Access to work is a government scheme designed to provide help to disabled people who have a job to start, or are experiencing disability -related challenges within work and need to overcome them.
In this video, people who have benefited from access to work talk about what it offers, and answer frequently asked questions. It also provides contact details.
Produced for Royal Mail, Microlink PC (UK), in association with Jobcentre plus
Narrator: Who can apply for access to work?
Enitan: Access to work is a government funded initiative that provides help for people with disabilities to actually perform functions as anybody else might.
Bill Fine: The access to work program applies to anybody in employment.
Amanda: You don’t have to be on a contract of employment in order to apply for access to work, so in my case I applied as a self employed person.
Narrator: How do you apply and how long does it take?
Sue: Make an initial phone call, and its simple from there on.
Amanda: I would say it’s very easy to apply. The people who answered the phone were very helpful, they understood what it was that I was asking for, which was an application form.
Judi: It was a very simple form, they are very helpful on the phone, and actually everything was pretty well done for me, and all the way through they said can we help you with this, do you want it in this format, that format. They were very aware of my personal needs and it wasn’t bureaucratic I think the most bureaucratic thing I had to do was, you know, write my national issuance number.
Sue: Its not frightening, once you’ve made that initial phone call. It’s all plain sailing really, and very quick. I was quite amazed at how quick the whole process was, and how easy.
Natasha: It was a simple phone call, it was a discussion over the phone about what I did, and then I had to fill out a form but it was a very simple procedure, and when I spoke to people on the telephone initially, they were very professional. They went through all sorts of questions with me and actually explained what would happen
next, how long it would take and in fact the approval came quite quickly.
Teresa: When I initially made the phone call to Access to Work I had to go to through an application form over the telephone and just answer a few basic questions about my disability, the difficulties I find at work, and just basic questions on that, and in a few days I got quite a swift response. I think the initial contact was via email, but it was perfectly OK for me to call up the main call centre, and they would answer my questions over the phone.
Narrator: What support can I get?
Enitan: Access to Work provided me with screen magnification software (which also talks sometimes), and they have provided me with a video magnifier and also a support worker.
Alex: I get my transport costs paid for me and I’ve got some adaptive technology to help me do my job better.
Amanda: The equipment I have is not complicated its voice recognition software which allows me to dictate text rather than type.
Sadaqat: Access to work provides interpreters for me and also a communication support worker.
Joe: The help I got from access to work was they sent round a support worker now and again and she really helped me out with my daily routine.
Natasha: I’ve had an exceptional level of support from Access to Work. I had help with adaptations to my vehicle, and in fact a couple of wheelchairs along the ride as well. To be told the level of support I can have is a support worker, transport, travel for them to come with me when I’m using my trips to attend weekly meetings in London.
Sue: It made recommendations for me and in the recommendations, I had text-to-speech software so that I could have documents read aloud to me [computer text-to-speech]. If I can hear my work read, I can recognise the mistakes that I might have made. Its also given me mind-mapping software to organise my thoughts and processes. I have lots of ideas, but they are a bit jumbled and this helps me to put things into order and into perspective. It helps me to save things so that I don’t forget and puts them into a constructive order for me. They also gave me voice-activated software so that I could speak to my computer and I didn’t have to worry about the spelling problem. I’ve also been provided with a support worker, to help with my organisation and proofreading so I don’t feel like its something I’m putting on my colleagues all the time. That was a bit embarrassing really, because I’m sure they’ve got enough of their own work to do without having to cope with me.
Narrator: How do I know what support I need?
Sue: After I made contact with Access to Work I was given a workplace assessment.
Jilly: When I got in contact with them they said that someone would come and see me, have a look at my work station, and just try and find out a bit more about my disability and the type of work I do. By doing that they really seem to understand what type of difficulty I would have in the workplace what type of adaptations or ways of working can help me in order to achieve the best of my abilities.
Bill Fine: We would always prefer to see the real situation in which work is done and that means visiting people at home as well as at work. Our only criteria for success in an assessment is that somebody’s life is enhanced by that process, and they are better off after it than they were before. We would always want people to know that an assessment is about empowering them, as they are. To be everything they wish to be, and everything they can be.
Alex: The assessment was quite interesting because I had never used any adaptive technology in my life.
Judi: Going through that process was really good and they were able to help me, give me some good ideas, a few tips here and there, that I hadn’t thought of that I was able to bring back and incorporate into what I’m doing in my workplace.
Narrator: What are employer’s responsibilities?
Nasser: Access to work has made it possible for me to take the measures that I have done to make sure my employees all have the facilities and the help they need
to do their job. That’s what they’re paid for. It’s incredibly inefficient. For them to go off sick with minor problems like back pain or stress. If its something that we could easily avoid by making this available to them, and the access to work is an angel in disguise that gives us the help to do it. By actually providing this to the employees
not only you are providing an environment, a caring environment, you’re actually making them more efficient. So as time goes on, they will eventually become
an incredibly valuable member of your company and they are the ones who tend to stay with the company longest, and are more loyal.
Narrator: Who did we talk to?
Sadaqat: I thought I’d qualify for access to work because I’m deaf.
Teresa: I suffer from mild cerebral palsy, I have done since birth.
Enitan: I’m partially sighted.
Joe: I was diagnosed with asperger’s syndrome at the age of 3.
Amanda: I have motor nerve damage in my shoulders, my left arm, my left leg. I have some post-viral fatigue, and I have some cognitive symptoms which are very much like severe dyslexia.
Judi: I’m a dyslexic person and dyslexia comes into the disability discrimination act and Access to Work help dyslexic people.
Alex: I have a very rare condition called Moebius syndrome and only about 200 people in the country have it.
Natasha: I have a disability called spinal muscular atrophy which basically means that I have an overall weakness of muscles.
Jilly: I have cerebral palsy and dyslexia.