Disability, Webinars

An IP Inclusive/CIPA webinar
12.30 – 1.30 pm

This free webinar, kindly hosted for us by CIPA, was about what it means to be on the autism spectrum and about inclusivity for colleagues who are on it. How can employers make the working environment more comfortable and productive for people with autism? What can colleagues do to help? And what special talents can people on the autism spectrum bring to the IP world, if we try a little harder to accommodate them?

Our speakers included Nikki Dowell, founder of the IPO’s iThink network, and Katy Samuels, Employment & Development Coordinator at Autism Spectrum Connections Cymru. Jonathan Andrews, a trainee IP solicitor from Reed Smith, also shared his personal experiences as a legal professional on the autism spectrum.

This event and our 12 July webinar on disability, both aimed at creating more disability-confident workplaces in the IP sector, are paving the way for a new networking and support community for IP professionals with both physical and mental disabilities, as well as their allies and carers. Keep an eye on our Communities page for updates.

We also had live viewings of the webinar in Sheffield and York, kindly hosted by HGF and organised by our North of England Network.

A recording of the webinar, along with the slides, is available here and also via our resources page.

Due to technical difficulties, not all of our speakers’ answers to specific questions were audible. We apologise for that, but are able to share the following supplementary information:

  • Katy Samuels’ advice on obtaining a diagnosis later in the career:

“In terms of diagnosis, it is beneficial for someone at any time in their life/career to seek formal diagnosis as it can open the door for support and also places a responsibility on the employer to make reasonable adjustments. Private diagnosis can be costly and in some places a private isn’t recognised by the NHS (unless it meets full criteria and uses the same diagnostic process). NHS diagnosis is free but there is often a waiting list and its length depends on the local authority area that you live in. An employer can support by providing anticipatory adjustments and ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support people who are going through the diagnostic process.”

  • Nikki Dowell’s thoughts on workplace adjustment “passports” for employees on the autism spectrum:

“We have workplace adjustment passports at the IPO; I don’t have any information about uptake or how they have been received but would say it has generally been seen as positive. They are voluntary (and remain with the individual throughout their employment who is free to share with their manager or not as suits them) and are aimed at making it easier for colleagues with a disability, health condition or those who are undergoing gender reassignment to move jobs or line managers within the IPO and the Civil Service. They don’t remove the need for discussions about the impact of their disability, health condition or gender reassignment on their day-to-day working life with their line manager but support those. They also act as a record of conversations and (permanent and temporary) adjustments agreed.”

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