The Equality Act 2010
On 1st October 2010, a new Equality Act emerged and replaced the Disability Discrimination Act of 1996. This combines separate pieces of legislation which provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.
The Act simplifies, strengthens and harmonises the current legislation to provide Britain with a new discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society. The Equality Act supersedes the DDA but the requirements remain much the same.
The nine main pieces of legislation that have merged are:
the Equal Pay Act 1970
the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
the Race Relations Act 1976
the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
Schools now have a duty under the Equality Act to provide an Accessibility Plan detailing how access is to be improved for pupils/students, staff and visitors with disabilities in a given timeframe. It must anticipate the need to make reasonable adjustments where ever practicable.
Is the Equality Act Enforced?
Unlike most laws, this is not policed. However OFSTED or ISI will ask to see your Accessibility Plan at your next inspection, and if it is not up to date, you will be penalised.
It is important to remember that a School Accessibility Plan should take into account three parts - Access to the Building, Access to Information and Access to the Curriculum. It should also consider recent issues such as gender reassignment.
If you can show that you have made a ‘reasonable’ approach with regards to accessibility, this will assist in defending any actions brought against you by a disabled persons.