Legislation, codes and standards

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Section two

– legislation, codes and standards

This section covers:

1. Key legislation

2. WA Disability Services Act

3. WA Equal Opportunity Act

4. Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act

5. State Government Access Guidelines for Information, Services and Facilities

6. World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes

7. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

1. Key legislation

Major legislative changes have occurred throughout Australia during recent years, aimed at improving the provision of services, facilities, buildings and information for people with disability. These key pieces of legislation that impact on the provision of accessible information, services and facilities for people with disability include the

Disability Services Act, the WA Equal Opportunity Act and the Disability

Discrimination Act.

2. Western Australian Disability Services Act

The Western Australian Disability Services Act 1993, (amended 2004) requires public authorities (state government agencies and local governments) to develop and implement a Disability Access and Inclusion Plan that will further both the principles and objectives of the Act. This essentially means planning to ensure that people with disability can access services provided by public authorities in Western Australia.

Ensuring information is accessible assists an agency to meet Disability Access and

Inclusion Plan Outcome Three:

People with disability receive information from the relevant public authority in a format that will enable them to access the information as readily as other people are able to access it.

3. Western Australian Equal Opportunity Act

The Western Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (amended 1988) recognises that people with disability require and are entitled to the same level of service as is available to other members of the community.

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The Act makes it unlawful for a person to discriminate against any person on the grounds of impairment. Under the legislation, an action is regarded as being discriminatory if a person with an impairment is treated less favourably than others in the same or similar circumstances .

Discrimination can be alleged in the following areas:

employment

education

access to places and vehicles

goods, services and facilities

accommodation

sport

clubs and incorporated associations

qualifying bodies

partnerships

professional or trade organisations.

If a person with a disability believes that they have been discriminated against by a public authority because of their impairment, in one or more of the areas outlined above, they have the right to complain to the Commissioner of Equal Opportunity in

Western Australia.

4. Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 seeks to provide uniform cover for everyone in

Australia against discrimination based on disability.

The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a person with a disability or a person who is the associate of a person with a disability (for example spouse, carer or business partner) to be discriminated against in the following areas:

employment;

education;

access to premises;

accommodation;

buying or selling land;

activities of clubs and incorporated associations;

sport;

administration of Commonwealth laws and programs; and

the provision of goods, services and facilities.

Where a person believes they have been discriminated against in breach of the

Disability Discrimination Act they may make a complaint to the Australian Human

Rights Commission about the person or organisation alleged to have behaved in a discriminatory manner.

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5. State Government Access Guidelines for Information, Services and Facilities

Legislative requirements of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act, the WA

Equal Opportunity Act and the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan requirements of the WA Disability Services Act are addressed in the State Government Access

Guidelines.

The guidelines are intended to assist State Government agencies fulfil their social and legislative responsibilities by ensuring people with disability can access their information, services and events.

It is strongly encouraged that anyone producing information follow the guidelines to ensure all printed material is accessible.

The guidelines contain practical information for those responsible for directly providing, or purchasing information, services and facilities to ensure that they are accessible.

Under the requirements of the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, staff and contractors of agencies are to implement the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan outcomes. For state government agencies the

State Solicitor’s Office has developed a clause as a special condition to be inserted into contracts for services to the public.

This includes contracts for printed information. Further details are available on the

Commission’s website www.disability.wa.gov.au

.

6. World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory

Notes

The Disability Discrimination Act covers the provision of information and online services through the web. This requirement applies to any individual or organisation developing a web page in Australia, or placing or maintaining a web page on an

Australian server.

The Advisory Notes developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission draws attention to resources that assist authors and designers make web documents accessible to the broadest possible audience and meet accessibility goals as required by the Disability Discrimination Act. The advisory notes provide advice about how web designers and website owners can avoid disability discrimination. Further details are available on the Australian Human Rights Commission website www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/index.html

.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, developed by the W3C Consortium, provides the most comprehensive set of benchmarks for assessing the accessibility of websites and represent current international best practice in accessible web design.

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7. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Australia was one of the first signatories to the United Nations Convention on the

Rights of Persons with Disability on 30 March 2007, ratifying the Convention on 18

July 2008.

Australia also signed the Optional Protocol which allows individuals to place a complaint of breaches to Australia’s obligations under the Convention directly to the

United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability, once the individual has exhausted all domestic remedies.

The aim of the Convention is to ensure people with disability internationally have the same rights as the rest of the community.

The provision of accessible printed information is covered under the Convention, specifically in Article 9, and also in other international human rights tools.

There are 33 Articles in the Convention which include:

equality and non-discrimination

awareness raising

accessibility

equal recogntion before the law

access to justice

freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse

personal mobility

participation in political and public life

participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport

respect for family and home

health

work and employment

adequate standard of living and social protection.

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