What is a Workplace Needs Assessment?

Workplace Needs Assessments are designed to provide an overview of any challenges employees might face at work, as a result of neurodiversity or disability. In this post, we’ll explain why a workplace needs assessment is important and offer further details on the assessment process.

A workplace needs assessment is a process that reviews the working patterns of employees who may need extra support to carry out their roles. Employers will use a workplace needs assessment to identify any reasonable adjustments to make for staff with disabilities, neurodiversity, or Specific Learning Differences. And, usually, an independent assessor carries out the assessment in-person or remotely.

Assessors will highlight any difficulties an employee may be experiencing in a report. They’ll consider the impact of someone’s working environment as well as the systems and equipment used. Employers then receive a report with recommended support ranging from assistive technology to environmental changes and one-to-one sessions. Employees can then implement these recommendations through the government’s Access to Work scheme.

Why is a Workplace Needs Assessment Important?

A workplace needs assessment is a critical way to give staff with Specific Learning Differences the support they need to thrive at work. Assessments will highlight any difficulties neurodiverse staff face and make recommendations for reasonable adjustments. Under the Equality Act 2010, employers do have a legal obligation to support any reasonable adjustments for staff with neurodiversity.

Also, research suggests neurodiverse workforces can offer a competitive advantage by up to 30%. For example, employees with autism often bring excellent attention to detail, creative talents, and specialist knowledge to office environments. And this can lead to innovative projects and ideas. To do this, they will often need an assessment to review their needs and recommend the right tools to support them.

Carrying out a needs assessment can lead to many benefits in the workplace:

  • Higher morale
  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Motivated staff
  • Increased productivity

Estimates suggest around 15% of the workforce have some form of neurodiversity. But around half of them don’t realise it yet. So, whether they’ve received a diagnosis yet or not, employers must provide support in a formal Workplace Needs Assessment.

Which Individuals With Specific Learning Differences May Need a Workplace Needs Assessment?

Workplace needs assessments are appropriate for a variety of physical and mental health conditions. In this section, we’ve highlighted four neurodivergent conditions this process applies to.


If you’re looking to support dyslexic employees with a workplace needs assessment, you may want to ensure assessors are level 4 accredited as part of the BDA’s Workplace Assessor Programme. BDA assessments are remote and employees will need to be in a role for at least 6 weeks before the assessment. The British Dyslexia Association can carry out a workplace needs assessment for £375 (+ VAT).

Do note that assessments are not diagnostic. So if a staff member has suspected and undiagnosed dyslexia, they should take a separate individual diagnostic assessment.


Work environments can impact individuals with ADHD in different ways. They may be more easily distracted by background conversations, noise, people moving around, or digital distractions. To minimise the impact, it can be a good idea to carry out a workplace assessment shortly after a new employee with ADHD joins an organisation. Plus, an employee may want to include a champion or trusted friend to join them in the assessment process.


Employees with Autism Spectrum Condition may find it harder to interact with others and to meet new people. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors. So, a workplace needs assessment can help to find solutions to overcome these obstacles. But employers must also understand the barriers their employees with ASC face and tailor their working practices. Recommendations for reasonable adjustments may include the use of assistive technology software such as mind mapping software. But can also include one-to-one support such as mentoring or job coaching. And this may come from someone with specialist experience supporting people with autism.


Employers can consider contacting an occupational therapist who specialises in Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder) to help staff with this condition. Dyspraxia often affects movement and physical coordination but can also impact organisational skills and work processes. Assessors with specialist knowledge of dyspraxia can provide recommendations for the most appropriate technology and in-person support to address these challenges.

People with dyspraxia can often struggle with operating workplace equipment. But they may also have difficulties with communication and poor handwriting. To help them, an assessor should conduct an interview with both the employer and the employee. Then, they can provide recommendations for reasonable adjustments. These may include making physical changes to the work environment or providing extra training.

How to Apply for a Workplace Needs Assessment

Are you looking to apply for a workplace needs assessment and need some guidance or help on what to do? If you have a disability or neurodivergence, your employer has a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to support you. A workplace needs assessment may be the most appropriate way for them to make those adjustments.

Want to Know More About Our Products?

Learn More

To guide you in this area, this post will show you how to apply, how much it costs, and all other details you need to know to arrange a workplace needs assessment.

