Here 7 Tips for Disabled People Looking for Employment. On average, around 50% of disabled adults with disabilities are unemployed around Europe. It is no wonder then that finding a job as a disabled person is very stressful and time consuming; as they have to face the fear of discrimination alongside other normal interview nerves everyone feels. However, whatever your physical or learning disability may be, under the 2010 Equality Act employees and jobseekers are protected against discrimination in order to ensure that you have equality, fairness, respect and understanding either at your place of work or during the recruitment process.
The UK government is actively trying to make sure more and more disabled people are getting into employment, as this is beneficial to both the employers and the employees! This blog’s aim is to try and help prepare any disabled adult looking for work to be the best they can be in their interview with a few simple steps:
1. Preparation is key
Research the company as much as you can do before the interview. One tip is to go onto the company’s website and read the ‘About/About Us’ section to gain a quick insight into the history of the company and what the company values are. Employers are always looking for individuals to fit into their work culture, so once you know what that is, answers can be prepared in order to fit that template!
If you have trouble reading, it might also be worth looking up the company on YouTube for any promotional videos they may have released that would also give a quick insight into the company values and culture.
2. Know your CV
Similarly to researching the company beforehand, it is always good to know what exactly is written down on your CV, especially if you have had help writing it. Have a quick read through and come up with examples for each point on your CV that an employer may ask you; for example, if they ask: “Tell me more about your role at *insert previous job here*”, make sure you know what you’re going to say beforehand so that the question doesn’t catch you off guard.
It will be useful to prepare answers on your CV beforehand and then get a friend or family member to look over your CV and ask you questions about it so that you can practice before having your interview!
3. Confidence goes a long way
The key to any interview is confidence! If you go into an interview oozing confidence, charm and optimism, then you’re more likely to make a good, lasting impression. Although, be careful not to be too confident as that can sometimes come across as arrogant and rude! There is a fine line, and if you’re not too sure, ask your friends and family for their opinion. The most important thing is to let your personality shine through and be yourself.
4. Your disability
If you don’t want to, try not to focus too much on your disability. If you have a hidden disability that may not be immediately obvious to employers, then it might be worth bringing it up at an appropriate time in the interview (such as when they ask if you have any questions or if you have anything else you want to talk about). If you don’t want to bring it up though, then do not feel obliged to if you don’t think it is necessary.
If your disability is more on the ‘obvious’ side then you may want to shift your focus elsewhere, which is absolutely fine. Your interviewer may have some specific questions about how your disability will fit into your role, which is also fine as they are probably trying to work out how to put adjustments in place for you should you get the job. An important point is that – if you feel comfortable – try to answer as many questions about your disability as you can as this will show that you are willing to cooperate with your employer to make your position as a disabled in their employment easier. However, it is important to remember that you are not obligated to answer any questions you don’t think are necessary or appropriate. If there are any questions you don’t want to answer, it’s important to stay calm and friendly while stating that you don’t feel comfortable answering the question due to X,Y, Z reasons. The interviewer may not know that they are making you uncomfortable, so it is important to let them know gently but clearly.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself
This comes hand in hand with the ‘Preparation is key’ section – it is always good to have some questions lined up at the end of your interview. This shows that you have been engaged and listening to what the employer has been talking about, and also shows a keen interest in the job you’re applying for – something all employers are looking for in an employee!
Try to get some questions ready in your head while the interviewer is talking, such as if you’re unfamiliar with a certain term they use, be sure to ask what it means etc. Some questions to have ready up your sleeve may be:
“What is the company culture like here?”
“What does the path of progression look like?”
“How many people will I be working with?”
“What would you like from me, an employee?”
6. Know the location beforehand
This point may seem like a simple one, but is also very important. It is good to work out where the interview is, what accessibility is like and how long it will take you to get there and plan well in advance, particularly if you have a physical disability. Does it have accessible parking? Accessible toilets? Is there a step free access/a hearing loop/are guide dogs welcome? All of these points are important to find out beforehand to ensure you don’t have a stressful time before the interview has even started! If your employer knows you have a disability, they should supply you with all of this information, but if they don’t know about your disability or have just forgotten, then do not be afraid to reach out to your contact and ask them directly. This will show initiative and independence, so do not be embarrassed about reaching out.
