Disability discrimination and the law

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination and promotes equality of opportunity for people who are disabled. This section will give you more information about the rights you have if you are deaf.

For more information about discrimination, see the Advice Now website(opens in new window).

RAD Legal Service (external link, opens new window), part of the Royal Association for Deaf People, is a dedicated legal service providing specialist, independent legal advice to people whose first or preferred language is sign language.

What is the Human Rights Act?

The Human Rights Act 1998 allows everyone, including disabled people, to enforce the fundamental rights guaranteed under the European Convention of Human Rights in our courts. Fundamental rights mean inherent rights that every person has – they do not have to be earned, but apply to every human being. Some rights are absolute and cannot be restricted. Other rights might be limited in certain circumstances, or qualified; for example, if one person's right to free speech conflicts with another person’s right to privacy.

Human rights law attempts to prevent your rights being abused by others. The Human Rights Act applies to public authorities (such as central and local government, hospitals and other bodies with public functions). This means that public authorities must respect the rights set out in it in carrying out those functions.

If you believe that your rights have been denied because you are deaf, you may be able to bring a case under the Human Rights Act. You can also raise the Human Rights Act in any other case if it is relevant. For example, if you bring a case against a service provider under the Equality Act, then the court must consider whether the Human Rights Act is relevant to any part of the case. You may also be able to use the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in support of a claim under the Human Rights Act.

For more information and examples of which articles of the European Convention could apply specifically to people who are deaf, see our factsheet The Human Rights Act (PDF 241kb). 

You can download a free PDF viewer (external link, opens new window) from the Adobe website.