The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) is about providing a fair go for Australians with disabilities.
Its focus is on addressing the physical and attitudinal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from making the most of their abilities and participating more fully in the community. This benefits both people with disabilities and the Australian community.
The DDA makes it generally unlawful to discriminate against people because of disability. It has three objectives, which in summary are:
- to eliminate 'as far as possible' discrimination on the ground of disability
- to ensure 'as far as practicable' equality before the law for people with disabilities
- to promote community acceptance of the rights of people with disabilities.
The first objective of the DDA is to eliminate discrimination 'as far as possible'. The DDA aims to end the discrimination which many disabled people face.
It is unlawful to discriminate in the following areas of activity: employment education access to premises used by the public (including public transport) provision of goods, services and facilities applications for accommodation (for example, renting) disposal of land activities of clubs and associations sport administration of Commonwealth laws and programs requests for information.
When do the DDA requirements have to be implemented?
Do I have to make physical changes to my premises?
In most cases yes, the DDA states that failure to provide equal access is unlawful.
Two sets of law covering access to buildings, DDA and BCA (Building Code of Australia).
There are two types of law that cover access to buildings and facilities within them, the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and anti-discrimination law such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).
Compliance with the BCA does not necessarily mean the building complies with the requirements of the DDA or State and Territory anti-discrimination laws.
How can I judge when my services are unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use?
People who design, build, own, lease, operate or manage premises should achieve equitable access for people with disabilities by ensuring all parts of premises to which the public is entitled or allowed to enter or use are connected by a network of continuous accessible paths of travel.
You should consider whether the time, inconvenience, effort or discomfort involved for a disabled person to use your services would be considered unreasonable by able bodied people if they experienced the same difficulties.
All users should be able to access and use any controls used by the public, such as door handles, power switches, card slots, keys pads and buttons.
Access to premises
It is unlawful for a person to discriminate against another person on the ground of the other person's disability or a disability of any of that other person's associates:
- By refusing to allow the other person access to, or the use of, any premises that the public or a section of the public is entitled or allowed to enter or use (whether for payment or not);
- Or in the terms or conditions on which the first mentioned person is prepared to allow the other person access to, or the use of, any such premises;
- Or in relation to the provision of means of access to such premises;
- Or by refusing to allow the other person the use of any facilities in such premises that the public or a section of the public is entitled or allowed to use (whether for payment or not);
- Or in the terms or conditions on which the first mentioned person is prepared to allow the other person the use of any such facilities;
- Or by requiring the other person to leave such premises or cease to use such facilities.
So what am I actually required to do?
If it is impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use your services you are required to:
- "Take reasonable steps to change your practices, policies or procedures; or provide a reasonable alternative method of making your services available to disabled people."
What kind of businesses will need to meet DDA requirements?
All businesses: shops, banks, hotels, pubs, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, opticians, high street services such as travel agents, insurance agents etc., theatres, cinemas, leisure facilities - any building that caters for the public.
Is any service provider excluded?
The DDA applies to all service providers, there is no exemption on the basis of size.
Very few disabled people use our services, so is adapting my premises really necessary?
There are over 3 million disabled people in Australia and they have considerable collective spending power. Any adjustments you make for disabled people may also benefit other customers and your staff. You will also retain the goodwill of disabled people and their families and friends. One in four customers is disabled or close to someone who is. In addition you will avoid the risk of legal action against you.
What happens if I fail to make reasonable adjustments?
You might be breaking the law. A disabled person can make a claim against a provider whose services are impossible or unreasonably difficult for him or her to access.
The Human Rights & Equal Opportunities Commission, through a "consumer complaint" process enforces the DDA provisions.
To learn more about disabled access platform lifts and stairlifts visit www.platformliftco.com.au or call one of the friendly team on 1300 884 960