Stammeringlaw is 20 years old in Autumn 2019.
I started this website back in Autumn 1999. We had the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 but so far as I knew no one had really looked at how it applied to stammering, and indeed whether it did. My partner and I would sometimes talk about the DDA saying “if it applies to stammering”. This wasn’t helped by the fact that stammering was not generally seen as a disability – and aside from the legal position people still have different views on this.
So I thought I would combine my legal background with my personal knowledge of stammering (including both me and my partner having a stammer) to find some answers. I was also interested in creating a website on something or other, and this seemed a good topic.
One issue was whether stammering is a “physical or mental” impairment (yes it is). I remember reading through the Parliamentary debates in Hansard on the passing of the DDA to help clarify that and other issues. (Stammeringlaw itself has since been mentioned once in Hansard.)
Twists and turns
Since then the website has sought to follow the twists and turns of disability discrimination law in Britain as it has developed over the years, for example new rules covering education from 2002 and land transport from 2006, bringing small businesses and previously excluded jobs such as police and firefighters within the DDA, the influence of European law in UK courts such as expanding the definition of ‘disability’ in employment, the demise of the Disability Rights Commission when it became part of the EHRC, disability discrimination protection being weakened by the House of Lords decision in LB Lewisham v Malcolm and reinstated by the Equality Act 2010, and the numerous other changes introduced by the 2010 Act.
I’ve tried to give a well-grounded view on what the law is, but have also said sometimes where I disagree with court decisions. An example is S v Lord Advocate in 2000 which failed to take into account hidden effects of stammering. Through consultation responses by British Stammering Association we were able to get the statutory guidance on this changed.
At least some people seem to find the website helpful, not just for stammering but for other disabilities as well. Just a few of the bits of feedback, either in links to the website or emails to me:
- “An excellent and easily readable resource about disability discrimination in the UK”;
- “I just wanted to drop a line to thank you for your excellent website stammeringlaw.org.uk that helped me so much in bringing a claim under the Equality Act 2010 … I don’t think there is anything comparable to it on the web in terms of the level of detail and explanation of the complexities of navigating the Act.”
- “Beautifully presented, written in a way that anyone can understand, and so comprehensive…”.
However I’m always aware of faults in the website. I tend to think in terms of kaizen as the Japanese would say, ‘continuous improvement’.
A very brief history
I’ve outlined above how I started the website.
I think the first thing I wrote was a single rather long web page – with a page index at the top linking down. This went on the internet sometime in Autumn 1999.
That was rather long for everyone to wade through, so I see that already by February 2000 I’d added shorter guides on particular areas (Feb 2000 screenshot of homepage below).
Back then the website was on a Demon web address, atyrer.demon.co.uk. Demon was one of the main early British internet service providers. I got the domain name stammeringlaw.org.uk in 2001.
I did a major redesign of the website in 2006 (Jan 2010 screenshot of homepage below). The redesign made it somewhat easier to find one’s way around the site. Also the technical improvements (for example stylesheets) made it easier for me to make changes in appearance across the site without having to alter each page. However as web technology moved on, even that redesign (still in ‘static html’) felt increasingly clunky.
I launched the current WordPress version of the website in June 2019: see This site is now on WordPress! The most important effect of this is making the website mobile-friendly. As can be seen from my ‘Website updates’ pages, I’m currently working on much needed updates to the content of the website.
Screenshot February 2000
This is the earliest version of the homepage I can find, a few months after its launch in Autumn 1999.
Screenshot January 2010
By its 10th anniversary, the number of sections in the website had grown quite a bit, as shown on this homepage. Something I’ve done in 2019 is streamline the structure so there is not such a long list of menu links along the top (which used to include “More…” for things I couldn’t fit on).