Guidelines for government websites - Legal issues Disability Discrimination Act

Government policy is to encourage departments and agencies to make their services as accessible to disabled people as is reasonably possible. Overall these guidelines have been developed with this aim in mind. Web managers are advised that when there is any doubt then legal advice should be sought.

Details of the Disability Discrimination Act

Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA ) makes it unlawful for a service provider to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability. Service providers must also consider making reasonable adjustments to the way that they deliver their services where disabled people find these impossible or unreasonably difficult to access.

There are provisions in the DDA (section 19(3)) that state that 'access to and use of means of communication' and 'access to and use of information services' are both examples of services which would be covered by Part III.

However, it would be for a court to decide whether it would have been reasonable for a particular service provider to make a particular adjustment to enable access for a disabled person, taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case.

Code of Practice. On 26 February 2002, the Disability Rights Commission published a new, revised Code of Practice on rights of access to goods, facilities, services and premises for disabled people. This statutory Code, agreed by Parliament, provides detailed advice on the way the law should work. It also provides practical examples and tips. The status of the Code is that it must be referred to for guidance in court when deciding on Part III DDA cases.

The Code of Practice makes express reference to websites in:

  • Chapter 2. What does the Act say about providing services - paragraphs 2.14 and 2.17 and
  • Chapter 5. Reasonable adjustments in practice - Provision for people with a hearing disability and for people with a visual impairment - paragraphs 5.23 and 5.26.

The Code is available from:

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 confers similar rights upon disabled students as those available to disabled people under the DDA Part III.

Disability Discrimination Act website

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Code of Practice on Rights of Access to Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises§ion=access

Disability Rights Commission

Disability Rights Commission helpline

Helpline email

Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

This article was by the UK Government Cabinet Office e-Government office
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