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Disability equality toolkit: Reasonable adjustments and case studies

Changes to the workplace that enable disabled staff to work safely and productively.

Disability toolkit graphic

Disability equality toolkit

Useful tools for reps to help them support disabled members.

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Reasonable adjustments and case studies

Reasonable adjustments are changes to the workplace that enable you to work safely and productively

Many employers automatically assume that making ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010 will be costly and difficult to implement, but very often this isn’t the case.

Below is a list of suggested ‘reasonable adjustments’ which are either ‘no cost ’ or ‘low cost’ but which could make a big difference in how you are able to fully access your workplace.

Please remember that whether a requested adjustment is ‘reasonable’ or not depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.

Employers should consider such requests carefully before giving a decision.

Mobility impairment

  • Allocation of a ground floor classroom;
  • Reserved parking space close to the school entrance;
  • Moving furniture i.e., widening the gaps between desks;
  • Removal from playground duties and/or duties that require members to be on their feet for long periods;
  • Relocating/lowering notice boards, display boards, light switches, door handles;
  • Installation of a ramp for wheelchair users;
  • Moving the member’s place of work to other premises within the same employer to work in a more accessible building;
  • Allocation of the member’s own classroom – if this is not possible to provide adequate trolley storage or similar so that members are not carrying heavy items around all day.

Visual impairment

  • Documents printed off in larger, darker font;
  • Meeting notes provided (in larger, darker font) in advance of any meetings so the member can review it in advance to enable them to follow the meeting more easily;
  • Contrast in décor to assist in safer mobility around the classroom;
  • Magnifying equipment;
  • Additional lighting i.e. desk lamps.

Hearing impairment

  • Installation of an audio-visual fire alarm;
  • Provision of an adapted telephone.

Access to toilet facilities

  • Allocation of a classroom close to toilet;
  • Planning for when members need to use the toilet during lesson time particularly if they don’t have a TA i.e., the teacher in the next classroom overseeing the class briefly or on large sites using ‘walkie talkies’, so the member in question can call another appropriate staff member who can come and oversee their class so the member can use the toilet facilities.

Back/muscular skeletal problems

  • Provision of a specialist chair or standing desk;
  • Enabling members to stand during meetings;
  • Moving/lowering items that are difficult to reach.


  • Provision of specialist keyboard;
  • Provision of an orthopaedic mouse;
  • Enabling members to provide electronic or verbal feedback on work as opposed to the expectation of excessive marking by hand.


  • Where it is exacerbated by poor communication ensure the employer has calendars at the start of the year, agendas for meetings and CPD in advance, directed time calendars, expectations set out in advance so there are no ‘surprises’;
  • Avoid excessive lesson observations and surprise ‘drop ins’ which can also exacerbate this issue;
  • Allow assistance/service animals into the workplace.


  • Avoid ‘surprises’ and provide information in advance;
  • Provide information in writing;
  • Allow a third party to attend any meetings even if they’re informal;
  • Where noise levels are an issue enable members to take steps to manage this i.e., enable member to stand near the exit door during assembly so if the noise level became too much, they can easily leave the area.


  • Documentation printed on coloured paper;
  • Increased PPA time;
  • Longer time for marking;
  • Assistance with data/reports;
  • Verbal feedback permitted instead of strict marking criteria.

Members returning to work having become disabled

  • A phased return to work with a gradual increase in hours;
  • Flexible hours or patterns of work;
  • Reallocation of any duties the member can no longer do;
  • Allowing regular breaks to manage fatigue;
  • Provision of a workstation assessment;
  • Provision of a work mentor which could include allowing the member allocated time for mentoring sessions to assist them in managing their disability;
  • Additional time off for rehabilitation and treatment;
  • Provision of disability equality training for all staff;
  • Review of ;performance management targets;
  • Modifying performance related pay arrangements.

Returning from sickness absence

  • A phased return to work with a gradual increase in hours;
  • Allowing regular breaks to overcome fatigue;
  • More generous sickness absence trigger points.

Flexible working

  • Changing working hours or patterns of work;
  • Enabling members to swop classrooms;
  • Enabling members to swop classes.

