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Ombudsman feels Public Bodies are ignoring the Disability Act

In last month’s newsletter, we reported on a finding by the NDA of high level of compliance by Public Bodies in relation to their obligations under Disability Act 2005. I would now like to highlight the latest findings from a survey carried out by the Office of the Ombudsman which comes to the opposite conclusion.

The office of the Ombudsman recently carried out a survey of 105 public bodies (including government departments, local authorities and state agencies) and noted that:

The Ombudsman’s role under the Disability Act is to examine complaints. The ombudsman noted that there was a very low level of complaints in relation to the Act with only 3 complaints made in 2007 and 6 complaints made to the Ombudsman in 2008.

The Office of the Ombudsman has contacted certain public bodies to clarify matters in relation to specific complaints that they received about the failure to comply with the Disability Act. The Ombudsman noted that

“Arising out of these contacts, there would appear to be a serious lack of knowledge among the staff of some public bodies about what is required of them under the Disability Act. It also appears that many of them are not aware that the National Disability Authority has produced a code of practice to help public bodies to achieve compliance with the Disability Act or that, if a public body is in compliance with this code of practice, it is deemed to be in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Disability Act”.