The continuing duty on organisations

Multipage Guide

Who is this page for?

  • Individuals using a service

Which countries is it relevant to?

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The duty to make reasonable adjustments is a continuing duty. It is not something that needs simply to be considered once and once only, and then forgotten.

If a disabled person wants to use an organisation’s services but finds barriers, then the organisation needs to think about reasonable adjustments. This applies whether or not it has already made any adjustments.

If the organisation changes what it does, the way that it does it or moves premises or makes changes to its existing premises, then it needs to review the adjustments it has made. What was originally a reasonable step to take might no longer be enough.

For example:

A large sports complex amends its ‘no dogs’ policy to allow entry to assistance dogs. It offers assistance dog users a tour of the complex to acquaint them with routes. This is likely to be a reasonable step for it to have to take at this stage. However, the complex then starts building work and this encroaches on paths within the complex, making it difficult for assistance dog users to negotiate their way around. Offering an initial tour is therefore no longer an effective adjustment as it does not make the complex accessible to assistance dog users. The service provider therefore decides to offer assistance dog users appropriate additional assistance from staff while the building work is being undertaken. This is likely to be a reasonable step for the service provider to have to take in the circumstances then existing.

Equally, a step that might previously have been an unreasonable one for an organisation to have to take could become a reasonable step because circumstances have changed. For example, technological developments may provide new or better solutions to the problems of inaccessible services.

For example:

A library has a small number of computers for the public to use. When the computers were originally installed, the library investigated the option of incorporating text-to-speech software for people with a visual impairment. It rejected the option because the software was very expensive and not particularly effective. It would not have been a reasonable step for the library to have to take at that stage. The library proposes to replace the computers. It makes enquiries and establishes that text-to-speech software is now efficient and within the library’s budget. The library decides to install the software on the replacement computers. This is likely to be a reasonable step for the library to have to take at this time.

Last updated: 02 Mar 2020

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

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Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.