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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

DAPs - Consultation


What you need to know


Disability Action Plans - Consultation

A Disability Action Plan must include an outline of the public authority’s arrangements for consulting disabled persons when it is engaged in consulting. Consultation complements and can run in parallel with other arrangements to gather information e.g. monitoring.

Consultation serves as a means to engage with disabled people and to involve them in decision and policy-making. Thus, it can serve as a mechanism for directly addressing one of the statutory “needs” specified in Section 49A;  i.e. consultation encourages the participation by disabled persons in public life. We recommend that you consult disabled persons about your disability action plan before finalising it.

In describing your arrangements in your plan, we recommend that you outline:

  • Who is responsible for ensuring that the arrangements are established or, where they are already established, maintained and implemented thereafter?
  • When will the arrangements be established, if they are not already in place?

Examples of emerging good practice:

The Department of Education (DE)

Dept of Education

The Department of Education set up a Special Education and Inclusion Review Team to review the Department’s provision of special education needs and inclusion. As part of that the Team adopted a Consultation Strategy to ensure its compliance with the Sections 49A and 49B duties during their review. The strategy included the following actions:


  • The Team engaged with some experts in the field, such as the Equality Commission, during the initiation phase of the review and in advance of its formal consultation phase. This allowed the disability and other equality issues to be considered at the earliest stage of the policy development process
  • The Team employed a range of consultation methodologies, including individual meetings, public meetings and the establishment of advisory groups. Additional consultation tools were adopted as required during the consultation process; including road shows, which were advertised in the local press and liaison with reference groups. These were designed to explain complex areas of policy in a manner which everyone would understand
  • The Department extended the formal consultation period twice in order to take on board the views of consultees and the consultation process developed organically to facilitate consultees’ opinions
  • The engagement with key stakeholders, including the Education Committee, resulted in amended policy proposals, creating confidence amongst consultees that the Department had listened to their views. The Department also produced a comprehensive analysis outlining the extent to which they had taken on board the views of consultees.

Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE)

NI Housing ExecutiveHaving identified that 30% of their service users have a disability, the NIHE established a Disability Forum in conjunction with Disability Action. Tony Steed, Equality Unit Manager at the NIHE explains how the Forum assists them to implement their disability duties and promote good practice:

  • Disability Action were engaged when the disability duties were first introduced to assist the NIHE to increase positive attitudes towards disabled people and encourage participation by disabled people in public life
  • One of the recommendations suggested enhancing the consultation and participation process which led to the establishment of the Forum. The Forum developed a rolling strategic plan targeting key areas of housing service with a view to advising, informing, and ultimately improving outcomes for service users with disabilities
  • The Disability Forum is funded by the NIHE and is comprised of 12 to 15 members providing user representation across the range of disability areas
  • The Forum’s main focus is to provide a consultative forum through which the NIHE can decide how best to consider the particular needs of disabled people in their various roles
  • The NIHE is of the view that the Forum has contributed to disability considerations being given a more central role in their housing policy work

There are various sources of guidance about consultation, for example:

< DAPs - Monitoring
< Disability Action Plans - main page
Disability duties

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