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How can disabled first-time jobseekers negotiate workplace adaptations?

It can be daunting for disabled professionals to outline their workplace requirements. But the law is on their side and employers are starting to realise the benefits of being inclusive

Disability Rights UK was quoted in this Guardian article (14 July 2013).

Having a degree is, in general, "hugely protective", says Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, but she is concerned about the employment difficulties faced by young disabled people who have not gone on to higher education.

However, some employers are starting to acknowledge ability without qualifications. As long as you can engage with Level 4 learning standards, you do not need academic certificates to apply for the Chartered Institute of Housing's Positive Action for Disability scheme. Since 2009, this has offered disabled people of all ages (although a high proportion have been in their 20s) a two-year placement within a housing association, with the opportunity to study for a housing qualification or postgraduate diploma. "It's a very careful selection process, but it's a traineeship, so it's about motivation and attitude," says scheme manager, Graham Findlay. "Trainees get specialist support throughout, including reasonable adjustments, and coaching and mentoring."

For young people wanting to work in a vocational sector, apprenticeships might seem the way forward, but there may be specific challenges relating to their disability that employers need help to resolve. In a newly launched pilot, Sayce says Disability Rights UK "has begun talking to disabled people, training providers and employers to understand what the barriers are to young people with disabilities taking up apprenticeships".

A Leeds programme is encouraging more deaf students to go to university

From this October, seven deaf students in Leeds will have the chance to receive one-to-one support to help them access higher education. The project – which will be launched by the charities Disability Rights UK and Deaf Unity, in association with the University of Bradford – aims to encourage more deaf students to go to university by putting them in contact with deaf undergraduates who can share their positive experiences.

The initiative will involve university staff demonstrating the resources available to deaf students, as well as a day of workshops and presentations. Project participants will also receive four one-to-one coaching sessions.

Sue Bott, director of policy and service at Disability Rights UK, says the project is part of the charity's focus on supporting disabled young people into training and employment.

"The idea is to work with a small number of deaf people who might be thinking of going to university. It's all about confidence building and making them aware of what support is available."

The Leeds project builds on Disability Rights UK's leadership and empowerment programme to develop the skills and potential of disabled people. Funded over three years by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and originally delivered by disability charity Radar (now part of Disability Rights UK), the programme has provided training for disabled people in areas such as public speaking, public appointments and networking, through a mix of one-to-one coaching, workshops and events. The leadership 'graduates' also receive follow-up telephone or internet coaching.

More than 60 disabled people have taken part in the project since it began in 2009, helping them to secure jobs, move into higher education or vocational training, or take up trustee positions. The programme also included a scheme for young people with mental health issues. Participant Charlotte Browne says the experience made her feel she could have a successful career while managing her condition: "After the training, I attended an interview for a youth-work apprenticeship and got the job."

A 2012 report into the programme concluded that participants "have emerged as leaders, who feel empowered to have their say about the services they receive in their workplaces and to stand up for equal treatment in their communities".

Alumni Abdi Gas, who is deaf, set up the charity Deaf Unity after taking part in the scheme and says the experience gave him the opportunity to meet successful disabled people who had overcome barriers to reach their potential.

"Meeting them and networking with other programme participants made me unlock talents I never thought I had," he said.

[copyright The Guardian]

To view the full article go to http://careers.guardian.co.uk/disabled-first-time-jobseekers-workplace-adaptations