Regulations and Guidance

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.

Equalities Bodies

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:

Assistance dogs

EHRC – Assistance Dogs, a Guide for Businesses

The EHRC have produced a guide for businesses about dealing with assistance dogs in Word, PDF and Welsh formats.

Guide Dogs access-refusals toolkit

Guide Dogs for the Blind have produced a toolkit for challenging discrimination around guide dogs with template letters and information for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. While this is Guide Dogs’ specific, it can be easily adapted to other kinds of assistance dogs.

Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK)

Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK) has a brief webpage about assistance dogs and the law.

Buildings and built environment

Part M of the Building Regulations (England)

Officially called “Access to and use of buildings: Approved Document M” but often shortened to “Part M of the Building Regulations” or just “Part M”. Part M is b>statutory guidance from the government about the design and layout of buildings which has a lot of force in the law.

Part M (volume 2) outlines requirements about everything from accessible toilets and parking to lifts and corridors and tactile paving. You can quote the relevant bits of Part M if you think an organisation has not complied with it (you may need to check relevant archived copies on that page for older buildings).

British Standard BS8300 parts 1 and 2

British Standards are not binding but they can have significant influence in arguing for accessible buildings and built environment expanding considerably on the advice given in Part M.

Unfortunately British Standards documents cost several hundreds of pounds to access. We recommend finding out if your city’s library or a university library has access. RA is exploring the option of buying copies if we can legally lend or extract information from them for people.

The latest version of the BS8300 was released in 2018 and has been split into two parts:

  1. BS 8300-1:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment. External environment – code of practice.
  2. BS 8300-2:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment. Buildings – code of practice.

Historic England

Historic England publish a guide to adapting historic buildings and landscapes.

Disability Information Scotland

Disability Information Scotland have a Guide to Accessible Environments.

Disability Wales

Disability Wales have a Planning for Inclusive Access in Wales Good Practice Toolkit

Planning Northern Ireland

Planning Northern Ireland have guidance for designing for an accessible environment including historic buildings and sites.

Health and Safety

If you are refused access on the grounds of ‘Health and Safety’ it may be worth looking at the resources below or contacting them to ask for their opinion on your situation. The Executives can support both employees and service users.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

In Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland), Health and Safety is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is a non-departmental public body (government agency). They have a range of resources about health and safety for disabled employers and employees.

Risk at Work – Manual Handling – regulations

Over one third of workplace injuries are caused by ‘manual handling‘ which is covered by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) (MHOR).

HSE Health and Safety Myths

The HSE also have a rich vein of myths where they challenge the claim of “health and safety” in various scenarios:

Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI)

Northern Ireland has its own Health and Safety Executive (HSENI). They have a webpage of resources as well as a practical guide for balancing Health and Safety with the DDA [PDF].


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:

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.


Many aspects of transport are exempt from the usual Equality Act provisions. At best they have limited or weakened provisions, or separate legislation.


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

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.

Website and mobile accessibility

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR)

The European Union (EU) “Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102)” required all then-members of the EU to create accessibility guidelines for public services’ websites and mobile apps. The UK brought the “The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR)” into force on UK public bodies with deadlines for new and some older content to be made accessible. PSBAR are linked to existing Equality Act (and DDA in Northern Ireland) accessibility duties.

The purpose of PSBAR is to ensure that public bodies’ websites and mobile apps are:

  • perceivable
  • operable
  • understandable
  • robust

The UK government’s Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) explains how PSBAR requires websites and apps to meet the “Web Content accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1“. While PSBAR refers to websites, it may actually include anything accessed through a web browser by staff or customers of a public body so would include things like Office 365, internal software and any documents such as application forms that customers would need.

Public bodies have to publish an accessibility statement summarising the accessibility of their content and compliance with PSBAR. Where content is not compliant, public bodies have to give a timescale for when it will be fixed or justify things there will be delays to fixing or not being fixed because of “disproportionate burden”. This is calculated in light of the public body’s size, resources and estimated cost of resolving issues. PSBAR also applies when public bodies outsource the creation of their websites.

PSBAR Enforcement

The Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) will do compliance testing on a sample of public organisation’s websites and mobile apps.

Individuals are advised to complain to the organisation about non-compliant content in the first instance. If a reasonable response is not received in a reasonable timeframe, then individuals can complain to the EHRC via the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) in England, Scotland and Wales or ECNI in Northern Ireland.

Public bodies that do not meet the PSBAR accessibility standards can be considered to be failing to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act (and DDA in Northern Ireland). This means an individual can also take individual disability discrimination claims in the usual ways.

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.