International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Ensuring a Disability Inclusive Workplace

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Ensuring a Disability Inclusive Workplace

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Ensuring a Disability Inclusive Workplace

International Day of Persons with Disabilities takes place annually on December 3rd. This initiative aims to promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities, and to raise awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life. 

This year’s theme relates to transformative solutions for inclusive development, and the importance of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world. Innovation is key in developing a more inclusive environment, ensuring that everyone is afforded the same opportunities, and that equality is the norm across the board. Assistive technology is one such development that can be employed by workplaces to increase accessibility, thereby reducing inequalities. 

According to the HSA (source), around one in every nine people in Ireland have a disability. 


Hidden Disabilities 

It’s important to be aware that not all disabilities are visible, and so your policies and actions in promoting accessibility and equality will need to cover both visible and non-visible disabilities. 

‘Hidden’ or non-visible disabilities may include mental health conditions, visual impairments or restricted vision, hearing loss, sensory and processing difficulties or neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is one of the most common examples of this, and examples include ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. Neurodiversity can also be defined as a natural variation of the brain, which uniquely influences the individual’s cognitive and intellectual processes. 

You can learn more about hidden disabilities and the Sunflower awareness campaign here. 


Your Obligations as an Employer

The Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 states that employers must ensure ‘the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees’ in so far as is practicable (Source). In addition to this, Regulation 25 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 addresses the safety of people with disabilities at work, and this states that employers must ensure that workplaces account for employees with disabilities, for example ensuring that people can access and use doors, staircases, and bathrooms. (Source

The Employment Equality Act is another piece of legislation relating to this matter, and states that employers must accommodate people with disabilities as is reasonable. These measures might include: 

  • Accessible workspaces;
  • Adaptive and assistive technology;
  • Flexible working time patterns, which may allow an earlier or later start or finish time for example
  • And arranging the delegation of work-related tasks as appropriate. For example, ensuring that an employee who is hard of hearing would not be tasked with taking meeting minutes.

To find out more about making reasonable accommodations, you can read more here.


How can you create an inclusive workplace culture?

Encouraging a sense of inclusivity in your workplace is essential in creating one that is fair for all. Some measures that you can take to promote this include: 

  • Inclusivity or Disability Awareness Training will not only raise awareness, but improve employee’s knowledge and help to create a more supportive and inclusive workplace. There are a number of supports available to help you provide this training, particularly the Disability Awareness Support Scheme;
  • Develop a Diversity & Inclusion Policy as part of the wider workplace culture; 
  • Consider an Employee Assistance Programme that will support your workforce’s health and wellbeing.


As always, it’s important that you maintain the thorough implementation of your health and safety policy. Certain hazards – for example loose wires – are dangerous for all, and may be particularly so for individuals with a disability such as restricted vision. You can find out more about the HSA’s guide to implementing inclusive health and safety practices for employees with disabilities here.

With any issue as crucial as Disability Inclusion, it is recommended to seek professional guidance to ensure that you are adhering to legislation and best practices. For a consultation on how to make your workplace safe for all, contact our expert team on (01) 838 5595 (Dublin), (021) 421 0331 (Cork), or email

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