Disability campaigners have criticised a decision by Lancashire Police to withdraw a conditional job offer to a blind recruit Reanna Parkinson from Lancaster, who was born blind was delighted to be offered the job of Digital Engagement Officer, to monitor the force’s social media after getting through their recruitment process. But a year after the conditional job offer was made, it was withdrawn because the force’s IT system wasn’t compatible with the technology she needed for the role.
Reanna Parkinson uses voice-controlled software to use computer technology
Reanna uses voice activated software to access computers and Lancashire police says that wasn’t compatible with their system.
She says the software used by many blind people is widely available and she felt the decision discriminated against her.
It was something I was perfectly capable of doing because I have never had an issue using a computer or anything like that. One of the softwares they offered me was for dyslexic people which changes the colour of the font. I think it is very discriminatory and every step of the way the police had made excuses for themselves
Lancashire Constabulary said in a statement said it is committed to fulfilling all their obligations under the Equality Act and often seeks to exceed those standards in order to be an employer that values difference and is inclusive.
In this case after detailed exploration, it was determined that it was not possible to make reasonable adjustments and regretfully, it was not possible to make an offer of employment.
Kamran Mallick from Disability Rights UK says ‘we hear it all too often, disabled people don’t get treated fairly or equally.’
He said the law has this ‘slight get out clause’ of reasonable adjustment and if you can make a good argument about why what you are doing is reasonable, it then becomes incredibly difficult for a disabled person.
Reanna said the decision by Lancashire Police was a ‘slap and in the face’
Reanna says the force told her they were updating the computer systems in 2023 and maybe she could re-apply again then.
She said she found that ‘patronising and a slap in the face’. She has moved house to be closer to work and missed out on other job opportunities because she thought she had this position.
She’s planning to take the force to an employment tribunal because of the impact on the decision on her life