On this page we answer some of the key questions about the Equality Act 2010 and how it affects blind and partially sighted people. 

What sort of discrimination does the Equality Act cover?

The Equality Act covers a number of different types of discrimination, including:

  • Direct discrimination - where someone experiences discrimination because of one of the protected characteristics, for example their disability.
  • Discrimination by association - where someone experiences discrimination because they are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic.
  • Discrimination because of a perception that you have a particular protected characteristic - even though that perception may be wrong.
  • Discrimination arising out of disability - where the discrimination is based on something that arises out of disability, but is not the fact of the disability itself.
  • Indirect discrimination - where what looks like a neutral provision or policy is applied to everyone, but people with a particular protected characteristic are at a disadvantage.

We have more information in our factsheet on the Equality Act:

What situations does the Equality Act apply to?

The Act covers everything that the DDA applied to. It covers employment, occupation, provision of goods and services (such as shopping, banking and public services), travel and transport, education, premises (buying and renting houses or flats), private clubs and public authorities.

For example, an employer refuses to employ a blind woman because they believe that blind people could not use its computer system. This would be direct discrimination and the Equality Act makes this unlawful.

What are reasonable adjustments?

Under the Act, service providers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting people with disabilities at a substantial disadvantage compared to people who are not disabled. The duty deals with three different requirements.

  1. Provisions, criteria or practices - including company policies.
  2. Physical features, such as the layout of and access to shops.
  3. Provision of auxiliary aids - including providing information in an accessible format such as braille, large print or email. For example, when a bank sends statements to its customers, it is providing information. Reasonable adjustments for blind or partially customers could include providing statements in accessible formats such as large print or braille.

Providers of services and education providers have to plan ahead and anticipate how to meet the duty. They should not wait for you to try and use their service and then try to make the adjustment.

The public sector equality duty puts public authorities (such as local authorities, the NHS and schools) under a duty to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and to promote equality of opportunity. The Equality Act says that in order to do this, public authorities may need to treat disabled people more favourably. More information on the public section equality duty can be found at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website.