Disabled People's Rights in everyday life

Find out about your discrimination law rights as a person with disabilities in different areas of life, 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, for example
  • Access to everyday services

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.

  • See 'UN Convention on disability rights' below

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

Do you think you have been treated unfairly? The Equality Commission can give you free, confidential advice if you think you may have suffered unlawful discrimination.

Protected by law

The law protects you against discrimination on grounds of race, sex, age, religious belief and / or political opinion, sexual orientation, or because you have a disability.

It covers acts of discrimination at work on all of those grounds. It also covers acts of discrimination in accessing goods, facilities and services, including renting, buying or accessing premises. This applies to all of those grounds except age.

If you would like advice from the Equality Commission about unlawful discrimination contact it as follows:

The Equality Commission will give advice to anyone who asks for it, and that may help resolve the situation. In some cases the Commission may assist you to bring a complaint of unlawful discrimination to a tribunal or a court.

Of the cases the Equality Commission assist, the majority are resolved before going to a hearing. In most of the cases settled the Commission has a commitment to work with the employer or service provider to improve and maintain their practices so as to ensure equality of opportunity for everyone.

More information on your rights, and useful publications are available on the Equality Commission's website.

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.

Employers

The Equality Commission also provides training and guidance for employers. Flexible training programmes tailored to suit employers’ business needs are available along with seminars and workshops. These are open to employers regardless of size or sector.

The Commission also operates a number of Employment Equality Networks providing an open forum in which employers can share experiences, best practice, and benefit from the Equality Commission’s expertise, advice and assistance.

Contacting the Equality Commission Northern Ireland

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Equality House
7-9 Shaftesbury Square
Belfast
BT2 7DP

UN Convention on disability rights

The United Nations (UN) has set up an international human rights convention on the rights of people with disabilities.

What the convention will do for people with disabilities

The UK was actively involved in setting up the convention and the government believes it will play an important part in protecting and promoting the human rights of people with disabilities around the world.

A human rights convention is a piece of international law which sets out the duty of countries to protect human rights. Once in force, it is legally binding for any country that has ratified (formally confirmed) it.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides a recognised international standard for people with disabilities' human rights in one document. This will help the international community to put pressure on countries whose work on disability rights could be improved.

Countries that ratify the convention will also have to report regularly to the UN about the steps they're taking to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities.

The UK was among the first 82 countries to sign the convention on 30 March 2007. Since then, nearly 140 countries have signed the convention, with almost 60 having ratified. By signing, states show their intention to proceed to ratification in due course. The UK ratified the convention on 8 June 2009 and its optional protocol on 7 August 2010 .

The full text of the convention can be viewed on the UN's 'Enable' website. The site provides detailed information on the UN's work on disability rights.

How to find out more

To find out more about what the government is doing in relation to the convention, visit the website of the Office for Disability Issues, which has comprehensive information about the UN Convention.

Disability Awareness in Action (DAA) was established to promote the rights of people with disabilities and to provide a worldwide network for the exchange of information.

UNCRPD Independent Mechanism for Northern Ireland

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have been designated as the ‘independent mechanism’ holding decision makers to account. They are monitoring the implementation of UNCRPD and will report to a UN committee on how the Convention is being implemented.

More information is available on the Equality Commission website

The Office for Disability Issues

The Office for Disability Issues aims to co-ordinate the way government services are developed and delivered for people with disabilities. It works to bring about equality for people with disabilities by 2025.

About the Office for Disability Issues

The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) works with people with disabilities and disability groups and organisations to move towards full equality for people with disabilities.

All government departments are, or will be, involved with the ODI. This includes departments responsible for health, employment, education, transport and trade and industry.

For more information, visit the Office for Disability Issues website.

More useful links

Share this page

Feedback

Would you like to leave feedback about this page? Send us your feedback