Epilepsy Ireland News

05-09-2017| Hays plc crowned winner at the Inaugural National Hidden Disability Awards 2017

05 September 2017
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Headway, Brain Injury Services and Support, and Epilepsy Ireland have honoured six top companies based in Ireland for their excellence in dealing with hidden disabilities in the workplace, through a campaign entitled 'I See Beyond'.

Headway, Brain Injury Services and Support and Epilepsy Ireland initially launched this campaign in 2016. It attracted a huge amount of support online for people living with a hidden disability, using social media to spread the message ' #iseebeyond'.

Representatives from Fáilte Ireland, Hays plc, iSupply Printing, Travelport Digital, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Virgin Media, gathered at the Conrad hotel Dublin to accept an award presented by sports broadcaster and former rugby player, Brent Pope, who has also suffered from a hidden disability.

Brent Pope, sports presenter said:
"Personally, I have struggled with mental health issues and can understand how hard it can be to deal with something that people around you can't see. The organisations being honoured today are doing a tremendous job of seeing beyond hidden disabilities in the workplace. I am very pleased to have been invited to present the inaugural ' National Hidden Disability Awards' and to help shine a light where it's needed".

A national survey* conducted by Amárach Research showed the positive impact of the I See Beyond campaign:

  • 85% rise in awareness towards hidden disabilities in Irish workplaces and
    places of education, since 2016
  • 78% of people surveyed would hire someone with a hidden disability if they
    were an employer
  • An increase of 36% of people who feel comfortable telling their employer they
    have a hidden disability.

CEO of Headway, Kieran Loughran, commented:
"I am delighted to be here today at the inaugural National Hidden Disability Awards. As we know, a hidden disability can be easily overlooked. These companies are a fantastic example of good HR practice and have gone above and beyond for employees living with a hidden disability. It just shows with the correct support network anything is possible. I would like to congratulate each company for achieving this prestigious award and wish
them all the best for the future. While the year on year survey results shows positive trends
amongst employers regarding hidden disabilities, there is still a long way to go to ensure
acceptance and transparency from companies for those with hidden disabilities".

There are an estimated 30,000 people in Ireland living with an acquired brain injury and
37,000 living with epilepsy.

CEO of Epilepsy Ireland, Peter Murphy, said:"Our vision at Epilepsy Ireland is to achieve a society where no person's life is limited by their condition. Today we have six brilliant companies that share the same vision as us, and that have faith in their employees. We are very proud to be part of this campaign and delighted to see these companies receiving the recognition that they deserve. I'm
encouraged that we have increased awareness of hidden disabilities like epilepsy since the
campaign began two years ago."

For more information check out: iseebeyond.ie

The six companies chosen for the inaugural National Hidden Disability Awards were judged on specific protocols around hidden disabilities in the workplace.

2016 Key Findings

Despite this staggering prevalence, a national survey* was conducted by Amárach Research 7-11 December 2015 across a total of 1,000 participants in Ireland. It revealed an overwhelming lack of awareness for hidden disabilities, or disabilities that do not comprise a noticeable physical difference.

  • 7 out of 10 respondents admitted they did not know the meaning of the term 'hidden disability'.
  • When asked to name disabilities, the top two listed were blindness and mobility impairment, both of which usually carry a recognisable physical or obvious difference.
  • When prompted for what could be categorised as a hidden disability, depression was mentioned most often, followed by diabetes and epilepsy.
  • A staggering 7 in 10 people admitted they would not feel comfortable telling their employer that they had a hidden disability.
  • 9 in 10 employees in Ireland say workplace lacks awareness of hidden
    disabilities.

Remaining Key Findings May 2017

  • Respondents report higher levels of awareness for people with hidden disabilities in Dublin and places of educations than in other regions
  • 30% of people would not feel comfortable in telling their employer about their hidden disability.
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