downs syndrome man at laptopThe Work and Pensions Select Committee, which oversees the work of the Department for Work and Pensions, has launched an inquiry into assistive technology.

The investigation will focus on the role that assistive tech can play in removing barriers to work and helping disabled people stay in work.

The inquiry follows an earlier one that focused on the gap in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people.The result of the the AT inquiry will be published in a report aimed at giving disabled people better opportunities to get into work.

Some 3.7m disabled people are currently economically inactive. Disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people, according to a Labour Force survey published early in 2017.

Accessible hardware and software, developments in apps and wearable technology will come under the Committee’s microscope, along with technology that helps people get to work and access the building they work in.
The Government has recently announced a number of measures including:

  • Providing more structured support and information for employers to encourage them to take on and retain disabled employees.
  • Improvements to Access to Work, including a new expectation that awards will be portable, with claimants able to take equipment from job to job.
  • A commitment to a “comprehensive cross-Government programme of analysis and research on incentives and expectations” for employers, it will report back on preliminary work in 2018.

Interested parties can submit evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee via its evidence portal. The deadline for submissions is 19 January 2018.

BATA recently attended a round table discussion organised by Disability Rights UK on how more disabled people could find employment in the growth sectors of the economy such as high tech, aviation and the media.

“We are bottom of the pile: so far down the ladder in terms of opportunities,” said Lord Kevin Shinkwin, who chaired the round table event. “We have so far to climb in terms of obtaining action.”

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