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PSED: 'Due regard' to stammering

The general duty of the PSED requires public authorities to have 'due regard' to various disability considerations. This page looks at how far this involves having due regard to a particular disability, such as stammering. There is a separate page on what is meant by 'due regard' generally.

Note: this page covers the general duty under the single Public Sector Equality Duty which took effect from 5th April 2011. Before then, the Disability Equality Duty applied.

Taking stammering into account

This is of particular relevance because stammering is something that often gets 'forgotten', in preference to disabilities such as sight, hearing or mobility impairment.

So far as I am aware, there has been little consideration of how far due regard must be given to a particular disability. However, there are excellent reasons to think that public authorities are required to bear in mind the range of different disabilities - see below Need to have due regard to a particular disability.

This is not to say that every disability - such as stammering - must always be considered. However, it can be argued there will often be situations where is is relevant and proportionate to consider stammering, for example where speech is involved (as it very often is) and there would be difficulties in using a service for members of the population who have a speech disorder such as stammering.

Whether or not the authority is in breach of its duty to pay 'due regard' under the general duty, there will often be a breach of other parts of the Equality Act. See PSED: Remember the rest of the Equality Act.

Need to have due regard to a particular disability

In R (Brown) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2008], Divisional Court (link to bailii.org), the High Court said:

30. ...The underlying objective of the general duty under [the Disability Equality Duty] is to create a greater awareness on the part of public authorities of the need to take account of disability in all its forms and to ensure that it is brought into "the mix" as a relevant factor when decisions are taken that may affect disabled people.

31. However, there is, it seems to us, a notable distinction between disability and other targets of equality legislation such as race or sex, because, as we have noted, disability can be in numerous different forms. Different steps are needed to have regard to the needs of the mentally disabled from those of the physically disabled. The needs of a blind man are different from one who is deaf. Furthermore, disability comes in varying degrees

As an independent point, there is at least a good argument that the need to advance equality of opportunity looks at equal opportunity between those with the same disability and the rest of the population. So one is not looking at disabled people as some kind of single amorphous group - which would not make that much sense anyway given the range of different disabilities. See further: General duty: taking disabilities individually?

Whether that is so or not, it can argued stongly that considering the needs of disabled people is something that simply cannot be done without considering the different types of disability.

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Last updated 26th May, 2011