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Disability in Hong Kong: Definition, Laws, Employment and Social Status

Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | July 13, 2021 (Last update: September 25, 2021)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website:

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the Republic of China. Therefore, despite being a part of China, this region has got its own executive, legislative and judiciary powers. We have already discussed about disability in China. Let us see how much this autonomous region is different or similar to mainland China for the People with Disabilities.

Disability Definition in Hong Kong

The definition of Disability in Hong Kong is quite complex as compared to China. Disability in Hong Kong means –

  • total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions
  • total or partial loss of a part of the person’s body
  • the presence of organisms in the body causing disease or illness
  • the presence of organisms in the body capable of causing disease or illness
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behavior, and includes a disability that –
    1. presently exists
    2. previously existed but no longer exists
    3. may exist in the future; or
    4. is imputed to a person

Laws and Legislation Regarding Disability in Hong Kong

Hong Kong set up its Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) in 1996. And, subsequently passed legislation, called Disability Discrimination Ordinance, to prevent any discrimination against persons with disabilities.

Disability Discrimination Ordinance

The ordinance makes it illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability or someone related to a person with a disability on the ground of disability. According to the ordinance, no one should discriminate on the basis of disability, in matters related to –

  • Employment
  • Accommodation
  • Education
  • Access to partnership or membership of a trade union or club
  • Access to premises, educational establishment, sporting activities
  • Provision of goods, services and facilities

The ordinance also provides provisions against harassment and vilification of persons with disabilities and someone associated with them.

Support Available for Persons with Disabilities in Hong Kong

Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC)

EOC provides information on the specifics of the legislation. The aim of the commission is to ensure the full and active participation of people with disabilities in all areas of society in Hong Kong. It offers legal assistance to the person who may need it, handles complaints regarding discrimination and also provides training and consultancy services to companies and organizations for ensuring equal opportunities for all.

Social Welfare Department (SWD)

SWD has the responsibility to implement government policies regarding social issues. It provides services like rehabilitation for persons with disabilities including persons with physical disabilities as well as persons with mental disabilities. They support specialized child care centers and activity centers for kids with disabilities. And, support young persons with disabilities by providing on-job training facilities for employment.

Various non-government organizations working for people with disabilities are supported by the department.

Employment for Persons with Disabilities in Hong Kong

Unlike many countries, Hong Kong does not have any reservation or quota system for the employment of persons with disabilities.

But, employers are obligated to follow a no-discrimination policy for their employees with disabilities. Disabled employees must have equal access to premises and facilities. Employers are required to adapt hours and facilities for their disabled employees to work for them. Labour Department, the government body responsible for providing placement service, has a Selective Placement Division dedicated to persons with disabilities. It caters to the need of disabled individuals looking for a job.

Social Status of Persons with Disabilities in Hong Kong

Income inequality is a serious problem in Hong Kong. Obviously, people with disabilities are on the disadvantaged side. According to Hong Kong’s 2013 poverty situation report on disability, 7.4% of the population has one or more disabilities and only 39.1% were economically active. The percentage of persons with disabilities in the government sector is very low. The percentage of civil servants with one or more types of disabilities has never ever touched the 3% mark since 1981.

Hong Kong is a significantly accessible place with the majority of public buses adapted for persons with disabilities and almost every railway station with barrier-free access. The accessibility is said to have been achieved for boosting tourism which is one of the major pillars of the economy of Hong Kong.

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