News about Britain
Most people take it for granted that they can go to the shops, get an education at school or college, and use a bank or library. But for the large numbers of people with disabilities, using services like these things can be very difficult, or even impossible, so Britain has taken action with some new guidelines.
Since October 2004, disabled people in Britain should have better access to services such as shops. The Disability Discrimination Act is designed to give disabled people equal rights to use services and businesses. It means that service providers will have to make changes to allow people with disabilities to use their facilities. Some of the people specified in the Act are those who have difficulties with movement for example, people who use wheelchairs, or who have sight or hearing problems, and sufferers of mental illness.
The law was originally passed in 1995, but has been rolled out in various stages. Ever since 1996, it has been unlawful to discriminate against somebody applying for a job because of their disability. But from October 2004, businesses and organisations are required to make reasonable physical adjustments to their premises to assist disabled users.
The businesses and organisations affected include shops, banks, libraries, places of worship, restaurants, and schools. They may have to make changes like building ramps to replace stairs, widening door-ways, or having Braille signs or menus.
However, public transport is currently exempted from the law. This has angered some disability groups, who say that public transport is very difficult to use. For the London Underground and rail companies the problem is that many stations were built decades ago, and would be very difficult to change. However, the government has said that all buses, trains and taxis should be accessible to wheelchair users in 13 years' time.
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