Andy Bundy of the Havant Area Disability Access Group discussess how easy it is to get advice disability equality in your community
In past columns we’ve talked about discrimination and accessibility, and how the two ultimately come together, sometimes positively, sometimes rather negatively.
In this weeks’ view we’re going to look at somthing a little closer to home, the person, or company, or group or organisation, whom we’ve come to know as the ‘Service Provider’.
If we provide a service to the public, we sell something, we do something, even give away something.
We might range from corner shops to supermarkets, small access groups to Citizens Advice Groups, community care agencies to hospitals.
We are service providers.
The Equality Act 2010 is our bible in this respect, as it underpins a lot of other legislation, laws and regulations.
Does anyone remember the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’? A fictional book, subject of radio and TV series, books, towels and Hollywood movies.
However, on the cover were the words ‘Don’t Panic’.
There are a number of ‘protected characteristics’, though the majority of them require you simply to assess how you work, rather than disability which may require some actual physical changes.
These nine characteristics include: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation.
Let’s stick with disability. Don’t run around in a panic, seek advice.
The Internet is a good start, check outequalityhumanrights.com.
This is your definitive library of information, however self-audit tools are easy to find.
It provides both a checklist and a fund of useful information to support your results.
The worst thing you can do is to dash out, and start spending money on consultants, buying ramps, etc.
Many are commercially produced, while others are compiled by Access Groups like ourselves.
Sometimes simple solutions are better.
In the Hampshire area there are many disability forums, access groups and similar non–profit groups who will readily help you for free, or better still accept a small donation, or service in kind.
The Havant Area Disability Access Group has members who are often quite happy to pay you a visit, run through an audit, and then provide some suggestions for improvement.
Contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org or 07518008 091.