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What is disability discrimination at work?

What is disability discrimination at work?

At Aventido, all of the team is well aware of the lack of understanding and awareness of disability. ‘Disability’ is what the UK Government refers to within the Equalities Act 2010 as:

“You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.”

A lot of the products that Aventido work with are focused on challenges associated with neurodiversity such as Autism, ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and Dyscalculia all of which meet the definition of disability within the Equality Act 2010.

‘Disability’ can hinder the performance of an employee whether it directly affects their ability to work or not. For example, an employee who works in a hospital laboratory who has to collect samples from one of the hospital wards may have Dyspraxia (Developmental Delay Disorder), and whilst is perfectly able to undertake scientific experiments on those samples within the laboratory, they may forget, every day, the directions to the hospital ward from which to collect those samples. That employee may need some assistance in finding the ward in order for them to collect the samples. This simple (for many) act of walking to another part of a building to collect samples may be thought of as something that should not be a problem for employees, but for someone with dyspraxia it could be painfully embarrassing when they get frequently lost as their sense of direction and spatial awareness is challenged. It could affect their confidence and self-esteem even if they are brilliant at processing the samples when they do get them back.

For someone with Dyslexia, the ability to process information fast enough in a given situation could cause challenges within the workplace if they do not have the right strategies in place to support them or a willing employer who encourages those strategies to be used.

Those strategies are often referred to as ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ and in many workplaces if reasonable adjustments have been identified, if the employer is deliberately preventing them from being used then this is called ‘Disability Discrimination’.

Let’s take a closer look at ‘Disability Discrimination’ at work.

The disability charity, Scope, summarises what disability discrimination is on their website:

“Disability discrimination is when someone puts you at a disadvantage because of your condition or impairment. This could include:

  • your employer not providing reasonable adjustments that would help you to do your job,

  • an employer withdrawing a job offer when they learn of your condition,

  • your employer firing you due to disability-related absences,

  • workplace bullying because you are disabled.”

Scope goes on to talk about the types of disability discrimination:

“Types of disability discrimination

Discrimination is when someone puts you at a disadvantage because of your condition. There are different types of disability discrimination.

Direct discrimination

When a disabled person is treated less favourably because of their impairment or condition. For example, if you do not get a place on a training course because your employer assumes it would be difficult for you to get there.

Indirect discrimination

When a workplace process or rule inadvertently disadvantages a disabled person, like the work canteen not being accessible.


When a colleague makes offensive remarks about disability.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments

There is no set definition of what is 'reasonable', it depends on the job and the employer. But if something is easy and inexpensive to do, and your employer has not done it, this could be disability discrimination.

The use of Assistive Technology counts as a part of a range of reasonable adjustments.

In 2017, our very own Antony Ruck wrote a useful article for SEN Magazine entitled “Who needs assistive technology?” Whilst the article mostly refers to the use of assistive technology within the education sector he did write the following:

“Reasonable adjustments for disabled employees can include providing disabled people with AT, but this can be more of a challenge for small and medium-sized organisations to afford. To that end, disabled people can apply for Access to Work grant funding to help them buy AT that allows them to either start work or stay in work. Also, when looking at their steps into employment disabled students can take advantage of the disability employment advisor at every Job Centre Plus throughout the UK.” Source – SEN Magazine

Reasonable adjustments unlocks potential.

It is important that for reasonable adjustments to make a difference in unlocking the potential of employees that they have good coaching/mentoring support as well as good training support for the use of assistive technology. Usually with Access To Work, training for assistive technology is offered but equally further support from electronic learning systems such as ‘atWork’ can help to embed the learning so that the assistive technology is put to good use and not get underused due to the individual forgetting their training.

If you would like to know more about Assistive Technology or the e-learning system, ‘atWork’ then click the banner below and contact Matt at Aventido.


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