To start, let’s look at the key steps to follow when seeking a workplace needs assessment:

  1. Speak to your employer: First off, arrange a time to speak with your employer about your intention to apply for a workplace needs assessment.
  2. Make the application: There may be different providers to approach for an assessment. For instance, people with dyslexia may want to apply to the BDA for support. Do note that each one will have a different application process.
  3. Arrange a date and time: Arrange an appropriate date and time that works for you and then make sure to spend time preparing in advance.
  4. Have the assessment: Assessments can happen either in person or remotely over Zoom or Teams.  These can take around 1-2 hours depending on the types of equipment to review.
  5. Receive your report: Both you and your manager should receive your workplace needs assessment report within a few weeks of the assessment.

How Much Does a Workplace Needs Assessment Cost?

The cost of an assessment should be free to the employee. The cost to the employer will depend on a few factors, but any assessments applied for within 6 weeks of starting employment shouldn’t incur any cost.

Usually, employers will need to budget between £75 to £500 to fund a workplace needs assessment.

What to Know Before Booking Your Workplace Needs Assessment?

During your workplace needs assessment, your assessor will be looking to gain a full picture of the type of role you’re doing and what prevents you from carrying it out. This information will help them to offer suggestions on the types of adjustments that would be best to make.

They may recommend making adjustments to areas such as daily workload, environment, use of assistive technology and interactions or communications with others. Other areas you may want to be aware of include the following:

Assessments Are Often Done Remotely

Staff with neurodivergence may be able to communicate their needs during a live assessment over Zoom or other Facetime software. If you need a physical assessment then assessors can also come to see you in person.

They Won’t Test You on Anything

Assessors want to analyse and review your working arrangements to ensure you’re able to carry out your job to the best of your abilities. So don’t worry, they won’t be looking to test you.

Your Manager Won’t Need to Be Present

During your assessment, it won’t be necessary to include your manager. But, at some point during the process, the assessor may want to meet with your manager separately.

You Should Receive Your Report Within Two Weeks

Your assessor should send your report around two weeks after their assessment. The report should include their specific recommendations for adjustments. These can range from specialist equipment like assistive technology to personal coaching or specific working patterns.

Who Can Request a Workplace Needs Assessment?

Any individual with a disability or neurodivergence who is in work can request a workplace needs assessment. Individuals should discuss this with their line managers to review available support and to assign funding.

Managers can also instigate getting support for their employees through a workplace needs assessment. And there are many situations where it’s appropriate for managers to support the wellbeing of their staff using workplace assessments.

What is the Access to Work scheme?

Access to Work (AtW) is a form of grant funding to give practical support to people with neurodiversity, a physical disability, or a mental health condition. It aims to get people with these conditions into work or to stay in work. But it can also help them move into self-employment. Employees may receive grant funding to support any reasonable adjustments recommended through a workplace needs assessment.

Grants of up to £62,900 per year are available for people in England, Wales, and Scotland with neurodivergent conditions. Grants can cover the costs of items that support individuals to work such as:

  • Assistive technology or specialist software such as Caption.Ed
  • Special equipment or adaptations to the equipment you use
  • One-to-one support from a support worker or job coach
  • Fares to work if you can’t use public transport
  • Disability awareness training for colleagues
  • The cost of any equipment removals if you change location or job

For small businesses, Access to Work can usually meet 100% of any cost requirements for neurodivergent staff. Medium-sized companies may need to meet a small proportion of the cost but only for existing staff. For more information about the government’s Access to Work scheme, get in touch with the team at Caption.Ed.

What Challenges Do Adults With SEND Face in Employment?

Recent studies suggest around 16 million people in the UK have a disability. Yet, despite such a high level, the UK employment rate for people with disabilities is only 50%. And this is a far lower employment rate than the 82% of people without disabilities. 

People with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) can face are range of challenges to gain employment in the UK workforce. Neurodivergent conditions are often invisible. And many people can lack the confidence they need to apply to suitable roles. They may also feel reticent to disclose their condition for fear of discrimination or judgement. And this can prevent them from receiving the support they need.

Some other situations that can stop adults with disabilities from progressing in their careers include:

Unaware Employers

It’s surprising how few employers make efforts to raise their awareness of disabilities. Reports suggest only 19,000 employers are part of the Disability Confident scheme. And such low levels of take-up reflect the lower levels of awareness that exist around disabilities and neurodivergence.