I always recommend getting to the location 15-30 minutes before your interview is scheduled to start, just in case there are any problems on the way there. Even if you’re a little early, once you’ve worked out where the interview is you can go to a coffee shop and have a quick drink to pass the time. This also gives you a good chance to go over any notes you may have made in preparation for the interview.
It’s good to cover this part, as, on average, there are over 200 applicants that apply for a single role, and only 20% of them make it through to the interview stage. There are also around 5 other people interviewing at the same time for the same role, so sometimes you will get rejected from a role you were hoping to get. This does not mean you aren’t good enough for the role, but it may be something as simple as perhaps the person who did get the job lives 10 minutes closer or has slightly different work experience that may suit the role better. It is important to not be put off from applying to jobs if you do get rejected from a role, and what is even better is getting in contact with the interviewer and asking them for some constructive feedback as this will help you in the future!
Here some helpful job websites that are specifically designed for disabled adults looking for work:
Blind in Business provides a range of services to both undergraduates/graduates and employers to ease the transition between education and employment for visually impaired individuals. BIB works through the whole application process, from supplying recruitment materials and vacancy information in a range of formats, to providing specialist seminars and advice. All the services are free and available to any visually-impaired young person looking for work.
Disability Action’s Employment and Training Service offers information and support for people with disabilities, to help them find and stay in work or vocational training. They also provide disability and diversity awareness training to employers, organisations, businesses and other interested agencies.
Also, some helpful websites might be Gov.co.uk that has details of the ‘two ticks’ scheme, meaning that employers who are involved with this scheme guarantee an interview to all disabled applicants so long as you reach the minimum criteria for the job. Similarly, have a look at the European Disability Forum; a website to research your full European Disability Rights, that has some great job listings there too!
Article written by Rosie Sanderson.
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
Life in a wheelchair is always an extremely difficult thing to come to terms with, both practically and mentally. People may become wheelchair users for all kinds of reasons: an accident, a long-term medical condition, a sudden illness. For everyone this happens to, the sudden and dramatic change in way of life can cause severe feelings of depression, anger and grief. This is a normal reaction: practically everyone who becomes disabled experiences this, but most of those people eventually come to terms with their loss and move forward, rediscovering and reinventing their lives, relationships and happiness. In this blogpost, we look at what wheelchair users from all different walks of life have to say about their own experiences, and what advice they would give to others who are adjusting to life in a wheelchair.
A Positive Attitude
First and foremost, the most important thing to hold on to as part of life in a wheelchair is a positive attitude. Many wheelchairs users stress the importance of a positive attitude as being key to overcoming the challenges in their daily lives. Virali Modi, writer, blogger, and the runner up of Miss Wheelchair India 2014, became a wheelchair user after contracting malaria at the age of 14. In an article for Slate, she writes:
“More than anything, I do believe that living life in a wheelchair is difficult but not impossible. A positive attitude and a smile through tough situations is needed and definitely encouraged. I believe that a handicapped or disabled person is not disabled or handicapped. Disabled or handicapped are sociopaths, psychopaths, murders, rapists, and/or people who lack sympathy, empathy, courage, love, sensitivity, and passion.”
Virali Modi – Image courtesy of Quora
The superb website Wheelchair LIFE, created and maintained by a wheelchair user, provides a comprehensive, free guide to many aspects of life in a wheelchair, from advice for the newly injured to tips for wheelchair veterans. The most important section on it, according to the writer himself, is his fantastic essay on positive attitude and its importance, which begins with this paragraph:
“The importance of a positive attitude – and its corresponding results – cannot be overstated. This section is first because taking control of your attitude is the most important thing you can do. Attitude is only thing over which we have total control. We can choose to have a negative attitude or we can choose to have a positive attitude. We can choose to look at the bright side, or we can choose to look at negatives.”
You can read the rest of his essay here – it really drives home the critical importance of attitude for any newly disabled people out there.
Choosing and using a wheelchair
Of course, a central part of life in a wheelchair is using your actual wheelchair. Before you start using one, you need to select a wheelchair which is suited to your own needs and capabilities. Wheelchairs come in many different forms, shapes and sizes: manual, power; rigid, folding; solid back, sling back and so on. In fact, you might use a different wheelchair for different situations: one for everyday use; one for playing sports; one for outdoor adventures. Wheelchair professionals and doctors can help you identify your various needs, and come up with specific types of wheelchairs and accessories to meet those needs.
