Project offers employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities across Europe.

This week saw the launch of Coda Online, an exciting new online employment toolkit for people with learning disabilities across Europe. The toolkit can be found at and is designed to help the thousands of Europeans with learning disabilities who would like to work but find themselves effectively barred by the complexity of job applications.

Coda Online is the culmination of a 2 year, European Union funded project, which saw organisations from Bulgaria, Portugal and Germany collaborate with UK disability charity, United Response, to develop the resource. It is an accessible website, which allows users to assemble a CV by answering a series of simple questions. Instructions also come in easy read and audio versions, meaning that people who may not read well can use it. They are also able to upload videos and sound files, as well as conventional documents if this is how they would prefer to showcase their skills.

The majority of job vacancies require applicants to provide complicated CVs or application forms, barring people with learning disabilities who may find small print and complicated text difficult.

Employers in all the participant countries who are looking to recruit from a diverse pool of applicants can then identify suitable candidates. Research has shown that employment has a huge beneficial effect, not just in terms of the employees’ self esteem and physical well-being, but also in real business benefits to the employer.

The germ of the idea came from United Response’s About Me And My Life, a simple accessible programme that allows people with learning disabilities to communicate the things that are important to them. The Leonardo Da Vinci Transfer Of Innovation Fund then agreed to fund the European roll out.

At the launch, Darren Mahoney took part in a live demo, enthusiastically using the tool to showcase his abilities and his workplace preferences. In the coming months, all the organisations who took part in the project will be promoting the new service in their respective countries to ensure the maximum number of employers and employees take part.

“This has been a fascinating project from start to finish,” said Diane Lightfoot, Director of Communications at United Response. “This is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to take a simple but powerful concept and then roll it out across Europe. These may be difficult times economically, but we know that there are many jobs that people with learning disabilities would excel at, and we hope that Coda Online will be a driving force in giving them the chance to prove it.”