Disability Legislation

Equality Act 2010

From 1 October 2010 the Equality Act replaced and consolidated all current anti-discrimination legislation including the Disability Discrimination Act although the Disability Equality Duty continues to apply, under the title of Public Sector Equality Duty.

The Equality Act places a range of general and specific duties on public sector bodies, including universities, aimed at reducing discrimination and promoting equality and requires that they publish an Equality Scheme, detailing the organisation's plans for promoting disability equality. Please see Newcastle University's Equality Strategy and Action Plan (PDF: 300 KB).

Newcastle University has a duty to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity for people who share a protected characteristic such as a disability, and foster good relations between people with a protected characteristic and others.

Disability is the one area where there is a continuing requirement to make reasonable adjustments in relation to students and services if arrangements would place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage. The legislation requires universities to take anticipatory action in relation to the needs of disabled students in the way that learning and teaching and support services are organised rather than reacting or responding to needs as they are presented.

The three requirements of this duty to make reasonable adjustments relate to:

  • provisions, criteria or practices; considering the way things are done. For example, reviewing alternative formats for lecture material.
  • physical features; making changes to the built environment such as making lecture rooms and facilities accessible to all.
  • auxiliary aids; regard for the provision of auxiliary aids and services such as providing screen reading software for students who are partially sighted

Whether an adjustment is reasonable will depend on a number of factors including academic standards, the institution's resources, practicality or health and safety.

The extent of the duty to make adjustments will differ slightly depending on the context. Most significantly, there is no anticipatory duty in the employment field (as exists in relation to education). In the provision of goods and services the duty will normally extend to staff, students and disabled people in general.

For more information see the Equality Challenge Unit website.

Further information

Equality and Human Rights Commission