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Allowing time for customers who stammer

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Last updated 31st May 2010.

Allowing a person who stammers more time is a simple but very effective adjustment to make. For a more general summary on accessibility for customers who stammer, see Making services accessible.

Former DDA Code of Practice
“It is important that service providers do not assume that the only way to make services accessible to disabled people is to make a physical alteration to their premises (such as installing a ramp or widening a doorway). Often, minor measures such as allowing more time to serve a disabled customer, will help disabled people to use a service.”
Paragraph 6.10 of the 2006 Revised Code of Practice on Rights of Access. This Code has been superseded but the point remains valid.

Allowing the time needed

Allowing a person who stammers more time will often be the single most important adjustment that can be made. Linked with this, it is best not to finish a person’s words or sentences, and not to interrupt them.

Case study
A patient who stammers had an appointment with a hospital consultant, about symptoms she was very worried about. However the consultant kept interrupting her. While the consultation was valuable, she left feeling she had not been able to ask all she wanted.

See also allowing extra time on phone calls.

Extending formal time limits

In relatively rare instances there is a formal time limit. It may be a reasonable adjustment to extend this.

A council’s planning sub-committee refused a person who stammers an extension of the 5 minute time limit to speak against a planning application. He requested the time extension in advance, and also at the meeting. At the meeting, he was told that if he spent time arguing for the extension, it would be deducted from his time available to speak against the planning application. Following a futher complaint after the meeting, the council agreed to review its policy in the light of its DDA obligations.

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