Students with Disabilities
We are strongly committed to providing an excellent service to all its clients, regardless of background or disability, and is actively seeking to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act. If you require help accessing any of the services provided by us, please contact us. Any information disclosed to us is treated in strict confidence.
The Careers Service subscribes to the SOAS Disability Policy and The Careers Group Statement on Provision of Services for Users with Disabilities and have produced an information sheet for Students with Disabilities.
How can we help you at the Careers Service?
We have made a range of provisions to assist students with disabilities, including:
- wheelchair access
- induction loop system
- interpreting services can be arranged for deaf students
- Read and Write Version 7.1 software
- coloured overlays
- reading material can be borrowed and made available in different formats
- special equipment can be borrowed from the Disability Office
We are happy to make alternative arrangements and to assist you the best we can. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs.
Identifying potential employers
The Employers Forum on Disability, and the associated symbol of ‘Two Ticks’, is a government initiative that was developed so that employers could indicate their commitment to good practice in employing people with disabilities. These employers are committed to improving facilities for employees with disabilities and, provided the applicants meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy, they will be interviewed.
The Employers Forum on Disability maintains an up-to-date list of member organisations. If your preferred employer does not appear to be a member or use the ‘Two Tick’ logo, you can assess their equal opportunities policy statements to find out their position.
Organisations providing specialised advice
The core requirements of all students seeking employment or wishing to undertake postgraduate study are similar. However, there are some organisations that provide specialised help for students with disability-related requirements.
- Directgov – offers practical information on rights for people with disabilities.
- EmployAbility – a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting university graduates and undergraduates with disabilities into employment.
- Employment Opportunities – a national charity helping people with disabilities to find and retain work and providing graduate recruitment advice.
- Remploy – a leading provider of jobs for people with disabilities, focusing on finding jobs in mainstream employment through its specialist recruitment service.
- Shaw Trust – a national charity providing routes into work for people who are disadvantages due to disability, ill-health or other social circumstances.
- Skill – a national charity promoting opportunities for young people and adults with any kind of disability.
- Youreable.com – an information and news service for people with disabilities and those who are interested in disability issues.
- Diversity Jobs - an organisation that strives to help people with disabilities find the right career path suited to them.
For more organisations offering advice for people with specific health conditions, please refer to the links on The Careers Group website.
Schemes helping students with disabilities to improve their employability
- Reach – a mentoring programme organised by the Careers Group, University of London, which aims to support any UK University of London student who feels that they face particular barriers to their career success.
Deciding whether or not to disclose your disability to a prospective employer is often an issue, particularly when the disability is not visible. It can also be difficult to determine when and how this information should be conveyed. The decisions you make are always personal and there can be both positive and negative aspects that need to be taken into consideration.
To disclose or not to disclose?
Reasons for disclosure
- Many employers are committed to employing people with disabilities.
- Employment is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. If you declare your disability and feel that you have been discriminated against during the application process, you can take your case to an Industrial Tribunal.
- You can take the opportunity to describe your disability in a positive light and may be able to use it to provide evidence of the competencies employers seek, such as flexibility, creative problem solving and negotiation.
- Many application forms ask direct questions about disability and health. If you give false information and an employer finds out, you could risk losing your job.
- There are financial schemes available, like the Employment Service ‘Access to Work Scheme’, that you can apply to for help with specialist equipment and additional transport costs if needed.
- You may feel more comfortable knowing that you have been open about your disability to your employer.
Reasons against disclosure
- You may feel that you will be discriminated against and rejected by employers with pre-set ideas about the effects of disability.
- You may feel that you do not wish to discuss your disability with a stranger.
- You may feel your disability has nothing to do with your ability to do the job.
- You may feel that an employer will not view your application objectively and will focus on your disability rather than your abilities.
- You may feel an employer will be concerned about the implications of your disability in terms of requiring additional time off through illness, specialist equipment etc.
How and when to disclose?
There are several possible times to disclose your health or disability to a potential employer
- Covering letter: You could mention your disability in the letter accompanying your CV. This should be done in a positive manner, making sure you highlight any particular achievements, such as successful past employment or voluntary work
- Application: There may be a section on the form asking about any serious health conditions or disabilities. You will have to decide whether you want to disclose your disability at this stage.
- Pre-interview: If you are invited for an interview and need practical support, you will need to contact the employer in advance to enable them to make suitable arrangements. This may be an opportunity to have a brief discussion around your disability.
- Interview: It may be that you will not be able to conceal your disability at an interview. In any interview you need to be relaxed and present yourself in a positive manner. This is particularly important if you feel the interviewer has little experience of your particular disability and is feeling anxious because of this. You may need to take the initiative in acknowledging this and introduce what you feel are the relevant issues in this context.
- Be very positive about your skills and abilities. Don't allow room for doubts in the mind of the interviewer.
- Try to anticipate the interviewer’s anxieties and address these.
- Provide factual information that is related to your ability to do the job, but do not use complicated medical terminology. Remember, you know what your disability means and how it affects you, others may not.
- Be prepared for the interviewer to ask you questions about your disability.
- Be prepared to make suggestions about what adjustments you would need in order to carry out the duties of the job effectively.
- Give positive examples of how you have met your challenges in the past.
- Demonstrate that your disability has not limited your personal achievements, study or work performance.
- Take along relevant literature about funding or sources of information an employer could follow up, if you feel this would be useful.
- Let your health or disability become the focus of the interview.
- Assume that an employer will view you in a negative way.
If you want to discuss any of these issues in more detail, please contact the Student Disability Advisers on 020 7074 5018 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.