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disability policy


disability policy

This is hygeia dental care’s policy about discrimination on grounds of disability. Hygeia dental care is committed to working towards equality of opportunity for every member of the team and this policy is one important way of achieving this objective.

the policy

Hygeia dental care recognises that discrimination on the grounds of disability is harmful and in many cases illegal. Through this policy, through training and by example, we wish to demonstrate that we will not tolerate discrimination by anyone working at the practice.


The practice and its personnel will not treat a disabled person less favourably than another person because of a disability. Less favourable treatment includes: refusing to treat a disabled patient; giving a disabled patient a lower standard of service or treating him or her in a worse manner than an able-bodied patient; and offering a disabled patient less favourable terms.

Exceptions may be made when, in the dentist’s opinion: either the patient or someone else would come to some harm if the dentist did not refuse treatment; a disabled patient is unable to understand that treatment must be paid for and the situation would mean negating or no longer providing the service.

The practice will do its best to change or remove policies, practices and procedures that make it very difficult or impossible for a disabled patient to use the practice.


The practice will not unjustifiably treat a disabled employee less favourably (for a reason that relates to a disability). The practice will not discriminate against a disabled person:

  • in the arrangements made for determining who should be offered employment
  • in the terms on which the disabled person is offered employment
  • by refusing to offer or deliberately not offering the disabled person employment
  • in the opportunities that are afforded to an employee for promotion, transfer, training or receiving any other benefits
  • by refusing to afford, or deliberately not affording, any such opportunity
  • by dismissal or any other detriment.

dealing with disabled people

Most people want to treat disabled employees, job applicants and patients the same way as everyone else but are not always sure how to go about it. These suggestions are not part of the law, but they may be useful when meeting disabled people:

  • Disabled people are individuals just like everybody else. Don’t make assumptions about their abilities or their needs. Don’t forget that some disabilities are hidden, for example, epilepsy and mental illness.
  • If you are not sure how something might affect a disabled person, ask him or her for advice.


  • If a disabled person is with someone, talk to the disabled person directly, not to the person who is with him or her. This also applies to a deaf person accompanied by a sign language interpreter.
  • When talking to a deaf person, find out – if necessary in writing – whether s/he lip-reads. If so, make sure your face is in the light, look directly at the person, speak clearly and naturally, remembering to keep your hands away from your face.
  • When you first meet a blind person, introduce yourself. When you are going to move away, tell him/her. Do not leave him/her talking to an empty space.
  • When you are talking to someone with a speech impediment, concentrate on what is being said, be patient, and do not try to guess what s/he wants to say. If you don’t understand, do not pretend that you do.
  • If someone has difficulty understanding you – perhaps because of a learning disability – be patient and be prepared to explain something more than once. Concentrate on using simple language. When talking to a wheelchair user, try to ensure that your eyes are at the same level as his/hers, perhaps by sitting down. Do not lean on the wheelchair – it is part of the user’s personal space.
  • Avoid asking personal questions about a person’s disability, such as, ‘Were you born like that?’ But an employer could ask: ‘Does your disability affect your ability to do this job?’
  • If someone looks ‘different’, avoid staring. Concentrate on what s/he is saying, not on the way s/he looks.
  • If you are talking to an adult, treat him/her like an adult.


  • If someone looks as if s/he needs assistance, offer it, but wait for him/her to accept before you help.
  • When guiding a blind person, do not push or pull the person. Ask if s/he would like to take hold of your arm. If there are any steps, say whether the steps go up or down.
  • Remember that guide dogs for blind people, hearing dogs for deaf people and other assistance dogs, are working dogs, not pets. They should not be fed, patted or distracted when they are working.
  • Above all, put yourself in the disabled person’s place. Most of the above points are just good manners.


Some of the words and phrases we use offend disabled people, because they suggest that the disabled person is dependent or helpless. Some words such as ‘cripple’ or ‘retarded’ have become terms of abuse or are used to make fun of disabled people. Below are some common words to avoid with suggested alternatives:

  • Instead of “the disabled”, say “disabled people” or “people with disabilities”
  • Instead of “suffering from/crippled by/afflicted by/a victim of”, say “a person who has/a person with”
  • Instead of “deaf and dumb” say “deaf without speech”
  • Instead of “an epileptic” say “a person with epilepsy”
  • Instead of “spastic” say “a person with cerebral palsy”
  • Instead of “mentally handicapped/subnormal” say “a person with a learning disability”
  • Instead of “confined to a wheelchair/wheelchair bound” say “wheelchair user”

facilities for people with disabilities

Numerous features of the practice were built to enable access for patients with disabilities:

  • There is ample free car-parking immediately outside the building
  • The car park is flat, with no steps, kerbs or other hazards
  • There is an access ramp leading to the front door
  • There is a railing with a handrail all the way up one side of the ramp
  • The inside of the building is on a single level with no steps or ramps at all
  • The external and internal doors are broad enough to accommodate wheelchairs
  • The footpath approaches to the building are broad, free of hazards and have lowered kerbs to facilitate wheelchair access

We have also made changes intended to improve access for patients with disabilities:

  • We have installed new dental units in each surgery with a special instrument arm – these allow the dentist to work on a patient while they are still seated in their wheelchair, if necessary
  • Our reception desk was built with a lowered section to make it easier for wheelchair users to speak to the receptionist
  • 21 external lights have been placed on and around the building to ensure safe access for all during the dark winter months, but especially for people with visual impairments
  • Our access ramp was built with a door sill at the top, but we now have a removable ramp that we put in place for wheelchair users when they visit
  • The furniture inside the building has been arranged to allow easy passage for wheelchair users
  • The entrance doors and the railings on the access ramp have been painted in a colour that strongly contrasts with the rest of the building to make them more obvious to people with visual impairments
  • We have high-contrast colours for our furnishings in the reception and waiting areas, again to help people with visual impairments
  • There are “high-seat” dining chairs in addition to the sofa and armchairs in the waiting area to cater for those with arthritis or who otherwise find it difficult to get into or out of soft or low seats
  • We have also installed new, clear, bold professional nameplates in place of the old, harder-to-read brass nameplates
  • The treatment room doors have been replaced with newer ones that are easier to open (for people with physical disabilities and wheelchair users) because they do not have a latch mechanism
  • We have fitted high slip-resistance floor coverings throughout the building, partly to assist those who have difficulty walking
  • The outer door to the men’s toilets has been re-hung to swing in the opposite direction – it had previously been impossible for anyone with a frame or wheelchair to manoeuvre into the toilet
  • Commonly used printed practice literature is available in a large-print format – eg the price list
  • All other printed material and correspondence can be produced in large print on request
  • All practice information has been made available on our website to provide easy access for those with visual or hearing impairment
  • We have the facility to communicate by email and SMS text message rather than by telephone – which can make life easier for people with hearing impairments
  • We have installed grab-rails in the practice toilets to help patients with limited mobility (2011)
  • We have installed a new hand-rail to the left hand side of the entrance ramp to help patients with limited mobility (2014)

If you are a patient and have any suggestions for further improvements that would help you, please contact us.

Web version 3: 3.8.2016 (Reviewed 1.9.2017; 11.11.2018)
Previous web versions: 1.10.2000 (Reviewed 4.2.2011, 26.1.2012; 13.3.2013; 19.6.2014); 17.7.2014