Disability Discrimination Act Part IV
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) was amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 making it unlawful for Higher Education Institutions to discriminate against students with disabilities and dyslexia.
Who is disabled according to the Act?
The Act protects people who are defined as disabled according to the DDA 1995. You are disabled according to the Act if you have "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your day-to-day activities."
Owing to this definition, many students will now be able to use the new legislation and will continue to be eligible for Disabled Students' Allowance and other assistance.
What does the Act cover?
The new legislation applies to all aspects of education and training offered by Higher Education Institutions, including learning and teaching, admissions and exclusions. The provision of 'student services' is also affected; such services include social/sporting facilities, residences, catering and welfare/careers advice.
What are the implications for Higher Education Institutions?
It is now against the law to treat students with disabilities 'less favourably' than other students for reasons relating to their disability. This would, for example, protect a student from being marked down in an assessment solely on account of their disability.
It is part of the education provider's duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' to ensure that disabled students are not 'substantially disadvantaged' in their ability to access the course. Such adjustments might, for example, include changes in methods of learning and teaching or the provision of materials in alternative formats.
The main requirement to make reasonable adjustments was implemented in September 2002. Adjustments relating to auxiliary aids and services were required to be made from September 2003 and reasonable adjustments to physical features were required from 1st September 2005.
The new act places a duty on Higher Education Institutions to anticipate the needs of future students, making adjustments in advance. In certain cases however, adjustments will have to be made for individuals in response to particular needs. This places a duty on education providers to do all they can to find out about students' disabilities, including the development of an atmosphere in which disclosure is encouraged.
What other information is available?
The Disability Discrimination Act in full - see Part IV (Education).
Important note the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), have been merged into a single body, The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) came into being on 1 October 2007. It combines the responsibilities and powers of the three previous equality commissions.