Trailblazers logoTHE findings of an undercover investigation to find out whether disabled job seekers are still facing discrimination is expected to be published later this month.

More than 200 young disabled campaigners went undercover for the latest Trailblazer report for national charity, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign..

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 should have improved equality in employment, but 15 years on many job seekers with a disability say they still feel they are facing adversity.

Shocking figures from The Employers Forum on Disability show the poverty rate for disabled adults in the UK is 30 per cent, double that of non-disabled UK adults.

Trailblazers, the campaigning group for young disabled people run by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, believe disabled people and their non-disabled peers deserve exactly the same chances at finding employment, but statistics show that:

Twice as many UK disabled adults are living in poverty (30 per cent) as non-disabled UK adults;

There are 1.3 million disabled people in the UK who want to work and are available for work but cannot find a job;

One in five unemployed disabled people in the UK want to work, compared to one in 15 unemployed non-disabled people;

Only half of working-age disabled people are in work, compared with 80 per cent of working-age, non-disabled people.

Jagdeep Sehmbi, 26, from Birmingham, has limb girdle muscular dystrophy, a condition which causes the muscles in her shoulders, arms, legs and hips to waste. She said:

“A couple of times I’ve been invited to job interviews where they’ve then contacted me to say the building isn’t accessible for my wheelchair. So they’ve just had to be called off.”

Jennifer Gallacher, 27, from Middlesbrough, has spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive muscle wasting condition. She said:

“I wanted to be a teacher and in my interviews for the course I was asked a lot of questions about how I would manage being in a wheelchair and getting around the classroom. I knew I could manage it – I now have a job as a teaching assistant – but they had no experience of disability and couldn’t understand how it would work.

“I still think there is inequality in employment for people with a disability. You just have to look around – how many people with a disability do you see in most workplaces?”

Trailblazers’ project manager Bobby Ancil said:

“We are hoping our investigation will show there is equality in employment for disabled people, but the stories we’ve heard so far suggest there is still discrimination going on.

“The Disability Discrimination Act should have made sure that disabled people had as good a chance at finding employment as their non-disabled peers, but 15 years on we are still hearing this is not always the case.

“Hopefully the Trailblazers report will highlight some of these issues and be a step forward in making sure people with a disability have a fair chance at getting a job like everyone else.”

The Trailblazers network is open to anyone between 16 – 30 years-old who would like to fight for the rights of disabled people.

Muscular dystrophy factfile:

  • More than 70,000 people in the UK have muscular dystrophy or a related condition. A further 350,000 people are affected indirectly as family, friends or carers.
  • Muscle diseases weaken and/or waste muscles.
  • The conditions can be inherited or acquired and can affect people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities.
  • There are currently no cures.