Disabled Friendly Workplace

How To Create a Disabled Friendly Workplace

With such a wide range of disabilities, one solution doesn't fit all. Creating a Disabled Friendly Workplace can seem daunting with so many factors to consider and the legal implications if you get it wrong. If you are making changes for a specific person, for example, a new employee, we recommend undertaking a risk assessment and discussing their needs with them to identify the best way to support them.

Ensure you have an understanding of the Equality Act 2010. This act is designed to promote equality throughout the workplace. Under the act employers are required to make 'reasonable adjustments' to ensure those who are disabled are not disadvantaged within the workplace. The HSE also offers a wide range of guidance around legislation and providing a safe working environment for those who are disabled.

Below we have put together a guide of some points you may wish to consider when reviewing how accessible your workplace is to those with disabilities.

Considerations when making the workplace accessible

Computers & laptops:

If the user is required to use a computer within their role consider whether a laptop or desktop is best to meet their requirements and what equipment should be provided with this. For example some may benefit from a larger keyboard or high contrast keyboard whilst others would benefit from a one handed keyboard. Alternative mice are also available for disabled users. Providing a larger screen or touch screen device can also be beneficial. It is also important to consider the software installed on the computer, for example if the user requires text to be read to them or if they would benefit from dictation software. Where there are many cables in the office it is also important to ensure wheelchair users can easily pass over these cables, for example by using wheelchair friendly cable protectors.


Disabled Friendly Workplace Computer keyboard


Physical changes to the workplace:

 It is of course important that everyone is able to access all areas of the workplace whether this is an office across the hallway or access to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. We would recommend walking around the workplace to identify where improvements can be made. Physical changes may include installing a disabled toilet, widening passageways, improving lighting, installing grab bars, ensuring workspaces are lowered and accessible, providing clear signage, installing a lift and providing wheelchair ramps.

Modular wheelchair ramp

Remember not all disabilities are visible:

Many disabilities are invisible and not all employees will declare their disability so it is important to ensure they feel confident to ask for help when needed. Hidden disabilities can include autism, ADHD, diabetes and epilepsy. 1 in 4 experience a mental health problem each year it is important to consider the mental wellbeing of your staff. Consider introducing mental health first aiders to provide support when required. For those who have achieved ISO 45001, considering incorporating ISO 45003 into your occupational health and safety management system. This standard focuses on promoting psychological health and safety within the work place.


Mental health

Emergency plans:

It is of course important to ensure that those with a disability are able to exit the building in an emergency. For example, if there is a wheelchair user it is important to ensure the fire exit is wheelchair accessible and, where required a portable wheelchair ramp is available. If someone is deaf it is important there is a process in place to ensure they are aware of the fire alarm, for example providing a strobe light alarm system.

Workplace disabled fire exit sign

Remain open: 

Ensure you remain open to what adjustments can be made for those with disabilities. For example, for employees who have recently become disabled you may wish to implement a phased return to work or provide flexible working hours whilst for those with social anxiety you may wish to allow them to work at home or from a private meeting room. Consider providing additional, unique benefits within the workplace. For example you may wish to offer additional 'duvet days' along with staff holidays to allow staff to take a day off when needed to prevent burn out.