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These pages relate principally to Great Britain.

Telephone

Phone calls can be a particular problem for people who stammer. This page brings together Equality Act material about the telphone. For more on phone calls generally, see BSA's 'Telephone calls' (on BSA website). Remember that your stammer must be a disability within the Equality Act in order to have rights under the the Act.

Case study

A person who stammers rang a public helpline. The lady at the other end laughed at her as she was trying to speak. When the caller said that wasn't acceptable the lady said: "You see, you can talk perfectly well when you want to!"

The caller wrote to the helpline who responded excellently. They listened to their tape of the conversation. The lady was taken off the helpline for re-training. The helpline also contacted the BSA for information to help them build stammering into their general training courses for helpline staff.

Treatment on the phone

A person may stammer more severely than usual on the phone, and may be tempted to avoid phone calls because of that. It is worth remembering though that in many cases there is broadly a legal obligation to allow the person who stammers to communicate, and not to treat them worse because of the stammer.

Discrimination on the phone can take various forms, for example

This kind of treatment will often be against the Equality Act where it is by:

Possible remedies include compensation for injury to feelings.

The obligations can extend to a phone call with a work colleague, whether senior or junior to you - for example if the colleague hangs up on you in a work call. Unless the justification defence applies, both the colleague themself and often the employer are likely to be liable. See Claiming against individuals and others involved.

Reasonable adjustments by employers

The employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments is one of the most important parts of the Equality Act. My page of Examples of reasonable adjustments includes a section on the telephone.

Might phone companies give discounts for people who stammer?
See www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/phonecompanies.html

Reasonable adjustments by service providers

Service providers also have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments. My Making services accessible - on the phone aimed at service providers suggest various possible adjustments relating to the phone, such as:

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© Allan Tyrer 2000-2011
Last updated 18th December, 2011