The term 'disability' covers a wide range of different people with different impairments, which may or may not affect the way they do their job. People with disabilities work in all sectors of the economy and in all types of jobs. Disabled people are protected at work and as customers under The Equality Act 2010.
Over 120,000 disabled students study at UK universities each year.
1 in every 11 students who graduate every year has a disability - around 18,095 students.
10% of disabled students graduate with a first class honours degree, compared to 12% of non-disabled graduates.
When, what and how to disclose is often an issue for individuals with disabilities when seeking either employment or a place on a postgraduate course. It is an issue you may well want to discuss in the impartial and confidential space of a Career Guidance interview.
If you would like any further advice on disclosing a disability, please speak with a member of staff who will book you an appointment to speak with a Careers Adviser. Alternatively, you can book an appointment for yourself via our website
In recent years employers have become much more positive about receiving applications from graduates with disabilities. The law requires that employers treat disabled people fairly both during the recruitment process and in employment. A report on the First Destinations of Disabled Graduates showed that the proportion of both disabled and non-disabled graduates entering employment in 2010 rose clearly with the rate of increase for disabled graduates slightly higher than for their non-disabled peers.
The decision is yours to make, but generally it is considered wise to be upfront with employers in your covering letter. If this worries you, you might try targeting employers with a demonstrated commitment to being disability friendly. Check whether the company recruitment literature includes a policy statement on disability, whether its job advertising carries the ‘two ticks’ symbol and whether it is a member of the Employers' Forum on Disability . However, limiting your application to these companies may restrict your employment opportunities.
An important question facing job-hunters with disabilities is whether and at what stage to say you have an impairment. You will need to fully disclose disabilities that affect the job you would be doing. If a disability is neither visible nor relevant, such as some mental illnesses, you have more leeway.
You will need to fully disclose disabilities that affect the job you will be doing.
If you decide to tell an employer, you should do it straight away to show that you are confident about it. You may be concerned that early disclosure may lay you open to discrimination before you have had a chance to impress as a candidate. Legislation should minimise the risk of this happening.
At whatever stage you disclose an impairment you should do so in a positive way supporting your suitability for the role you are seeking
Your disability could also give you access to reasonable adjustments to your role and workplace adaptations - for which the employer may be funded - Access to Work can help you if your health or disability affects the way you do your job. It gives you and your employer advice and support with extra costs which may arise because of your needs.
Legally, you do not have to declare your disability before you start a new job, but failure to do so on an application or medical form, when you are specifically asked, could give rise to dismissal later on.
If you decide to disclose, stress your positive attributes and outline the benefits of your disability,
- highlight your relevant personal skills and qualities with some examples referring to your disability
- describe the extra skills you have gained as a result of your disability.
If you are invited for an interview and/or assessment centre and need practical support, you will need to get in contact with the employer in advance to enable them to make suitable arrangements. This may be a good time to instigate a brief discussion around your disability.
At an Interview
If you are called to interview having not disclosed a disability, you may want to let the employer know about it so that they can make arrangements to ensure you are not at a disadvantage, as required by law.
The interview itself offers a further opportunity for disclosure; you may need to discuss the practicalities of performing the role with a disability. However, you must try to avoid the interview becoming distracted away from your strengths as a candidate.
If you choose to disclose but an employer does not ask how your disability affects you, offer a brief explanation to prevent any false assumptions or generalisations being made.
Provide solutions rather than problems
- demonstrate that your disability has not limited your personal achievements, study or work experience
- try to anticipate any anxieties that the interviewer may have
- provide factual information about your disability if required (but don’t use complicated medical terminology).
- assume that you are going to be viewed in a negative way by a selection panel
- allow an interviewer to make your disability or health problem the focus of the interview
- leave room for doubt; be positive about your skills and abilities.
Before applying for any job, think about the following:
- The nature of your disability and the work involved.
- The terms and conditions of the job.
- The nature and culture of the employer - have you examined their website? Does it refer to ways in which they help people with disabilities? If you are applying to a two-tick employer then it is advantageous to disclose as these employers guarantee to interview every applicant with a disability provided they meet the initial criteria. A two-tick employer will put a two-tick logo on their job advertisement.
- Are there any health and safety issues that need to be addressed?
- Think about the consequences of not disclosing your disability. Could your disability come to light in some way in the future? If that happened how would you deal with it?
- It is a good idea to think through the arguments for and against disclosure before making your decision, as well as considering how you will disclose your disability to your potential employer.
- Disability Disclosure - Student Guide (last modified: 14 January 2016)
- Target Jobs/agcas - Equality and diversity in graduate recruitment.
- Gov UK - disability rights - Access to government information and services. Useful section on employment and disability and specialist services for disabled job seekers.
- Change 100 /Leonard Cheshire - Internships for students and graduates with disabilities.
- Association of Disabled Professionals
- Guardian Careers Diversity Hub - Articles and comments.
- Shaw Trust - National Charity that provides training and work opportunities for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market.
- You're Able - Covers a whole range of topics relating to disability, and hosts discussion groups. A good source of links and addresses. Includes a forum on employment-related issues.
- Disability Now - On-line version of national newspaper concerned with disability issues. It contains news, features and links, including relevant employment and training sites.
- BBC Extend Scheme - award-winning, BBC-wide work placement scheme which offers appropriately experienced and/or qualified disabled people a great opportunity to gain six months paid work experience within the BBC.
- Employability - not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting people with all disabilities into employment.
- Scope - support, information and advice for disabled people and their families.
- Disability Rights UK - an employment skills guide for people with newly acquired disabilities or health conditions.
- RNIB Website - Royal National Institute for the Blind site contains useful information on employment and job hunting as well as vacancy details.
- Blind in Business - Blind in Business is a charity based in the City of London. Help young blind students and young blind graduates through their Employment and Training Services.
- Action on Hearing Loss- (formally Royal National Institute for Deaf) is the largest charity working to change the world for the UK’s 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people. They provide a range of support to individuals including a one to one employment service.
- The Royal Association for Deaf People - includes an employment service in certain regions, and job vacancies.