Not all change is for the better

Andy Bundy
Andy Bundy

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Andy Bundy, secretary of the Havant Area Disability Access Group, talks about the different types of discrimination

Today I’m using my newly- upgraded computer (more memory, new disk drive and even Windows 10), which coupled with Office 2013, has meant a major change 
– mostly good, though I’ve yet to stop the keyboard speaking American and everything has moved or changed.

I bring this up to illustrate that not all change is for the better, though quite a bit can be.

While outside our normal ‘accessibility’ remit – we are consulted as, effectively, the one representative disability group in Havant Borough.

For people with disabilities, there was a lot of change. We saw two new kinds of discrimination introduced – indirect discrimination and discrimination by association – both of which covered major omissions in the original Disability Discrimination Act or were introduced to support and/or underpin existing or planned future legislation, such as the Carers Act.

Indirect Discrimination is perhaps the refuge of the service provider who works harder on seeming right, rather than acting right.

In simple terms, indirect discrimination is where the same obligation, requirement or impediment, is applied to everyone with no exceptions.

However, by its nature, it has a considerably greater impact on a disabled person than someone without a disability.

This kind of discrimination is hard to spot, even if you are a victim, and harder to explain and resolve.

I’m wary of using real-world examples here simply because where they involved access issues, we’ve reached resolution on most of them.

However, consider the following: you live in a small village and the caring Post Office closes the branch due to insufficient usage.

The entire village is affected, though the majority already have cars or use the bus, so there’s frustration, but it’s no disaster.

However, for a disabled person, they don’t have a car, and the bus is run by a voluntary organisation who cannot afford to buy an accessible vehicle until they are forced to in the next two-three years.

Arguably, in closing the branch, the Post Office, as service provider, is committing indirect discrimination.

Discrimination by association is where a person suffers discrimination because they areASSOCIATED with someone with a disability.

Perhaps they cannot enter a facility because their friend cannot (a double whammy) or perhaps a carer who is refused a job because their partner is disabled.

We’d like to hear about your experiences via info@hadag.org.uk.