Tanni Says Law Is Changing Attitudes; EMPLOYMENT: Survey Shows That Many Firms Are Unaware of Their Duty toward Disabled Jobseekers

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Byline: JAMES PRITCHARD

GOLD-winning Paralympic athlete, Tanni Grey-Thompson, has called on employers to realise the benefits of taking on disabled workers.

The wheelchair-racing athlete's comments came as research showed that in a sample of 1,000 employers almost half were unaware of any specific policies or guidelines relating to the recruitment of disabled workers.

And many of those questioned for employment website jobability. com admitted they would not consider hiring someone with a disability because of other people's attitudes.

Ms Grey-Thompson said that although there were still some employers who ignored their responsibilities to the disabled, the situation was gradually improving. "There were definitely a lot more hurdles placed in the way of disabled when I was growing up, " she said.

"Disabled people struggled to get a decent education and were often told that they would only be able to work in very undemanding roles. I was told that all I could ever hope to do was work as a typist, which is a crushing thing to tell any young person.

"But I think that the message has now started to get through and things like the Disability Discrimination Act, despite the criticisms that it did not go far enough, have started to have an impact.

"Having said that, it can still be very difficult for disabled people to persuade employers that taking them on is worthwhile, and a lot less difficult than perhaps they might believe."

More than one in four of those questioned for the survey said they did not have facilities to employ disabled workers even though by law all firms must remove any physical barriers by 2004. …