Why every employer should see the films at the Technology Taskforce Film Festival

bdf-film-festival-event-carousel

By Jeff A. King, Assistant Vice President, European IT, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

We’ve teamed up with the Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce for a unique event. It’s a Film Festival that provides a look at the world through the eyes of young disabled students preparing to go for their first jobs.

It goes without saying that workplaces need to understand each new generation of graduates. After all they are the people who will ultimately shape the organisation and ensure it meets the future with fresh ideas and remains relevant. More immediately, this is about getting the best out of every employee in the organisation and utilising the most diverse possible pool of talent.

Therefore it is a given that workplaces need to understand disabled employees and candidates, for the same reason. It’s the right thing to do and means your business is fair and open, but, more importantly, it also means that every employee has the chance to succeed and achieve their full potential in an environment where they are valued and respected.

Judging films for this year’s Film Festival has been particularly interesting because this new generation of disabled talent has grown up or come of age with hard-fought legislation such as the DDA and Equality Act already in place.

This means they will bring a formidable range of new ideas and approaches to the workplace, but also that they will expect and want new things from their employer. This shouldn’t be a source of concern for recruiters – it should be treated as a real opportunity to develop the way we work and problem-solve.

So it’s just down to us as organisations to rise to the challenge.

Some of the most inspiring aspects of the Film Festival entries were the ways they showed how understanding and adjustments, whether this was by entire organisations or just by individuals working together, can break down any barrier.

We specifically wanted to see the entrants weave in the theme of technology and another great thing to see was how technology has enabled not only disabled people, but entire workforces to operate in a more accessible way.

Seeing the work of these talented young filmmakers, I am reminded of how successful this approach was in one of our interns, who shared her story on our website.

Mollie recently started with us as a Management Trainee Intern at our Midlands group and her experience shows how simple adjustments to the work environment can enable a talented candidate to shine. She immediately felt able to share the fact that she had dyslexia when she came to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and was also secure in the knowledge that she would receive any necessary adjustments in a timely manner.

This meant that a talented new trainee was able to take on every aspect of her new job to the best of her ability, and that there were no barriers when it came to hiring new talent.

758500bf-8d25-49ab-ae05-1ef6f601618bSuccesses like this are among the many reasons why I would like to encourage as many businesses as possible to see these films. Hearing what can help break down barriers for disabled people – be that technology, collaboration or adjustments – in their own words, is something all businesses should do.

We’ll be screening our own film at the Film Festival, ‘Blind Hike’, which I feel sums up what we are hoping to achieve in terms of breaking down barriers: it’s about no experience or achievement being off limits and realising the potential that everyone has.

Technical SwapShop goes up in the world!

By Dean Haynes

Generously hosted by Technology Taskforce member BT at the iconic BT Tower in Central London, our Technical SwapShop was held on 4 November and attended by nearly 100 delegates.

With speakers and exhibitors from both Taskforce members and assistive technology companies, attendees got the chance to get personal perspectives on the use of Assistive Technology (AT), as well as find out about the range of products available, before having lunch at the top of the tower!

The view of London from the top of BT TowerAbove: The view of London from the top of BT Tower

Proceedings got underway with delegates given the chance to learn about different AT products from over a dozen exhibitors, including ReciteMe, Matchware, Hassell Inclusion, Ai Media, Nuance and iansyst.

Things then moved into BT’s auditorium where our chair for the day, BDF associate Rick Williams, introduced representatives from our hosts BT. Bertrand Mazieres gave us a brief introduction to BT, before Dan Ballin explained the importance of accessibility to BT as an organisation.

Next, EY Associate Partner John Levell spoke about his firm’s dyslexia network, why it was set up and how it adds value to their organisation. He also took time to describe his own personal experiences in the workplace coping with dyslexia, which struck a chord with many in the audience.

Alastair Campbell of Texthelp was then given the chance to demonstrate Texthelp’s Read&Write software, which has been designed to offer support to individuals who may experience literacy difficulties due to dyslexia, low literacy skills or English as a second language through the use of a computer.