Attending meetings

  • Permitting additional and/or alternative representation at meetings i.e., performance review meetings so, for example, the NEU rep and a support worker or family member (who understands the members’ disability) attends the meeting together to support the member.

Adjustments to workplace procedures

This could include:

  • Increasing the trigger point in the sickness absence procedure for a disabled member and adopting a workplace Disability Leave Policy (link to Model DLP in DET);
  • Adapting the recruitment procedures for a disabled candidate;
  • Making the disciplinary or grievance procedures more accessible for disabled members;
  • Delaying the start of capability procedures for a disabled member;
  • Adjusting the redundancy selection criteria for a disabled member;
  • Modifying performance related pay arrangements for a disabled member;
  • Communicating in an appropriate accessible format.

More general ‘No Cost-Low Cost’ suggested reasonable adjustments

  • Provision of additional time to meet deadlines;
  • Amendments to performance management targets;
  • Swapping two pieces of equipment that are already available;
  • Swopping classrooms;
  • Swopping classes;
  • Reducing workload;
  • Changes to line management;
  • Holding off capability proceedings;
  • Allowing for regular breaks to cope with fatigue;
  • Providing a mentor;
  • Swapping roles with another colleague;
  • Reallocation of duties;
  • Provision of a workstation assessment;
  • Transferring a disabled member to fill an existing vacancy;
  • Allowing time off during the working day for rehabilitation, assessment and/or treatment;
  • Enabling periods of disability leave;
  • Allowing service/assistance animals into the workplace;
  • In secondary schools, arrange timetabling to reduce the amount of moving; between classrooms/reduce need to travel between sites;
  • For part time working, work alternate days to avoid having to work consecutive days to create a 'rest day' between working days;
  • Access to water dispensers of drinking water where there are no kitchen facilities in the relevant teaching block;
  • Ensure members have access to somewhere private for testing and/or injection of medication.;

Access to Work

Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support programme which aims to assist disabled people to start or stay in work.

Access to Work can provide practical and financial support for individuals who have a disability or long term physical or mental health condition and can help pay for the support they may need because of this, including help with the cost of reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

The Department for Work and Pensions guidance on this states that to receive support from Access to Work an individual must have a disability or health condition which means they need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do a job.

An individual can apply for Access to Work if they:

  • are normally resident in, and working in, Great Britain;
  • have a disability or long-term health condition that means they need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do their job (long term means lasting or likely to last for at least 12 months);
  • have a mental health condition and need support in work;
  • are aged 16 or over.

For your purposes the individual must also:

  • already be doing paid work;
  • be about to start work or become self-employed;
  • have an interview for a job.

Further information on Access to Work can be found at:

Please note that Access to Work does not cover the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man and there is a different service in Northern Ireland which can be found at:

Examples of wins achieved by bargaining for equality

Back injury:

Following an accident that caused chronic back pain, the member (a 1 to 1 TA) agreed a longer phased return to work, paid time off for consultant and physiotherapy appointments. Following occupational health recommendations, school provided a higher wheeled chair, made plans for assisted evacuation if required and arranged storage of resources at an accessible height.

Cancer (post treatment, during covid therefore higher risk)

Collective-negotiated so that staff listed as “not on the premises” if working from home, ill, on training. This provides more privacy and does not suggest those who were shielding/working from home were not working. Head also agreed to stop 100 per cent attendance letters to staff, as this was unfair to disabled staff who had appointments and more likely to be absent, but still worked as hard.

On returning to the workplace following shielding, member was given large, airy room and not asked to move to any other rooms – so that ventilation could be as good as possible. The member was moved to an outside break duty.

Loss of mobility due to a virus

An experienced primary teacher who was also subject science lead lost the use of her legs due to a virus while on holiday. After rehabilitation and two terms off she was given a fit note.

The school had not prepared for her return thinking she would not return. The local union negotiated adaptations for an accessible toilet, rest room with hoist to be built. The member approached Access to Work, and the school agreed that a support worker could work alongside the teacher in the classroom to assist with managing the logistics of the classroom.

The Headteacher was happy with this arrangement as the support worker was a qualified teacher from Spain who wanted to improve her English.

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