Defining your rights in the workplace
The DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) is the legislation that has a definition of disability and builds on that definition as to what is discrimination and your rights in employment, if you do have a disability. The DDA's definition of disability states; 'a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.'
It is from this description of a disability that the DDA document defines 'disabled rights' as an employee. This legislation defines the terms of 'discrimination against a disabled person'. In summary, the DDA states that employees with disability should not be discriminated against on the grounds of their disability. The document does explain further what this exactly means.
If the employee has told the employer about his or her disability then that employer should recognise different abilities, allowing for 'reasonable adjustments' to be in place where necessary.
Please see The Disability Discrimination Act from more information.
Dyslexia is classified as a disability under this Act, although cases of Dyslexia will vary in their severity depending on the individual. In some cases, people have developed coping strategies that allow them to carry on and the disability does not always affect a person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities. Dyslexic people can often reduce the effect of their disability if they are able to do things their way. However, if they cannot do this for any reason, the effects can be disabling.
It will be unlawful for responsible bodies to treat a disabled person 'less favourably' than a non-disabled person for a reason that relates to the person's disability.
Example: A Dyslexic student applies to do a nursing degree. The university tells her that they do not take Dyslexic students on nursing degrees. The treatment she receives is less favourable compared to other students, and the reason for the treatment relates to her disability. The university is likely to be acting unlawfully.
If a disabled person is at a 'substantial disadvantage', responsible bodies are required to take reasonable steps to prevent that disadvantage. This might include:
- Changes to policies and practices
- Changes to course requirements or work placements
- Changes to the physical features of a building
- The provision of interpreters or other support workers
- The delivery of courses in alternative ways
- Tthe provision of material in other formats
Examples of DDA
Example: A partially Dyslexic student needs to record lectures with a dictaphone on a law course. One of her lecturers declines to let the student record the lecture stating copyright infringement. The student is likely to be at a substantial disadvantage if this adjustment is not made. The law requires responsible bodies to anticipate the requirements of disabled people or students and the adjustments they could be making for them. This might be done through regular staff reviews and reviews of practice.
How do people know whether an adjustment is reasonable or not?
The steps that are reasonable depend on the circumstances of the case. They will vary according to:
- The type of services being provided
- The nature of the institution or service and its size and resources
- The effect of the disability on the individual disabled person or student
Some of the factors that might be taken into account are:
- The financial resources available to the responsible body
- The cost of taking a particular step
- The extent to which it is practicable to take a particular step
- Tealth and safety requirements
- The relevant interests of other people