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Disability discrimination

A general guide on how you are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act and what your rights are.

What are reasonable adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments are changes that organisations, people providing services, or people providing public functions have to make for you. They must make these changes to prevent your disability putting you at a disadvantage compared with others who are not disabled. 

For example, when organisations are making plans about how to provide their services or public functions, they need to think about people with mental health problems. They should think about how someone with a mental health problem might be affected when using their service or public function.

If you may have difficulty accessing the service or public function, the organisation has an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments. This means they should make them in advance, if they know that you're at a substantial disadvantage compared to other people who do not have a mental health problem.

Reasonable adjustments include:

  • Making changes to the way things are organised or done if they currently put disabled people at a substantial disadvantage
  • Making changes to the built environment or physical features around you, such as the physical features of a public building that put a disabled person at substantial disadvantage
  • Providing aids and services for you to overcome the substantial disadvantage

You cannot be asked to pay for the cost of reasonable adjustments. If a person or organisation does not make adjustments when it would have been reasonable to do, this is unlawful discrimination.

Examples of reasonable adjustments

Example 1:

Luis has bipolar disorder. Sometimes when he is feeling unwell he doesn't pay attention to his post.

He writes to his landlord and asks them to send any important letters about his tenancy to his friend Jane as well as sending them to him. This is so he can be sure that he knows about changes in rent price, when repairs happen and whether he owes money.

This is likely to be a reasonable adjustment.

Example 2:

Sam has depression. He has difficulty in motivating himself to get up in the morning and to leave his home. And he doesn't find it easy to speak in large meetings.

Sam's care coordinator is planning a Care Programme Approach meeting. It's for Sam to review his mental health care.

So that Sam can take part, his care coordinator makes sure that:

  • The meeting will take place in the afternoon
  • There will not be more than three other people at the meeting
  • Sam can bring an advocate with him

These are all examples of reasonable adjustments.

Can I ask for reasonable adjustments?

You can ask an organisation to make reasonable adjustments so you can use its services.

Any changes you ask for have to be reasonable. And you have to show that you're at a substantial disadvantage compared with other people because of your mental health problem.

If changes are reasonable for that organisation to make, then it must make them.

Examples of reasonable adjustments you could ask for include:

  • Changing the times when events happen
  • Changing the places where services are to be delivered
  • Arranging for an advocate to support you
  • Allowing more time for a face-to-face interview
  • Offering clear written information

Letter asking for reasonable adjustments

Download a draft letter to ask for reasonable adjustments from a GP surgery

Download a draft letter to ask for reasonable adjustments from the Department of Work and Pensions

This information was published in October 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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