The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT) has launched a new commission into assistive technology and transitions into employment, with a goal of ensuring that the UK takes advantage of technology to support disabled people into employment.
Co-Chaired by Lilian Greenwood MP (Labour) and Lord Shinkwin (Conservative), and sponsored by the Karten Network and the City Bridge Trust, the new commission – ‘Assistive Technology and Employment’ aims to make employment accessible for all. The commission will particularly focus on the issues that arise when disabled people transition from engaging with one government department to another.
Commenting on why the new assistive technology commission is important, APPGAT says: “Inclusive and accessible practice benefits everyone, whether it’s applied to the design of a technology, the culture of a workplace, or the delivery of a government service.”
2020 is a landmark year for disability legislation, marking 50 years since the Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act, 25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act, and a decade since the Equality Act.
Recently, APPGAT held a webinar on the role of assistive technology within the UK Government’s National Strategy for Disabled People. It said that the new national strategy should harness the power of assistive technology to help disabled people access things that they currently can’t access.
Although the Conservative manifesto in 2015 pledged to cut the disability employment gap in half, the prospect of a post-coronavirus recession threatens to undermine progress in the disability employment agenda, says APPGAT.
In 2017, the UK Government also set out goals to get one million more disabled people into work by 2027.
However, due to the social distancing guidelines outlined by the UK Government during the nationwide pandemic, employers have been forced to adopt new ways of working, including looking at ways technology can help keep teams connected remotely. APPGAT believes that these new ways of working could be used as a catalyst to spark rapid adoption of accessible working practises and culture.
This sentiment is echoed by disability charity Leonard Cheshire, which has said that greater access to life-changing assistive technologies is key to bridging the disability employment gap.
On the 4th of June, members of the commission’s steering group met to discuss the aims and structure of the report. APPGAT has confirmed it will shortly announce the next steps of the process, including ways for interested parties to share evidence with the group.
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