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The Equality Act 2010 and Disability Access

The Equality Act 2010 and Disability Access

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and other anti discrimination legislation was replaced by The Equality Act in 2010. The Equality Act 2010 which is sometimes called the disability act 2010, also established the Equality & Human Rights Commission, (the EHRC). The EHRC took over the work of the Disability Rights Commission, the Race Relations Commission & the Equal Opportunities Commission and became the organisation responsible for enforcing the Equality Act.


Wheelchair ramp at the top of some steps

The importance of The Equality Act

The Equality Act protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation - it ensures everyone is given the same level of service, to live and work free of discrimination regardless of your characteristics.

As disabilities are one of the protected characteristics, the Equality Act enforces their rights to be treated fairly. It also suggests that reasonable adjustments should be made by service providers to accommodate people with disabilities and that the responsibility on service providers to make reasonable adjustments, is an anticipatory – not a reactionary – one.

Impacts of the Equality Act 2010 on Disabled Access

Even years after the legislation came into force, service providers are still not making reasonable adjustments to accommodate people with disabilities and few individuals are making complaints regardless of their legal right to do so.

While making official complaints and even taking on a court case can feel overwhelming, (especially for people that already experience difficulties daily living with a disability) confronting discrimination and doing something about it is important. Making valid complaints can help ensure services improve for others in the future and help raise awareness amongst service providers of their responsibility.

Enforcing The Equality Act

If you are facing a situation where you need to stand up for your rights using the Equality Act 2010, we have some tips to help.



  • What do you want to achieve? In most situations you may be able to resolve the issue outside of court if the service provider is cooperative. If you want to gain wheelchair access to somewhere where reasonable access has not been provided previously, it can be as easy as requesting this by asking the provider directly. In this case, wheelchair access is the goal and as long as the provider is willing to accommodate that there is no need to do anything further.
  • What if your request is unsuccessful? You may wish to think about making a formal complaint before you want to progress to legal action. You should submit your complaint in writing and ensure you outline the situation clearly. Include the solution you wish to see and details of how the Equality Act 2010 supports your complaint. There is a six-month limitations period for you to start court proceedings - this time begins from the date of alleged discrimination. As a general rule, make sure you write and send your letter within seven days, and ask for a reply within another seven days.
  • Think you may have to take it to court? Make sure to do your research about the court procedure involved with the disability act. There is plenty of information on the web and the process has been simplified so people can proceed with their own court cases. We recommend taking a look at the Gov.UK website at If your case proceeds to court, you will need to provide evidence and witness statements so make sure to write things down carefully.
  • Don’t Forget! The new clause in the Equality act of “discrimination by association” which means that friends and family with you at the time of discrimination may also have been discriminated against. This is because they are unlikely to use the service without you. Make sure your claim stays in the small claims track at court - this ensures you won’t have to pay your opponents legal fees even if you lose your case. Do remember, this does also mean you won’t be able to get your legal costs reimbursed.

You will also need to think about whether you can afford to lose the costs of your case if you are unsuccessful. These include:

  • The payment of a court issue fee, (approx £200.00 depending on value)
  • The court hearing fee (approx £330.00 depending on value)

If you are successful with your case, you can request the court to reimburse the court costs you have paid out, as well as any other expenses.

  • Other Things To Note. Courts can rule that a service provider has been discriminatory and also award costs, however, they cannot enforce reasonable adjustments. This means that unless an injunction is requested and awarded, service providers cannot be forced to make their service accessible.

Fortunately, it is often easy for service providers to make reasonable adjustments without incurring significant costs to comply with the Equality Act. For example, temporary ramps to provide wheelchair access at entrances and thresholds are an inexpensive and easy solution that requires minimum adjustment and set up - you can view some of ours here.  Often simply pointing service providers in the direction of a reasonable ramp supplier (like us, The Ramp Factory!) and informing them of their responsibilities can be enough to achieve the reasonable adjustments needed.

For more information generally about the Equality Act and how to enforce your rights using the legislation, look at the website of the Equality and Human Rights Commission at