Nearly 1 in 5 are disabled people

Nearly 1 in 5 people have a long-term health condition or disability.

I’m rather struggling to get a grip of “social media” – so much is not readily accessible with a screen reader so it’s difficult to have that spontaneity that keeps others interested. If you get a chance, some feedback on our new website and Work for Yourself Facebook page would be great – then I can do better!

Did you know?
Nearly 1 in 5 people have a long-term health condition or disability.
Visual images can play a big part in shaping our thinking. So, when the “disabled” parking symbol appears to reflect only one sort of impairment, it can be easy to miss all the others covered by the Equality Act definition. In reality, most disabled people have “hidden” disabilities such as mental health conditions, learning difficulties or other medical conditions. When we cover this in our basic awareness training, lots of attendees are surprised to realise that they or relatives or friends come within the legislation and its protection.
Another easy misconception is that disability is usually associated with the elderly. It’s true that propensity for disability does increase with age (about 23% of 50-64 year-olds compared with 5% of 16-24 year-olds – Census 2011). But the vast majority (70-80%) gain their impairments during their working lives rather than from birth or after retirement.
So, if you are an employer, you can expect that about a fifth of your staff will have impairments – and especially those in senior positions, with most experience and longest service. You probably can’t afford to lose such valuable assets but don’t worry: the vast majority (over 90%) of working disabled people don’t need any changes in the workplace or just simple no-cost adjustments. For the remaining small group, there is Government help through the Access to Work scheme
If you have only a tiny percentage of disabled employees, it may be because:
•You are asking the wrong questions. Most people covered by the law don’t describe themselves as “disabled”.
•Your people may be worried about acknowledging impairments. Perhaps you need to strengthen disability-positive attitudes and policies.
•You only employ very young people.
I suspect that there are lots of SMEs out there with, perhaps, fewer than 10 employees where everyone knows each other and natural good will and humanity accommodates members of the team if ill-health makes the job more difficult. At the other end of the scale, some big organisations may rely too much on policies and processes rather than the sensitivity and flexibility to respond to individual’s needs. For example, a recent Action for Hearing Loss report suggests that simple changes (working hearing loops, amplified telephones and changes in the workplace) make a big difference for the 1 in 6 people with hearing loss.
I remember working with one major organisation that was wildly proud that they had managed to install screen reader software on my computer. It was a real achievement within a very short timescale that would have been a complete triumph had they remembered the speakers! As it was, I had to work for a week with my head nearly under the desk as the only sound came from the back of the PC tower. I’ll save the tale of how I couldn’t get to the loo independently for another day …

Disability Floristry Art
Disability Floristry Art

Bouquet of the week:
Flower arranging is one of the ways I can still be creative since I had to stop drawing, painting, china repairs, embroidery, sewing etc. (It still seems wildly expensive to have someone else
re-cover a chair when I used to knock up loose covers– I remember a whole day of covering piping when I was tackling a couple of sofas.) These flowers rely mainly on (smoke and) mirrors.

Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

© 2024 - Penny Melville-Brown
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