The expert guide to creating a disability-friendly workplace

Is your workplace disability-friendly? Not sure? Read on for some excellent and easy advice which will help you ensure your organisation meets the needs of those with sight loss, hearing loss, dyslexia or dyspraxia and physical disabilities, as well as many other conditions. 

Nearly one in five people in the UK has a disability, including more than eight million of working age. Our new AbilityNet Disability and Employment factsheet shows the steps employers can take to recruit and support people with an impairment or long-term health condition in work. Below we've picked out some of the key points from the fact sheet. 

Benefits of a diverse workforce

Employing disabled people is good for business - it means you can draw on a much broader talent pool; maximise your chance of employing and retaining high quality staff; improve employee morale; reduce absence through sickness, and create a diverse workforce that more closely reflects your range of customers and the community where you operate.

Under the 2010 Equality Act, there can also be serious penalties for treating someone less favourably because of a personal characteristic, such as being disabled.

woman in the workplace

The Equality Act places a duty on employers to ensure that employees with a disability are able to perform effectively. If necessary, an employer must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that disabled job applicants or employees are not disadvantaged by their workplace or working practices.

There are myriad ways employers can make reasonable adjustments and they don’t have to cost a lot of money. What might be deemed reasonable will depend, in part, on the size and nature of the organisation.

Creating a disability-friendly workplace

  • Adapting the workplace or the working environment
  • Removing physical barriers
  • Making some changes to how work is organised
  • Ensuring that information is provided in accessible formats
  • Modifying or acquiring equipment – including assistive digital technology
  • Offering specialist training and support
  • Providing more flexible employment – including part-time hours and a phased return to work.

How tech can help your organisation be disability-friendly 

Continued advances in digital technology mean that an increasing range of assistive devices, hardware and software is now available to help disabled employees overcome potential barriers and succeed in work. You can find plenty of information about this in the AbilityNet blog.

Government guidance on Employing disabled people and people with health conditions includes information on how different specific conditions can affect people. It also gives related examples of potentially helpful adjustments.

As a starting point, AbilityNet recommends that job applicants and employees generate a ClearTalents profile. Answering a few simple questions about circumstances generates a simple report that can be used by employers to review your needs. Typically, this will identify all the adjustments you may require without the need for a full expert assessment. But, different people will need different adjustments, even if they appear to have similar impairments so an individual assessment with an expert practitioner is essential.

Practical advice on how to achieve the optimum setup for your computing equipment is available on My Computer My Way. This covers all the accessibility features built into your computer, tablet or smartphone, and all the main operating systems – Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android. You can use it for free at

Access to work and help with costs for reasonable adjustments

Where reasonable adjustments are more costly, help for employers may be available under the government’s Access to Work programme. This can assist with the cost of providing an individual with required support or adaptations.

Useful links and resources for creating a disability-friendly workplace

Acas publishes extensive help and guidance for employers and employees on all aspects of disability discrimination.

Business Disability Forum aims to build disability-smart organisations to enhance participation and improve business performance.

The Disability Confident employer scheme offers guidance and resources around employing disabled people and how the Disability Confident employer scheme can help businesses

Call our free Helpline on 0800 269 545 to ask anything about how computers can be adapted to meet the needs of disabled people.