Qualifications Bodies and the Disability Discrimination Act

Hurstfield J, Aston J, Mitchell H, Ritchie H | Report 417 | Institute for Employment Studies | Aug 2004

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Disabled people face major barriers in the labour market. One barrier is lack of qualifications. Disabled people are less likely than non-disabled people to have either vocational or academic qualifications.

Part 2 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 was extended to cover organisations which conferred, renewed or extended a professional or trade qualification. The aim was to make it unlawful for a qualifications body to discriminate against a disabled person when it was awarding, renewing, extending or withdrawing a professional or trade qualification.

If a provision, criterion or practice of a qualifications body placed a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in getting or retaining a qualification, then the qualifications body would have a duty to make a 'reasonable adjustment' for a disabled person.

It was hoped that bringing qualifications bodies within the scope of the DDA might lead to greater transparency in the policies, practices and procedures for these organisations and, in doing so, help improve disabled people's access to the labour market.