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Why consider accessibility?
There is increasing awareness among service providers of the desirability to take into account the needs of people with disabilities. The increasing ageing population has significant disposable income; it would be unwise not to consider the needs of this group who often have a combination of impairments. 

The Equality Act
The Equality Act (formerly the Disability Discrimination Act) requires service providers to offer reasonable access to their services by people with disabilities. It does not require manufacturers to produce accessible products, but service providers will be pressed to select products which help them meet their legal requirements. The cost of retrofitting is very high, so it would be prudent to consider accessibility from the outset when designing a new product or service.

Standards and Guidelines
Although there are a number of standards which mention accessibility, this area is normally addressed through sector specific guidelines. Not all these guidelines are compatible so expert assistance is required to determine the appropriate specification for a particular product.

EU Procurement Rules
For central and local government, it is usual to request quotations against a detailed specification, and then award the contract to the lowest bidder who meets the specification. Public procurement authorities are being strongly encouraged to incorporate accessibility requirements into the specification. The European Commission is currently investigating how this can be made mandatory.





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