Workplace considerations for inclusion of people with disability

Thu 28 June 2018

CRPD 10 years disability rights are human rights

17 July 2018 marks ten years since Australia ratified the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It’s an opportune time to consider how the Convention can be applied at an organisational level.

This article provides a roundup of considerations for how to be inclusive of people with disability in the workplace. It’s designed to help you consider areas of strength and improvement and raise awareness about the rights of people with disability across your organisation.

What is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability?

One of the most widely-ratified international human rights treaties, the purpose of the Convention is:

“To promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on 13 December 2006 and it was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. As a signatory to the Convention, Australia is legally bound to respect its standards. Moreover, cementing and protecting the rights of people with disability in accordance with the Convention was recently described by United National Secretary-General António Guterre as everyone’s “moral imperative”.

An adaptable PowerPoint presentation with detailed information about the Convention is available on the UN website.

How does the Convention apply to your organisation?

In Australia, one in five people experience disability in their lifetime. That’s over four million people who may be interacting with organisations as employees, stakeholders or customers. Keep in mind that you may or may not be aware of a person’s disability, and that a person can be born with or acquire their disability.

At our 2018 National Conference, keynote speaker Kate Nash OBE recommended employers use the “10% rule”: assume that 10% of their people have a disability, regardless of what their internal data says.

According to the Convention, people with disability include:

“…those who have long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Think of it like this: Disability results from an interaction between a non-inclusive society and individuals.

Consider your work environment. Is it open, inclusive and accessible to people with disability? Could interactions in your workplace hinder a person with disability’s full and effective participation?

To help you answer these questions, use the list below to identify areas of strength and improvement, and raise awareness about the rights of people with disability across your organisation.

Workplace considerations for inclusion of people with disability

  • Has my organisation expressed a commitment to access and inclusion?
  • Does my organisation have a strategic plan to address access and inclusion?
  • Does my organisation ask people with disability what adjustments they need to perform their roles?
  • Does my organisation have an effective process in place for recording and implementing workplace adjustments?
  • Does every person in my workplace enjoy an equality of opportunity and career development?
  • Can people with disability participate fully and equally in work-related training and events?
  • Does my organisation use inclusive language?
  • Is my organisation’s physical premises accessible?
  • Does my organisation have channels or resources in place to provide information in alternative formats, such as braille, large text, etc.
  • Is my organisation’s website, intranet and other digital assets accessible?
  • Is my organisation’s recruitment and selection process accessible and inclusive of people with disability?
  • Does my organisation have policies in place to ensure its suppliers and partners are accessible and inclusive of people with disability?
  • Does my organisation have measures in place to protect against discrimination, in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992?
  • Does my organisation offer programmes or initiatives to boost disability confidence?
  • Does my organisation have fair and effective policies in place for sharing and monitoring disability information?

To find out more about these areas, our factsheets are a valuable source of information.

A wide range of additional resources are also available to Members via login.

From consideration to action

The Australian Network on Disability (AND) offers a unique way to turn these considerations into a plan of action. Our Access and Inclusion Index is a tool that enables you to comprehensively self-assess your organisation’s disability confidence and develop a roadmap for improvement across your whole business. It also provides the opportunity for you to benchmark how your organisation is performing relative to others in Australia.

The 2018 Access and Inclusion Index is now open. AND Members are invited to participate and submit their self-assessments by 7 December. To find out more, please contact your Relationship Manager or email

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