The Assembly Commission has hired just four people with a registered disability out of 116 who applied for jobs in the past three years, it can be revealed.
Responsible for the overall running of the Assembly, it is the Commission's job to provide the property, staff and services required for the Assembly to carry out its work.
Figures provided to UUP MLA Andy Allen via a written Assembly question show that, over the past three years, 27 competitions for jobs were run by the Commission and a total of 1,665 applications were received.
Of these applications, 116 were from people with a registered disability. Only four of these applications were successful and the person was appointed.
Dermot Devlin, disability rights campaigner and head of My Way Access, said, unfortunately, the figures appear to confirm what he has been hearing on the ground over the years.
“Many disabled people are applying for various positions within the Assembly, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission for Northern Ireland,” he said.
"For years we have been advising and working on a voluntary basis, but we need to be involved in a non-voluntary capacity to get our voices heard in a more meaningful way.
“Sadly our real-life experience and the many years of voluntary experience are not factored into the equation.
“Disabled people bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and determination to influence Government to make society more inclusive.”
Mr Devlin said that, as a wider point, the employment rate for deaf and disabled people in NI is the lowest in the UK and the disability employment gap is the largest.
“The employment rate here for deaf and disabled people is 38.1%, compared to 80.3% for non-disabled people,” he said.
“This is an unacceptable, shameful gap of 42.2%. This is in stark contrast to other parts of these islands. In GB the employment rate is well above 50% and the employment gap 26 percentage points.”
Andy Allen added that, while he believes strongly that any position should be filled by the best-qualified candidate, every employer must ensure that they actively work to remove every possible barrier to employment faced by those with disabilities.
“The Northern Ireland Assembly must carry out an urgent review to ensure they are taking every possible step to guarantee that every position within the Assembly estate is fully accessible to those with the widest range of disabilities,” he said.
“I am aware that individuals are often less likely to apply for positions if they live with a disability, as they often fear that a place of employment may not meet their accessibility or personal needs. I welcome the progress made to date in improving this; however, there is much more we can do.”
The Assembly Commission said it is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to the principle that recruitment should be based solely on merit.
“The process for appointing employees is fair and applied consistently to ensure equality of opportunity to all, including those with a disability,” the Commission said.
“As part of this, the Assembly Commission’s recruitment and selection process includes a Guaranteed Interview Scheme, which is designed to assist applicants with a disability, who have demonstrated in their application form that they meet the essential criteria for the post, to be offered a guaranteed interview.
“The Assembly Commission provides reasonable adjustments in respect of applicants and employees who are disabled. This is with a view to ensuring that persons with disabilities are not disadvantaged and enjoy equality of opportunity in employment.”
According to a survey of all Assembly staff back in August of last year, 19.5% of respondents reported that they had a disability.