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Living With A Disability: Understanding Your Rights



Living with a disability can pose difficulties and challenges.  However, there are laws set in place to help disabled people in areas such as work and education, to ensure they have access to the appropriate services and are not subject to discrimination.  Read on to discover more.

Rights in employment

The Equality Act 2010 has set down a number of laws, which means that employers are not allowed to discriminate disabled people in the workplace.

The Act covers a number of areas relating to all aspects of recruitment and employment, as well as redundancy and retirement.  It states that an employer needs to make reasonable adjustments to ensure a disabled person isn’t being disadvantaged in the workplace, compared to a non-disabled person.  This can cover a wide range of aspects, such as ensuring the disabled person has the appropriate equipment to do their job or an adjustment of their working hours.  It could also mean increasing accessibility, such as installing automatic doors, or an automatic door opener or providing wheelchair-accessible toilets, for example.

Rights in recruitment

As part of The Equality Act 2010, employers also need to make sure that their recruitment and selection process doesn’t discriminate against disabled people.  For example, if an employer asks questions about your disability, it has to relate to a number of aspects, such as assessing what reasonable adjustments would need to be made for you in the selection process, or if they need to know for the purposes of national security checks, for instance.

Rights in education

A school or other education provider is legally entitled to treat disabled students as favorably as non-disabled students.  This means, that it can’t refuse to admit a student based on their disability.  It also means education providers need to ensure that their enrolment forms are written in an accessible format for disabled students; if they aren’t, then this is indirect discrimination.

Education providers also need to ensure that a disabled person is not victimized or suffers harassment or bullying as a result of their disability.

Schools and colleges need to make reasonable adjustments to the education environment for disabled persons, such as installing disabled toilets, a ramp, automatic doors, or an automatic door opener.  But it also needs to ensure that the disabled person’s needs are met in terms of any extra support they might need in the classroom, such as extra disability equipment or specialist teacher support.

Rights when dealing with the police

Disabled people have rights when it comes to situations in which they are being questioned or interviewed at a police station.  For example, if a person is hard of hearing or has speech difficulties, they have the right to ask for an interpreter to be with them.  Any person with a learning difficulty also has the right to have an appropriate adult present during the interview.

If you are detained in a police cell, you have the right to a medical examination by a healthcare worker such as a nurse or paramedic.

Every day rights

Disabled people also have the right not to be discriminated against in accessing everyday facilities and services such as shops, banks, restaurants, cinemas, and places of worship, for example.  They also have rights with regard to buying or renting land or property.