Qualifications Bodies and the Disability Discrimination Act

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. In October 2004, Part 2 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 will be extended to cover organisations which confer, renew or extend a professional or trade qualification. It will then be unlawful for a qualifications body to discriminate against a disabled person when it is awarding, renewing, extending or withdrawing a professional or trade qualification. If a provision, criterion or practice of a qualifications body places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in getting or retaining a qualification, then the qualifications body will have a duty to make a 'reasonable adjustment' for a disabled person. Bringing qualifications bodies within the scope of the DDA may lead to greater transparency in the policies, practices and procedures or these organisations and, in doing so, help improve disabled people's access to the labour market.