Know the benefits of disclosing your learning difficulty or disability
When you live with a learning difficulty or disability (LDD), including a mental health condition, it can feel like a daunting task to tell people about it. Many people fear being treated differently or being perceived in a way that doesn’t reflect their true selves. These are natural apprehensions borne from decades of stigma, but these fears can also prevent you from accessing the right support and working in an environment that encourages your strengths, helps you to overcome obstacles and ultimately succeed in your apprenticeship.
There are many positive benefits to disclosing your condition and one of the most important factors to remember is that attitudes have and continue to change. The support you need as an apprentice or learner with an LDD is there, but telling someone about your challenges is key.
Disclosing your LDD from the beginning
When applying for an apprenticeship or course, you will have a few opportunities to tell your potential employer or training provider about your condition, should you choose to do so. The earlier you tell people, the quicker you can access the support you are entitled to.
- The application form
Some forms will either ask directly if you live with an LDD including a mental health condition, while others will simply ask if you need any extra support during your studies or training. You are entitled to extra support by law. So if you feel you need it, say so.
- Make your experience of living with a LDD your strength
When applying for an apprenticeship you may wish to say why you think you would be a good candidate for the job by detailing the life skills and experiences you’ve gained from living with a disability or learning difficulty. Your condition could set you apart in a positive way.
- Answer direct questions about your health truthfully
Depending on the job or course you would like to do, you may be asked direct questions about your physical ability to perform certain tasks. These questions should be answered truthfully so the employer or training provider is aware of your physical ability and can also provide you with support to enable you to fulfil the physical requirements of the job.
- Equal Opportunities Form
The Equality Act 2010 has ruled that everyone should be treated fairly. An equal opportunities form allows potential employers to see who is applying for positions and if they come from a diverse section of society, including people with disabilities. This is separate to the job application and only the personnel department will see it. Completing this form is another chance to disclose your condition.
Should you decide to tell your employer or training provider about your condition later on, that’s fine too. There should be a person called a Learning Support Coordinator, a Disability Adviser, or someone in a Pastoral role available for you to talk to. This person is there is help you, whatever your needs may be.
How you could be supported at work and college, should you choose to disclose your LDD
Making the positive choice to disclose a disability, learning difficulty or mental health condition leads to many more positive, helpful and supportive outcomes.
- Your rights are covered by the Equality Act
This law passed in 2010 states that an employer or training provider cannot prevent you from getting a job or studying on a course because you have a disability. Apprentices and learners who feel like they have been treated unfairly can complain under this law. But if you haven’t fully disclosed your LDD or mental health condition this could make your case weaker. Just one more reason why early disclosure is important.
- Funding is there to help pay for support and any changes needed to your workplace or learning environment
The government provides funding to employers, training providers, universities and colleges so they can make reasonable adjustments to ensure their learners and employees with LDDs can succeed. For apprentices there is funding for Additional or Excess Learning Support. In the higher education setting Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) can also help cover the cost of extra equipment, study support in the form of a study skills specialist or mentor, for example, and non-medical assistance.
The Access to Work scheme is there to pay for specialist equipment such as assistive technology, support workers and additional transport costs to help apprentices with LDDs succeed in the employment element of their apprenticeship, and achieve their professional goals.
- Your working and learning environment will be adjusted to fit your needs
Specialist equipment and additional learning support can be provided, if you disclose your needs. Having happy apprentices and learners who successfully complete their apprenticeships and courses is what everyone wants, and having any extra support you need paves the way to a successful outcome.
- You could build more meaningful and open relationships
Disclosing an LDD means you are being open about yourself, and by being this way others in a similar situation may feel empowered to do the same. If people feel respected and seen, a more meaningful working and learning relationship can develop. Which can only be a good thing.
Disclosing a disability, learning difficulty or mental health condition can be a very positive move towards a bright future. Contact one of our friendly team to discuss how we can help you and your apprentices in education and work today.