Penn Woodling, a 46-year old from Bedfordshire, was injured at the age of 17 after diving into an outdoor swimming pool and hitting his head at the bottom of the pool. He was later discovered to have broken his neck at the C5 level and told he would likely spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Nowadays he lives in Devon, and in between his hobbies of angling and amateur radio, he maintains his excellent website, Tetraplegic Living. The website contains many useful tips and assorted personal stories from his life in a wheelchair, from dietary advice to a guide on disabled driving. In this post he gives an account of his wheelchair history: the various electric wheelchairs he chose, their benefits, and drawbacks. It should give you a good idea of what kind of considerations to take into account when choosing a wheelchair, such as seating, reclining capabilities, manoeuvrability, leg support, and what kind of terrain it can handle.
After you’ve selected a wheelchair that suits your needs, you will need to learn to use it well. Of course, you will be taught how to do so as part of the rehabilitation process, but there are many additional skills and tricks you can learn which will enable you to lead a more independent life in a wheelchair. The charity Back Up aims to help those who have suffered spinal cord injuries, and offer courses to teach wheelchair skills to users, which you can find more about here.
Pete Donnelly, who has been a wheelchair user since the age of 19 after a motorcycling accident, works as a wheelchair skills adviser for Back Up. He has a video on the BBC News website where he demonstrates many of these skills, such as proper pushing technique, floor to chair transfer, and back wheel balancing (a very useful technique for going over obstacles such as curbs and steps). You can watch the video by clicking here.
Building healthy relationships
Another aspect of life in a wheelchair that users often emphasise is the social element. Family and friends will play a large part in your recovery, and are key to your everyday well being. Chris Malcolm, founder of the iPush foundation, became a C7 quadriplegic as a result of a car accident. In this article, he recounts the importance of his social network in adjusting to life in a wheelchair:
“‘I can honestly say that I was surrounded the best family and friends that anyone could have asked for. I was lucky that nothing really changed with my friendships. The people that were, and are, my good close friends remain my good close friends and the people that were just acquaintances remain acquaintances.’
Chris’ advice to the newly injured is simple—surround yourself with the people that are always helping you and visiting you when you’re in the hospital.”
Chris and his daughter – Image courtesy of abilities.com
Chris’ disability has not stopped him from having a love life or family either: he met his wife Andee after the accident at a friend’s house, and now has a young daughter. He recounts how a month before he asked his wife to marry him, he went on a date with her, and was initially disappointed that she did not say anything about his new chair. When he asked her why, she responded: “I don’t think about you being in a wheelchair, so I didn’t notice.” Similarly, the aforementioned writer of WheelchairLife advises: “if, in your relationships, you don’t dwell on the fact that you’re in a wheelchair, it can become a non-issue. If you expect people to treat you the same way they would treat anyone else, and you act accordingly, the stigma goes away.” You can read his analysis of romantic and social dynamics here.
If you’re interested in reading more relationship advice from wheelchair users, Wheel:Life, an online community for wheelchair users, has published an ebook “Reconnecting: Relationship Advice from Wheelchair Users”, available on Amazon. The book contains stories and advice from users as they share their perspective on the social aspect of life in a wheelchair: friends, family and relationships.
What we do at Seable for wheelchair users
Life in a wheelchair will obviously be hugely different from whatever life you had before. However, different does not mean bad. Being disabled will inevitably bring new and difficult challenges, but you should not let that stop you from living a fulfilling life. As the writer of WheelchairLife writes: “Life doesn’t end because you’re in a wheelchair…it just changes”.
We apply that philosophy to just one more aspect of life in a wheelchair: holidaying. Holidays don’t have to end because you’re in a wheelchair, they just change. At Seable we offer a range of holiday packages for wheelchair users. To find out more about them and register your interest, click here, or get in touch with us here.
“If you are disabled and want to make films, they want to know about you, so please get in touch… 104 Films is fast becoming the world leader in disability cinema and it is very exciting to be a part of this technonic shift in disability cinema. You can be part of it too – just connect with us on Twitter @104films.com and @funwithcaravans, or visit 104 Films website. If anyone has any questions, also feel free to find me on twitter @prouddavid and I can tell you more.” –
We are grateful for the opportunity to have met with some really inspirational professionals last week, that are working to achieve the same goal as Seable. This goal is to provide help for disabled people and wheelchair users, so they can enjoy a more active lifestyle. (more…)
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