Seven disabled students are now employed in the inclusive design field after free training provided by the Centre for Accessible Environments’ Pathways Academy.
The nine-month Pathways Academy programme was launched by the inclusive design and access consultancy in 2020 to help young disabled Londoners to kick start a career in inclusive design.
University graduate Nicky Sutherland completed her degree in 2020. The jobs she applied for during the pandemic either rejected her application or ignored it. An ex-colleague told her about Pathways.
“Access, to me, was a bottomless pit of standards and regulations. It wasn’t something I was interested in, but the Pathways taster session certainly changed that,” said Nicky.
“Pathways Academy opened my eyes to the inaccessibility baked into many aspects of society, and it’s certainly made me want to learn more.”
Nicky now has a Business Development role at the Business Disability Forum (BDF) which specialises in making business more accessible for disabled people.
“If I’m honest,” she said “I didn’t think I’d get the job as my degree was in an unrelated subject, and my experience was the complete opposite of business development. But thankfully, BDF seemed to place a lot of value on my Pathways Academy training.”
Another past student, Aisling Gallagher (pronouns: they/them) who is now a freelance access specialist, said the training has opened doors for them: “I’ve begun to build up my freelance access consultancy practice quite well, which the course definitely helped with in terms of building my confidence in my ability to do that.”
Meanwhile, past trainee, Katy McLeod juggles her role as an Associate Producer at Cast (a theatre in Doncaster) with freelance producing roles and access-related work.
She said: “Pathways Academy has been invaluable and instrumental in building my confidence, skills, and knowledge, enabling me to secure freelance work. The training has been vital in both getting work and maintaining consistent income in a very difficult and tumultuous climate.”
Applications are open for this year’s programme, which begins in October 2022, covering various topics each month including:
- access auditing
- access design appraisals
- principles of inclusive design
- website accessibility
- designing for neurodiversity.
The programme is part of City Bridge Trust’s Bridge to Work initiative, which aims to tackle the disproportionately high level of young unemployed disabled Londoners.
CAE’s Head of Business Development, Fara Muneer, said: “We’re incredibly pleased and proud of all of our students and the fact that Pathways Academy’s doing what it was set up to do. The success of these students is testimony to their commitment and the expertise of our trainers, who are all still active in the sector.
“Of course, we couldn’t have done this without the support and funding from the City Bridge Trust. We’re now looking to the future and hoping to replicate the success of the Academy across the country.”
Prospective students can find out more about Pathways Academy, meet the project team, and hear from people already working in the inclusion and access field, by signing up for a two-hour virtual taster session.
The sessions are on Tuesday 28 June and Tuesday 26 July 2022 and participants should email email@example.com to book a session.
Visit https://cae.org.uk/pathways-academy/ to learn more about the Pathways Academy.