Disability Discrimination Act – Access To Goods And Services


Making Access to Goods and Services Easier for Disabled Customers: A Practical Guide for Small Businesses and Other Service Providers

Introduction

By Bert Massie, Chair, Disability Rights Commission and Joan Harbison, Chief Commissioner, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

From October 2004 companies and organisations that provide services to the public will be required by the Disability Discrimination Act to ensure that those services are reasonably accessible to disabled people. In many cases the most sensible/obvious way of doing so will be to ensure that the building within which the service is offered is accessible. This is the first time that the law has required businesses to consider whether their buildings are accessible and it presents a new challenge for many of them. However, focusing on the needs of disabled people can also provide an opportunity to gain from a significant consumer market.

This guide has been produced to help small businesses through this challenging but important process. It was based on a wide-ranging consultation by the Disability Rights Commission in Britain and the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland with almost 650 responses received. These were considered by a Working Group which included both Commissions and representatives of business and disability organisations.

The Disability Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland believe that this Guide will be a valuable tool for small businesses and would encourage all service providers to start looking at their premises well in advance of October 2004. By planning ahead changes can be built into planned work and a step- by-step approach taken.

Our two Commissions are pleased to provide ongoing advice and assistance to employers and service providers in relation to all aspects of the Disability Discrimination Act. These new requirements are a challenge but we believe it is one which will bring additional business and benefit all customers including disabled people. Together we can turn this challenge into an achievement of which to be proud.

Bert Massie, Chair, Disability Rights Commission.
Joan Harbison, Chief commissioner, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

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