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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Firms 'fear' recruiting disabled people
Scope's poster campaign
Employers' ignorance, fear and prejudice are some of the main reasons why disabled people find it hard getting work, according to a new report.

According to the disability charity Scope, one in four employers said they did not know whether their buildings were physically accessible and 45% said they would not be able to employ a disabled person because they could not afford it.

Almost a fifth of the working age population are disabled, yet they are five times more likely to be unemployed than others, the charity said.

Scope is launching a poster campaign which aims to highlight problems disabled people facing finding work and is calling for action from businesses to create equality for disabled people at work.

Barriers to work

Most disabled people felt that fear of the unknown prevented employers from taking them on.

The report identified a case where a disabled woman made 100 job applications over the last six months, but she received no interview or job offers.

In another case, a wheelchair user was asked at an interview whether she had any difficulty in getting out of bed in the morning.

Scope quoted the experience of disabled worker Caroline Peters.

"From my own experience as a disabled person we have to fight that much harder just to be given a chance to prove that we are not lazy and incapable as many think we are, " she said.

"If employers were more flexible and willing to accommodate the needs of disabled employees, I'm sure they would quickly understand that we are as hard-working and achieving as the next person."

Businesses can receive help from the government support for making workplaces more accessible.

The government provides practical help and support to businesses through Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs) and its Access to Work (AtW) scheme.

Access to Work offers support to disabled people and their employers, and grants to help businesses adapt their workplaces for the needs of disabled staff.

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