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New rights for people with disabilities now in force


From a DfEE press release:


Disabled people have the right to equal access to "high street" services such as shops, restaurants and pubs under new regulations which came into effect on Friday 1 October.

Margaret Hodge, Minister for Disabled People, said that the new rights, under Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act, will help end discrimination against disabled people and at the same time open up more opportunities for businesses.

Launching a short guide to help small and medium sized businesses understand the new duties, Mrs Hodge said:

"There are eight and a half million disabled people in the UK with considerable spending power. One in four customers is disabled or close to someone who is. This is an historic day which will bring benefits for disabled people and opportunities for the businesses they use. Accessible services are attractive services. Changes which help people with disabilities also make services more convenient for everyone to use.

"The new duties are explained in the guide published today, aimed specifically at small to medium sized businesses. Firms need only make simple, modest adjustments - for example a video shop accepting alternative proof of identity for disabled people who don’t have driving licences; estate agents putting house details on tape; cinemas allowing an accessible staff entrance to be used. Simple changes can make an enormous difference - and bring in business."

Welcoming the new booklet, Stephen Alambritis of the Federation of Small Businesses said: "Small businesses will welcome this short guide because it will provide clarity and simplicity on legislation that they genuinely want to get right."

The 16 page booklet entitled - The Disability Discrimination Act 1995: An Introduction for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses - Rights of Access to Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises explains the new, and existing, duties on service providers under Part III of the DDA; describes the types of disabilities that may be covered by the DDA; explains what is meant by ‘reasonable adjustments’; contains examples of good practice of particular relevance to SMEs; includes a checklist of good practice suggesting steps that a small or medium-sized business could take to comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the DDA; and signposts the reader to the Code of Practice which was published on 29 June, and to the DDA Helpline for further information.

This guide is available on the website or from the DDA helpline (0345 622 633).


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