Barrier-free services


Discrimination of people with disabilities in access to services from private enterprises

- Factsheet on the research project -

In the majority of the cases submitted for evaluation by FADA, it was possible to identify typical patterns and forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities with respect to the accessibility of goods and services.

Forms of discrimination

The typical forms of discrimination found consisted of:

  • refusal of services or access (for example to restaurants and similar establishments),
  • problems with barrier freedom,
  • discrimination and harassment, for example in the form of verbal abuse, insults, stigmatisation and refusal of recognition,
  • refusal of compensation for disadvantage.

In the evaluated counselling cases, these forms sometimes appeared in combination or even simultaneously.

Typical discrimination patterns

It was possible to identify seven key areas in which persons with disabilities face disadvantages in everyday situations:

  • In 33 percent of the cases examined, discrimination was present in the area of financial services; that is, insurance, banking and postal services. In the majority of cases, insurance coverage was refused.
  • 20 percent of the cases examined delt with discrimination in the area of transport and mobility. The problem here was predominantly one of barrier freedom, for example, with Deutsche Bahn (German Rail), going on trips, travelling by plane and on public transport.
  • 18 percent of the cases occur in the area of recreation and culture, that is: at cultural and sports events, in recreational parks, cinemas and restaurants. A broad spectrum of discrimination could be observed at these locations. They ranged from denial of service, problems with barrier freedom and denial of entry to harassment.
  • Some 15 percent of the cases fell into the category of housing. Typically, the discrimination was related to rentals but there were also incidents of discrimination from neighbours.
  • Discrimination in the area of health services and in retail commerce accounted for four percent respectively of the cases examined and for three percent respectively in the areas of media and communications.

Justifications in one-third of cases

In more than one-third of the cases (32.5 percent), objective justification was found pursuant to the General Equal Treatment Act. This was strongly criticised by the victims themselves and the General Equal Treatment Act considered unjust by them in this respect.

Situation of persons under legal guardianship

In the cases examined, only about 1.8 percent of the complaints came from persons under legal guardianship pursuant to Section 1896 of the Civil Code (BGB). Persons affected by legal guardianship are adults who, as a result of mental disease or physical, mental or psychological disability, are partially or totally incapable of managing their own affairs. This group experienced exclusion from financial services, in particular. Within the framework of the expert interviews, it was also surmised that guardianship relationships are fundamentally characterised by considerable ignorance and fear.

Definition of terms

  • Buildings, transport and communications vehicles for example are considered to be ‘barrier-free’ if they are accessible and usable for persons with disabilities in the normal manner without particular difficulty and without the need for help from others.
  • Compensations for disadvantage are benefits and measures to compensate persons with disabilities for discrimination experienced and additional expenses. Compensations for disadvantage are for example: free travel for an attendant or reduced entry fees.