Equal Access to UNISON Material for Members with Disabilities*

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2002 National Disabled Members' Conference
2 July 2002

This Disabled Members’ Conference is concerned that UNISON’s literature and application forms are not readily available in alternative formats.

As a trade organisation UNISON is expected under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to provide a service to members with disabilities that is equal to that for members without disabilities. The DDA came into effect in 1996 and under the Goods and Services part of the Act (2000) any organisation providing a service to the public has to ensure that people with disabilities are not put at a disadvantage.

The fact that UNISON still does not provide alternative formats to its application forms and literature leaves the union open to claims of discrimination.

UNISON claims to represent the oppressed, disenfranchised and marginalised groups in society, however it does not do itself justice when it comes to matters of disability.

For example, how can a member with a disability make a complaint against the union if they do not have an accessible format copy of the complaints procedure?

How can the union hope to recruit new members with disabilities, if the application forms and leaflets outlining the benefits of being in the union are not accessible?

The fact that alternative formats are not readily available, hardly demonstrates to people with disabilities that the union welcomes them. Rather it would appear to demonstrate that UNISON does not want members with disabilities in the organisation.

This Disabled Members’ Conference, therefore calls upon the National Disabled Members’ Committee (NDMC) to urge the national union to look seriously at the way it provides accessible formats for the information it sends out.

The NDMC should also urge the national union to remind UNISON branches of their responsibilities towards equal access to UNISON’s literature and application forms for members with disabilities.

In addition the national union should also conduct a disability audit to establish what appropriate formats are required.