To want to highlight the difficulties for people with disabilities getting into work?

(27 Posts)
wannaBe Fri 19-Feb-16 15:02:21

I have been actively looking for work for the past four years - and seriously looking for the past three. In that time I have also done a diploma in life coaching and so have been pursuing trying to set up my own business in order to make a living.

In a previous life I have worked as a secretary, a customer adviser and a finance manager, but I gave up work to become a sahm when DS was born.

I am VI, and as such the scope of jobs I can apply for is limited. I can't e.g. Just apply for a job in Tesco's or a bar job or the like because these kinds of jobs aren't accessible. And given I live in the London area applying for e.g. Admin jobs means that you are likely going to come up against 150 applicants and therefore the likelihood of even getting an interview is remote.

Personally, I have never felt that I am being discriminated against due to my disability. But due to my disability there are so much less jobs that I can apply for that I am already at a disadvantage. In addition to this, any temporary work is out of the question, because access to work won't fund any kind of adaptation required for someone to be in a temporary job, or a volunteer role.

Currently the government are taking direct action to get disabled people off of benefits and back into work. ESA is being cut for many people out of work, however the issue arises in that there is no actual support for people with disabilities to find work. Disability employment officers in job centres have been cut by 60%, so the job centres aren't seen as an example of helping the disabled into work. There are some programmes run by the various disability organisations but these are mostly voluntary and have no funding at all. I actually saw a job coach through Action for Blind people. She told me that my applications were perfect, that my interview skills were good, and that it was just a matter of looking and keep looking. That's not helpful when looking yields few results and applications never result in feedback unless you get an interview. And even the interviews I've been to the feedback has been fairly generic and nothing constructive.

A recent survey revealed that nine out of ten employers said they wouldn't employ someone with a visual impairment. Obviously that result is subjective depending on who they surveyed. 100 office based employers would be very disheartening, but 100 hair dressers or taxi companies might be a bit more understandable. wink.

I don't actually feel that I am unemployable. I've had good jobs and obtained promotions etc before, and a VI is just that really and not insurmountable. However I am finding it very disheartening applying for job after job and either never getting feedback or just getting generic "sorry you haven't been successful," rejections. And I also realise that this is very much indicative of the job market in general, and that you don't have to have a disability to be on the receiving end of unemployment fatigue/frustration.

But there are many out there who are far less fortunate than me, and whose disabilities may make it more difficult for them to get into work, and yet there is an increasing pressure for them to do so, under the backdrop of employers who are reluctant to take on an employee with a disability, and a system which, while is striving for the disabled to be in work, is not actually supportive of the effort it takes to get them there.

PS: apologies for typo's, am on phone...

alphabettyspaghetty Fri 19-Feb-16 15:16:45

I'm finding the exact same problem. I've developed a disability and use a walking stick and am currently in work. I've been looking for a new job but every single interview I've been into I've had the feedback that I don't suit the company image. On paper I'm more than qualified for that role. Even recruitment agents are scratching their heads. It's inherent bias and it's starting to frustrate me.

wannaBe Fri 19-Feb-16 15:22:35

shock at "don't suit the company image. that is blatant discrimination and in an ideal world should be challenged. but in reality is almost impossible. flowers.

velourvoyageur Fri 19-Feb-16 15:31:28

Interesting read OP and although I agree that you're certainly not unemployable (!!) I still sympathise with how frustrating it must be.
I do think it's strange that 90% admitted to that though - was it Yougov or something very anonymous? I thought that sort of thing was totally illegal and closely monitored. I'm probably being v. naive.

I'm not at all sure we're really taught to have the right attitude towards disability. In fact it could be a lot better done. Representation of disability is often too othering.

I have a friend who has been completely blind from birth (sorry, I hope it's ok to use the word blind? he does). He goes out clubbing every weekend (i.e. good social skills), is very very independent and reads a fuckload, he would be a great asset to a workforce, but has still faced prejudice.

best of luck for the future & hope you find something great soon.

wannaBe Fri 19-Feb-16 15:40:16

No it was a survey conducted by RLSB (Royal London society of blind people). I think the fact that they were prepared to admit to it was quite shocking. Although presumably as the survey would have been conducted anonymously they could admit their prejudices safe in the knowledge that they would never be exposed.

