§ Mr. Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list recent measures to encourage blind people and the registered disabled to obtain skills or to find employment; and if he will make a statement.
People with disabilities, including visual handicaps, can register as disabled if they want to work and have a reasonable prospect of being able to obtain and keep work. Registration is open to unemployed people and to those in employment. My Department provides a wide range of services and schemes specifically designed to help people with disabilities to obtain training and to find and keep employment and develop within it. In addition, the general employment and training schemes and services provided by the Department often make special provision for people with disabilities. Some provision is specifically aimed at people with visual handicaps.
My Department has recently undertaken a wide-ranging consultation exercise to obtain views on how to make the Department's services more effective for people with disabilities and we are presently considering responses. We are also consulting widely about the range 401W of special schemes that we provide for people with disabilities, including special help for people who are visually handicapped and for people who are registered disabled.
My right hon. and learned Friend announced in November that, from this April, unemployed people with disabilities will be given priority access to the Department's main employment and training programmes. These programmes include job clubs and the job interview guarantee scheme, both of which are to be expanded and have been shown to have considerable potential in helping people with disabilities.
In October we launched a new symbol which can be used by employers to show publicly that they are committed to good practices and to encourage people with disabilities in seeking and keeping employment.