Boosting disability awareness and action across your business

If you’re aiming to make your company safer and more accessible for people with disabilities, March 2024 provides plenty of motivation. The month features two disability-related awareness days – International Wheelchair Day on 1 March and Disabled Access Day on 16 March. 

As an employer, you’re legally obliged to protect all your workers under regulations like the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Equalities Act 2010. This article shares several ways to go above and beyond basic requirements, creating a supportive, enabling environment for your entire team. For detailed information on specific workplace adjustments and inclusivity solutions, speak to your Opus consultant. 

Create a disability-aware culture 

Management mindset is key to establishing a welcoming, inclusive, and fair company culture. Train your team to adopt a consistent approach to every worker’s wellbeing, developing a management style based on empathy and respect. Encourage managers and workers to call out non-diverse and discriminatory behaviours. 

Your goal should be a workplace where team members feel empowered to discuss obstacles that prevent them from doing their job well, trusting their concerns will be met with support and confidentiality. 

The Disability Confident scheme offers a step-by-step approach to help employers unlock the potential of workers with disabilities. The three-level programme can help you: 

  • Challenge attitudes towards disability.
  • Increase understanding of disability.
  • Remove barriers for workers.
  • Help staff make the most of their talents and realise their aspirations.
  • Retain valuable skills and experience.
  • Reduce sickness absence and its costs. 
  • Improve morale and loyalty by demonstrating fair treatment of all employees.

Break down barriers to success 

People with disabilities and long-term health conditions (both visible and invisible) can face hurdles that affect their work – and impact opportunities to thrive in their roles. According to the Health and Safety Executive’s round-up of best practice, these barriers can be: 

  • Physical, like access into and around a building, videoconferencing without subtitles, or IT that doesn’t support text reading.
  • Organisational, like having rigid sickness absence policies or performance targets.
  • Attitudinal, such as assumptions and bias-based exclusion from activities.
  • Social, where workers are excluded from an activity because of other people's preconceptions.

Occupational health consultants can help you collaborate with your employees to create a working environment that works for them. This means staff get personalised support to do their job comfortably and confidently, rather than making do with one-size-fits-all measures. 

Discuss adjustments and alterations that would help workers perform at their best, ensuring any modifications are reasonable, effective, and sustainable. These might include: 

  • Accessible facilities, such as ramps, lifts, and wheelchair-friendly toilets, or changes to your physical workspace layout to improve accessibility.
  • Alternative work patterns, job shares, and part-time or remote arrangements to allow for medical appointments or conditions that affect energy levels.
  • Assistive technology, including screen readers, speech recognition software, or ergonomic equipment.
  • Varied communication formats like Braille, large print, or captioning for meetings and presentations.
  • Staff and management training to improve disability awareness at all levels of your organisation. 

Get expert guidance from the Opus team 

Open communication is critical to implementing disability-forward practices and facilities, but it helps to have a consultant by your side. For specialist advice on all aspects of employee health, safety, and wellbeing, speak to the Opus team on 0330 043 4015 or email

Learn more

International Wheelchair Day, celebrated annually on 1 March, raises awareness of the positive impact wheelchairs have on people's lives. According to the Wheelchair Foundation, an estimated 1% of the population in developed countries require a wheelchair, and 95% of those people have access to one. In developing countries, however, 2% of the population requires a wheelchair, but only 10% can access one. 

Disability Access Day happens on 16 March, shining a light on the importance of inclusive access. The initiative aims to encourage disabled people, their families, and friends to gain confidence, try something different, and help others by visiting new places and reviewing their accessibility measures.