In addition, another law the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986, which is not a discrimination law, covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health condition.

Your rights - motoring and transport

It is unlawful under the DDA for transport providers, such as bus, coach and train operators and taxis to subject disabled people who wish to use those services to disability discrimination; this includes failing to comply with the important duties to make reasonable adjustments and to provide reasonable ancillary aids and services, such as, where needed and where it is reasonable to provide it, sign language interpreters, hearing loops and publications, such as timetables, in different formats.

Transport providers, such a taxi drivers, are also obliged to carry wheelchairs and guide dogs.

Help and advice from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

The Equality Commission can provide free and confidential advice and assistance to people who believe that they have been discriminated against for a reason related to their disability.

It also provides free general advice to employers and service providers on recommended good practice under the DDA.

You can call the Equality Commission on the following number or visit its website for more information.

For more information contact the Equality Commission:

UNCRPD – disability rights

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have been designated as the 'independent mechanism' for the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

They are monitoring the implementation of UNCRPD, holding decision makers to account and will report to a UN committee on how the Convention is being implemented.

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