It would be interesting to see what a similar survey surrounding other disabilities would reveal.

IMO a lot of prejudice is born out of ignorance, and if I'm honest, the fact that it's now illegal to ask about disability during an interview for instance doesn't help, although I always offer the information anyway. but for some employers they can be left wondering how someone will do a job with e.g. Computers involved when they don't understand, and be afraid to ask.

Similarly though there are still accessibility issues. A friend of mine was recently offered a job at a large organisation, and when access to work assessed their systems they proved impossible to adapt in order for her to be able to do the job. So after six months the job offer was withdrawn.

BeyondBootcampsAgain Fri 19-Feb-16 15:50:07

The job i worked in before is in an office up a flight of four steps. While i was working there, i was tasked to price up a ramp for wheelchair access (i worked in recruitment, the public need to be able to get in the office). It was deemed to expensive to be worth it.

I now use a wheelchair, so couldnt do that job anymore.

BeyondBootcampsAgain Fri 19-Feb-16 15:50:45

*too expensive!

sharperpens Fri 19-Feb-16 15:58:25

I agree with your point about the lack of support for people with disabilities to find work. I do feel there has been discrimination in my case though. I have MH issues and most forms of work are inaccessible to me, because my condition is severe and variable, so I can't even inform employers in advance when I'm not going to be able to come in to work, and some of the behaviours that I have due to my condition is not appropriate to any workplace.

I have had a nightmare trying to sort out getting PIP and ESA (although thanks to local advocates, am now getting the highest rates and in the support group so not expected to do work related activity now).

wannaBe Fri 19-Feb-16 16:18:59

sharperpens oh discrimination definitely does exist. Glad that you have been able to finally get the support to recognise that you cannot do any work-related activity, but sorry that it's been such a difficult process.

If I ruled the world, the situation would be that those who are capable of work would be assisted to find work. It's all very well telling someone you're cutting their ESA and they now have to find a job, but it's just not that simple is it. And those who were unable to work wouldn't have consistent pressure to get back into work. Obviously there does have to be an assessment for capability but beyond that there should be acceptance that some would find it impossible.

I want to work, am able to, but find it impossible to find work atm. beyond shock that your now being in a wheelchair means you would be unable to do a job which you previously did, all due to access being deemed too expensive. Did you work for them at the time? The idea that an employer would consider it too expensive to keep someone on due to them ending up in a wheelchair is horrendous. Although one would hope that access to work would have assisted in that instance.

enterthedragon Fri 19-Feb-16 17:59:36

You are not being unreasonable to highlight this, I spent 2 months trying to get a work experience placement for my DS and the responses I got were shocking.

A couple of years ago I was told that 85% of adults with ASD were not in employment.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Fri 19-Feb-16 18:19:44

WannaBe that must be so frustrating. I'm shocked at the levels of prejudice against people with a visual impairment.

SharperPens do you think an employer would/should be able to accommodate high and unpredictable levels of absence? Or are you talking about another form of discrimination?

redexpat Fri 19-Feb-16 18:53:39

I am training as a SW in Danmark and was employed by a fellow student with VI as her study assistant or whatever you call them (we're not in the same class anymore). The rudeness of staff at college, on public transport, the sarcastic unhelpful replies when she asks for help, the lecturers who refuse to change their pp presentations to plain black and white so she can see the damn things and you know, actually follow the teaching like the rest of the bitches students was simply unbe-fucking-lievable. Having said that, the system is veryvery generous and she is entitled to lots of study support and one on one with tutors. Honestly the behaviour of future sws has just been disgusting.

goldierocks Fri 19-Feb-16 18:56:03

Hello OP

I work for a well-known company. I'm not in HR, but I am on the interview panel for a number of different departments.

The number of applicants for each role is huge....200+. At the time people are invited for interview, I wouldn't know if they had a disability. Some people do put this info on their CV and for my firm it makes no difference, but it probably does to some (wrongly).

