Zach (10) receives £2.5k after equality complaint

Zach (10) receives £2.5k after equality complaint

6 November 2019

A KILLYLEAGH family has settled its complaint against a trampoline park for refusing to allow their disabled son to take part in a play session.

Patrick and Janet Gordon went to the Equality Commission on behalf of their 10 year-old son, Zack, after a day out with his peers turned sour.

The family received £2,500 from We Are Vertigo in Belfast after the disability discrimination case was settled last week. 

Zack has two prosthetic legs and was aged seven when he and other children from the Killyleagh Summer programme went to the South Belfast activity centre for a trampoline session. 

Despite being giving a wristband and safety socks and a safety video, Zack was not allowed to use the trampoline because of his legs. 

While staff offered other activities for young boy to enjoy, Zack refused as he wanted to remain with his friends.

Zack was born with fibular heminelia, a condition which prevents the lower legs or feet from properly developing.

At 14 months old, he underwent a double amputation and learnt to walk using two prosthetic feet.

Mr Gordon spoke to the Recorder at the time of the incident in July, 2017.

He said: “Zack went to his room when he came home and would not come out as he was convinced he had done something wrong to have been taken off the trampoline.

“It broke me when Zack had the operation as a baby but he never let it hold him back. He is non-stop, I get tired watching him. We do not want this to happen to anybody else.”

We Are Vertigo later invited the Gordons to return to the centre but they declined.

Anne McKernan, director of legal services, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said that service providers needed to think ahead of what additional needs a disabled person may have to take part in what they offer.

She said: “The Disability Discrimination Act includes a proactive duty which requires service providers to think about what adjustments they should make to their services to ensure that people with a disability can access them.

“Play is a vital part of growing up for all children and parents of disabled children will be keenly aware of the importance of focusing on what their children can do, rather than on what they cannot. 

“Service providers should anticipate that those with a disability, both adults and children, will want to access their services and they should give thought in advance to what reasonable adjustments will help to ensure that their services are available to all.”

In settling the case, We are Vertigo affirmed its commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity and agreed to liaise with the Equality Commission in respect of access to its services for disabled customers and to make contact with the Commission within 12 weeks of the date of the settlement. 

It also agreed to implement any reasonable recommendations made by the commission.