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Disability Discrimination Act

The Disability Discrimination Act is a UK parliamentary act of 1995, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport. It is a civil rights law. Other countries use constitutional, social rights or criminal law to make similar provisions. See Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for corresponding USA legislation - though this does not have a positive equality duty. The British Government set up the Disability Rights Commission to provide support for the Act. Equivalent legislation exists in Northern Ireland, which is enforced by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission.

It is still permissible for employers to have reasonable medical criteria for employment, and to expect adequate performance from all employees once any reasonable adjustments have been made.

The Act was amended by the following legislation: • The Disability Rights Commission Act 1999, which replaced the National Disability Council with the Disability Rights Commission; • The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 inserted new provisions in Part 4 of the Act in connection with disability discrimination in schools and other educational establishments; • The Private Hire Vehicles (Carriage of Guide Dogs etc) Act 2002, which prevented operators of such vehicles refusing to take assistance dogs, or making additional charges for such dogs; and • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Pensions) Regulations 2003 which amended the DDA in line with the EU employment directive.

It has also published a draft disability discrimination bill to make further changes, including the introduction of a positive duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity.