Disability, equality and diversity guide
If you have personal health issues that impact your options or you're at a disadvantage in the career planning or job selection process, you can contact us for advice and support.
This guide includes the following information:
- Help for students and graduates with disabilities
- Steps to success for disabled students
- Disclosure of disability
- Disability and career choice: reasonable adjustments
- Further advice and information
If you're looking for further advice on equality and diversity issues that may affect your job search (such as gender, race, religion, or sexuality) TARGETJobs has further advice on equality and diversity during your job hunt.
Help for students, potential students and graduates with disabilities
Large numbers of disabled students now go on to higher education and the figure has risen steadily in recent years.
The Careers and Employability Service, is committed to equal opportunities and all our services are available to clients with additional requirements due to a disability or combination of disabilities.
If you have a disability, we can support you in the following ways:
- Individual support with career planning
- Advice on disclosure of disabilities to employers and training providers
- Advice on requesting reasonable adjustments that may be needed in employment and training
- Information on recent first career destinations of graduates with disabilities
- Access to advice and information about organisations and employers who provide work and training opportunities for students and graduates with disabilities
- Links to other University services such as the Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre (ASDAC), Academic Skills (ASK), the Mental Health Service and the Counselling service. Full details of these are to be found on the University’s website (www.port.ac.uk)
We provide confidential and impartial advice tailored to individual needs. Students and graduates with disabilities who require our assistance are encouraged to contact us to discuss how we can best help.
The Careers and Employability Centre in Guildhall Walk has full wheelchair access and an induction loop is available for clients with hearing impairments. A range of support software is available on our computers.
Steps to success for students and graduates with disabilities
Research shows that, although there can be challenges to overcome, disabled graduates can be very successful in their careers or further education and training after graduation.
If you have a disability, you can take the following steps to get the best chance of succeeding after completing your University course:
- Get as much work experience as possible during your studies – you can start doing this early in your course and we can give you information on volunteering, part time jobs and work experience opportunities that will enable you to contribute to the life of the local community as well as adding to your confidence, skills and knowledge and providing useful evidence for your CV
- Keep records of any jobs, work experience or volunteering that you do – this will help you when writing CVs and applications and in preparing for job or course interviews
- Make sure you know about the individuals and organisations that can help you and talk to them immediately if help is needed
- Start networking – the Careers and Employability staff can help you with this
- If you need some assistance, perhaps in the form of reasonable adjustments or making decisions about disclosing a disability, then contact us early
- Prepare well in advance – draw up a plan of action for yourself and don’t leave everything to the last minute – make sure you think about any adjustments that may be needed and be prepared to explain this if necessary
Deciding on how to disclose a disability can be a complex issue. You might be concerned about telling an employer about a disability when completing applications, writing a CV or going for interviews. You should adopt a positive approach and seek help when necessary.
When applying for any opportunities, preparation is always extremely important. This is especially so when considering whether and how to disclose a disability.
Remember, the provisions of equality legislation can protect you if you have a disability.
Reasons to disclose a disability
- You might qualify for forms of help such as financial assistance, practical help like a modified computer or perhaps access to expert support such as occupational therapy
- Many employers have specific equal opportunities policies that might include commitments to the 'Two Ticks' disability support initiative – their symbol is made up of two ticks and the words 'positive about disabled people'. Employers who use the symbol have signed up to a specific promise to support disabled job applicants and you can find out more on the Directgov website (www.gov.uk)
- Declaring a disability might help you to explain some aspects of your education and work history on your CV
- Discussing your disability in a clear and positive manner can build a good working rapport from the beginning and can help a recruiter to prepare before an interview
- Employers may require you, possibly by law, to tell them if you have a medical condition. In such cases, it's essential to answer all questions fully and honestly during interviews and when completing medical screening questionnaires. Providing false information could place you at risk of losing a job or having a job offer withdrawn.
- If you have a disability that may have implications for the health and safety of others, it's essential to inform an employer or prospective employer
Potential reasons not to disclose
- You might feel that disclosing may affect how you're perceived by a potential employer
- You may be anxious about discussing your disability with somebody you don't know
When to disclose a disability
If you've made a decision to disclose a disability, you need to think about when and how to do so. This depends on your own circumstances and those of the employer.
In your CV and cover letter
When sending a CV and cover letter, you could use the opportunity to clarify any disabilities in a clear, positive and constructive manner, explaining any specific issues such as support needs or medical terms. Explanations in a letter do need to be concise so you could contact the employer directly before applying to discuss your situation further. You could also offer to discuss your situation further in your interview, if the CV and letter don't give you enough space to explain your situation.
In your application forms
Some paper-based and online application forms might have sections asking you to talk about specific skills (or competencies) or asking you to explain your reasons for applying. It's essential to write about your skills and experience in a positive way, stressing your achievements, and abilities and how they relate to the job.
In your interview
At the interview stage plan ahead by researching the business of the employer and whether this may affect any support needs you may have. The interview can provide a useful way to clarify your situation, emphasise positive aspects of your experience and skills and to clarify any specific needs you may have.
At assessment centres
Many employers, especially a lot of larger organisations, use assessment centres as a way of helping them to recruit. You might have to take part in activities including psychometric tests, discussion groups, presentations and group problem-solving tasks.
If you're invited to attend an assessment centre (or asked to complete some tests beforehand) then ask for information about the process involved and assess whether you may need any additional support.
Disability and career choice: reasonable adjustments
If you declare a disability you might be able to ask employers or education and training organisations to make reasonable adjustments to help you with your jobs, courses of study, induction and training programmes.
It's important to ask for advice where necessary. There are several organisations that can assist job applicants and employers to find appropriate adjustments that can be made.
Please contact us if you require advice on relevant organisations that can help.
Adjustments you can ask for
There are many possible adjustments employers can provide. What you ask for depends on your individual requirements, how they can be met and the people who can help. These may change on a regular basis.
Information and guidance on issues such as adjustments can be found through disability support services and government departments.
Before making applications think about, and perhaps discuss with others, what help you might need and how you might get it. An employer can provide better help if you can provide clear guidance on the types of support you may need.
Here are some of the adjustments you could get to help with your needs:
- More time in selection tests
- Access to a note taker
- Adapted office space
- Modified access to buildings – for example doorways, stairways and rooms
- Increased length of job interview
- Materials in different formats (such as different coloured backgrounds, larger print)
- Access to specialised software such as mind mapping or text reading
- Opportunities to participate in internship programmes for students with disabilities
It's important to make early enquiries if this sort of help is needed, especially if any applications for funding are required.
Further advice and information
Sources of information and advice you could use:
- TARGETJobs provides guides on key diversity issues including gender, race and disability with advice on how to identify diversity positive employers, decide how and whether to disclose your circumstances, and get an understanding of your rights
- MyPlus Students’ Club offers practical advice on searching and applying for jobs and preparing for the recruitment process such as naming employers who are 'great with disability' – advice covers disclosing a disability, requesting adjustments, gaps in the CV and lack of work experience
- GOV.UK provides information on government services and information and includes a section for disabled people
Our Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre (ASDAC)
While you're studying at the University you can contact the Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre (ASDAC). They provide additional support and advice for students with chronic illnesses, disabilities and specific learning difficulties – anything that may impact their ability to study.