What is a Disability? - Human Resources - Newcastle University

What is a disability?

The Equality Act 2010 describe a disabled person as someone who:

“has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”1.

Case law also suggests a positive approach to considering disability:

“Where a staff member faces barriers in the workplace and would benefit from adjustments which would improve their efficiency or productivity, managers are guided to consider these in a positive light, without undue concern for the legal definition of disability.”

Examples of Potential Disabilities

A disability can arise from a wide range of impairments, including (but not limited to) the following examples:

  • sensory - sight or hearing
  • fluctuating or recurring - rheumatoid arthritis, ME, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression and epilepsy
  • progressive - motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy, and dementia
  • respiratory and cardiovascular – asthma, thrombosis, stroke and heart disease
  • developmental – forms of autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia
  • learning difficulties
  • mental health conditions and illnesses - depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar, OCD, and personality disorders
  • disabilities produced by injury to the body or brain
  • a person who has cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS) or HIV
  • Dyslexia is also recognized as a disability if it is serious enough to come within the DDA definition

The assessment of whether someone is legally disabled is done after discounting the beneficial effect of any treatment they are undergoing.

Disclosing a disabilitykings-gate-building

The Equality Act 2010 protects you when identifying that you have a disability. At Newcastle we provide the support that disabled employees need. The University will ensure you are protected and will make sure that you can work effectively and successfully with the necessary “reasonable adjustments” in place for you.

A disability can arise at any stage in someone’s life... from birth, as a result of an accident or injury, or in a progressive way over time. However it occurs, there will be a way to help you with your work, and to make sure you are treated with dignity and respect.

A step free route through the campus – accessible to everyone

1 Equality and Human Rights Commission Statutory Code of Practice on Employment