Staff with disabilities and impairments

The Staff with Disabilities Policy aims to ensure that the University is an inclusive and accessible environment for staff with disabilities. This includes providing equitable recruitment processes, employment terms and conditions.

Guidelines for staff with disabilities and their managers

Our Staff with Disabilities and their Managers Guidelines explain the benefits of inclusive practices, how to avoid discrimination, and the legal implications of employing people with disabilities and impairments.  

Employing staff with disabilities

As well as following the guidelines mentioned above, the checklist for employing staff with disabilities provides advice and links to resource material for each step in the employment process.


See also the Related Links on providing reasonable accommodation and campus accessibility and parking.

Fire emergency management and evacuation

Staff who may need assistance and support during an emergency evacuation should register their name and location details with the Building Warden.

Employees who work with staff who have a disability or who know of visitors or students with disabilities should ensure those people are aware of the emergency and offer support if needed.

For example a Deaf person may need to be advised of the fire alarm, a person having a panic attack may need support to exit the building, the building warden may need to be informed of someone requiring an alternative accessible route.

See Help for people with disabilities and/or who need assistance during an evacuation.

Mental health and wellbeing

One in five (20%) of adult New Zealanders will experience mental illness this year. Depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental illness.

Many people are reluctant to talk about mental health. It can feel too risky, personal or people may be nervous of saying the wrong thing.

The Mental Health Foundation has resources to support managers having successful conversations with staff.


While disclosing a mental health issue at work can lead to increased personal support and workplace accommodations, it is understandably a concern for those with disabilities that they may experience stigma or discrimination.

Mental Health Foundation Open Minds resources:

  • Quick tips for having a conversation at work about mental health. 
  • Making mental health part of the conversation: A Guide for Managers 
  • A number of short videos on topics such as; how different people experience mental stress in the workplace, fears of talking about mental illness, creating a positive culture.
  • Posters, FAQs and other Open Minds resources.

Reasonable accommodations

Managers should discuss any reasonable accommodations staff may need. These may include:

  • reorganising work jobs or changing tasks
  • Modifying work spaces or providing assistive technology
  • Flexible work arrangements 
  • Use of sick leave or leave without pay

Building resilience and managing stress

The CALM Website, provides information, resources, audio files, guided meditations and exercises in the key areas of:

  • Mental resilience
  • Managing stress, anxiety and depression 
  • Healthy relationships
  • Finding meaning in life

Some specific topics covered include; practical strategies to help meet deadlines, dealing with anger and developing positive mind states.

5 Ways to Wellbeing

The University supports the Mental Health Foundation’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing. These are:

Give – your time, your words, your presence

Be active – do what you can; enjoy what you do; move your mood

Keep learning – embrace new experiences; see opportunities; surprise yourself

Take notice – appreciate the little things; savour the moment

Connect – talk and listen; be there; feel connected.

Further information and support:

Staff Equity Manager, Cathie Walsh

The Health, Safety and Wellbeing website has information on wellbeing workshops as well as resources from the 2016 staff ASPIRE conference which had Wellbeing as its theme.

Associate Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing, Lee Dewhurst

The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is an independent, professional and confidential service free for staff experiencing personal or work related issues including anxiety, depression, conflict, stress, employment issues, grief and bereavement.

View EAP Services
Call 0800 327 669 24/7
Or Email

Supporting staff who are blind or have low vision

To support staff wellness, the University provides eye examinations and subsidised lenses and frames for eligible staff. Read the Eye Tests for Staff Members Standards

Interacting with a blind person may seem daunting at first. But an open mind and following a few basic principles will assist. Read the Blind Foundation’s advice on How to help or communicate with someone who is blind or has low vision.

Accessible Documents

All written material such as emails, intranet documents, reports, and lectures can be created in a way that will improve accessibility for people who use adaptive technology such as screen readers and magnifiers.

See the Blind Foundation's resource on Making your communications accessible

For further information or support available for people who are blind or have low vision, including appropriate adaptive technology and creating braille, audio or other accessible resources contact the Blind Foundation.

Supporting staff who are deaf or hearing impaired

Communication with a Deaf person doesn’t have to be a barrier to their participation and inclusion at work. Deaf Aotearoa’s Communication Tips provides some helpful information.
If you want to learn sign language contact Deaf Aotearoa for online or face-to-face classes.

Deaf Aotearoa can also offer practical guidance and advice in the following areas:

  • Ensuring health and safety requirements are met
  • Providing Deaf awareness training for staff
  • Developing effective communication strategies; tips to assist lip reading, sign language, training, adaptive technology and basic etiquette
  • Assisting with interpreters
  • Organise job subsidies through Workbridge
  • Providing ongoing support for the Deaf employee and their manager as needed - including working through difficult situations such as disciplinary proceedings.

Captioned videos

Staff who show videos at meetings, in presentations and lectures or give links to videos on the internet can assist staff (and students) who have hearing impairments by providing a script or ensuring they are captioned.

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)

This is a free service for people who are Deaf which is provided using a webcam or video conference unit with a sign language Interpreter and could be useful in particular one-on-one situations such as recruitment interviews, performance appraisal interviews, staff-student meeting etc. Contact VRI for more information.
Deaf Aotearoa can provide further information and support for people who are Deaf or hearing impaired, their colleagues and managers.

Illness and injury

ACC provides a useful educational tool which promotes self-help and problem solving for preventing and managing discomfort, pain and injury at the workplace at HabitAtWork.

The Rehabilitation Standards and Procedures outlines how the University supports rehabilitation following an injury or illness and ensuring that there are appropriate plans for monitoring the health and rehabilitation of a staff member.

If you are facing difficult circumstances or decisions, personally or at work, EAP can help you work towards finding a personalised solution and peace of mind. All EAP discussions are confidential.

Medical retirement cannot be forced. However, if you have been ill or injured and fitness to work is in question, a proper process of assessment is expected.  The outcomes of which should lead to an honest discussion between you and your manager. Considerations would include:

  • A complete medical/psychological/functional assessment
  • Appropriate treatment requirements and/or rehabilitation plan
  • When it is safe to return
  • Impact on job description
  • What tasks can be managed and how
  • Reasonable adjustments that may be required.

A number of well-being at work seminars are available to staff. See Wellness Workshops and Resilience for Change Workshops.

If you have an accident or injury at work you should fill out an incident form and contact your department or division Health and Safety representative. See Work Accident and ACC Claims for more information.

WorkAon manages work injury claims for the University. Their Claims Management and Rehabilitation Manual provides information for managers and employees.

Other disabilities and impairments

Information on a range of other impairments can be found on the Workbridge or WEKA Websites.

Workbridge is a specialist employment service that works with people with all types of disability, injury or illness. WEKA is New Zealand's disability information website, for people with disabilities, their families, whanāu and caregivers, health professionals and disability information providers.

Common disabilities and impairments are: