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Disability Discrimination: Information & Legal Cases

  • Synopsis: Information and legal articles regarding Disability Discrimination in society including the workplace.

Definition: Defining the Meaning of Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination is defined as discrimination against the disabled. Ableism means discrimination action against people based on the physical ability of their body especially against people with disabilities (Definitions of Disability) in favor of people who are not disabled. An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of "normal living", which results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve 'standard' people, thereby inherently excluding those with various disabilities. Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law. The Disability Discrimination Act says a disabled person is someone with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

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Disability Discrimination Laws

In many countries it is now against the law to discriminate against disabled people in various areas of their lives.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a number of countries have passed laws aimed at reducing discrimination against people with disabilities. These laws have begun to appear as the notion of civil rights has become more influential globally, and follow other forms of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation aimed at preventing racial discrimination and sexism which began to emerge in the second half of the 20th century.

The presumption that everyone is non-disabled is said to encourage environments that are inaccessible to disabled people. It is a system by which mainstream society denigrates, devalues, and thus oppresses those with disabilities, while privileging those without disabilities, according to those who describe ableism circumstances.

For example, it is against the law to discriminate against disabled people at work, and when providing goods, facilities and services. There is also protection against discrimination for disabled people who are renting or buying property, and in education.

The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.

Definition of Inclusion

Inclusion, comparatively, means that all products, services, and societal opportunities and resources are fully accessible, welcoming, functional and usable for as many different types of abilities as reasonably possible. An ableist society tends towards isolation, pity, paternalism and low self-esteem among people with disabilities, whereas an inclusive society tends toward sociability and interdependency between the able-bodied and disabled.

Disability Discrimination at Work:

It is against the law for an employer:

Employers can treat disabled people less favorably only if they have a sufficiently justifiable reason for doing so, and only if the problem cannot be overcome by making 'reasonable adjustments'. For example, an employer would be justified in rejecting someone with severe back pain for a job as a carpet fitter, as they cannot carry out the essential requirements of the job.

Examples of the types of adjustments that an employer might make include:

List of Disability Discrimination Acts

Quick Facts: Disability Discrimination



Latest Disability Discrimination Publications

Full List of Disability Discrimination Documents (83 Items)




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