Amelia Peckham, co-founder and CEO of Cool Crutches & Walking Sticks, knows all too well the difficulties of finding suitable and accessible employment.
Following her spinal cord injury, Amelia has become passionate about encouraging greater inclusivity in the workplace and has provided some valuable tips to help disabled people navigate the job-seeking process.
Research accessibility policies and initiatives
Before applying for a position, conduct research on which companies have inclusive accessibility policies and initiatives. Look for Disability Confident employers; a government-backed scheme that supports disabled employees to find suitable employment. Understanding a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion will help you make an informed decision about whether it’s the right fit for you.
Decide on what to share
It’s essential to be comfortable with the information you share about your disability during the interview process. You have the right to choose what you disclose and at what stage. Remember, your qualifications and skills should always be the focus, and you should never feel pressured to reveal personal information that you’re not comfortable with.
Timing of disclosure
While it’s crucial to be honest about your disability if it’s relevant to the role, you are not obligated to disclose it during the initial interview. You can wait until you’ve received an offer before discussing your needs and any necessary accommodations. This way, you can ensure that your abilities and qualifications are fully taken into account during the early stages of the application process.
Opt for in-person interviews
Although the ease of virtual interviews may be alluring, attending interviews in person can be beneficial for both you and the employer. It allows everyone involved to better understand the potential accommodations required. Plus, it allows you to personally assess the accessibility of the building or office and the suitability of your work environment.
Take the time to think about your potential commute to work. Make sure the physical commute or hybrid working arrangements align with your needs. If you’re uncertain, try a test run of the journey to understand its suitability. Or, depending on your level of mobility, perhaps consider if a fully remote role might be better suited to your needs.
Discussing accommodations after the offer
Once you’ve secured the job offer, this is an appropriate time to discuss any specific provisions you may need to perform your duties effectively. This could involve modifications to your workspace, flexible working hours, limiting in-person meeting time, or any other support that will assist you in thriving in your new role.
Seek assistance with applications
Don’t hesitate to seek help with applications and career guidance. The Access to Work programme can be a valuable resource, providing support and financial aid for disabled individuals seeking employment. Their expertise can help you navigate the job market successfully.