Technology is key to close disability employment gap
Greater access to life changing technology must be prioritised if the Government is to reach its target of getting one million more disabled people into employment by 2027, says leading pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire.
Increased awareness amongst both employers and potential users about the benefits of accessible and assistive technology is also needed to ensure disabled people have access to and confidence using the technology available. The charity believes Government must lead the change by procuring technology that meets with European accessibility standards and encouraging private sector businesses to follow suite.
In order to improve engagement and create more inclusive workplaces, innovation in assistive and accessible technology through the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge must also be encouraged, Leonard Cheshire recommends.
These key recommendations are a result of a roundtable discussion involving MPs and representatives from major organisations including Amazon, Microsoft and o2, on how accessible and assistive technology can be instrumental in breaking down the barriers disabled people can face in the workplace or as jobseekers.
The roundtable followed a busy event in Westminster, hosted by Leonard Cheshire, where Ministers, MPs and technology companies joined forces to learn more about the impact technology can have on disabled people’s lives.
Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care, was amongst those in attendance at the charity’s House of Commons event on Wednesday 8 May, during which ground-breaking accessible and assistive technology was showcased.
The Minister spoke about the application and potential of technology in all of its forms in the social care sector. She was joined at the event by Seema Malhotra, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology, as well as Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People.
Leonard Cheshire’s Chief Executive Neil Heslop said:
‘Accessible and assistive technology can transform lives by enabling a wide range of employment opportunities for disabled people, enriching the talent available to employers.
‘We need greater awareness of the possibilities and improved access to the kit and skills to make a difference and this showcase deepens understanding amongst Parliamentarians.’
Steve Tyler, Director of Assistive Technology for Leonard Cheshire, said:
‘It’s vital that we continue to ignite debate and raise awareness about the possibilities that technology offers, particularly in building an inclusive workplace culture.
‘It’s essential that all responsible organisations seize the opportunity technology presents to break down the barriers faced by disabled people every day.’
Exhibitors at the event included tech giants like Microsoft and Samsung, established specialist players like Dolphin, Pretorian, Inclusive Technologies, AutonoMe and Daisy, as well as innovative start-ups like MySense and SmartBox.
Leonard Cheshire runs digital inclusion programmes that support organisations and individuals in ensuring disabled people can benefit from the potential that access to the right technology can offer.
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