The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. The Act consolidates and brings together previous equality laws including the law on disability discrimination.
Operators are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to the provision of their services to accommodate people with disabilities. The duty is anticipatory - so adjustments must be made before a claim for disability discrimination is brought. What will constitute a reasonable adjustment very much depends on the size and nature of your service.
Here are legal firm Charles Russell's top 10 recommendations for compliance:
1 Provide menus and hotel information that have either a larger font size or are written in Braille. It is perfectly acceptable to keep these behind the bar or reception to be used when required. This can also apply to your signage.
2 Provide phones that have larger buttons.
3 Consider access ramps for buildings that only have steps at the entrance.
4 Dedicate some parking bays that are closer to the building entrance for use by disabled people.
5 Make sure the toilet facilities are capable of being used effectively, through the provision of enough space, grab rails, light switches and emergency alarm cords within easy reach.
6 Allow guide dogs on to the premises.
7 Install an induction loop for people who are hearing impaired.
8 Change your reservations policy to ensure that any rooms or tables that are more suited to disabled customers are allocated last.
9 Send your staff to disability awareness training to enable them to spot common issues for disabled people and to better serve your customers.
10 Invite some disabled people to your venue so they can "road test" the place and make their own suggestions - this is also a good way of widening your customer base.