Reasonable Adjustments

Duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people

Some people or organisations like employers, shops, local authorities and schools must take positive steps to remove the barriers disabled people face because of their disability. This is to ensure they receive the same services, as far as this is possible, as someone who’s not disabled. The Equality Act 2010 calls this the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Below you will find an edited version of a page from Citizens Advice which gives an introduction to the idea of reasonable adjustments from the point of view of disabled people generally. You will find a complete version of this webpage here: Citizens Advice website

There are also a number of sources of information about ‘reasonable adjustments’ as they apply specifically to autistic people and to parents with autistic children.

Some particularly relevant examples are (click on the links to download these guides):

GMAC Reasonable Adjustment Guides 2018
This guide from the Greater Manchester Autism Consortium includes detailed suggestions of reasonable adjustments that can be made to help autistic persons in their relations with different parts of the public sector:

GPs surgeries
General council services
Department of Work and Pensions / JobCentre Plus

Involving people with autism: A Guide for Public Authorities from the National Autistic Society –
“This guide is a tool to help local authorities think differently about autism and involve people with autism in their work.”

On disability discrimination in schools read this page from the National Autistic Society –
“Here we explain the meaning of the word disability, the types of discrimination and what that can mean for your autistic child in a primary, secondary or local authority nursery school in England, Scotland and Wales. We also look at types of discrimination and the schools duty to make reasonable adjustments for your child.”

Read this page from Citizens Advice to find out more about reasonable adjustments:

What’s meant by the duty to make reasonable adjustments?

The Equality Act 2010 says changes or adjustments should be made to ensure you can access the following things if you’re disabled:
– education
– employment
– housing
– goods and services like shops, banks, cinemas, hospitals, council offices, leisure centres
– associations and private clubs like the Scouts and Guides, private golf clubs and working men clubs.

Should you have to pay for the adjustments?
The Equality Act says you should never be asked to pay for the adjustments.

What’s meant by reasonable?

Adjustments only have to be made if it’s reasonable to do so. What’s a reasonable thing to ask for depends on things like:
your disability
-how practicable the changes are
-if the change you ask for would overcome the disadvantage you and other disabled people experience
-the size of the organisation
-how much money and resources are available
-the cost of making the changes
-if any changes have already been made.

What do people or organisations have to do?

There are three different things people or organisations may have to do make it easier for you to access or do something:
-Change the way things are done
-Change a physical feature
-Provide extra aids or services

When do people have to do these things?

The Equality Act says there’s a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you’re placed at a substantial disadvantage because of your disability compared with non-disabled people or people who don’t share your disability.
Substantial means more than minor or trivial.

What happens if someone doesn’t cooperate with the duty to make reasonable adjustments?

If someone doesn’t cooperate with their duty to make reasonable adjustments, the Equality Act says it’s unlawful discrimination. You can ask the person or organisation to make the necessary changes. If they refuse, you can make a discrimination claim under the Equality Act.