Disability access

Peter Edwards Law duties in relation to disabled people

The Equality Act 2010 requires us to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled people, defined by the Act as those who have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

This will, in some circumstances, mean that disabled people receive more favourable treatment than non-disabled people, which is lawful in the context of disability.

We must take reasonable steps in the way that we work with disabled people so they are not disadvantaged in comparison to people who are not disabled.

This policy does not seek to explain how we will approach every situation, it is intended as a general statement of our policy and confirms our commitment to improving accessibility for everybody that we deal with many of the arrangements that we offer for disabled people can also be made available for those who don’t have disabilities. For example a person may find it easier to read our information leaflets in a larger than usual font.

What is a reasonable adjustment?

A reasonable adjustment involves making a change to the way that we usually do things to ensure that we are fair to disabled people. Some examples of the simple reasonable adjustments that staff can make may include:

• providing additional support, such as a sign language or interpreter
• making sure our offices do not present obstacles for disabled people, for instance by providing ground level meeting rooms.
• providing documents or correspondence in a larger font size
• providing documents on coloured paper or with a specific colour contrast which can often help people with conditions such as dyslexia
• providing documents or correspondence in a larger font size
• providing documents on coloured paper or with a specific colour contrast which can often help people with conditions such as dyslexia
• allowing a person who has a learning disability or mental health problems more time than would usually be allowed to provide further information—except where there is a statutory deadline which we have no power to change
• using email or the telephone in preference to hard copy letters where appropriate, which may assist those with a vision impairment
• speaking clearly to the people who we deal with and offering additional time to cover the issues they need to discuss—this will help everyone understand our processes and procedures
• using plain English appropriate to the person we are dealing with and avoiding jargon
• arranging meetings in rooms which have appropriate facilities.
• arranging home visits for those who have particular mobility difficulties.
• translating documents or correspondence into Braille,
• communicating with people through their representative (whether or not this is a legal representative) or advocate, if requested and approved by them,
• helping someone who has mental health problems to understand and manage the regulatory action we are taking by arranging a single point of contact,
• arranging a face to face meeting to provide more tailored support and assistance.
• arranging for a solicitor to attend a hearing in person rather than providing written comments on the issues

We will not make assumptions about whether a disabled person requires any adjustments or about what those adjustments should be. We will discuss the requirements with the person concerned and seek to reach agreement on what may be reasonable in the circumstances.

Types of reasonable adjustment we can offer

Whilst we will consider each request for reasonable adjustments individually, there are some common adjustments which we will offer as a matter of course and some other adjustments that we can make particular arrangements to provide.
The adjustments will always be agreed with the person concerned to avoid making incorrect assumptions about a person’s needs.

A minority of requests may require more detailed consideration and our approach to these requests is discussed in the section below.

Our response to requests for reasonable adjustment

In the majority of cases we will be able to agree and deliver the required reasonable adjustments with a minimum of delay. In some cases, we may need to consider in more detail how best to overcome the difficulty a disabled person may be experiencing. For example, where the adjustment requested may be difficult to provide.