In 2022 BCS focused on the experience of black women in IT as a leader into our regular diversity analysis. For 2023 we want to focus on the experience of disabled and neurodivergent people who work in IT. This has three strands: neurodiverse people, those with physical impairments, and those with sensory impairments. The issues disabled and neurodivergent people face not only impact individuals but prevent people from contributing to the IT profession in ways that benefit the whole of society. This report looks at understanding and mitigating barriers to using technology, and to working in the IT profession itself.

Why are we doing this? Though accounting for 22% of the working age population in 2022, people with disabilities constituted only 16% of the total UK workforce. IT is lagging even further behind — the 208,000 IT specialists in the UK with disabilities in 2022 represented just 11% of all IT specialists in the UK. That means If representation in IT were equal to the workforce 'norm' there could be an additional 88,000 IT specialists in the UK with disabilities.

In 2020 the BCS analysis of ONS figures showed that 158,000 IT specialists reported having disabilities, in 2021 this rose to 213,000. Disabled people are a one of the largest marginalised groups in the country – according to Scope there are 16 million disabled people in the UK.

We want to reflect the story of these people in the real world – the role of assistive technology, attitudes of employers, tips for employers and employees on providing effective support for disabled and neurodiverse people, and more.

A note on terminology: over the years that we have covered diversity and inclusion issues, terms have evolved. BCS endeavours to make every effort to be inclusive in its use of language, and this is just as true in this context, where terms evolve more quickly than in many areas of life. We will use the social model of disability, which suggests that people are limited not because there is something inherently wrong with them, but because of barriers created by society — often inadvertently — which prevent them from fully participating. By this definition, disabled people are those who experience practical barriers based on differences in ability, and/or prejudiced attitudes to people with different abilities.

And one more thing… even people who don’t identify as disabled can benefit considerably from accessibility improvements. Everyone’s physical, sensory and cognitive abilities vary, and by improving matters for people with greater needs in a given area, we improve things for everyone who shares that need to any extent.