Ryan Compton, Director of Centre for Resolution is guest posting today with advice on what to do when you are denied wheelchair access to services, what to do in those situations and why disability mediation may be an effective solution.
Despite the Equality Act 2010, wheelchair access to shops, restaurants, transport and many other service providers such as dentists and opticians, is still limited. The barrier to choice that this creates can also have an emotionally demeaning effect, lowering self-worth and self-esteem.
Mediation for disability
Disability mediation can be helpful, particularly if you feel you have been discriminated against by being denied access to a service. With a mediation service for disability to support you, you not only become more informed about your options for a complaint but be better able to defend your rights.
Whilst legislation was put in place several years ago, under the Equality Act 2010, to counter discrimination when you find yourself unable to access services, taking your case to Court may not be the best option. Consulting a lawyer and starting Court action is not only expensive but it can be an unnecessary, time-consuming process leaving you stressed.
Resolving wheelchair access dispute with mediation
Disability mediation can be helpful to both parties to resolve an issue; it can keep relationships intact for long-term, enabling you to return to the service provider without tension or anxiety and means a business owner learns more about the issues involved.
It can also be an empowering experience for both sides; you engage directly with each other, supported by a facilitator, rather than through legal representatives and you can talk openly about how the denial of a service impacts on you. You can also feel comfortable and at ease in a non-threatening environment.
The advantage of using a specialist disability mediation service is that the practice is recognised by the legal bodies as a viable route to resolution. Your legal rights under the Equality Act 2010 are protected and can be discussed at a mediation meeting, helping the defendant to become better informed for any future access requests.
Disability mediation wins many times over in terms of cost and saving time. In many cases, a successful agreement can be reached after just one session with mediation, whereas legal action may take many months to reach Court and go through subsequent Appeals. Whilst there is no guarantee that either route will result in a satisfactory answer for you, you have little to lose in attempting mediation as a first step.
In the rare event, you do not reach an agreement, you still maintain the right to go to Court.