Region: Europe

Disability Definition

Disability is,
(a) the total or partial absence of a person’s bodily or mental functions, including the absence of a part of a person’s body,
(b) the presence in the body of organisms causing, or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness,
(c) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person’s body,
(d) a condition or malfunction which results in a person learning differently from a person without the condition or malfunction, or
(e) a condition, illness or disease which affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or which results in disturbed behaviour,

and shall be taken to include a disability which exists at present, or which previously existed but no longer exists, or which may exist in the future or which is imputed to a person.


Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004

Equal Status Act of 2000 and 2004

Disability Act 2005

Ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 7 March 2018 (last EU nation to do so)

Employer Legal Requirements

Employers must not disciminate in the job application process, during employment and must accommodate employees to support return to work — and also provide access to other benefits of employment.

Can Disability Status Information be collected during the Application stage, After Offer has been made and After Employment Commences:
• yes, but only if the disclosure is optional and anonymous. Company may be able to say it has a legitimate interest in processing the data under GDPR (ie legitimate interest in ensuring equal employment opportunity)

Accessibility Requirements

“Ireland has a defintion in place for ICT and reasonable accommodations. ‘Reasonable accommodation’ is where an employer makes a change to the tasks and structure of a job, or makes changes to the workplace environment so that an employee with a disability can do the job to the best of their ability and enjoy equal employment opportunities.

Under the Equal Status Acts of 2000 and 2004, there is an ICT accessibility requirement for the private sector. WCAG 2.0 is used.

Public Employers: Where a public body communicates in electronic form with one or more persons, the head of the body shall ensure, that as far as practicable, the contents of the communication are accessible to persons with a visual impairment to whom adaptive technology is available. The head of a public body shall ensure, as far as practicable, that information published by the body, which contains information relevant to persons with intellectual disabilities, is in clear language that is easily understood by those persons.

European Accessibility Act The European Parliament and the Council came to a provisional agreement on the Commission’s proposal for a European Accessibility Act on 8 November 2018.

Cultural Norms

People with disabilities leave education earlier and are less likely to have completed primary, secondary, and third-level education than their peers.

People with disabilities would like to take up work but are often afraid because of the loss of benefits such as medical cards or transport supports.

Business Practices/Examples

Additional content coming soon.


The 2016 Census reported that 643,131 people had a disability. That is 13.5 per cent, or 1 in 7 of the population in Ireland has a disability.

The most common type of disability is ‘other disability, including chronic illness’. This might include, for example, asthma, diabetes or heart disease. The next most common is ‘a condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities’, like arthritis or a spinal injury. (People can have more than one disability in the data.)

People with a disability are less likely to be working. Looking just at the population aged between 20 and 64, 73 percent of people who do not have a disability are working. However, for people with a disability of the same age, only 36 per cent are working. Looking at those at work – only 6.3 percent of all workers have a disability (that is 120,775 of the people at work have a disability).

In 2015, Government launched a national ten-year strategy to increase the number of people with disabilities in employment. It targets a 15% increase in employment of people with disabilities from 2011 to 2024.

Supplier Diversity

Certification is in place for women-owned business enterprises (WeConnect).

Talent Sourcing Resources

Employer Disability Information operates a Willing Able Mentoring Program for employers interested in mentoring individuals with disabiltiies. Learn more here.

Employer Disability Information also operates EmployAbility for employers interested in recruiting and hiring individuals with disabiltiies. Learn more here.

Pobel’s Ability Programme prepares transitioning youth for the labor market

Additional Resources

Enable Ireland Enable Ireland – a charity – provides free services to children and adults with disabilities and their families from over 40 locations in 14 counties. Covering childhood to adulthood our expert teams work with the individual and their family on a plan for each life stage.

Disability Federation of Ireland DFI’s mission is to advocate for the full and equal inclusion of people with disabilities and disabling conditions in all aspects of their lives.

The National Disability Authority (NDA), as the independent statutory body provides information and advice to the Government on policy and practice relevant to the lives of persons with disabilities. We have a role to assist the Minister for Justice and Equality in the co-ordination of disability policy.

Accessibility.IE NDA Resource, Toolkit on Accessibility Resources

Grants for Adapting the Worksite for Employees with Disabilties

European Disability Forum (EDF) is an independent European non-governmental organization (ENGO) that represents the interests of 50 million disabled people in the European Union and stands for their rights. It was created in 1996 and is based in Brussels.


Association for Higher Education and Disability Publications for Employers

Having a disability can prove a powerful motivation in realising political ambitions

NDA’s Journals and eJournals


Hope Foundation (Ability@Work) – Candidates are 18 – 29 year old jobseekers, with intellectual disabilities and/or autism, at key transition points between education, training, and employment

University College Cork (UCC) – Promotes open roles via marketing, media & PR, events, and digital platforms

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