Whatever the size of your Careers Service and the resources at your disposal, there are many low cost initiatives which can be taken to provide the best support possible to this client group. Below are some of the initiatives we have taken at University of Sheffield which you might like to consider:
- Have a ‘Disability Lead’ – Identifying a member of the Careers Service Team whose role includes a disability remit, can be invaluable. They can champion disability issues in all aspects of service delivery, as well as acting as a first point of contact for disability related queries from employers, students and academic staff.
- Adopt an ‘inclusive’ approach – Although your service might have publications specifically targeted at disabled students / graduates, also Include disability related content in generic resources e.g. reference to ‘reasonable adjustments’ in publications concerned with interview preparation.
- Include a ‘Disability’ section within the Careers Service webpages and ensure ease of access to this.
- Ensure staff are ‘Disability Aware’ – Arrange for all staff to attend ‘Disability Awareness Training’ every couple of years or so and have access to relevant disability related careers resources e.g. the Disability FAQs, Case Studies sharing good practice and the streaming license for the DVD ‘get that job’ produced by AGCAS Disability Task Group.
- Choose accessible venues if possible for all events and invite students who might require any specific requirements in order to participate, to inform the service in advance.
- Work closely with your Disability Support Services – If they produce a handbook for disabled students, has the Careers Service got an entry? Are there links from their webpages to the Careers Service webpages? At Sheffield they have also set up a network of Disability Liaison Officers i.e. a named disability lead in each academic and professional services department and meet roughly three times a year.
- Liaise with Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers and Disabled Students Committee.
- Develop your network of disability contacts – both within the University, as well as locally and nationally.
- Provide ‘Flexible Access’ to disabled clients – we offer careers advice and guidance in person, but also by telephone, email, SKYPE and will arrange to meet with students in an alternative venue on campus, if this is easier for them.
- Conduct an annual disability audit of your service – At Sheffield this involves a review of access to all aspects of Careers Service support and is undertaken by a small team including the Director, myself as the Careers Adviser with a disability remit, and representative from our employer liaison, work experience and information teams.
Hilary Whorrall, University of Sheffield Careers Service