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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.



What you need to know


Disability Action Plans - Monitoring

Disability Action Plans must describe a public authority’s arrangements for collecting information, about the two Section 49A goals; i.e.

(a) the levels of participation of disabled persons in public life and of their experiences, and about
(b) public attitudes towards disabled persons.

While the level and scale of the particular arrangements will vary between public authorities depending on their size, resources and functions, all public authorities are likely to have the capacity to collect some information about the numbers of disabled people who are:

  • applicants, appointees to the public authority and employees of the public authority
  • applicants and appointees for any public appointments made by the public authority and holders of such offices, and
  • users of the goods, facilities and services provided by the public authority.

In addition, we recommend that a public authority collects, as far as is practicable, this information qualitatively. This might be done by using periodic surveys and questionnaires or by analysing employees’ exit interviews or customers’ complaints.

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

Example of emerging good practice:

The Business Services Organisation (BSO)

Matthew McDermottBSO provides equality advice and support to the Office of Research Ethics Committees Northern Ireland (ORECNI). Matthew McDermott, Equality Manager from BSO explains the role of positive action measures and a monitoring system in developing a strategy to address the underrepresentation of disabled people who sit on ethics committees:

  • A monitoring exercise conducted in 2009 indicated that there were no members of the ethics committees that self-identified as having a disability. This information strengthened ORECNI’s commitment to introduce an Action Plan designed to encourage greater participation by disabled people on these ethics committees
  • The Plan included a commitment for ORECNI to actively encourage applications for membership from people with disabilities by informing representative groups of advertisements for ethics committee posts, and by sharing information on the work of these committees with these groups.
  • The monitoring system, which was quantitative in nature, played an important part in identifying the problem of too few disabled people on ethics committees but was also essential in assessing the effectiveness of the action plan measures
  • Following an equality monitoring exercise, an analysis of the data demonstrated that the positive action measures taken had been successful as there has been a 5% increase in members of ethics committees with a self-declared disability
  • Dr Siobhan McGrath, head of ORECNI commented, ‘I am pleased that this targeted approach has increased the representation of persons with a disability as members on the health and social care research ethics committees. It is important that participants in medical and social care research reflect the general population, including people with a disability.
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