In a recent survey by the charity Scope they reported the depressing finding that in 2013 around 430,000 disabled people fell out of work, mainly due to their employers not being able or willing to accommodate their particular needs. In many cases this affected people who had become disabled whilst in a job.
This was evidenced by the fact that 48% of the 700 people questioned said that more flexible working arrangements would have allowed them to continue working and 31.8% said that the changes they needed for their work area or equipment simply weren’t available.
Commenting on the survey, the charity’s Chief Executive, Richard Hawkes, also pointed out that this country lags behind France, Canada and Germany in terms of the number of disabled people with jobs and that our ageing population means that urgent action will have to be taken.
One area that could help with this is the rapid progress of technology which is gradually providing new opportunities for disabled people to take an ever more central role in the world of work.
For example, smart glasses like the Google Glass introduced a couple of years ago offer enormous potential to help in a wide number of ways. Suggested applications include enabling people to control machinery using facial expressions and eye movement and even in providing real time subtitles of what is being said to a person. Or even selling something online, the technology nowadays has made an open door opportunity for everyone to shift their office work to online work.
The increased use of tablets and other mobile devices is also opening up a great range of ways to communicate using apps that give access to vocabularies of 13,000 words or more.
Another exciting example is what is known as invasive technology. This involves an operation to implant a device directly into the brain. Through these, people with paralysis can control the movement of robotic arms through thought power alone.
Getting to and from work can also be a major hurdle for disabled people to overcome, so the development of driverless cars is also being watched with great interest. Although only in the early stages of development, these could prove to be a real breakthrough once all the practical and legal issues are resolved.
Of course, sometimes just a disability like loss of hearing may make work impossible but there have been a great number of advances in this field too. Hearing aids and devices are rapidly becoming more powerful and more discreet as demonstrated by the range available from Hidden Hearing.
So while the recent record for the employment opportunities for disabled people may be disappointing there are a number of reasons to be very optimistic for the future. And with technology advancing as fast as it is, whatever your disability, having the equipment and opportunity to land your dream job could be just around the corner.