People with learning disabilities frozen out of jobs by ‘inaccessible’ application forms

Mencap research has found that the complicated format of job application forms is precluding many people with learning disabilities, who can and want to work, from finding employment.

Joe Lepper | 18th Nov 19
People with learning disabilities at work

Online job application forms need to be overhauled as they are currently an unfair barrier to work for people with learning disabilities, according to a charity campaign launched this week.

The application forms are often too complicated and inaccessible, according to the charity Mencap, which has made the call to raise awareness of the employability of those with learning difficulties during Learning Disability Work Week (18-22 November).

There are 1.5m people with a learning disability, but only six per cent are known to be in paid work. This compares to more than three quarters of the general population that are in employment.

Often only small changes are need to forms or for employers to instead have a greater focus on work based assessments.

More than a quarter of those with a learning disability, wanting and able to work, said they find it hard to fill in application forms.

According to Mencap Head of Development Mark Capper, the complicated nature of forms rather than lack of digital skills among applicants is a key challenge.

In particular many online form have a yes/no response that can exit candidates with learning disabilities during the application process.

“People with a learning disability face many barriers to getting into work, but many people with a learning disability often fall at the first hurdle because the recruitment process is inaccessible,” said Capper.

“Most employers will not even be aware that by having online only application forms and formal interview processes that they are closing the door on an untapped talent pool. Often all that is needed is small and cost-effective reasonable adjustments in the workplace to open up doors to people with a learning disability who then go on to be committed employees.”

The charity is hoping to raise awareness of its employment programmes that can help employers make adjustments to the application process.

Learning Disability Work Week is run annually and is being promoted via Youtube by Mencap.