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October 14, 2020 - October 15, 2020

Disability today and tomorrow: Living in a post-pandemic world

Business Disability Forum Virtual Conference Disability Today and Tomorrow 14 and 15 October 2020 Sponsored by HSBC - globe image and laptop imagery

Date: Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 October 2020
Time: 9.30am to 4pm BST (both days)

Welcome to Business Disability Forum’s annual conference, generously sponsored by our Partner HSBC.

This year, we’re delighted to bring you a two-day virtual conference and we invite you to join us, wherever you are, as we discuss and debate the most important topics affecting businesses and disabled people in a post-pandemic world.

Find out how to register below. It’s free for our Partners and Members.


Business disability debates: work, life and leisure in a post-pandemic society – building on the positives of lockdown and tackling the negatives
No one could have predicted, nor did they welcome, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, yet in the time it has taken place, it has yielded unexpected benefits for some. With the majority of the workforce working from home for the past few months, there aren’t many employers that have a reasonable justification for demanding a return to “traditional” office life.

Our panel will explore: is one of the positives that employers can and should allow more employees, disabled or not, to work from home either permanently or periodically? Does being out of the workplace and change of environment bring more creativity and productivity to an organisation?

On the flip side, and with mixed news on productivity from the ONS, working from home and staying physically apart has had its drawbacks. Isolation and the challenges of staying in touch, checking in on people, and coping have been at the forefront.

So as lockdowns ease – for some of us at least – join us as we discuss how we can keep up, capitalise and build on the trust and flexibility of working from home and the community spirit that has sprung up as neighbours and colleagues look out for one another, while challenging the negatives of loneliness, isolation and the inability to switch off after working hours.

Technology: High tech, low tech, no tech
How different would this pandemic and lockdown have been even a decade or two ago? Technology has allowed many people to retain jobs and connections with family, friends and the wider world as we’ve stayed in our homes – and enabled us to talk, shop and find ways to entertain ourselves or learn new skills from home.

Yet the lockdown hasn’t been the same experience for everyone, while some disabled people are tech savvy and completely at home with the world of technology, others have had a steep learning curve, and some still remain “no tech” needing to shop, bank and work in person.

Join us as our panel discusses the learnings from the past few months and ways in which to ensure that we leave no one behind as we emerge into a new post-pandemic world.

Legal: adjusting to adjustments today
Businesses have become familiar with the term reasonable adjustment or accommodation but what does “reasonable” now mean?

Providing assistance to disabled customers, enabling colleagues and customers to lip read and even the definition of disability has been challenged by Covid-19.

Listen in as our Head of Legal looks at what “reasonable” might mean now as well as discussing the post-pandemic impact of the end of furlough schemes, return to workplaces and combating the risk of redundancy for disabled people.

Business disability global debates: Disability in tomorrow’s world
The virus forced us to think globally but to live locally. Will this continue and what will this mean for global brands? From the energy sector and manufacturing to airlines and the travel industry, might there be some unexpected benefits that emerge from the drastic and sudden effects of a worldwide lockdown?

It’s likely that a global recession is ahead and while the UN Sustainable Development Goals are built on the principle that no one should be left behind, it has been the case that disabled people are more severely impacted by recessions than almost any other group.

Join us as we discuss what can we do to prevent that happening this time and to ensure that as the world moves forward out of lockdown disabled people are not left behind.

Mental health and wellbeing
We welcome back Dr. Wolfgang Seidl – who gave an insightful and very popular talk at our Scottish Conference in January – to discuss how the pandemic and lockdown has affected our mental health and wellbeing.

According to The Lancet by late April 2020, mental health in the UK had deteriorated compared with pre-COVID-19 trends.

Has the pandemic forced us to concentrate on what is really important? What can employers do help support the mental health and wellbeing of colleagues and what can we all do to support each other to ensure that we emerge into a kinder more empathetic post-pandemic world?

Join us as Wolfgang and our panel debate some of the positives and negatives this period has brought and how we can all work together to build a better, mentally healthier world.

Be sure to take a look at the page regularly as we update with the latest line-up of speakers and panellists.

Just fill in the event registration form below to book your place at our virtual event of the year.

