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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges

Disabled staff

Addressing barriers to career development and progression that disable staff with impairments.

People with impairments may face barriers to employment and career progression in HEIs. Providing support and adjustments can remove these barriers and support the development of an inclusive environment.

Barriers may be:

  • Physical, for example the design of the working environment
  • Procedural, for example particular working practices
  • Social, for example negative attitudes from staff towards disabled people

HEIs can provide a range of support and adjustments where people are disabled by barriers. This support can remove the barriers or mitigating their effect. Removing barriers will allow staff with impairments equal access to training, development and promotion. This will help the HEI retain talented, skilled and experienced staff and deliver a high-quality service that meets the requirements of a diverse student population. Support can be provided even if it means treating disabled people more favourably.

In providing support, HEIs must ensure they avoid creating a blame, guilt or negative culture for disabled people that will inhibit access to assistance and reasonable adjustments. To fully address furthering equality for disabled staff, strategic priorities, policy and practice need to understand that impairment forms a positive part of personal identity for many disabled people.

To ensure an inclusive working environment disabled individuals and disabled staff groups must be involved in decisions on support and reasonable adjustments. Seeking regular feedback from disabled people about the institution’s strengths and weaknesses in providing assistance and/or reasonable adjustments can also support the development of an inclusive environment.

Enabling equality: furthering disability equality for staff in HE provides practical, evidence-based advice on areas that are influential in shaping the experiences of disabled staff in the workplace, and offers recommendations for best practice.