Stannah: The Equality Act, formally DDA & lifts

  • 24 May 2023

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), introduced over 25 years ago, was designed to give disabled people greater access to public spaces. It meant that a wide range of businesses needed to make adaptations to meet its requirements, and DDA access lifts were born.

Paul Clifton, author of this article, has worked in the lift industry since leaving school and is an Engineering Director at Stannah Lifts Ltd, as well as a Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA) Quality and Technical Committee Member. 

What is the Disability Discrimination Act?

When the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was first passed into law on 8 November 1995, this Act of Parliament aimed to create a society where disabled people and those with long-term health conditions can participate fully as equal citizens. 

The Disability Discrimination Act, Equality Act & Lifts_FEATURED

Under the DDA, an estimated 10 million disabled people in Britain suddenly had new rights to fair treatment in employment, education and all customer services. Before the DDA was introduced, a lack of access to many public services, transport, leisure and education meant that many disabled people were excluded from society.

When the DDA came into effect, building owners and service providers were required to make reasonable ‘adequate’ provisions to ensure independent and equal access to all persons in all non-domestic environments. However, this was open to interpretation and argument over what ‘adequate’ meant.

Incorporating the DDA into the Equality Act

To clarify and strengthen the legislation further, the Disability Discrimination Act was incorporated into the Equality Act, which came into force in October 2010. The more modern, single legal framework streamlined the law to more effectively tackle disadvantage and discrimination and is now a vital piece of legislation.

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The Act requires that any new building or alterations to an existing building, to satisfy obligations under The Equality Act 2010, must comply (in England & Wales) with The Building Regulations. In particular, the Approved Document part ‘M’ (England & Wales) or Section 4.2 of The Technical Handbook (Scotland).

DDA access lifts and the Equality Act

After the DDA came into law, service providers were required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure access for people with disabilities. This led to the increased installation of lifts in public buildings to provide better access.

Lifts provide access to buildings and spaces that would otherwise be inaccessible with the DDA and, subsequently, the Equality Act – creating a much higher demand. As a lift manufacturer, Stannah already supplied both passenger lifts and what we now know as DDA-compliant platform lifts.

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What do businesses need to do to comply with the Equality Act?

The Equality Act requires businesses to make reasonable adjustments to their premises to ensure that people with disabilities have the same access to their goods, services, and facilities as able-bodied people. 

Failure to make such adjustments could result in a discrimination claim, with potentially severe consequences for the business. The Act also requires businesses to consider the needs of disabled customers and employees when designing or providing their services and to make any necessary adjustments to remove any barriers to free and independent movement. 

An access statement provides information on the accessibility of a venue’s facilities and services, enables those with access needs to know they can visit, shop or eat in a building – helping to promote your business to potential customers. It also helps to identify areas of a building that could be improved upon, perhaps even by installing an Equality Act lift (more commonly referred to as DDA platform lifts). There is guidance for building owners on writing your access statement available from Visit Britain. 

What is a DDA-compliant lift?

The term ‘DDA compliant lift’ refers to a lift that meets the requirements set out in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, which has since been replaced by the Equality Act 2010. Although it is the Equality Act that is now in force, ‘DDA lift’ is still a common term, as it was considered a ground-breaking piece of legislation and, therefore, widely discussed when it was introduced.

DDA compliance regulations state that if it is difficult or impossible for a disabled person to use the facilities or services of a building, reasonable steps must be taken to remove this difficulty or provide a suitable alternative. DDA lifts are designed to provide equal access for people with disabilities, including those with mobility impairments, sensory impairments, and other disabilities. 

What are the benefits of access for all?

The Equality Act 2010 has helped to improve access to employment, education, healthcare, and other services, enabling people with disabilities to participate more fully in society. The Act has also helped to raise awareness of disability discrimination and the importance of inclusion, changing attitudes and promoting a more diverse and inclusive society. Although there is still much work to be done, the DDA, and subsequently the Equality Act 2010, have been instrumental in creating a more equal and fairer society for all.

The Equality Act 2010 requires that service providers think ahead and take steps to address barriers that impede disabled people. You should not wait until someone experiences difficulties, as this may make it too late to make the necessary adjustments and could damage the reputation of your business.

By having good access to your building and throughout it brings benefits to other customers (for example. ramps and lifts may also assist customers with small children or staff moving heavy loads) and it enables disabled people to use your services. With the purple pound valued at £274 billion (combined income of the disabled in the UK, 2020) put simply, can your venue afford to miss out?

Choosing a DDA access lift

Since the DDA/Equality Act was introduced as a lift company, Stannah has installed over 10,000 platform lifts, along with thousands of passenger lifts. 

Over the last 30 years, we have seen these changes in the traditional DDA access lifts, with wheelchair stairlifts travelling on an incline against steps, cabin platform lifts with automatic buttons and a cabin, and the introduction of low pit lifts

It’s possible to install one or more disabled access lifts in most buildings that have two or more floors or to provide a ramp or step lift where there is a short flight of stairs.

Typically the lifts for these types of applications are our platform lift range, as space is limited and it’s not possible or practical to provide a pit. Often the decision is based upon what is possible for that specific building; Stannah can help you determine what is possible for your building.

Explore our Platform Lifts

Stannah has worked across the UK with thousands of shops, restaurants, museums and visitor centres to enable access for all, including placing a range of lifts in SS Great Britain in BristolBug World in Liverpool and the Olympic Park in London, just to name three, with thousands more locations across the UK that we could add to the list.

So if you are considering a DDA lift to help provide access for all in your building, Stannah knows that with its broad range of DDA access lifts, the company can help you choose the right solution for your needs.

Watt Close
East Portway Business Park
SP10 3SD
United Kingdom

Phone: 01264 343777
Fax: 01264 337942

Visit Stannah's website

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