Meet our speakers

Allan MacKillop smiling
Allan MacKillop

Disability Lead for Workforce Strategy at BBC

Aline Santos
Aline Santos

Global Executive Vice President and Chief Global Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Unilever

Alison Dalton
Alison Dalton

Accessibility Manager at British Airways

Bela Gor
Bela Gor

Head of Content, Legal and Campaigns at Business Disability Forum

Beth Hartley
Beth Hartley

Commercial Strategy Manager at Sainsbury’s and Chair of EnAble, Sainsbury's Disability Network

Brendan Roach
Brendan Roach

Global Taskforce and Partner Development Manager at Business Disability Forum

Caroline Casey Photo: Jack Caffrey
Caroline Casey

Founder and Creator of The Valuable 500 

David Brindle
David Brindle

Public Services Editor at The Guardian

Debra Ruh smiling
Debra Ruh

CEO of Ruh Global Impact and Co-Founder at AXSChat

Diane Lightfoot smiling
Diane Lightfoot

CEO of Business Disability Forum

Don Biswas
Don Biswas


Hector Minto smiling
Hector Minto

Accessibility Evangelist at Microsoft

Joanna Wootten
Joanna Wootten

Age and Disability Expert

Lord Shinkwin
Lord Kevin Shinkwin

Life Peer

Liam Pooley side profile
Liam Pooley

Advice Service Manager at Business Disability Forum

Lucy Ruck photo
Lucy Ruck

Taskforce Manager at Business Disability Forum

An image of Lyn Lee
Lyn Lee

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Shell

Neil Milliken
Neil Milliken

Global Head of Accessibility at Atos

Phil Friend leading a discussion with RBS employees at the Scottish Conference
Phil Friend

 Professional Adviser 

Poppy Jaman
Poppy Jaman

CEO of City Mental Health Alliance 

Image of Rick Williams
Rick Williams

CEO of Freeney Williams Ltd

Ruth Fisher
Ruth Fisher

Learning and Development Manager at Business Disability Forum

Simon Minty holding a mic
Simon Minty

Director of Sminty

Trudie Hills
Trudie Hills

Customer Disability Manager at Lloyds Banking Group

Wendy Irwin
Wendy Irwin

Head of Equality and Diversity at the Royal College of Nursing

Dr Wolfgang Seidl
Dr Wolfgang Seidl

Partner and Workplace Health Consulting Leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits

Event Registration

* denotes mandatory field

Upcoming Events

People talking
September 30, 2020

Northern England Network

Our next Northern England Network meeting will be hosted via Zoom webinars on Wednesday 30 September 2020 from 10:00am -11:30am This meeting will be an opportunity for our Northern England Network members to share current concerns and support each other in these changing times. As discussed on our last call, we would like to share […]

10:00 am - 11:30 am
Two delegates talking at an event
October 21, 2020

Employment Taskforce

The Employment Taskforce sponsored by Microlink brings together Business Disability Forum members and partners to discuss the key issues in relation to the attraction, recruitment and retention of disabled people. The Taskforce has focused on a number of employment-related issues in the last 18 months including;   Access to Work Inclusive recruitment practises Workplace adjustments Disability passports or […]

10:00 am - 11:30 am
Delegates at a Technology Taskforce event
October 28, 2020

HEI University Network

Online event We are pleased to announce that Business Disability Forum will be hosting our next HEI University Network, open to Business Disability Forum Member and Partner organisations. The HEI Network will discuss a range of issues from getting disability inclusion right for employees to ensuring that services are inclusive and accessible for disabled students. […]

10:00 am - 11:30 am
Image of a man in a wheelchair shaking hands
November 4, 2020

Customer Taskforce

Hosted by Business Disability Forum Our next Customer Taskforce meeting will be held on Wednesday 4 November 2020 from 10am to 11:30am via Zoom webinars. This meeting will be an opportunity for our Customer Taskforce members to share current concerns and support each other in these challenging times. Please click here to register your place. […]

10:00 am - 11:30 am
Cashier and female customer in conversation
December 3, 2020

We want to hear your disability smart stories!

2020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year. Coronavirus swept through almost every country, affecting many lives. But amidst all this, there have been some positives and breakthroughs, as people who may have experienced marginalisation are finding that their voices are slowly being heard. And this is what we want to capture as the year draws […]


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