Telephone access and call centres

You may provide services over the telephone as a main activity – for example, providing a telephone order line for the purchase of goods – or you may have a telephone service as part of your service, for example, telephone banking, or enquiry lines via a call centre.

When you provide telephone information as part of your service, you must not discriminate against, harass or victimise people because of a protected characteristic in:

  • what is said when a call is answered
  • the way the service is provided.

When you provide services over the telephone, you must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people who would otherwise face a barrier to accessing the service. If it is a reasonable adjustment to provide the service in a different way, then you must do it. You cannot wait until a disabled person wants to use your services, but must think in advance about what people with a range of impairments might reasonably need.

For example:

  • A call centre makes sure that it has a textphone to accept calls from people with a hearing impairment, as well as allowing calls to be made through a third-party interpreter.
  • A community organisation offers ‘live chat’ with its helpline via the internet.
  • A small business which offers goods for sale by phone includes an email address and mobile phone number for SMS text messaging in its marketing information and makes it clear that orders will be accepted by these methods as well as by phone.

However, if an individua disabled person asks for an adjustment that you haven’t yet considered to enable them to use your service, you will need to make the adjustment if it is reasonable for you to do so. 

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