Social Stigmas

Low levels of employer awareness may exacerbate preconceived ideas about people with disabilities and neurodivergence. This can lead to working environments that may feel inflexible, accommodation, and unsafe for people with disabilities.

Physical Barriers

Environments that lack provision or adaptation for people with physical disabilities can make them much harder to work in. When people have mobility problems, this of course makes it harder for them to find their place in the working culture. Not finding it easy to interact with an environment can also lead to poorer integration, disillusionment, and low performance.

Assistive Technology in Employment

A workplace needs assessment often includes a recommendation for assistive technology when applicants have difficulty with writing, typing, speaking, hearing, seeing, moving, or understanding. The WHO defines assistive technology as a way to enable people to ‘live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life’.

Assistive technology like screen readers, dictation tools, and captioning software removes workplace barriers and gives individuals a better sense of independence.

How Can Assistive Technology Help Disabled Job Seekers and Employees?

Assistive technology offers targeted, versatile, and powerful support for job seekers and employees with neurodivergence and disabilities. It leads to higher rates of participation and productivity, both in the office but also from home or remotely.

A report by the ONS suggests the recent increase in home working has improved staff wellbeing by 60% and their productivity by over 40%. Assistive technology facilitates this working, optimising communication and task management through a range of technologies.

Assistive technology also improves outcomes for individuals in some key ways:

Reduces the Frequency People Experience Disability

Assistive technology facilitates a process known as ‘liminality’. This is an opportunity for people with disabilities and neurodivergence to reduce their experience of it. By offering more opportunities for liminality, assistive technology gives employees with disabilities more opportunities to reach parity with their neurotypical and non-disabled peers.

Boosts Participation and Engagement

By reducing employees’ and job seekers’ experience of disability, assistive technology promotes a better sense of independence. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools help staff to communicate through writing, drawing, and facial expression recognition.  independent working. And they enable better participation in typical workplace group sessions including discussions, company all-hands, and remote conference calls.

Creates Opportunities for Training and Education

Jobseekers with disabilities or neurodivergence can use assistive technology to unlock their talents before they enter the workplace. With the right type of tools at hand, people with disabilities can better understand concepts and complex tasks using technology to access their learning. And without this intervention, they may not have had the opportunity to do so.

By improving rates of access to training and education, assistive technology bridges gaps for job seekers and increases their sense of confidence and self-belief.

Improves Communication and Inclusion

Assistive technology such as captioning software gives employees the chance to communicate with ease and integrate better with colleagues. For instance, employees who are blind or have reading difficulties can use screen readers to help improve their access to documents or emails.

Rather than asking colleagues to make accommodations or allowances for peers who have communication difficulties, using assistive technology offers the opportunity for everyone to feel more included and accepted.

Increasing the widespread use of assistive technologies in the workplace can also help to normalise the experience, promote better acceptance, and reduce stigma.

Supports Better Mental Health and Wellbeing

With better inclusion comes a better sense of community and well-being. And neurodivergent conditions can include individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD for example.

Assistive technology like noise-cancelling headphones can help to reduce feelings of anxiety. But they can also help staff with ADHD and ASD reduce the number of distractions around them and improve focus. This can lead to better productivity and improve individuals’ sense of well-being by making more positive contributions at work.

CareScribe Offers High-Performance Assistive Technology Tools for Neurodivergent Staff

The Access to Work grant is a valuable opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked. It offers a diverse range of support services and a healthy package of financial support for eligible applicants. And this is all as part of the government’s efforts to get more people with disabilities and neurodivergence into paid employment.

Learn More About Our Assistive Technology Tools

Learn More

CareScribe’s mission is to make the world more accessible. And we do that through two AI-powered Assistive Technology tools: Caption.Ed, our captioning and note-taking software, and TalkType, our dictation tool. And we’re proud to offer our software through the AtW scheme.

Discover how our AI-powered tools can support better inclusivity in your workforce through Access to Work and talk to our team. We’re always happy to offer advice on what our tool can do and how best to make an application.

Our Products

Levelling the playing field for people with disabilities.

Our small but mighty team builds leading-edge software that people love. We pride ourselves on a user-led approach to product design. The voice of the customer shapes what we create and that’s exactly how great assistive tech should be made.

An image of the mobile and desktop interface of Caption.Ed

A game changer in
accessibility and productivity.

Visit captioned’s website
An image of the mobile and desktop interface of TalkType.

Dictation software that doesn’t sacrifice accuracy.

Visit TalkType’s website