There are nearly 14 million people with disabilities in the United Kingdom (UK). That’s 22% of the population, which means more than 1 in 5 persons in the UK is disabled.
Issues of accessibility are keeping disabled people away from public life and from experiences, such as shopping or traveling. More than a million people with disabilities in the UK have the ability to work and they want to work as well. However, inaccessible workplaces and information is keeping them away from the workplace as well.
What is the Equality Act 2010?
Disability discrimination occurs when a person is not given the same opportunities as others in a similar situation or is treated less favourably because of their disability. The disability could be permanent or temporary. It could be a sensory, intellectual, neurological, physical, learning, or psychosocial disability, an illness or a disease, physical disfigurement, work-related injury, or medical condition.
The Equality Act 2010 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom. The primary purpose of this act is to consolidate and enhance over 116 pieces of legislation connected to the anti-discrimination law in Great Britian.
The Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. It provides Britain with a discrimination law that protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
The Equality Act 2010 also ensures that websites are accessible to blind and other disabled users.
How Did the Equality Act 2010 Evolve?
Existing civil rights legislations and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) was the basis for the Equality Act 2010.
In 2005, The Mental Capacity Act, and in 2006, the DDA were legislated with further changes to include website accessibility, the obligations it places on their owners, and the practical steps that may be taken to improve accessibility.
DDA was updated to become the Equality Act in 2010.
The Equality Act 2010 and Website Accessibility
The Equality Act 2010 establishes the right for people with disabilities to have access to everyday goods and services. A website is classified as a service and, to ensure compliance, companies must ensure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities.
Discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited by law. The legislation provides for hosting service providers to pull the plug on inaccessible websites.
Cases Involving Website Accessibility in the UK
In 2004, Sam Latif, a blind candidate filed a case under the DDA against the Project Management Institute (PMI), a not-for-profit company in the US. Aiming to study for a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, Latif began her preparations. However, she found both the study material as well as the actual examination inaccessible for a blind user. The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) supported her case. This was the first tribunal hearing where a US-based company with no UK presence was found liable under the UK’s DDA.
What is the Cost of Non-Compliance?
In the UK, a stern warning was issued to 800 organisations in a formal investigation of 1000 websites by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC). If these organizations fail to make websites accessible for people with disabilities, they will face the threat of unlimited compensation payments and legal action under the Equality Act 2010.
By complying with the Equality Act 2010, businesses have the opportunity to open up to a £250 billion market, which represents the spending power of people with disabilities and their families.