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Employers ‘Need Support To Make Job Applications Accessible’

Employers need more support to make their digital job application processes accessible to people with disabilities, according to a new report from disability employment services charity Shaw Trust.

The report, ‘Making work a real choice’, examines the government’s disability employment programme Work Choice through the experiences of more than 400 people – a mix of job applicants, employers, and Shaw Trust staff.

Employers’ online application forms acted as a barrier for some disabled applicants, as the process was not always accessible, the report finds. For example, ‘time-out’ features on some online forms, which force applicants to enter information within a time limit, were particularly problematic for some people with learning difficulties.

“One customer outlined how their learning difficulty prevented them from completing a screen of an online application form for a national company in the required time limit”, it states. “The failure to complete the task resulted in the customer being barred for reapplying for another job with the employer for two years.”

To help solve this and other related problems, the report recommends that employers should receive support to make their recruitment processes fully accessible. Although some government funding is already available for staff with disabilities through Access to Work, a scheme that offers funding for costs such as assistive equipment, this is focused on helping people once they have secured work, the Shaw Trust report says. “There is therefore a lack of subsidised support for employers to help make their application processes fully accessible. Increasing the accessibility of the application stage, could remove another systemic barrier to more people with disabilities entering work”, it says.

Speaking to E-Access Bulletin Ian Lyons, sales manager for digital inclusion at Shaw Trust, said that although many organisations are happy to fix digital accessibility problems once they have been pointed out, most do not have the in-house skills to consider accessibility from the outset. “In the life-cycle of the employment process, from when a candidate is looking for work to their first day [of employment] people forget how much of that process is actually digital. I think most organisations want to make employment a level playing field for everyone, but a lot of them don’t know where to go to get that support or to implement those processes.”

‘Making work a real choice’ can be downloaded from the Shaw Trust website:

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