DeafHear.ie Service Provider ObligationsService Provider Obligations

Updated: May 2017

A person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing is recognised under legislation as a person with a disability, and a reasonable accommodation must be made to ensure their access to public services and public buildings on an equal basis.

Relevant Legislation:

  • The Equal Status Act
  • The Disability Act
  • The Education of People with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN)
  • Part M of the Building Regulations

What the Law Says:

The Disability Act 2005 means that all public buildings and public services are made availble on an equal basis to all citizens, including people with disabilities. One of the legal obligations of the act is that all public service providers must provide a reasonable accommodation to any person with a disability to access their services.

The Equal Status Act is broader that the Disability Act, and means that no individual or service can discriminate on the basis of nine grounds. These nine grounds are gender, civil status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and membership of the traveller community. This Act does not mean that a service (e.g. a shop) must provide a reasonable accommodation (e.g a ramp for a wheelchair user or an interpreter for a Deaf person), but they cannot refuse to provide a service to a person on the basis of their gender, disability etc, as this would be discriminatory.

What does this mean in practice?

Buildings:

All public buildings must be accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. This means public buildings such as health centres, hospitals and government buildings must be accessible. Other buildings which may not be publically owned buildings, but where publically funded services are provided or they were built with public monies, must also be accessible. Such buildings could include schools, sports facilities, community centres, arts and cultural centres etc.

Services:

All services provided in full or in part through public monies are covered by the Disability Act, and so must be accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. These services may include transport, health, education, leisure, broadcasting and local authority services. The provision to be made for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people includes (but is not limited to):

Loop Systems –

To enable hearing aid users to conduct business or understand performances, lectures or announcements.

Irish Sign Language (ISL) Interpreters –

There are many situations where a public serviceprovider must, if requested, provide an ISL interpreter. These range from hospital appointments, social welfare interviews and Garda interviews; to work meetings, job interviews etc. Some theatres provide signed performances (Abbey and Gate Theatres) and the National Gallery provides ISL tours of exhibitions.

Visual Information –

Where public address systems are used to convey information, this information should also is presented visually, perhaps on an LCD display, such as on buses, the Luas and transport generally. On television, this means subtitles. Many cinemas provide loop systems and subtitled performances.
 

Relevant Legislation:

  • The Equal Status Act
  • The Disability Act
  • The Education of People with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN)
  • Part M of the Building Regulations

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