Disability Confident Committed is a Government Scheme to get more people with disabilities into work by removing the stigma of being disabled in work, teaching employers how to deal with any issues that arise from disabilities and giving people the confidence to change and challenge widespread concepts and beliefs that people hold in regards to those with disabilities. Being Disability Confident could help you discover someone your business just can’t do without.
Disability Confident to us, however, means something a bit more personal. The company's founder, Jane, has a son with Autism which means she's pretty much been unofficially disability confident for seventeen years in supporting him with what it is he wants to do. She's been looking to expand into this as an employer for some years as she believes that she's now able to extend the knowledge and experience she has gained in a personal setting to give someone else the benefit of her experience. She understands that people with disabilities have many great strengths to offer in the workplace and in the general community as a whole having interacted with plenty of people who could benefit from a Disability Confident employer.
Being Disability Confident Committed has always been important to Seashore No4 as, in Jane's own words, "[her] own personal experience has led us to understand that there are many fine and outstanding attributes that can be offered by individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which are often overlooked. Therefore, when Seashore No4 was launched in 2015 it was to provide support to our son, who has Autism; to allow him to gain work experience and to give him an opportunity for work when he leaves school." We also believe that there are lots of individuals with disabilities that want to work, but are unable to find employers that are willing or able to find a comfortable fit for them.
We also definitely believe that, whilst it's important for companies like ourselves to become committed, it's more important that this is embraced nationwide. This would massively abate the stigma of working whilst disabled, not only creating opportunities for those who are disabled but creating a culture where we wouldn't be paying attention to disabilities unless it were relevant to that position. Jane says it best, "People with disabilities have the same aspirations as those with out and disability shouldn’t be a barrier to attaining those aspirations." Just having the option of having a job does a lot for helping people back into really living their lives.
I, myself, suffer from a hidden disability. When you're in a workplace that doesn't understand your restrictions or strengths at all, it can feel a lot like you're repeating your own failures or lack of ability to anyone who wants to ask - and you'll become used to people asking very often if your disability is hidden. You can try to communicate to someone that you're having issues, but this usually leads to the same kind of repetition and sometimes even scepticism. It becomes very frustrating, especially if you're not able to communicate as effectively as non-disabled person is, and can lead to simply dropping out the work force entirely as you begin to believe that maybe you just aren't capable of it. That shouldn't be happening to anyone, especially not those who can offer so much to the work place.
If Seashore No4 wasn't disability confident, I wouldn't be writing this article - or any of them, for that matter! I would probably still believe that maybe working just wasn't something that would ever work for me. If Seashore No4 wasn't disability confident, Jane says, "[she]’d be missing out on the opportunity to have someone bright, motivated and eloquent to help move the business forward." But the truth of the matter is, if we weren't Disability Confident, we simply wouldn't be as effective or as efficient as we could be, and we'd definitely be leaving ourselves short if and when we look to new members of our team.
Cara Jones, April 2019