Often people living with diabetes do not think of themselves as having a disability, but many people with diabetes are covered by the law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. Since 1 October 2010 the law against disability discrimination in England, Wales, and Scotland has changed from the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) to the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a 'physical or mental impairment' that has 'a substantial and long-term adverse effect' on an individual’s ability to carry out 'normal day-to-day activities'. A substantial adverse effect is a negative effect that is more than trivial, and the effect is long-term if it has lasted or is expected to last for more than twelve months. It does not matter what the name of the impairment is. If the impairment is caused by a medical condition, it is the effect of the condition when it is not treated that is considered.
The definition of disability in the Equality Act treats each person as an individual, so ultimately only a court or tribunal can decide if a person is covered by the definition. However, in many cases people with diabetes will be covered by this definition of disability. This is because diabetes is a life-long condition and it can seriously affect a person’s ability to do normal day-to-day things. When you are considering whether you are covered by the definition you must think about the effect of your diabetes (without medical treatment) on your day-to-day life. If your diabetes makes it more difficult for you to do day-to-day things you are likely to be covered.
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The Equality Act applies in many different situations, but these can be divided into three main areas:
- Employment: the way employers hire people and the way they treat their workers.
- Education: the way schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions run their admissions procedures, and the way they treat pupils and students.
- Service provision: the way businesses, charities, public bodies, and private clubs treat people who are using or want to use their services.
Diabetes UK has produced a number of advocacy packs that explain the rights of people with diabetes in a number of different settings. The aim of these packs is to give you the information you need when arguing for your rights.
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The Equality Act 2010 brought together and simplified all previous discrimination law in England, Wales, and Scotland. The act replaced previous laws, such as the Disability Discrimination Act. In order to strengthen these protections, several of the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act have been worded differently to those in previous laws. The result is that the Equality Act provides the same protections as previous laws, but some of the terminology has changed and the level of protection is generally higher.
The Equality Act does not apply in Northern Ireland, which has its own discrimination law. For more information on disability discrimination in Northern Ireland, please contact the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
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Diabetes UK Advocacy Service
The Advocacy Service supports people to take action by providing information on rights and discussing possible action that can be taken.
Telephone: 020 7424 1840
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
The EHRC is the independent statutory body established to help eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality and protect human rights. It provides information and guidance on discrimination and human rights issues, and has produced a series of guides on your rights to equality. The EHRC does not take on case work unless it is a test case. The Government has replaced the EHRC Helpline with the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS).
Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)
The EASS provides information, advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues to individuals in England, Scotland and Wales, recognising the constitutional, legal, social and policy differences.
Email using online enquiry form at www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/app/ask
Telephone: 0800 444205
Textphone: 0800 444206
Opening hours: Monday–Friday 9am–8pm; Saturday 10am–2pm
Address: FREEPOST Equality Advisory Support Service, FPN4431
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is an independent public body established to promote equality of opportunity and challenge discrimination. It provides free, confidential advice and assistance on discrimination and human rights issues.
Enquiry line: 028 90 890 890
Textphone: 028 90 500 589 (for people who are hard of hearing or deaf)
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