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Public Bodies ‘Face Assistive Technology Legal Action’.

An increasing amount of research showing that large numbers of staff with dyslexia and other disabilities can benefit from assistive technology mean that public sector bodies face the likelihood of legal action this year or next under the Disability Discrimination Act, a leading analyst said this month.

David Evans, Education development manager at computer access firm Microlink PC (http://www.microlinkpc.co.uk/), told the Dyslexia and the Civil Service conference in London that research carried out by his company in schools had found that some 28% of pupils could benefit from assistive software.

A large amount of similar research, coupled with ever-falling costs of assistive technologies such as screen filters, text to speech and voice recognition tools, mean it is only a matter of time before public sector employers are forced to implement assistive technology through legal action, Evans said.

Under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act public sector employers must make “reasonable” adjustments to facilities to allow access by all staff, he said. “So what information is available to employers at the moment? We know at least 10% of the workforce is dyslexic. We know there is a truckload of technology out there that can help, for probably less than 1% of the employment costs of the individual. So the information is there, it is public knowledge, the resources are there and they know people will benefit.

“So the judge will say – yes, that was reasonable, why wasn’t it done? There are going to be some landmark cases, this year or next year.”

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