If the interviewee has a requirement (step-free access etc) then we have a department who makes sure we (the panel) get an appropriate room.

It doesn't matter at all to me what disibility a person has, I'll nominate a candidate based on their interview performance and how I think their personality will fit into their future team. I've seen dozens of wonderful people who would not be the right 'fit'. I can't discriminate 'positively' in favour of a disabled candidate if someone else has a better interview score.

My firm are excellent on sorting out 'reasonable adjustments' too. One chap in my department has software that reads emails/web pages and he operates his PC by voice. He also has a different monitor and custom lighting (he is sight-impared).

We have a high proportion of wheelchair users too. I'm also disabled (mobility and chronic conditions) - I've had loads of adjustments made for me. Just trying to highlight that I'm not a special case in my company, there are loads of 'us' (visible disibilities).

I wanted to let you know there are some decent companies out there. It's ironic that we cannot officially advertise as a 'disibility friendly' company because ALL companies should be the same.

Good luck flowers

Littleallovertheshop Fri 19-Feb-16 19:12:58

Please look into the access to work scheme run by the DWP

murasaki Fri 19-Feb-16 19:20:59

being Public Sector, we have a 'two tick' policy, so have to interview anyone who meets the essential criteria and has disclosed a disability (we don't get to see that bit of the application) but HR ask us to justify not seeing certain candidates if we haven't shortlisted them, If we have, we aren't told they have a disability)

Sort of works, except you end up seeing more people than you want to if you have to shoe horn some extra ones into the list. Ah well, it's a positive policy, I think, if a bit impractical.

Maiyakat Fri 19-Feb-16 19:21:17

My employer (NHS) has a clause that anyone who applies and meets the job specification who has a disability will be offered an interview. I suspect this is the same in a lot of the public sector - not much help if they don't offer the kind of work you're looking for though!

Maiyakat Fri 19-Feb-16 19:22:21

X-post with murasaki!

VoldysGoneMouldy Fri 19-Feb-16 19:35:03

OP have you contacted your local adult SS? I'm VI as well and have been put in touch with someone who specializes exactly in getting VI individuals into suitable work, or into education.

Little Did you read the OP?

BeyondBootcampsAgain Sat 20-Feb-16 07:53:55

"nominate a candidate based on their interview performance and how I think their personality will fit into their future team"

And how well do you think that works with something like aspergers?

rusticmeadowwildflower Sat 20-Feb-16 08:00:02

It doesn't surprise me at all that so few with ASD work.

Bearsinmotion Sat 20-Feb-16 08:13:49

I remember having a conversation with DP about this. I have mobility issues, speech impediment and can't write (can use computers though). I'm lucky in that I wasn't disabled until after I graduated and work in a specialist field so never been out of work.

DP said that if he interviewed two people with the same qualifications he would employ the non disabled one, in case they needed more sick leave (despite the fact I've never had disability related sick leave!). I said I'd employ the disabled person as they have reached the same level as the non-disabled person, despite having more obstacles to deal with. I think I changed his mind!

It is depressing though, that despite having a disabled partner he still instinctively discriminated sad

Theendispie Sat 20-Feb-16 08:37:45

I worked in higher education forever and a day and that also had the guaranteed interview clause if a disability was declared and the candidate met the criteria.

When it came to aspergers loads of staff compared to out out of the ivory towers had some traits. I even read a research paper which I really wish I had catalogued about how there was a high suspected % of academics with aspergers or traits of aspergers.

I myself am very likely to have Mild ASD. I'm older and it just wasn't talked about when I was a child but have spent a lifetime of being called odd. I score really highly on online tests. Two of my much younger colleagues had declared their ASD, one was a bona fide genius.

Littleallovertheshop Sat 20-Feb-16 18:27:18

Yes, I did. Access to work can help with interviews, it's not just about once your in the role which was how I read the OP.

wannaBe Sun 21-Feb-16 07:47:20

No access to work certainly don't help with interviews, they may help with e.g access to interview testing, although certainly nothing to do with getting people into work.

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