There are ways to find out about what a workplace is like without talking about disability access. To find the answers to other questions, you may need to tell the employer that you’re disabled.
It's always best to check accessibility in person if you can. Perhaps visit the area beforehand. Failing that, try Google Street View or search for pictures online to find out if a building's entrance looks accessible. You can look on the company website for information about accessibility, diversity and inclusion. You could also look for employees' reviews of an employer on glassdoor.com.
Ask general questions
You can find out a lot without telling an employer that you’re disabled. You can email or phone with questions, particularly if the job ad invites you to do that.
As well as finding out about the workplace, you can see what the attitude of an employer is like, and how they treat the people they are recruiting.
You could ask:
What’s the working culture like? See if they talk about flexible or remote working.
What’s your office like?
What are you doing to encourage inclusion and diversity?
Get a tour of the building
Some employers have open days. If the employer deals with the public, you could:
visit the premises as a customer
ask if the building is accessible
While you’re there, you could ask to use the toilet or see the other facilities. You could also see how people react when they meet you.
Ask as a potential employee
You can do this before or after you’re offered an interview. Some employers might not have employed a disabled person before. Your employer may find some of the guidance about reasonable adjustments hard to understand. Being clear about what help you need might reassure them. There is no set definition of what is 'reasonable'. It depends on your condition, the job and the employer.
If you choose to do this, be positive about the job and organisation. You do not have to be specific about your condition, but it does help if you can talk about some of the barriers that you might face. You could email the HR department or diversity lead and say something like:
"I have seen the advert for [ROLE]. I’m really keen on applying for the role. I am a wheelchair user. Could we arrange a meeting so that I could come and see the building and have a look around? I’d like to make sure there’s access to the building and level access inside it before I apply."
The employer may not know about what Access to Work grants can pay for. Talking with the employer about Access to Work can help them to feel more confident that they’ll be able to make any adjustments you need.
Look up the employer on LinkedIn and Twitter. See if any of your contacts know someone who's worked for them.
The contact person in the job advert might not be the best person to give you impartial advice about what it’s like working there. If it’s a large organisation, you could ask the equality and diversity manager.
Search tribunal cases
See if there have been any employment tribunals brought against your employer by disabled people.
Treat them like other online reviews. One bad judgement does not always mean that they're a bad employer.
You may find that some employers do not know how to help disabled people, even when they want to.
You are the expert on your condition. It’s your decision what you want to tell your employer and when. You have the right to ask questions about anything that will affect your performance or wellbeing at work, such as:
Transport and location
Will you pay for taxis?
Do you have to travel or can you work from home?
Are disabled employees given a parking bay?
How far are the bays for disabled people from the building?
Is there accessible public transport?
Access to the building
Is there step-free access?
What kind of door will you need to open?
Ways of working
What kind of software will you use?
How will you communicate and share information?
What other tools will you use?
Will you need to travel?
Is the main site the only place you will work?
Where do you get food from?
Are the microwave and coffee machine at the right height?
How are you going to move food to where you’re eating?
What are the toilets like?
If you need an accessible toilet, where are they and how many are there?
Can you reach the emergency cord, and when was it last tested?
Are there hygiene products for women in the accessible toilet?
How many lifts are there if you’re not going to be working on the ground floor?
Is the lift working?
Is there Braille on the lift buttons?
Is there an evac chair?
Can you meet the fire marshal?
Is there an accessible fire alarm?
Do any employees have personal evacuation plans?
Is it big enough to let you move without asking other people to move?
Is there space for the equipment you might need?
Do disabled people have priority to use quiet rooms?
What kind of light is there, and can it be controlled?