Service providers are being reminded they will have extra responsibilities when the next phase of the Disability Discrimination Act comes into effect on 1 January 2018.
The phased implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act 2006 was approved in 2015, following which it became unlawful for a provider of services – such as shops, hotels, restaurants, businesses, public sector organisations, tourist attractions, sports facilities and charities – to discriminate against a disabled person in relation to the provision of goods, facilities and services, and in the disposal or management of premises.
Regulations for the third of four phases were approved at the November sitting of Tynwald and will mean that, from 1 January 2018, a service provider will have to consider a reasonable means of overcoming any such physical feature by providing an alternative method of making the service available to disabled people.
Specifically, the next phase places the onus on a service provider to:
• change a practice, policy or procedure which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to make use of services
• provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service available to a disabled person where a physical feature makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of the service
• provide an auxiliary aid or service if it would enable disabled persons to make use of its service
The final phase, commencing 1 January 2020, will introduce additional duties in respect of a physical feature which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to access the service. By that date a service provider must have taken reasonable steps to remove the physical feature, alter it so it no longer has an effect on accessing the service or provide a reasonable means of avoiding it.
The DHSC has previously produced a number of useful guidance documents to help service providers understand the Disability Discrimination Act, including a self-assessment checklist and a comprehensive Code of Practice, which are available to download on its webpage gov.im/dda.