Disability Discrimination Transport Regulations
The Disability Discrimination (Transport Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 apply to rail operators, buses and coaches, taxi services and vehicle rental and breakdown recovery operators.
These transport providers must not refuse a service or provide service of a lower standard or on worse terms to a disabled person because of their disability. Transport providers are also under a legal duty to make alterations to their existing practices to ensure that their services are accessible to disabled people.
Find out what your duties and responsibilities are:
- Rail Operators
- Buses and Coach Operators
- Taxi Operators
- Vehicle Rental Operators
- Breakdown Recovery Operators
Code of PracticeThe Equality Commission has developed a Statutory Code on the Disability Discrimination (Transport Vehicles) Regulations (NI) 2009 which explains the changes in the law.
The Code, approved by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, provides guidance to transport providers, advisors and disabled people on the scope of the Regulations. This will assist transport providers in improving their general performance and quality of services and avoid discriminating against disabled people.
How disability discrimination can be avoided?
Transport providers can take various actions to avoid discriminating against disabled people. By doing so, transport providers are not only likely to minimise the incidence of expensive and time-consuming litigation, but will also improve their general performance and the quality of their service. To avoid discrimination:
- Consult with disabled people (customers, staff and relevant organisations) on policies and communicate policies effectively to all staff
- Implement anti-discriminatory policies and practices
- Allocate responsibility for equality policies, practices and procedures and deal effectively with complaints
- Provide training and guidance
- Audit policies and procedures, monitor and review.
A transport provider´s legal liability for its employees
Under the Disability Discrimination Act, transport providers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees in the course of their employment. An employee who discriminates against a disabled customer will usually be regarded as acting in the course of their employment, even if the transport provider has issued express instructions not to discriminate.
However, in legal proceedings against a transport provider based on the actions of an employee, it is a defence that the transport provider took ´such steps as were reasonably practicable´ to prevent such actions.
A policy on disability which is effectively communicated to employees is likely to be central to such a defence. It is not a defence for the transport provider simply to show that the action took place without its knowledge or approval.
Recognising the diverse nature of disability
Around 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland have a disability. The nature and extent of their disabilities vary widely, as do their requirements for overcoming any difficulties they may face.
If transport providers are to avoid discriminating, they need to understand this, and to be aware of the effects their decisions and actions - and those of their agents and employees - may have on disabled people. The evidence shows that many of the steps that can be taken to avoid discrimination cost little or nothing and are easy to implement.