Hidden Disabilities and the Workplace  

Many thanks to my colleague Kay Barbour for this blog post on disability and the workplace, which contains some interesting facts and figures plus practical and useful advice on disclosing disabilities to employers – Rebecca

The University’s Disability Service reports that 9.5% of the student body has indicated a disability – according to their UCAS code – for 2014-15. While numbers with ‘seen’ disabilities, such as mobility difficulties, increases only slightly year on year, big increases can be seen in ‘unseen’ disabilities: Specific Learning Difficulties and mental health problems in particular.

The Guardian has gone so far to say that mental health is a crisis in universities publishing articles detailing issues for students with hidden disabilities along with Disability sites discussing Uncovering Hidden Disabilities.

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) carries out an annual report exploring the destinations of disabled graduates. The 2015 report confirms that:

  • Disabled graduates continue to have lower rates of employment and higher rates of unemployment than their non-disabled peers, with graduates with social communication/Autistic Spectrum Disorders having the highest unemployment rates of all disability types.
  • A notable exception is graduates with specific learning disabilities whose full-time employment rates exceed those of disabled graduates overall, and almost match those of non-disabled graduates.

Students may want to think how to use their disability as a strength when it comes to job seeking and may find it useful to speak to a Careers Consultant to consider their career planning and future direction. The disability may have an impact or may not be part of the consideration. Students might be thinking about informing prospective employers about their disability and how best to present relevant skills and strengths through activities or experiences related to their disability.

Check out the Careers Service website for useful articles and discussion including:

Guide to ban on questions about health and disability which explains the types of questions that are not allowed at application and interview selection processes and situations when questions about health and disability are permitted.

Telling people you’re disabled: clear and easy guide for students gives the pros and cons on disclosure, when and how to disclose and giving applicants control of the process.

TargetJobs advice on disclosing disability gives some detail on finding disability friendly employers and advice on deciding whether to disclose your circumstances and how best to do it.

Helen Cooke, Director and Founder of the Great With Disability website, comments on so called ‘disclosure’ with How Much Is Too Much?  providing more guidance on what information to include when informing an employer about a disability.

And for first year students there is a unique, interactive careers event for students with disabilities and long-term health conditions. GO-Great Opportunities takes place on 24th June and is an opportunity to meet with, and find out about, employers including Barclays, Linklaters, GSK and JP Morgan. Free to attend with travel costs reimbursed. Applications open now!

Finally, every Friday, listen to Ouch, a lively and sometimes surprising podcast about disability and mental health. It features disabled BBC journalists who bring their personal circumstances to the table and go behind the headlines and social media conversation.

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