Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), giving disabled people further
rights of access to goods and services.
Mr Howarth said:
widespread impact on their lives. This decision is further
implementation of our manifesto commitment to establish comprehensive
and enforceable civil rights for disabled people. We are moving
decisively to ensure that it will no longer be the case that so many
of our disabled citizens are excluded from the everyday activities
that others take for granted.
'From October next year disabled people should see improvements as
business and the public sector adjust procedures and policies to make
their services accessible. For example, restaurants will not be
allowed to refuse entry to guide dogs and companies will not be
allowed to produce promotional literature in print too small for
visually impaired people to read. Service providers will, where it is
reasonable for them to do so, also have to provide sign language
interpreters for deaf people or induction loops for people who use
hearing aids. Businesses based in inaccessible premises will have to
take reasonable steps to provide their service by alternative means;
this could mean for example, home visits by hairdressers or
chiropodists to people who use wheelchairs.
'We are implementing the legislation in two stages to allow
service providers from the local shop to town halls time to make
physical alterations. They will have until 2004 to prepare but when
the DDA is fully brought into force, service providers who have not
prepared themselves and removed physical obstacles to disabled
people, where such changes would be reasonable, could be in breach of
I would urge service providers not to wait but to act now in
anticipation of their new duties. They will not be required to do
anything unreasonable. Not only will their disabled customers and
service users benefit but making their services more accessible will
make them more attractive to many others. Acting quickly could
provide a considerable commercial advantage.
'In reaching our decision on the timetable for implementation, we
have taken full account of advice from the National Disability
Council (NDC), from organisations of and for disabled people and from
'I have today written to the NDC asking them to review the Code of
Practice in order to take account of the new duties on service
providers. I anticipate that public consultation on the Council's
revised Code of practice and the government's proposals for a limited
number of regulations under the Act will begin no later than the
beginning of August 1998 and last for three months.'
The provisions of the Act are to be implemented in two stages: From
October 1999, service providers will have to take reasonable steps to
change practices, policies or procedures which make it impossible or
unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service; provide
auxiliary aids or services which would enable disabled people to use
a service and overcome physical barriers by providing a service by a
reasonable alternative method. From 2004, service providers will
have to take reasonable steps to remove, alter, or provide reasonable
means of avoiding physical features that make it impossible or
unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service.
1. The first rights under Part III of the DDA came into force on 2
December 1996 and placed duties on those providing goods, facilities
and services not to discrimainate against disabled people. The
duties are: not to refuse service, not to provide a worse service
standard of service and not to offer service on worse terms.