International Day of People with Disabilities reflection by ERSA

Written by the Employment Related Services Association

International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) bulletin

  • Some 69% of disabled adults say their work has been affected by the pandemic, rising to 89% of disabled young people aged 18-25
  • One in five (19%) of employers are less likely to hire a disabled person, with more than two thirds citing the cost of making workplace adjustments as the main perceived barrier
  • Almost two thirds of employers would support a mandate for companies with a workforce of more than 250 to publish data on the number of disabled people they employ.

On this 20th International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) rarely, if ever, has the work of our members been more important.

Our worst concerns about the effect of the pandemic on the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable communities in the country proved true last year, and latest figures show there hasn’t been significant improvement to that situation in the past 12 months.

The work of ERSA members in these sometimes overwhelming circumstances has been magnificent, as the reduced access to routine physical and mental health support and risk of social isolation has been magnified by Covid-19 restrictions.

But we must use this moment as a launch pad for encouraging a better understanding and recognition by governments of the needs of people with all forms of disability.

And as the theme of this IDPD suggests, disabled people and those who represent them must take up the reins of leadership to drive a more equitable post-Covid world.

Friday 3 December marks the 20th year of the United Nations rallying call promoting the rights and wellbeing of the more than one billion people in the world living with some sort of disability.

Against the backdrop of the continuing pandemic it seeks to increase awareness of their situation in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

A better future led by disabled people themselves is this year’s theme: ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.’ Find out more here

ERSA’s Disability, Health & Employment Forum: from Chair, Nicola Whiteman at Papworth Trust

This year’s International Day of People with Disabilities 2021 focuses on creating an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-Covid-19 world. At Papworth Trust we strive for a world where disabled people are seen for who they are, and this year we will be focussing our efforts on breaking down some of the myths and barriers that still exist around disability.

We’ll be speaking at many events over the course of the week – from working with students across Suffolk to answer their questions about disability, to supporting local businesses across Cambridgeshire to be disability confident – working alongside our local communities to be inclusive and accessible.

I am proud to serve as Chair of our sector’s Disability, Health and Employment Forum which focuses on developing ERSA’s policies around disability and health employment. If you are an ERSA member and are interested in providing employment support to disabled people and those with long term conditions, please consider getting involved in the forum’s work. Please get in touch with

The Government must invest in a tailored employment support scheme for disabled young people and larger companies should be legally bound to reveal how many disabled people they employ.

These are among the findings of this year’s report by the Leonard Cheshire Trust: Still Locked Out: Breaking Down the barriers to disability inclusive employment.

It shows the pandemic is still having a significant effect on disabled people’s employment and livelihoods.

When, in 2019, Caroline Casey announced her goal of securing a commitment to disability inclusion by the leaders of 500 of the world’s biggest companies, it seemed like an overly ambitious dream. Two years on, businesses such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Unilever have all made that pledge.

That achievement has now been recognised in the Shaw Trust’s annual Disability Power 100 list of the most influential disabled people in the UK. Click here to find out who else made it onto the list.

Disability Employment Charter: roadmap for change

With employment opportunities for disabled people showing little signs of improvement, the new Disability Employment Charter sets out a roadmap for change as the Government develops the next phases of its National Disability Strategy. Download the charter here.

ERSA is one of the latest organisations to sign up in support of the charter and has set up an online event taking place next week. Register in advance for a joining link for 9 December, 9.30 – 11am.

See who has signed the charter.

This award was kindly sponsored by Triangle Consulting, watch a short video from Managing Director Graham Randles here. 

Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work said, “Congratulations to all of the finalists of the ERSA 2021 Employability Awards.

“I’ve seen in my own constituency and across the country what a difference members of ERSA can make and I know how much local leadership really matters in effecting meaningful change.

“As the new Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work I am passionate about championing those with disabilities and long-term health conditions and helping to improve their daily lives. As a Government though, we can’t do this alone and it is only by working together that we can help build a more inclusive society that works for everyone.” Also watch a message from the minister, delivered as part of the winners announcement in November here. 

RNIB launches eLearning courses

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has launched eLearning courses which increase awareness of sight loss and provide information, advice and resources for jobseekers with sight loss, employment professionals, and employers.

For Jobseekers: RNIB’s new free online jobseeker course has been designed to help people with sight loss decide the next steps to take when thinking about employment. We’ve called on the experience of our professional employment advisors to put together their top tips for a successful approach to looking for work. The course has been tested by people with sight loss to make sure it’s easy to use, addresses their job search queries and is fully accessible. For further information visit the RNIB website: RNIB Jobseeker

For Employment Professionals: Do you want to know more about sight loss? Does your team help people with sight loss to find work? RNIB’s “Understanding Sight Loss for Employment Professionals” e-Learning course will give you the knowledge and tools to help. The course is online and takes about forty minutes to complete, it can be done in your own time and at your own pace. It includes the facts about sight loss, common eye conditions and their functional effects, things to consider when talking about jobs, how to guide someone with sight loss and further resources to help you. For further information visit the RNIB website: RNIB Employment Professionals

For Employers: RNIB’s “Understanding Sight Loss for Employers” course equips employers with everything they need to know about recruiting, supporting and retaining people with sight loss. It covers topics such as accessibility, technology, advertising posts, interviewing and supporting people with sight loss at work. For further information visit the RNIB website: RNIB Employers

Upcoming events

Youth Employment Forum, 7 December – 2pm – ERSA, DWP, YFF updates and collaboration opportunities.

The Disability Employment Charter, 9 December – 9.30am – with contributions from Naomi Clayton, Learning at Work Institute, Leonard Cheshire’s latest research ‘Still Locked Out’ along with Prof Kim Hoque’s new Disability Employment Charter.