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Funding Boost to Train more Disabled People as Access Experts



Disabled Londoners will get a kickstart to a career in inclusive design and access-related roles thanks to a £303,000 funding boost.


The funding, from City Bridge Foundation, will support the work of Pathways Academy, run by the Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE), to train and support disabled people of all ages.


Over 70% of Pathways graduates are now employed in inclusion and access-related roles, with, so far, 40 disabled people trained from 14 London boroughs. Pathways has been pivotal in providing trainees with the confidence, skills, and support necessary to embark on careers in the access field.


The initiative by CAE, which is part of Habinteg Housing Association, won the best career development initiative award in 2023’s Women in Housing Awards.


Trainees are equipped with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills through nine months of online and in-person theory and practical training. They also benefit from on-the-job shadowing and mentoring by industry experts, who align with their areas of interest.


"This significant funding enables us to continue and expand the reach of the Pathways programme,” said Fara Muneer, Head of Business Development at CAE.


“It not only sustains the ongoing success of Pathways Academy, but allows us to eliminate age restrictions, making the course accessible to a broader group of disabled people in London.”


Trainees on the Pathways programme receive 22 days of training over nine months, covering topics including principles of inclusive design, access auditing, website accessibility, design and neurodiversity, accessible housing, accessibility and historic environments and reading and understanding plans.


“Access to me, was a bottomless pit of standards and regulations,” explained Nicky Sutherland, a former Pathways student.


“It wasn’t something I was interested in, but Pathways changed that. The programme has allowed me to pick apart inclusive design and see what interests me. It opened my eyes to the inaccessibility baked into many aspects of society, and it made me want to learn more.”



Picture: Pathways Academy students during an outside session on wayfinding.

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