Skip the NI Direct Bar
Skip navigation
Dedicated search page with advanced options

Disability

The Disability Unit in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister is responsible for developing anti-discrimination policy on disability. Our work involves preparing policy papers, briefing Ministers and officials and preparing legislation.

Latest News

A strategy to improve the lives of people with disabilities - 2012 to 2015

The Executive has written a strategy to improve the lives of disabled people. Junior Ministers Jennifer McCann and Jonathan Bell launched the Strategy on Thursday 28 February 2013.
For further information please click on the link below.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) came into force on 8 July 2009. As a signatory to the Convention member states we are required to submit a comprehensive report by July 2011 on measures taken to meet its obligations.
Along with other devolved Administrations, the Executive was invited to contribute to the UK Government’s Report.  The Executive's contribution to this Report was submitted to the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) in January 2012. The report sets out the measures that are being taken to implement the Convention, and the progress made in protecting and delivering the rights contained within the Convention Articles.  It also reports on key legislative and policy work that delivers outcomes for disabled people and which deliver the rights contained in the Convention's Articles.
ODI combined the material received from all devolved administrations and GB Departments into a composite report. In order to meet UN requirements in terms of the amount of text that will be accepted in the final report, ODI has had to substantially condense the original material provided by the Executive.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) is a UK wide Act which gives disabled people rights in the areas of:
  • employment
  • access to goods, facilities and services
  • buying or renting land or property.
In addition, this Act allows the Government to set minimum standards so that disabled people can use public transport.
The DDA extends to the whole of the United Kingdom. However subordinate legislation made under the powers of the DDA is made separately for Northern Ireland.
From 31 October 2007 the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) was amended to extend coverage of the DDA in the following ways.
It removes the requirement in the DDA that a mental illness must be 'clinically well recognised' before it can count as an impairment for the purposes of the DDA.  People with a mental illness will still need to show that their impairment has a long term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.  By removing the 'clinically well-recognised' requirement, DDA coverage for people with mental illnesses is in line with coverage for all other mental and physical impairments.
People with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS) will be deemed to be covered by the DDA effectively from the point of diagnosis, rather than from the point when the condition has some adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities."

Short history of the DDA

The employment rights and first rights of access came into operation on 02 December 1996; further rights of access came into operation on 01 October 1999; and the final rights of access came into operation in October 2004.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) was amended in 2004 by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2004 which implemented the EU Employment Directive (Council directive 2000/78/EC). These Regulations made a number of significant changes to the employment provisions of the DDA including ending the exemption of small employers from the scope of the DDA and ending a number of occupational exclusions (e.g. the police, prison officers, barristers and partners in business partnerships) as well as outlawing harassment.
More recently there have been further amendments.