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Information on specific disabilities and health conditions

It is important that not only you as an employer are aware of how to support a employee with a disability but that your workforce also has some awareness regarding the impact of living with a disability. Issues of ignorance to certain issues within the workforce can lead to difficulties being experienced by a employee with a disability and those working to support them in the workforce. Basic awareness eLearning can be found on the disability matters website, which might help to raise awareness amongst your staff.

As part of the induction / on-boarding process you may want to discuss with the employee with a disability whether they would like their colleagues to be aware of their specific disability and any reasonable adjustments which are being made to support them into work. It is important that this should always be at the discretion of the employee as to what information is shared about them.

Below is some information about condition specific issues and where you can go for more information:

Mental health conditions

Mental Health conditions cover a wide range of illnesses which can affect how people feel, think and behave. They can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 people experience a problem with their mental health every year. It is likely you will at some point employ someone with a mental health condition. Being in work can improve someone’s mental health. With understanding and support from an employer, there is no reason that someone with a mental health condition cannot succeed in the workplace.


Adjustments for employees with a mental health condition include:

  • Offering flexible working patterns, including changes to start and finish times and adaptable break times
  • Changing their working environment, for example providing a quiet place to work
  • Working with them to create an action plan to help them manage their condition
  • Allowing them leave to attend appointments connected with their mental health


For more information and support visit:

Hearing loss

Someone who is deaf or hard of hearing may have:

  • Partial or complete hearing loss. This can be broken down into further categories:
    • Hard of Hearing
    • Deafened (usually refers to a person who becomes deaf as an adult and therefore, faces different challenges than those of a person who became deaf at birth or as a child)
    • Profoundly Deaf (with or without speech)
    • Deafblind
  • Had their hearing loss from birth or it may have increased gradually over time due to age or illness
  • A temporary or permanent impairment

The proportion of people with a hearing impairment who are in work is below the national average. However, there are many people with a hearing impairment who are in work and even more who would like the opportunity to be in work.


The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has developed a collection of resources with the Department for Education (DfE) to support the transition young people with a hearing impairment make into employment. These resources include a personal profile template for young people to complete about their working environment needs, an employer handbook and short videos aimed at young people, parents and employers.


Adjustments for an employee with a hearing impairment include:

  • Providing information in accessible formats e.g use of Subtitles; British Sign Language on DVD
  • Seating an employee in a quiet area, away from distracting noises*
  • Using adapted telephones with adjustable volumes and lights
  • Consideration of the room layout, in particular if the employee is hard of hearing on a particular side
  • Where a support worker is required, consideration should be given to where they will sit, their health and safety, any adjustments that need to be made to meetings such as their duration, and equipment they may need such as a telephone headset

*When considering the above adjustments, employers should also consider the risk that it may feel that the person has been moved away from the team they are working with and may increase isolation while at work.  This is something that the employer should ask the employee if they would like.  

For more information and support visit:

Blindness and Vision loss

There are almost 80,000 registered blind and partially sighted people of working age in the UK (not including conditions which can be corrected by glasses or contact lenses). Many have some useful vision and represent a large pool of potential employees.

Advances in technology mean that blind and partially sighted people can now overcome some of the barriers to work that they faced in the past. With the right training, skills, support and experience a blind or partially sighted person can undertake many jobs and tasks. Just like any other worker, they will need the right tools to do the job, for example additional equipment or technology that reduce or eliminate the need for eyesight.

Adjustments for a blind or partially sighted employee include:

  • Ensuring colleagues have appropriate visual impairment awareness training
  • Making alterations to the working environment
  • Supplying documents in alternative formats, such as large print, audio, braille
  • Carrying out a risk assessment of the workplace
  • Arranging a tour of the workplace
  • Providing software or technology that magnifies onscreen text and images or converts text to sound
  • Support with transport to and from the workplace and within the working day if required, or flexibility to work from home if suitable


For more information and support visit:


BID - A Guide to working with People with a Visual Impairment.

Physical impairments

A physical impairment is one which limits a person’s ability to do physical activity such as walking. These impairments may include:

  • An inherited medical condition
  • A loss of independence following a period of sickness
  • Age related loss of independence
  • Accident related injury


Some physical impairments may not be visible such as epilepsy or respiratory disorders, but can have a major impact on people's lives. They can arise from conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, diabetes and acquired brain injuries. Many people with physical impairments have mobility aids to assist them. You may only need to take a few simple steps to ensure an employee with a physical impairment can fulfil their potential at work.


