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Are service providers failing to make reasonable adjustments for disabled users?

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It was recently reported that a disabled individual had been refused access to ‘Pronto Buses’ operated by Stagecoach East Midlands, on three occasions in one day, despite the vehicles having sufficient wheelchair space available. It is reported that whilst waiting, the disabled individual was told “no” by a bus driver of the company in question after opening the bus door, and proceeded to drive away. It is understood that other bus drivers on the same route drove past without stopping at all.

It is understood that the individual claims that they had been left feeling “dehumanised” by the drivers, and reported that the experience was “humiliating” not least due to the effects of his conditions that they experienced as a result of the wait that was forced upon them.

Whilst Stagecoach East Midlands have been reported to have confirmed that the drivers have “failed to comply with the company’s policies in respect of both stopping for passengers and disability awareness”, it is understood that the disabled individual has been left feeling ‘let down’, as access to the bus service was “his own way of having independence”.

The law

One head of claim that can be brought under Section 20 and 21 of the Equality Act 2010 against a service provider is a claim for a failure to make reasonable adjustments. If any physical feature of an organisation’s/service provider’s premises, or other arrangements, causes a substantial disadvantage then the provider is under a statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments to prevent it, (i.e. altering premises or offering assistance to help you). An organisation/service provider is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments when they are aware, or should be aware, that you are suffering from a disability and are likely to suffer a disadvantage because of it. If the organisation/service provider does not know, and could not reasonably be expected to know that you have a disability then the duty to make reasonable adjustments does not apply.

The duty of the organisation/service provider is to take reasonable steps. When considering what is reasonable the organisation/service provider may consider  things such as how effective it would be in preventing the disadvantage, practicality, the financial/other costs, the disruption likely to be caused, the extent of their financial resources (a civil court is likely to impose greater obligations on large organisations than on smaller organisations) and the availability of assistance to make the adjustment(s).

Have you been treated unfavourably or put at a detriment, as a result of your disability?

If you feel that you have been treated differently or have been subjected to a detriment due to a disability, please call our specialist discrimination law team for further advice on 0175 321 6399.

By Abigail Martland, employment law and discrimination advisor

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