Managers toolkit for supporting disabled staff

We have brought together some key resources and recommendations that will help you if you are managing or supervising a member of staff with a disability.

The first point to note is that the disabled staff member is your best source of information on what will help them. Taking the time to understand how their disability affects them and how you can best support them will be beneficial for both of you. It is also important to be sensitive to their wishes regarding who should know about their disability. Some people may prefer only to tell their manager and not their wider team, whilst others may want to notify more colleagues. Most disabled people would prefer to avoid having to repeatedly explain their disability to others, so ensuring that key people are aware of it and take note of any adjustments that are needed is helpful.

Reasonable adjustments

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to a policy, criterion or practice where a disabled person is placed at a significant disadvantage because of their disability. Managers should work in partnership with their disabled employees to agree appropriate adjustments to help them overcome any difficulties.

Adjustments could include:

  • alterations to the work environment or working arrangements;
  • provision of equipment, training and development, and/or a support worker;
  • changes to working practices.

See our reasonable adjustments page for more information or speak to the Staff Disability Advisor ( or Occupational Health Service for advice.

Workplace Adjustment Plans

We encourage managers and disabled staff members to make use of the new Workplace Adjustment Plan (WAP). This is a live record of adjustments agreed between the employee and their line manager, PI or supervisor. The employee retains the Plan throughout their time working at the University, with changes made as and when required. If you have recently started managing a disabled staff member, we recommend completing or updating a WAP with them at an early stage.


Normally, a disabled employee’s department or college is responsible for funding any support required by that employee. However, if the costs of support are likely to be significant (at least £1,000) the employee can apply for external funding through the Access to Work scheme. Note that the University must meet the first £1,000 of costs for any specialist equipment or assistive technology under the scheme and Access to Work will not reimburse for any items purchased without prior agreement. Examples of how access to work funding can be used include provision of specialist equipment (or adaptations to existing equipment); travel to work; provision of a support worker, communication support or mental health support. See our Funding page for more details, including step-by-step guidance on how to apply for Access to Work funding.

New employees should apply for Access to Work funding ideally before they take up their new post, or within their first 6 weeks of employment if at all possible, as ATW will fund all of the agreed support if an application is made during this timescale. 

Information on specific disabilities

We have a series of factsheets about different disabilities and health conditions, explaining how they may affect an individual and suggesting techniques and strategies you can use to support them at work. However, these are intended as general guides only; the same condition can affect people very differently, so do talk to the individual staff member about their own particular circumstances and needs.




Auditory Processing Disorder


Dyslexia and dyspraxia

Irlen Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome

Sensory impairment

Hearing loss

Visual impairment

Long-term physical and health conditions

Long-term health conditions

Physical or mobility impairment

Supporting staff with mental ill-health

We have produced extensive guidance on managing staff with mental ill-health, including:

  • your role as a manager;
  • spotting early signs of stress and mental ill-health;
  • tips for talking about mental health concerns;
  • managing absence;
  • recruitment and career development.

There is also specific guidance on reasonable adjustments for staff with mental ill-health

Further guidance

See the HR guidance for managers on supporting staff with disabilities, which covers all elements of the ‘employee lifecycle’.


Contact us

For any questions or support contact the Staff Disability Advisor

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