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2011 National Disabled Members' Conference
15 July 2011

The Disability Discrimination Acts introduced for the first time a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. The Equality Act outlines three areas where employers and service providers must make reasonable adjustments. These are:

a) Adjustments to a provision, criterion or practice;

b) Adjustments involving the provision of auxiliary aids and services; and

c) Adjustments to physical features.

The Equality Act also includes a general duty to promote equality between people who have a protected characteristic and those who don’t. Disability is a protected characteristic. These duties are well established in law yet government agencies are still refusing to make reasonable adjustments.

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) application form has small lilac print and is unsuitable for people with visual impairments. When Newcastle City Council asked the CRB for a large print form for a visually impaired member of staff they received the following response.

‘I am sorry to hear that one of your staff is having problems completing our new application form. Regrettably, we are unable to provide the form in larger print. This is because all application forms are scanned on receipt on our secure computer system. The scanner can only read the information as set out on the application form. We have had to purchase new scanners for the new lilac forms. If the font was bigger, the form would not be readable to the scanner. I can only suggest someone helps with the completion of the form.’

Conference this is completely inappropriate as well as being unlawful. The CRB are putting the needs of the scanner above those of a disabled person. We have contacted them on several occasions since but they have still not agreed to make a reasonable adjustment over a year later.

A disabled service user has been told by the Department of Work and Pensions that they will only provide them with 1 document or letter in an alternative format a month. In some cases this means either the decision letter or the information needed to lodge an appeal.

How many other government bodies are failing to make reasonable adjustments?

This conference calls upon the National Disabled Members Committee to work with National Executive to:

1.Work with branches and regions to gather evidence of government agencies who fail or refuse to make reasonable adjustments;

2.Lobby the government requesting they make sure all government bodies make reasonable adjustments for disabled people; and

3.Campaign to raise awareness of the need to make reasonable adjustments