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July 29, 2004

SMEs urged to avoid disability fine

From: Business Europe, UK - Jul 29, 2004

London, July 29 2004, (

SMEs are being warned that they face stiff fines for breaking pending disability rules and are being offered guides to help them comply.

RNID, an organisation representing nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, is urging employers to adapt to the tighter rules due in October under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

The rules will force small businesses to make reasonable adjustments to office furniture and equipment, so that they are more accessible to disabled employees and customers.

Irini Korompilia, projects manager at RNID says: "Discrimination often comes about from misconceptions of what disability is.

"To prevent organisational discrimination it is essential to shatter these stereotypes to truly make an organisation open to all customers."

But earlier research commissioned by the organisation found that more than two-thirds of SMEs were not planning to make any preparations for the pending laws.

It is offering small firms the chance to avoid fines by learning from its free training scheme. It says SMEs making an effort will open themselves up to a disabled economy worth around £50 billion.

Employers going the extra mile for disabled clients and staff are invited to register for the Department of Work and Pensions' 'access all areas' awards.

The award is open to businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The closing date for applications is September 30.

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© 2004 Business Europe