Are You Ready for the Disability Equality Duty?


Are you doing the Duty?

Disabled ramps are not enough and this new duty sometimes described as "the sticking plaster for the Disability Discrimination Act" is designed to ensure that all public bodies are pro-actively ensuring that all disabled people are treated equally. 

Dolphin receive dozens of call everyday from head teachers, NHS staff, police employees and government departments seeking advice on ensuring their organisation is ready for the Disability Equality Duty.  This new duty clearly stipulates that students, employees, service users, customers and staff with dyslexia and visual impairments are to be pro-actively catered for and not addressed as an after thought or in reaction to a complaint. 

With these enquiries in mind, we have drawn together a list of the key questions and their answers.

What is the Disability Equality Duty?

The Disability Equality Duty (DED) is a new positive duty that affects all public sector and public body organisations including secondary schools, local authorities, hospitals, central government departments, colleges, libraries and many more organisations that are run for the benefit of their community. This duty is not about the availability of lifts, it is about weaving disability equality into the fundamentals of every aspect of a public life.  Public bodies must take proactive steps to promote disability equality and create and adopt a Disability Equality Scheme.  At the heart of the disability equality duty is the need to involve disabled people from the very outset and not in reflection or reaction to a complaint.

To download the complete guide to the Disability Equality Duty visit the archived Disability Rights Commission website (external link).
Note: the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is now part of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (as of 1st October 2007) It has a new website at: www.equalityhumanrights.com

When does it come into force?

Time is of the essence, as all public bodies are covered by the duty from December 2006 with the exception of the Welsh schools that follow shortly after on 1st April 2007.

What is Dolphin Doing to Help?

20 years of liaising with and developing solutions for people with visual impairments and dyslexia, have enabled us to work closely with thousands of schools, colleges, libraries, health authorities and other government departments.  More recently we have been specifically supporting organisations that are looking to ensure they meet the positive and proactive standards of the DED.  Dolphin has worked with these establishments to provide a range of access technology and ‘altformat’ (alternative format) solutions that ensure that their dyslexic, learning disabled, print impaired and visually impaired service users experience true disability equality. 

What Difference will it Make?

Equality of opportunity, a life free of discrimination and harassment, a positive working environment, fair treatment, and achieving disability equality should be a basic human right taken for granted.  In realistic terms this isn’t the experience of all disabled people and the DED aims to address this. 

Practical Help – In Education

Recent studies by the Johns Hopkins University showed that students with additional literacy needs achieved a 50% increase in exam results when they received their learning materials in combined audio and text format (DAISY).  The DED is not about just offering Braille to blind students, but the format of preference to students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties, whether that is in MP3 or DAISY.

Practical Help – In Libraries

Steve O’Brien of Adult Dyslexia Access explains what the DED means for library authorities “Large screens, ergonomic mice and disabled ramps will only form a part of the modern library complying with the Disability Equality Duty.  Library authorities will be expected to think about how they can make their services accessible for disabled people, including dyslexic library users, who need a more multi sensory approach to literature, to address their recognised disability.”

Practical Help – In Public Access Environments

With an estimated 10% of the UK experiencing some type of print impairment every public body is catering for and working with service users that are dyslexic, low vision or are blind. 

Is this as Complicated as it Sounds?

Creating and adopting your disability equality scheme is a legal obligation.  Providing equal access to dyslexic, print disabled and visually impaired service users is simpler than you think!

  • SaySo is a simple to use software package that enables students with dyslexia and additional literacy needs to develop the link between the written and spoken word, develop their vocabulary, convert their work to MP3 for reviewing and gain valuable confidence in their abilities and on a personal level. 
  • EasyProducer enables teachers and TA's to instantly convert Word documents into MP3 or DAISY format.  Dyslexic and print disabled students can access their learning materials in a format that will ensure they meet their potential by simply listening on their MP3, computer or DAISY player.  No laborious voice recording is required!
  • SaySo and EasyProducer have been rapidly and successfully adopted throughout the UK by public organisations striving to comply with the DED.  Service providers already catering for the visually impaired may be more familiar with Dolphin's SuperNova software that like all Dolphin software is available in single, multi user and district licensing packages. 
  • For the ultimate flexibility, offer your students a choice of format to suit them with EasyConverter. This tool turns scanned documents, HTML or Word into either MP3 audio, DAISY talking book, Large Print, Braille or Text versions in minutes.