Telephone access and call centres

Multipage Guide

Who is this page for?

  • Any organisation providing a service

Which countries is it relevant to?

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A service provider may provide services over the telephone as a main activity – for example, you phone up to buy something. Or it may have a telephone service as part of its service, for example, if you use telephone banking, or phone enquiry lines via a call centre.

When a service provider offers telephone information as part of its service, it must not unlawfully discriminate against, harass or victimise you because of a protected characteristic in:

  • what is said to you during a call, and
  • the way the service is provided.

When a service provider offers services over the telephone, it 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 it must do it.

In making reasonable adjustments, a service provider is not allowed to wait until a disabled person wants to use their services. They must think in advance about what people with a range of impairments might reasonably need. If they have not done this and a disabled person wants to use a service, then the service provider must make the reasonable adjustments as quickly as possible.

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 a landline phone. 

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019

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.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.