Legal services for those with disabilities
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced the results of new research into what solicitors can do to improve access to their services for people with mental or physical disabilities.
Commissioned by the SRA and undertaken by YouGov, the research asked more than 3,500 people with a disability to share their views on the challenges faced in accessing legal services and the reasonable adjustments that law firms could make to help them overcome these challenges.
The research showed that more than half of those interviewed had found problems accessing legal services, with only one in four ever remembering being proactively asked if they need any reasonable adjustments to be made. It showed also that problems are most acute for those whose disabilities are not immediately obvious with many commenting that they lacked the confidence to make requests themselves for information or services to be offered in a different way.
The research has suggested that improvements could be made by firms coin a number of areas including:
- Proactively asking all clients if they need any reasonable adjustments to be made, with examples of what form these may take.
- Introducing easier-to-navigate and more accessible websites, with dedicated information for those with disabilities.
- Adding pictures of their offices on their website, to help people feel familiar with them and judge how accessible they will be before visiting.
- Train staff in supporting vulnerable clients, and actively promote any relevant expertise, partnerships or accreditations.
Solicitors and law firms have duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the Code of Conduct to treat people fairly and without discriminating against them on the grounds of characteristics including disability.
Read the research on Reasonable adjustments in the provision of legal services.