Rights and reality: disabled people’s experiences of accessing goods and services

14 April 2010

The report examines disabled people’s experiences of accessing goods and services, and examines the extent to which disabled people have been able to enforce their rights through the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The report also makes recommendations as to how the new Equality Act (which will replace the DDA) can be implemented to make sure that it works effectively for disabled people.

The report is based on a survey of more than 1,000 disabled people conducted for Leonard Cheshire Disability by Ipsos MORI, as well as in-depth interviews with a number of disabled people conducted ourselves. Key messages from the report include:

  • 40% of disabled people say that they have experienced difficulties in accessing goods and service in the last year, and nearly a quarter (23%) say they have faced discrimination
  • Whilst some businesses have made real improvements, many are still not fully accessible and are actually missing out on income by not making sure that their services are available to all potential customers
  • Disabled people aren’t always aware of what their rights are (71% had either never heard of the Disability Discrimination Act, or knew little about it), and when they do challenge discrimination just 9% said that the business involved had actually made improvements to the way in which their services are delivered to disabled people
  • Just 1% of those who had experienced discrimination actually attempted to take legal action
  • Barriers to taking cases included the potential cost and time implications of taking a case and a lack of information and support

The report makes a number of key recommendations as to how the situation can be improved, including:

  • Improving awareness among disabled people of their rights through the new Equality Act
  • Making sure that there is enough legal support for people who do face discrimination
  • Making sure that businesses are aware of all the evidence that suggests that making reasonable adjustments is not only a legal requirement, it is also good for business
  • Making it easier for disabled people and businesses to improve accessibility without having to go to court by setting up an Ombudsman type service to help make judgements on cases, or developing special ‘Equality Tribunals’ to take cases.