Some regulations and guidance documents are very useful for challenging access barriers, if you can find and know how to use them. We have tried to list and explain some of the more useful ones here.
First we list the two equality bodies established by the British and Northern Irish governments. Then list other documents in topical followed by alphabetical order.
We have put keywords such as ‘wheelchair’ or ‘bus’ in the text of this page so you can search this page to quickly find things that are relevant to you, as we don’t yet have a website with clever search and filter features.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is commonly named by its acronym EHRC, covers equalities issues for England, Scotland and Wales. They publish some of the most important sources of information relating to disability rights and access, such as:
- Statutory Codes of Practice that provide detailed information about the Equality Act and how parliament intended it to be interpreted and applied. Codes of Practice are frequently cited in complaints, legal letters and court documents.
- Technical guidance containing the text of codes of practice that the government decided not to “lay before parliament” to make them statutory. Technical guidance is still useful for providing guidance about interpretation and application of the Equality Act.
- Guidance Documents that provide sector or issue specific advice in a format accessible to a layperson.
The EHRC also has a searchable publications library and a variety of web pages about all of the Equality Act ‘protected characteristics’.
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI)
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) covers equalities for Northern Ireland and has the following information:
- A searchable library of publications
- A very useful site-map of all their content across different sectors.
Accessible Information Standard – England
The Accessible Information Standard sometimes shortened to AIS applies to NHS hospitals and dentists; GPs; and publicly funded adult social care providers in England.
The standard requires organisations to identify, record, flag, share and meet the needs of patients and service users who have sensory, communication or information needs caused by a sensory impairment. This means people with a visual impairment, deafness, autism or learning difficulty are covered but sadly people with dyslexia or low-literacy are not covered.
Useful Accessible Information Standard resources:
- MENCAP Easy Read [PDF]
- Action on Hearing Loss (template letters and user specific advice).
- SENSE (template letters, guidance and glossaries for users)
- Official NHS England Accessible Information Standard pages
British Sign Language (BSL) Accessible Information Standard resources for Deaf people
All Wales Standards for Accessible Communication and Information for People with Sensory Loss (Wales)
There are accessible information standards for Wales explained at the NHS Centre for Equality and Human Rights.
Public Service Vehicle Access Regulations (PVSAR) [Bus and Coach]. These specify the accessibility features buses and coaches must have if in use in various UK contexts.
The Conduct Regulations
Actually titled (catchily) “Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations 1990 (as amended)”. The original 1990 legislation is modified by the amended 2002 legislation.
These conduct regulations put bus and coach drivers under a criminal law duty to take specified actions to assist and enable disabled passengers to access their vehicles (buses or coaches).
Northern Ireland transport regulations – various
Northern Ireland has a variety of different regulations relating to transport covering buses; coaches; trains; taxis; vehicle rental and breakdown recovery which includes:
- Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998.
- Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000.
- The Disability Discrimination (Transport Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009.
Air travel legislation is complicated and a lot depends on the departure and destination locations and many other factors.
In Europe the rights of disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility are covered by European Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006, which requires airlines and airports to provide “Special Assistance”, but is not easy to read for non-lawyers.
GOV.UK has pages explaining disabled and mobility impaired passenger rights
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) summarises disabled and mobility impaired passengers rights and links to facilities at UK airports from all airlines.
Damaged mobility equipment, such as wheelchairs and scooters, is an issue that commonly arises with airlines.
There are limited rights for disabled people and those with reduced mobility on boats via the EU regulation for passenger rights for people travelling by sea and inland waterways (EU 1177/ 2010), which in the UK is enforced by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.
Other advice and guidance
Independent Cinema Office
How do I make my cinema inclusive and accessible guide for independent cinemas.
Attitude is Everything (UK Live Music Scene)
Attitude is Everything is a small charity that makes live music events more accessible to deaf and disabled people.
OfCom Disabled people and call centres
OfCom’s advice to businesses running telephone call centres to make their services accessible to disabled and deaf customers.
Disabled People’s Protection Policy (Office for Rail and Road)
Disability guidance for rail companies with specifics of how to provide access.
Transport for London (TfL) ‘Big Red Book (4th edition)’
In London all bus drivers have to comply with Transport for London’s official guidance which includes information about older and disabled people. TransportForAll provide information and a downloadable copy of the latest ‘Big Red Book’. Starting at page 31, The Big Red Book has sections on:
- Travelling with assistance dogs,
- Travel support cards,
- Bus boarding procedures for wheelchair users,
- Letting wheelchair users off buses,
- Permitted wheelchairs and scooters on buses and,
- Mobility walker devices and shopping trolleys.
“We’re On Board” – bus charter
We’re on Board is a charter coordinated by the R.N.I.B. for bus service operators to make bus services accessible and inclusive to blind and partially sighted passengers. Check which providers have signed up and if they aren’t abiding by it, this can be mentioned in complaints.