The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008) is an international agreement drawn up by states with the involvement of disabled people which affirms that people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else. The Convention was ratified on 8 June 2009 by the United Kingdom. This means the Government is legally bound to protect the human rights of its citizens with disabilities. (Subject to the interpretive declarations and reservations in a few areas)
Section 75 requires public authorities in NI to take due regard to promote equality of opportunity for the following 9 groups which includes people with disabilities:
The Disability Discrimination Order (2006) applies to public sector employers and places duties on public authorities to have due regard when carrying out their functions to the need to:
- promote positive attitudes towards disabled people
- encourage participation by disabled people in public life
These are referred to as the “Disability Duties” and all public authorities must produce a Disability Action Plan outlining how they intend to address this duty.
Employment is a key area where Public Authorities can promote these duties.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Northern Ireland) Order 2005. (SENDO), as amended, covers disability discrimination in the field of education. It extends protection to young disabled people in schools and disabled persons in further and higher education.
Schools, education and library boards, universities and colleges, including teacher training and agricultural colleges, cannot discriminate against a disabled person or a person who has had a disability in the past for an unjustified disability-related reason.
The Employment provisions were implemented in 1996. The DDA applies to all employers regardless of size.
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate in:
DDA defines discrimination as follows:
Direct Discrimination - This definition of discrimination applies to complaints about discrimination in employment, vocational training and education. This occurs if, on the grounds of a disabled person’s disability, a disabled person is treated less favourably than a person not having that particular disability whose relevant circumstances, including his/her abilities, are the same as, or not materially different from, those of the disabled person.
The Disability Discrimination Act was introduced in 1995 and it was the first anti-discrimination legislation to be introduced in the UK. The DDA made it unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities in relation to:
- Employment and vocational training;
- Goods, facilities and services;
- Premises (Selling or letting or managing land or property)
The National Disability Authority (NDA) is the independent state body providing expert advice on disability policy and practice to the Minister, and promoting Universal Design in Ireland.
The National Disability Authority’s mandate is set out in the National Disability Authority Act 1999 and the Disability Act 2005, and in summary is:
The Equality Authority is an independent body set up under the Employment Equality Act 1998. The Equality Authority replaced the Employment Equality Agency, and has a greatly expanded role and functions.
The Equality Authority provides a range of services to individuals and organisations including public information services, legal service, research and development and library service etc.