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Accessibility Strategy 2022 to 2025

Last updated: 28 October 2022
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Disability definition

The Equality Act is a law which protects individuals from discrimination. It means that discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of certain personal characteristics, such as disability, is now against the law in almost all cases.

Disability is defined in the Equality Act of 2010 as “where a person has a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”. This means that nationally, about 9% of children and young people and up to 22% of adults reported they had a disability (figures from The Family Resources Survey for the financial year 2020 to 2021; published in March 2022).

It is acknowledged that schools and settings do not necessarily have complete information about disabilities as this is not always disclosed by parents/ carers and there is no consistent national way of collecting such information.

The SEND Code of Practice 2014 says, “a child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions”

The Code of Practice states that “Many children and young people who have SEN may have a disability under the Equality Act 2010, that is ‘…a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.

This definition includes sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing and long-term health conditions such as:

  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • epilepsy
  • cancer

Children and young people with such conditions do not necessarily have SEN, but there is a significant overlap between disabled children and young people and those with SEN. Where a disabled child or young person requires special educational provision, they will also be covered by the SEN definition”.