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Definition of Disability: Poor Vision corrected by contacted lenses

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Should side-effects from treatment be considered when assessing disability?

No, held the EAT in Mart v Assessment Services Inc.

The Claimant brought an indirect discrimination claim because of her disability of diplopia (double vision). Her other disabilities (facial difference, depression, anxiety) were expressly not pleaded.

A tribunal found that she was not disabled because her diplopia had been corrected. She disagreed: the contact lens disfigured her by blacking out her eye and restricted her peripheral vision.

Schedule 5(1) and 5(3) of the Equality Act 2010 exclude visual impairments that are correctable. Consideration of the side-effects of treatment is not required when assessing impairment. The word "correctable" is not subject to any proviso provided a person can have the treatment.

The EAT agreed. Even though the correction came "at a cost" it did, as a matter of fact, correct the impairment.

This does not mean that no account should be taken of the practical impediments caused by corrective treatment. These are to be judged on a case by case basis.

Thanks to Karen Jackson of didlaw for preparing this case summary.