Rebecca Herbert: Getting around South London as a wheelchair user

Disabled workers have been forced to stop working due to a disability or health condition.

Research from disability charity, Leonard Cheshire, found employers were less likely to employ someone because they were disabled with 60 per cent concerned that a disabled person wouldn’t be able to do the job.

Rebecca Herbert

Thirty per cent of the disabled people who applied for a job in the last five years said they felt like the employer had not taken them seriously as a candidate.

Similarly, during the recruitment process, just 20 per cent of these disabled applicants were made aware of workplace adjustments that could be made to support their disability, such as assistive technology or flexible working.

Yvonne, from London, was forced to give up work after not receiving any support for her disability.

She said: “My line manager didn’t help me at all and I became isolated due to my disability. I was made to feel worthless.”

The Equality Act 2010 makes it against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of a disability.

An employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid you being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace.

An employer who’s recruiting staff may make limited enquiries about your health or disability when related to the job.

Jane Hatton runs Evenbreak, a not-for-profit job board which helps disabled people find work.

Here are her top tips for finding work:

1. Identify your strengths
Think about all the skills, strengths, experience, knowledge, qualities and personality traits you have that would be attractive to an employer.

2. How can you use those strengths?
Think about how you could use those strengths if you had the right reasonable adjustments. What jobs could you do with your skill set and experience? There may be a number of different types of job you could apply for in different sectors.

3. Gaining confidence
It’s important for you to have confidence in your skills and abilities, because if you don’t, why would a potential employer?

4. Searching for jobs
Employers advertise their roles in a number of different places, such as, newspapers and recruitment agencies. You also need to look in specific disability media.

5. Be pro-active
It’s often worth approaching organisations you would like to work for and sending in a speculative CV. Then follow-up, once a month or so with a quick email or telephone call to see if anything suitable has come up.

Jane Hatton runs Evenbreak

6. Use social media
Have a good profile on LinkedIn showcasing your skills and experience. Many recruiters now are looking for candidates rather than advertising their jobs, and if you aren’t there, they can’t find you!

7. Emphasise your strengths
When writing CVs or application forms, focus on the strengths you have that mean you could do the job well.

They are looking for the best candidate, and you need them to realise that is you! It may not be necessary to mention your impairment on your CV especially if it doesn’t affect your work performance.

However, if they are looking for someone with a specific impairment or if they offer guaranteed interviews to disabled people, it may be worth mentioning.

8. Attending interviews
Take lots of examples with you about why you are the best person and make sure they know you have all the skills and qualities they are seeking for this job.

9. Discussing disability
This will vary depending on the role, the impairment, and the attitude of the employer. It could well be that being disabled is a positive as you will have learned extra skills.

In order to navigate our way around a world not designed for us, we constantly have to develop skills like problem-solving, overcoming obstacles, creative thinking, innovation, persistence and determination. Or you may use assistive technology that makes you faster and more accurate than your colleagues. These can be attractive qualities to an employer.

10. Allaying their fears
Access to Work will provide you with a letter to a potential employer, detailing what reasonable adjustments you might need (if any), and explaining how they might pay some or all of the costs. This can reassure employers that you won’t need them to spend lots of money on you.

An Access to Work grant can pay for special equipment, adaptations or support worker services and help getting to and from work.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Even the smallest of changes can make a dramatic difference in helping a disabled person achieve their full potential at work.”

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