In schools, as in other institutions, direct disability discrimination is unlawful. The person being discriminated against suffers and the reputation of the school suffers. No school would want to be found guilty of discrimination. But schools do discriminate against pupils with disabilities, more often than not, through indirect discrimination.
How Does Indirect Discrimination Work?
If a school fails to make a reasonable adjustment in order to allow a disabled pupil access to facilities then it is, in effect, being discriminatory. There are case studies where pupils using wheelchairs are unable to attend certain classes or school events because the school does not have the right provision to transport them, usually by the absence of suitable lifts or ramps.
“If a pupil with disabilities cannot access certain classes, or is subject to limited options, because of this lack of provision, then it amounts to exclusion”, explains Paul Green, Director of Versatile Lift Company.
The 2010 Equality Act states that you must not be discriminated against if:
- you have a disability;
- someone thinks you have a particular disability (perception); or
- if you are connected to someone with a disability (association).
This implies there has to be more than physical adjustments behind a school’s disability provision, best exemplified by a cultural change within the school towards disability awareness.
“There is evidence that if schools develop their own disability equality schemes, it helps address discrimination across all aspects of the school, with benefits beyond Equality Act compliance”, Paul continues.
This aside, there are also practical aspects for schools to consider.
“Installing lifts is a very clear way that a school can be seen to be supporting its disabled pupils. This addresses the practical issues of mobility and access, but it also gives out a strong signal about the school’s engagement with disability, and its willingness to be inclusive”
Paul Green, Versatile Lift Company
A combination of giving off the right signals regarding disability awareness and firm, practical action to ensure correct disability provision, can help minimise disruption to a school’s day-to-day running arising from incidents of direct or indirect disability discrimination.
Alternatively, please call Versatile Lift Company on 0800 028 1972 or visit their website for more information.