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Disability Laws and Legal Rights

Legal Aid

Check to see if you can get legal aid to pay for legal advice, mediation or representation in court by using the Legal Aid Checker.

If you don't qualify for Legal Aid or you can't afford legal representation the Bar Council have produced a guide "Representing yourself in court" to help individuals on their legal journey.

The guide is free to download.  Hard copies can be found at your local Citizens Advice, your MP's surgery and law centres.

Carers Rights

The Carers Rights Guide produced by Carers UK is free to download from their website.

It informs you about your rights as a carer and where you can go for financial and practical help.

It is updated each year and there are different versions for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Coram Children's Legal Centre

The Coram Children’s Legal Centre is a National charity that specialises in law and policy affecting children and young people.

It offers advice on all areas of family, child and education law.

Coram also provides access to free factsheets, a virtual assistant for on-line support and free legal helpline.

The instant messaging facility is available from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

The Legal Helpline: 08088 020 008 is open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. A voicemail facility is available outside these hours.


Disability Law Service

The Disability Law Service is a charitable organisation that provides free legal advice to the disabled and their families.

The service has a telephone advice line: 0207 791 9800 But due to the high volume of calls they operate a triage system to prioritise calls. They will however respond to written queries.

There are a large number of factsheets free to download covering community care, education, employment, welfare,discrimination and human rights. They are available in a variety of formats including large print and audio.


Disabled Children - A Legal Handbook

A definitive guide to the rights of disabled children has been completely updated for 2016 to include all the recent changes to the laws affecting disabled children.

Co-authored by Stephen Broach, Professor Luke Clements and Doctor Janet Reid.

All the chapters of the book may be downloaded from the Council of Disabled Children’s website free of charge.(www.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk)

The book can be purchased from the Legal Action Group for £50.


Disabled Children Parents' Guide: Social Care, Housing and Health

Cerebra have produced a guide for parents of disabled children (under 18 years) on how to get help for their child’s social care, housing and health needs.

It provides information on the responsibilities and the duty of care of NHS bodies and Local Authorities for providing health and social care as well as accommodation for disabled children and their families.

For young people going through transition to adult services this document Transition to Adulthood - a Guide for Parents may be helpful.


Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 protects the disabled from discrimination and offers legal help in certain areas including employment, education and access.

It also provides the same protection for carers or parents of people of the disabled.

The Act says a person is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that a 'substantial and long-term effect on their ability to perform day to day activities'.

'Substantial' is defined as 'more than minor or trivial' and 'long-term' as being likely to last for at least twelve months. Eating, washing, walking and shopping are among the many things considered as 'day to day activities'.

The Equality Act replaced the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 2005. However, the Disability Equality Duty in the DDA still applies alongside the Equality Act 2010. This requires Government and Public bodies to have 'due regard' to the needs of the disabled when making decisions on policies and services.

The Acts can be used to ensure that disabled people are given the same rights as everyone else. Employers, shops and other establishments are expected to comply with all the points defined in the Acts.

Human Rights

The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) have a number of useful booklets and factsheets including:

  • A Pocket Guide for Carers - how the human right act is relevant for carers and the people they care for
  • Make Human Rights Happen - explains Human Rights in an accessible way and is a valuable resource to help people put human rights into action.
  • Mental Health Advocacy and Human Rights - how the Human Rights Act can strengthen support for people with mental health problems.

All are FREE to download.

Rightsinfo provides clear information on why Human Rights matter and how they can change people's lives.

It's a great place to learn about Human Rights as it is presented in an interesting easy to understand way through the use of infographics and human rights stories.

Find out what the Human Rights do for Disability

Mental Capacity Act

The Home Farm Trust (HFT) have created a PDF Guide to the Mental Capacity Act.

"Using the Mental Capacity Act - A guide for families and friends of people with Learning Difficulties" can be downloaded from their website.

The guide is supported with videos and gives links to further information from other organisations.

A hardback copy of the guide can be purchased by sending an A4 stamped addressed envelope (with £1.65 - 1st class or £1.48 - second class) to Hft, Family Carer Support Service, 6 Brook Office Park, Folly Brook Road, Emersons Green, Bristol, BS16 7FL


My Rights Your Responsibilities

The Council for Disabled Children have produced a information leaflets for parents of disabled children "My Rights Your Responsibilities".

It includes information on children's right of access to activities, community facilities and other services.

Leaflets are free to download and include information on the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).


Template Letters

Support for parents and carers of disabled children

Independent Support have created 17 template letters to assist professionals and families in writing letters to address issues they maybe be experiencing.

They include a request for an Education, Health and Care Assessment, request for Direct Payments and how to complain when there is a lack of provision.

If you have a child in hospital and your DLA is stopped or taken away Contact a Family have created a template review letter for parent to use asking for their child's DLA payments to be reinstated.

There is also a short guide to completing the review letter.  Both can be downloaded from the Resources section of their website.

Best Interest Decisions

A new tool has been produced to help ensure families are involved in "Best Interest Decisions".

Ambitious about Autism, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation have worked with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors to create a useful resource highlighting the rights of families under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

This free tool includes a downloadable leaflet and two template letters.

It aims to support parents who are concerned that they are not being properly consulted about decisions that social care or health professionals are making about their son or daughter from the age of 18.

These may be decisions about where the person lives, what care they are getting, how they spend their time, or medical treatment.

Bedroom Tax

Contact a Family has produced two template letters to help families with disabled children challenge the bedroom tax.

  • Letter for those in Social Housing
  • Letter for those renting in the private sector.

Both can be downloaded from here.

Health and Social Care Law 

The solicitors Irwin Mitchell have produced a number of template letters and guidance information that can be downloaded from their website.  They include:

  • Challenging a refusal to assess your disabled child for specialist services
  • Rights to NHS Funded Treatment - Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy
  • Request for S47 Assessment of Needs
  • Request to consider eligibility for Community Care Support

Press Release

Contact a Family have produced a group action guide to "Writing a Press Release and Speaking to the Media" for local and national support groups in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

The guide contains a sample press release.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

The UNCRPD is an international human rights agreement that recognises that disabled people have the same rights as everyone else to freedom, respect, equality and dignity.

It is important as it allows disabled people the right to petition the committee if they have exhausted the UK and European court.

The Equality and Human Rights Commision have produced a Guide to the Convention. An Easy Read version is also available.

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