Disability Provisions

As life-long conditions affecting daily life, dyslexia and related SpLDs were recognised disabilities under the Disability Discrimination Act from 1995. This legislation is now replaced by the Equality Act (2010). Organisations have a duty to ensure that disabled people are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments to accommodate their difficulties. This refers to employees, those in education & training and anyone using a service. A way of resolving the difficulties that can arise is outlined in Stress at work.

Children with SpLDs

Children are covered by successive education acts in which their conditions are seen as a Special Educational Need. Further information in Dyslexia child checklist. They may be allowed ‘Access Arrangements’ for examinations such as extra time.

Students with SpLDs

Students are advised to have a recent assessment in order to establish whether they are eligible for the Disabled Students Allowances (DSA). The DSA can fund equipment, specialist tutoring and disability-related expenses. Special examination arrangements may also be justified. SKILL, the disability organisation for students, can provide advice and support. There is guidance for tutors and students in the Resources section.

The Equality Duty

From 2006 The Disability Equality Duty highlighted anti-discriminatory practices, requiring all public bodies to adopt a proactive approach to incorporating disability equality into all decisions and activities. In 2011 this was replaced by the Equality Duty, obliging public bodies to consider how people with 'protected characteristics' (such as 'disability') will be affected by their policies and services. They must take account of the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity.

Potential changes and new legislation are reviewed via Equality Impact Assessments. To date this process has focused on physical disabilities and mental illness, neglecting the needs of the large population with SpLDs.

Advice and help

The main source of information is the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Courts and Tribunals

Since 2011 the courts and tribunals services have been merged under the Courts and Tribunals Integration Program. Both services are included in the requirement to take ‘reasonable steps’ to change any practice which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for people with disabilities to make use of their services.

Two further acts can be relevant to disabilities such as SpLDs: The Human Rights Act (1998) establishes the right to a fair trial and flags up that special arrangements may have to be made for some parties.

The Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act (1999) refers to special measures for eligible witnesses who suffer from a mental disorder or have a significant impairment of intelligence or social functioning. While this does not categorically identify SpLDs, such measures will often be appropriate.