Audio Notetaker was the focus from our next speaker, Adam Pearce of Sonocent. Audio Notetaker allows employees and clients to combine text, audio and slides into one cohesive package to foster barrier-free communication in the workplace.

Adam Pearce of Sonocent delivering presentation on Audio Notetaker

Above: Adam Pearce of Sonocent delivers presentation and demonstration of Audio Notetaker

Microlink’s Tim Scannell, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Account Manager, talked about how his disability affects him and demonstrated assistive technology that can assist individuals like himself that are profoundly deaf.

Following Tim, Paul Smyth, Head of IT Accessibility at Barclays, then took to the stage to talk about how his own visual impairment affects his working life, what accommodations he has in place and what can be done to help as individuals and organisations.

Last on the formal agenda was Steve Bennett from Dolphin, who provided us with a demonstration of their SuperNova software that assists those with visual impairments.

After a brief interlude from BDF’s Chief of Staff Paul Day, Kiki MacDonald from Euan’s Guide closed out the day’s presentations.

Euan’s Guide, which has been dubbed “TripAdvisor for the disabled”, was devised by Edinburgh-born Euan MacDonald, who has Motor Neurone Disease, the website and accompanying apps aggregate reviews of public venues across the UK for their accessibility.

Delegates browse exhibitor stalls

Above: Delegates browse the various exhibitor stores

With all presentations done, delegates and exhibitors all made their way up to the top of the BT Tower to network over lunch and enjoy the views across London!

You can catch up with the day’s proceedings and see photos from the day by following the #TTSwapShop hashtag on Twitter.

Twitter: @TechTaskforce

Stat of the day: Latest Access to Work statistics

By Angela Matthews

An ‘at a glance’ analysis of the latest Access to Work figures shows that an additional 4,260 people have been supported in work since October 2013.

Access to Work figures are not given for each quarter separately; instead, figures for each quarter are added to which means we get a bigger figure with each release. We can gauge trends by looking at the increases (as per the last column, “activity”). I have compared this morning’s release with that of October last year.

Types of conditions supported

We might not be surprised that support given for back/neck conditions and dyslexia are accelerating the most. Difficulties with speech and Spina Bifida are increasing the least.

There have been no further applications for support for stomach/liver/kidney/digestion or skin/disfigurement since October.

Condition

October

2013

January

2014

Activity

Missing or unknown

0

0

0

Arms or hands

810

1,090

+280

Legs or feet

1,680

2,040

+360

Back or neck

1,790

2,580

+790

Stomach, liver, kidney or digestion

80

80

0

Heart, blood, blood pressure, or circulation

180

220

+40

Chest or breathing

110

130

+20

Skin conditions and severe disfigurement

10

10

0

Difficulty in hearing

4,240

4,740

+500

Difficulty in seeing

3,940

4,330

+390

Difficulty in speaking

50

60

+10

Learning disability

1,320

1,460

+140

Progressive illness

1,470

1,650

+180

Dyslexia

2,350

3,000

+650

Epilepsy

880

980

+100

Diabetes

120

150

+30

Mental health conditions

670

870

+200

Cerebral Palsy

360

400

+40

Spina Bifida

80

90

+10

Other

2,640

3,140

+500

TOTAL

22,760

27,020

+4,260

Types of support

Assessments by themselves are increasingly popular, as is the provision of a support worker. Aids and equipment are also a high contender.

Type of adjustment

October 2013

January 2014

Activity

Adaptation to premises

20

30

+10

Adaptation to vehicles

60

110

+50

Communication support at interview

100

180

+80

Miscellaneous

20

30

+10

Miscellaneous with cost share

10

10

0

Travel in work

970

1,030

+60

Special aids and equipment

1,250

2,680

+1,430

Support worker

10,680

12,090

+1,640

Travel to work

10,450

11,300

+850

Access to Work Assessment

2,170

4,410

+2,240

TOTAL

25,710

31,860

+6,150