Adjustments for a physically impaired employee include:

  • Providing assistive computer equipment such as modifications to hardware or voice activated software
  • Agreeing an emergency evacuation procedure with them if they require assistance
  • Making sure that the layout of the working environment is accessible and free from obstructions


For more information visit:

Hidden disabilities

Hidden disabilities are conditions that are not initially apparent to others. They are thought to affect 10% to 15% of the population. They include:

  • Autistic spectrum conditions (ASCs)
  • Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia
  • Learning Disabilities

Each of these conditions are listed further on in this page

Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASCs)

In the UK, half a million adults are thought to have an ASC. They may have difficulties with:

  • Communication
  • Understanding the feelings of others
  • Meeting new people
  • Adapting to change and new routines

People with an ASC may also have high levels of accuracy, attention to detail and a good memory for figures.

Adjustments for an employee with an ASC include:

  • Maintaining a structured working environment and routine
  • Avoiding language which is hypothetical or abstract
  • Avoiding making statements which could be taken literally

For more information and support visit:


About 10% of the UK population are thought to be affected by Dyslexia. Even where literacy skills have been mastered, people with Dyslexia have difficulties with reading efficiently and spelling. They may struggle with tasks such as:

  • Organisation and time-management
  • Writing or structuring documents
  • Retaining information (without written back-up)
  • Note taking in meetings
  • Working under pressure of time


Potential strengths of people with dyslexia include creative and innovative thinking and good communication skills.


Adjustments for an employee with dyslexia include:

  • Providing text-to-speech or speech-to-text software
  • Allowing meetings to be recorded
  • Giving instructions verbally
  • Providing written information on coloured paper


For more information and support visit:

Dyspraxia (developmental co-ordination disorder)

Co-ordination difficulties associated with dyspraxia (DCD) can affect many areas of everyday life, such as learning to drive or ride a bicycle and acquiring fluent word processing skills. Some people with dyspraxia appear clumsy, with weak muscle tone. They may also have poor social skills and come across as abrupt. Dyspraxia also affects the ability to organise ideas, language and information. 

Tasks with the following elements are challenging for people with dyspraxia:

  • Sequencing, organisation, time-management and prioritising
  • Managing change and coping in unfamiliar situations
  • Extracting information from charts or diagrams and following maps
  • Learning new skills
  • Working at speed or to deadlines

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is often associated with specific learning difficulties and a range of mental health issues. People with ADHD show signs of inattention, impulsivity, over-activity and restlessness.


Difficulties in the following areas characterise ADHD:

  • Poor listening skills and being easily distracted
  • Difficulties maintaining attention, concentration and focus
  • Problems with planning, organisation and time-management
  • Talking excessively, interrupting or intruding on others
  • Problems with controlling and switching their attention as needed, for example starting, switching or finishing tasks and activities
  • Failure to take account of feedback
  • Poor self-regulation of actions and emotions


Dyslexia and dyspraxia may affect numeracy skills but the term dyscalculia refers to more severe difficulties with numeracy and concepts involving numbers. It affects around 5% of the population.


People with dyscalculia struggle in the following areas:

  • Handling money, budgeting and dealing with finances
  • Time-telling, such as recording times, dates and appointments correctly
  • Using pin numbers and dialling phone numbers
  • Remembering personal information, like date of birth, addresses and post codes
  • Travelling and directions, reading road numbers and making sense of timetables

Learning Disabilities

It is estimated that up to 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability. A learning disability can affect the way a person understands information and how they communicate. This means they can have ongoing difficulties with;

  • understanding new or complex information
  • learning new skills
  • coping independently

A learning disability happens when a person's brain development is affected, either before they are born, during their birth or in early childhood. Many people with a learning disability are in work and with the right support can be hard-working and reliable employees.


Adjustments for an employee with a learning disability include:

  • altering the recruitment process to allow work trials instead of formal interviews
  • using supported employment providers to offer in work support to help learn a role
  • providing information in accessible formats
  • appoint a colleague to act as a mentorto the individual to help them with any issues that arise.


For more information and support visit:


Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain. When someone has epilepsy, it means they have a tendency to have epileptic seizures.

Anyone can have a one-off seizure, but this doesn’t always mean they have epilepsy. Epilepsy is usually only diagnosed if someone has had more than one seizure, and doctors think it is likely they could have more.

Epilepsy can start at any age and there are many different types. Some types of epilepsy last for a limited time and the person eventually stops having seizures. For many people epilepsy is a life-long condition.


For more information and support visit:


Stammering is hard to define even though everyone knows it when they hear it. Stammering is typically recognised by a tense struggle to get words out, characterised by repetition or prolongation of sounds, and silent blocks (known as ‘overt stammering’). However, many people who stammer have developed techniques to hide it (known as ‘covert stammering’).

We know that stammering has no influence on someone’s intelligence or abilities. However, personal experiences can affect educational attainment, career choice, professional success and even mental health.

Stammering varies tremendously from person to person and is highly variable for the person who stammers. They may be fluent one minute and struggling to speak the next.

Stammering affects about 500,000 adults in the UK, including 380,000 adults of working age.


For more information and support visit: