Young deafblind people are one of the most marginalised groups in society, with only 4% in employment

senseNew report reveals the extent to which deafblind people, willing and able to work, are being prevented by limited opportunities and numerous barriers

Current programmes are not working, as Sense calls on Government to adopt a new approach to employment

  • Young deafblind people are ten times less likely to find employment that their non-disabled peers, with only 4% able to secure employment
  • Only 20% of deafblind people are currently in work, with negative employer attitudes, inaccessible recruitment and ineffective support programmes, highlighted as significant barriers to employment
  • Half of all disabled people in the UK are currently out of work, despite Government pledge to halve disability unemployment gap

A report published today by national disability charity, Sense, highlights the stark inequalities and barriers faced by deafblind jobseekers across the UK. While many of the 100,000 working age deafblind are keen and able to work, and only 20% currently doing so, the evidence shows the extent to which they’re currently being failed.

Sense’s ‘Realising Aspirations For All’ report, reveals that only 4% of 18 to 24 year-olds who are deafblind are in employment, making them one of the most marginalised groups in society. The 4% figure is ten times lower than the employment rate for non-disabled young people. The employment rate for deafblind people over the age of 24 is 20%.

Within the broader population of disabled people, currently 1 in 2 (46%) are out of work, a rate of employment 30% lower than that of non-disabled people.

The current employment programmes are not working, and the charity report makes a series of recommendations for employers, employment support providers and Government to adopt in their new approach; to enable them to deliver on their pledge to halve the disability employment gap by 2020.

Sense Deputy Chief Executive, Richard Kramer, said:

“Our report is further evidence that the current employment programmes aren’t working. The Government made an admirable manifesto pledge to halve the disability employment gap by 2020, but the reality is that there are still a huge number of barriers that prevent many people with disabilities from securing employment. These include negative employer attitudes, inaccessible recruitment processes and a lack of communication support.

Every day we hear from frustrated disabled people who want to work, and are able to work, but are prevented from doing so because of the many barriers that exist. This is a great opportunity, with the formation of the new Government, and anticipated Green Paper on employment, to adopt a new approach on how we help disabled people get into work and realise their aspirations.”

Barriers to finding, securing and sustaining employment, highlighted in the report include:

  • Negative stereotyping from prospective employers
  • Inaccessible recruitment processes
  • Lack of work experience opportunities for disabled school leavers
  • Lack of workplace adjustments
  • Limited career progression
  • Workplace social exclusion

Recommendations at different levels, highlighted in the report include:


  • Make more resources available for specialist support models targeted at people who have more complex support needs and are not likely to benefit from the Work and Health Programme.
  • The joint Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Health Work and Health Unit should use its Innovation Fund to trial innovative specialist support models
  • The link between welfare benefits and access to employment should be broken by making support voluntary and available to all disabled people, regardless of the benefits they claim
  • Ensure disabled people have access to information about employment support. There should be greater transparency in relation to who the support providers are, what support they can offer, and the minimum quality standards disabled people can expect from them.
  • Ensure Access to Work assessments of deafblind people are carried out by specialists who are trained in deafblindness.


  • Ensure that people whose sight and/or hearing deteriorates have timely access to reablement services and assistive technologies that enable them to maintain the highest degree of independence.

Employment Support Providers:

  • Ensure that advisers are aware of the specific needs of deafblind people and how they differ from the needs of people with a single sensory impairment.
  • Ensure that all communication is accessible and provide information in the formats that people need.


  • Promote an inclusive culture within the organisation by raising awareness about disability and promoting the specific steps staff can take to make their disabled colleagues feel included.
  • Ensure recruitment processes are accessible in order to encourage applications from disabled people.
  • View spending money on adjustments for disabled people as an investment in the workforce.

The report was launched at a special reception at the Conservative Party Conference before a select group of MPs.

To view the full report visit:

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