Back to basics: what is a disability?
According to the Equality Act 2010 you are disabled 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’.
It is actually not quite as clear cut as that due to different rules around fluctuating and long-term conditions (eg., arthritis) but this is currently the wording used to inform decision-making at a policy level. This covers many endogenous, mental health, developmental, congenital and trauma related disorders and conditions, from a learning disability to depression; MS to heart failure; a hearing impairment to Crones Disease.
Disabled people have a right to live with dignity, respect and choices in how they access education, transport, housing, employment – basically everything that one needs to enjoy an independent life.
Still, a lack of understanding on what constitutes a disability can leave employees with deteriorating conditions in their vision, mobility, memory retention, etc in a very frightening place.
For many employers, disability principally throws forward questions of physical access, eg, whether or not a wheelchair user can get into a building. Access is far far wider than that!
Employers with a broader understanding of disability, access and equality may be better equipped to work with their employees to find mutually beneficial solutions and to provide a more equitable working environment going forward.
If you think this could be you, please view the information and resources featured on the Hub to help you get there.