Support for students with disabilities
The Careers Service is committed to supporting students on the transition from their Imperial course onto the next step of their career, whatever it is. To enable us to do this we have close links with the Disability Advisory Service as well as other disability organisations and a wide range of disability inclusive employers.
See our range of careers advice & one to one appointments if you wish to discuss your career, the recruitment process, disclosure, reasonable adjustments, legal issues and other disability careers issues. If you book a Careers Discussion (online) and would prefer the appointment to take place as a text conversation via the Meeting Chat function on MS Teams, please state so in the notes when booking.
We run a number of disability-specific careers events and workshops, and advertise jobs and opportunities from diversity employers and other organisations specifically for students and graduates with a disability. Subscribe to the Careers Service 'Opportunity Update' (disability-related careers information) – to remain informed of these. Go to 'profile' and 'update profile' and then select the 'email preferences' tab in JobsLive to set this up.
Disability and adjustments
Disclosing a disability
Making your mind up about whether to disclose
Your decision of when to disclose may vary depending on the organisation and the job that you are applying for. Research both the employer and the job and think about how they relate to your personal circumstances.
Although not every employer will be an expert on the Equality Act 2010, which makes it unlawful to discriminate because of a mental or physical disability, or the Access to Work scheme, which can be used to fund adjustments at interview or in the workplace, it is certainly worth knowing some details about these and being prepared to inform employers about the available support and the legal implications.
What is most essential is that, no matter what you are applying for, ensure that you focus on your abilities and why you feel that you are the right person for the position.
When to disclose
The decision on when to disclose a disability can be complex. You must consider the nature of your disability as well as the job you are applying for.
During your CV & Application
Often application forms ask direct questions about health and disability giving you a clear opportunity to disclose. Often it will be stated that this information is for Equal Opportunity purposes.
Before or during the Interview
If you are going to need practical assistance for an interview e.g. mobility or a speech-to-text reporter, then it is important that you contact the employer beforehand. Legally employers are required to change the recruitment process so a candidate can be considered for a job. An example of this could be extra time for a psychometric test or setting an alternative assessment.
From an employer’s perspective, it is preferable if an interviewee discloses before the interview takes place. It will allow them to make the necessary arrangements if you are going to need practical assistance. During the interview, you should think about whether you may need to discuss reasonable adjustments and whether you wish to utilise Access to Work.
When in the job
Another option is to wait until you are established in the job before deciding whether you wish to disclose. It is worth thinking about how you may approach this.
'Sell' your disability
Bear in mind that you control how your disability is explained to an employer - emphasise the positive aspects of your disability and deal with any negative perceptions straight off.
To find out more about disclosing a disability:
- Take a look at the Applying and disclosing section of our Get that Job video (see in the sidebar).
- Secondly, the AGCAS Disability Task Group has produced some resources on disclosure and adjustments for students with neurodiversity conditions (e.g. dyslexia, autism, ADHD etc), along with a worksheet on Explaining Mental Health. Download these worksheets at Disclosure - Neurodiversity / Explaining your mental health condition / Reasonable adjustments - Neurodiversity
Employers are increasingly recognising the benefits of a diverse workforce and a lot of graduate recruiters actively try to encourage more applications from this pool of talent. Many arrange specific opportunities or events for disabled students and graduates. Subscribe to the Careers Service 'Opportunity Update' (disability-related careers information) – to remain informed of these. Go to 'profile' and 'update profile' and then select the 'email preferences' tab in JobsLive to set this up.
If you are considering applying for a company or organisation it is worth researching their employment policies and commitment to considering disabled applicants. Many employers use the Two Ticks symbol or are Disability Confident to emphasise that they are dedicated to employing disabled people and will be keen to know about your abilities.
Auticon is a social enterprise and exclusively employs autistic adults as IT consultants - see an Auticon presentation here
Breaking Down Barriers: employer responses to student questions - showcases employer responses to quesitons from students at Imperial and the London School of Economics. Covering themes of adjustments, disclosure, mental health, perceptions, recruitment processes and workplace culture.
To find out more about identifying diversity recruiters take a look at our Get that Job video (see in the sidebar), comprising of the following sections:
- A guide for graduates with disabilities
- Applying and disclosing
- Adjustments in the workplace
Under the Equality Act 2010 employers must consider making any ‘reasonable adjustments’ you may need in order for you to work with them. Examples of this could be getting or changing equipment, such as computer software or particular furniture. It could also involve providing supervision, support or, if travel is challenging, it could mean allowing non-standard working hours, etc.
You should be aware of the Access to Work scheme, which is a publicly funded employment support programme that can help to pay for reasonable adjustments such as these. An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support for adjustments:
- At the interview stage
- In your work environment
- If you move into self-employment or start a business
How much you get depends on your circumstances. The money doesn’t have to be paid back and will not affect your other benefits.
To find out more, take a look at the Adjustments in the workplace section of our Get that Job video (see in the sidebar), or see the Reasonable adjustments for workers with disabilities or health conditions section of www.gov.uk.
- Access to Work - help if your health or disability affects the way you do your job. It gives you and your employer advice, as well as support with extra costs which may arise because of your needs
- Association of Disabled Professionals - an association providing advice, information and peer support to disabled professionals
- Blind In Business - a registered charity which helps blind and partially sighted students into work through training and employment services
- Disability Jobsite - committed to helping employers recruit the best talent by making sure their recruitment process and jobs are accessible to disabled as well as non-disabled candidates
- EmployAbility - resources and information for students/graduates of European countries with disabilities
- MyPlus Students Club - home to job opportunities and a student toolkit for disabled students
- Leonard Cheshire - charity for disabled people, offering support, training and advice in finding work
- Leonard Cheshire's 'Change 100' - an internship scheme run by Leonard Cheshire for disabled students
- The National Autistic Society - the National Autistic Society provide training to people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in work, and has a partnership with Remploy to help increase the number of people with autism entering employment
- Shaw Trust - Shaw Trust is a national charity which supports disabled and disadvantaged people to prepare for work, find jobs and live more independently
- You're Able - an online community of and for people with disabilities, including a forum for work and learning