This guide focuses on the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) and their application to the use of ICT in the provision of education services in UK colleges and universities.
The law relating to accessibility of education services has undergone several changes since the DDA was extended to include education services by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) and the Equality Act 2010 consolidates and replaces the previous discrimination legislation for England, Scotland and Wales. The Act covers discrimination because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. These categories are known in the Act as ‘protected characteristics’.
The Act applies to all organisations that provide a service to the public including education services provided by a college or university, whether or not a charge is made for them. An education provider will have duties under more than one part of the Act, where, for example, they employ people or provide services (such as conference hosting or vacation accommodation letting), as well as in relation to their role in providing education to students.
The Equality Act 2010 does not apply to Northern Ireland except to a very limited extent, and more detail is available from the Equality Commision for Northern Ireland. The Equality Challenge Unit also has an overview for the higher education sector of anti-discrimination law in Northern Ireland.