Avoiding Disability Discrimination in Transport
Disability discrimination legislation makes it unlawful for organisations such as transport service providers to discriminate against disabled people in the way in which they provide or do not provide their services.
All rail operators have duties under disability discrimination law in relation to transport infrastructure such as their buildings, information services and the selling of tickets. They also have duties in relation to the provision and use of the vehicles they provide.
The legislation makes it unlawful for rail operators to refuse or deliberately fail to provide a service to a disabled person. They must also make "reasonable adjustments" to take away or overcome elements in their services which present barriers to disabled people.
The Equality Commission has produced a new Code of Practice which explains the law and provides guidance to transport providers, advisors and disabled people on the scope of the Disability Transport Regulations.
As well as complying with the legislation, making services more accessible and marketing them as such is likely to increase an operator´s attractiveness to disabled passengers, who represent around 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland.
What does the law define as a rail vehicle?
The Regulations defines a rail vehicle as all rail vehicles (including those operating underground) that run on a railway with a gauge of at least 350 millimetres, and all trams.
Examples of Discrimination
Disabled people can encounter unfair treatment in transport in many ways. Here are a few examples of how a disabled person may be discriminated against by a rail service provider:
- A person with a visual or hearing disability cannot access the services because the timetable and written information is not in an accessible format.
- When trying to make a telephone enquiry with a rail service provider, a person with speech impairment is told to hurry up and the telephone operator terminates the call because the person is taking too long.
- A disabled person is charged more than a non disabled person due to the storage of their wheelchair or for carriage of their assistance dog.