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Gone are the days when you could walk out of one job in the morning and into another that same afternoon.Finding work is a lot tougher than it used to be, with more people applying for fewer positions. 

If you are disabled, the challenge can become even greater. Not necessarily because of the disability, but sometimes because of the assumption that a disabled applicant may not offer the same level of skills, knowledge, experience or commitment.


The disability tag is a very broad one, and can often put highly-skilled workers at an unfair disadvantage. Someone who is partially deaf may have lost some of their hearing ability but this doesn't impact on their 80wpm touch typing skills or their desire to be a committed and motivated member of a workforce.

A more extreme but inspirational example is BBC journalist and correspondent Frank Gardner OBE. Frank is often seen commenting on top stories in the BBC studio from his wheelchair or with the aid of his frame but he also occasionally reports from the field, in areas such as Afghanistan or Columbia, where even the most able-bodied person may struggle.


Disabled workers undergo the same level of training and education in their chosen field as their able-bodied colleagues. Some, like Frank, even aspire to excel in a bid prove their worth. But many are left frustrated as they continually fail to secure an interview, despite meeting all the criteria for a vacancy, simply because they have ticked the ‘disabled’ box on an application form. While it may be illegal to discriminate on the grounds of disability, some would argue that not all employers realise they may be doing just that, simply by not giving someone the chance.

Employers who fail to realise the benefits of employing disabled people may well be missing out on a wealth of talented workers, keen to join their workforce. Jobcentre Disability Employment Advisors (DEAs) will often point these very willing and able candidates towards 'positive' employers who are part of the goverment's two ticks scheme.

Employers who display the 'two ticks, positive about disabled people' symbol on adverts and application forms not only stand to benefit from a wider choice of skilled applicants; they are also sending a very positive message about themselves to clients, contacts and the wider community. The symbol is a public declaration of a commitment to recognise the abilities and potential of disabled people and of the value your organisation puts on making the most of its staff.

Companies involved in the scheme are offered continued advice and support from DEAs and programes such as Work Choice and Access to Work can assist with grants for specialist equipment and adaptations if and when they are needed. If you are not already reaping the benefits of the scheme then you may well be placing yourself at an unfair disadvantage.

Case study

Earlier this year Lisa, a fully qualified, award-winning journalist, found herself in a position where she struggled to find a job. “It was incredibly frustrating,” she said. “My experience and skills had led to me being headhunted in the past, so it was a bit of a shock to suddenly find myself unable to secure employment. Nothing had changed – that is except for my diagnosis with multiple sclerosis in 2008.

“At the time of my diagnosis I was the production editor for a large group of newspapers,overseeing 48 weekly deadlines across the south east of England. My MS wasn’t an issue or hindrance to me, or to my company and colleagues. I was still the same driven, ambitious person with all the same skills, experience and qualifications.

“I reduced my hours in 2011, when I found I was in a position financially to do so, which also helped me reduce my tiredness and stress and kept me as healthy, productive and dynamic as I’d ever been. My knowledge of media law and my experience and contacts proved vital to the effective running of that newsroom until the company changed hands and I was made redundant in December 2012.


"To be honest, that was the first point that I had ever begun to consider myself as ‘disabled’. I began to realise that perhaps potential employers viewed me that way. I could see no other reason why I was not even being invited for interviews for the same kind of roles I had successfully applied for in the past. If anything, I now had even more experience and knowledge than I had when I had previously looked for work.

"Fortunately my Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) put me in touch with a colleague at the Salvation Army who was involved with a Work Choice scheme. She immediately acknowledged my skills and strong desire to work and circulated my CV to 'positive' employers. A few days later I received a call from Jill Poet at ORB and was invited to attend an interview for the role of media manager. I’m delighted to say the interview was a success and I begun working at ORB in February.

“The Work Choice scheme has brought huge benefits to both myself and my employers. I am able to carry out most of my work from my own home during the hours when I am at my most productive. This not only ticks the environment box of reducing emissions by travel to work, ORB is also reaping the benefits of having a highly skilled, experienced and eager journalist on the team." 




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