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DEMOS Project

Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness
[Modules] : SENDA

Introduction to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995

What is the Disability Discrimination Act?

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 [External link: Open in new browser window] made it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people in the areas of employment (defined in Part 2 of the Act) and the provision of goods and services (defined in Part 3). The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) has now become Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), extending the DDA to include education.

What does 'disability' actually mean?

Part 1 of the Act concerns the definition of disability. Under the DDA disability is defined as 'a physical or mental impairment which has an effect on their normal day to day activities.' That effect must be:

[More definitions of disability can be found in the Awareness module.]

The effect of any treatment, medicine or artificial aid, which alleviates the effects of the impairment, but not the impairment itself, is ignored under this definition with the sole exception of glasses or contact lenses.


A court deciding if a person with epilepsy is disabled would not take into consideration any medication they might be taking to control their seizures.

'Physical or mental impairments' include:

'Normal day to day activities' include:

If a person has a condition or impairment which comes and goes over a period of time, they are still considered disabled during periods of remission if the impairment remains and if reoccurrence is likely to take place 12 months or more after the initial occurrence.

For more information on the DDA itself, a summary of the rights and duties under the DDA is available here:
http://www.disability.gov.uk/dda/index.html [External link: Open in new browser window] .

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