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News about Britain
 
Disability Discrimination Act
 
Disability Discrimination Act

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.

Vocabulary

take it for granted
to know or believe you can do something without thinking about it.

disabilities
health problems which affect someone's ability to do things that other people can

disabled
unable to do some things that other people can.

to discriminate
to treat someone differently, usually in a bad way, because of their skin colour, sex, age, religion, ability etc.

discrimination
the act of treating someone differently

service providers
any organisation or business offering something to people (e.g. help, education, things to buy, information)

specified
named, included

passed
agreed by the government, became legal

sufferers
people who have an illness or injury

to suffer from
to be ill with, to have an illness

rolled out
gradually established

unlawful
illegal, against the law

adjustments
changes

places of worship
religious buildings like churches, temples, and mosques.

ramps
smooth slopes (which can be used instead of steps)

Braille
the international language for blind people. It uses groups of raised dots to represent letters and words.

exempted
excluded from, not included in the law

angered
made someone angry

decades
a decade is ten years

accessible
possible to access or use

 
 
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Are there laws to protect the rights of disabled people in your country? Is it easy for people with disabilities to use shops, transport and education where you live? Do you think there should be laws or guidelines to help people with disabilities?
 
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RELATED LINKS
 
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How the law has changed
 
 
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Shops not ready for disability law
 
 
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Religion gears up for disability law
 
 
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Transport to be accessible by 2017
 
 
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The Disability Discrimination Act - in detail
 
 
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The BBC site for people with disabilities
 
 
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