The Disability Confident Employer scheme is one of a number of Government initiatives designed to get more disabled people into work.
It was created to encourage organisations to recruit disabled people for their skills and talent, in order to help reduce the disability employment gap.
There are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK but nearly 80 per cent of them (around two million people) don’t have a job.
There is a large difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people, and this is known as the disability employment gap.
Jobs for one million disabled people by 2020
The Government wants to get over one million disabled people into work by 2020 to halve the gap.
And over 5000 employers including Recite Me have now signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to help achieve this.
I personally understand some of the challenges disabled people face because I am dyslexic. So I know first-hand about some of the barriers that exist for disabled people (e.g. inaccessible websites) based on my own life experience of living with dyslexia.
In fact, I found it so difficult to access information with the limited accessibility software that was available at the time that I created could-based web accessibility software Recite Me.
Reasonable adjustments for Digital Accessibility
To progress through the Disability Confident Employer scheme you will need to make reasonable adjustments for disabled job candidates or employees.
These reasonable adjustments are also required under the Equality Act 2010 and should include making sure that all of your digital services and information is accessible.
For example, you need to ensure that people with a range of disabilities can access content on your website like job adverts and person specifications, plus apply for jobs using accessible forms.
To achieve this, your website and all of your other digital communications should be designed using inclusive design. You should design web and digital content to W3C WCAG 2.0 level 1 guidelines, as a minimum.
Web and Digital Accessibility Software
You should also use some type of web accessibility software like Recite Me on your website.
Recite Me has a unique combination of features that can help a range of job applicants with different types of disabilities (sight loss, hearing loss, mobility, cognitive impairments).
For example, those with sight loss can use Recite Me to have the text on a website read-out aloud to them. The same goes for people with cognitive impairments like dyslexia, who can find it difficult to read large chunks of text.
Users can also use Recite Me to change the font sizes, and change the colour contrast between text and background. Again, both these features are especially handy for people with partial sight loss and cognitive impairments like dyslexia.
And you can also use digital accessibility software such as Include Me so that disabled employees or job candidates can access your other digital communications such as Microsoft Office documents or PDFs.
Don’t forget User testing
User testing is the final piece in the puzzle. When you’ve made sure your website and digital communications use inclusive design combined with accessibility software, test how they work for people with a range of disabilities.
User testing involves people with different types of disabilities trying to carry out a range of tasks on your website or digital communications (e.g. company apps). You can use outside providers to do this like AbilityNet, which is the UK’s leading charity on digital accessibility.
Or you can do your own user testing by asking your disabled employees to carry out tasks on your website or digital communications.
Once the testing is complete you can analyse the data and pass the findings back to your design team to make the necessary technical developments to eliminate any problems for disabled users.
Only then can you be sure you’ve made sure that disabled people can really access your website and apply for jobs with your organisation.
We’re supporting RIDI to get more disabled people into work
The Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) is a scheme to drive change in recruitment and remove the barriers faced by the millions of disabled people who are entering or progressing through the job market.
We truly believe in RIDI’s mission, which is why we’ve become a partner of the organisation and we’ve donated our Recite Me web accessibility software to the RIDI website.
Kate Headley, Chair of the RIDI Executive Committee, said: “If organisations want to become Disability Confident Employers they need to ensure that they make the necessary reasonable adjustments.
“This includes making sure that disabled people can access websites to find out about, and apply for jobs, just like non-disabled people can.
“It takes a bit of time and effort but achieving digital accessibility will help your organisation attract more disabled talent on your journey to becoming a Disability Confident Employer.”
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