Make your website more accessible by doing the following:
Ensure your site is compatible with a screen reader, an assistive technology that allows people with vision impairment to translate online information into speech or Braille. (Most operating systems have built-in screen readers that will let you test your website.)
If you have timed sections in your online application, also provide a way to override that feature. Or offer applicants a prompt that asks if they need more time.
Make visuals, including images and video, accessible. Some applicants will rely on descriptive text known as alt-text, which is picked up by screen readers and describes an image with audio. For videos, make sure you’ve included captioning for the hearing impaired. (As an added bonus, captioning will also boost your search engine rankings and user engagement.)
Make sure visitors can tab through your content and application without a mouse.
Keep it simple. Plain, concise language will make your website easier to navigate, particularly for people with intellectual and learning disabilities or cognitive issues.
For other ideas about improving the accessibility of your company website, PEAT is a useful resource.
2. Expand your recruiting to candidates with disabilities by partnering with advocacy groups
Companies that make a concerted effort to hire workers with disabilities will quickly find they’re not in it alone.
Hundreds of organizations are out there to help, particularly when it comes to getting your job postings in front of potential candidates.
The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) recommends:
4. Fine-tune your interview process — and stay focused on candidates’ abilities
Make sure that your interviewing location is accessible to all people.
Inform candidates about whether the interview will entail a test to demonstrate their ability to perform actual or simulated tasks.
A candidate should have the chance to ask for a reasonable accommodation for either the interview itself or any job tests.
For example, if an applicant who is blind tells you that he or she will need help completing forms, line up that assistance.
Offer a sign-language interpreter or other assistance for an applicant who is deaf.
Provide details or specific instructions to applicants with cognitive disabilities.
Inform candidates of the travel directions to the interview site and give them an estimated end time, if requested, in case they need to arrange for transportation.
When you meet the candidate and talk with them, speak directly to that person rather than their interpreter, companion, or personal attendant, counsels the Job Accommodation Network’s enormously helpful “Disability Etiquette.”Interviews with a candidate with a disability should mirror your interviews of candidates who don’t have a disability.
Focus on the applicant’s skills, experience, and professional knowledge, and concentrate on abilities, not disabilities.
The ADA also prohibits questions about a person’s disability in all pre-offer interviews. Those questions include:
What happened to you?
How will you get to work?
How many sick days did you take last year?
What kind of treatment do you get, and how often do you receive it?
Will you need accommodations? What sort?
Instead, as in any interview, ask candidates about how
they would perform the everyday tasks that are part of the position you’re filling.
5. Create a disability-inclusive culture at your workplace
To build a culture and workplace that successfully includes employees with disabilities, start by ensuring that everyone has full accessibility to their jobs.
Lori Golden, abilities strategy leader at Ernst & Young, saysthat includes “accessibility in the physical environment, the digital environment, and how we do things, the daily business behaviors.
Second, include photos — and supporting alt-text —
of employees with visible disabilities on your website
and in all your recruiting material to show clearly that
your company welcomes people with disabilities and is looking for more.
Final thoughts: Employees with disabilities will make your company more innovative
“People with disabilities,” Kennedy said, “want paychecks, not pity.” Research shows that employees with disabilities have lower absenteeism, more loyalty, and lower medical costs. And they bring a fresh, creative way of looking at problems.
“Not only do employees with disabilities comprise a large talent pool,” the Harvard Business Review reported,“it’s a remarkably innovative one: 75% of them report having an idea that would drive value for their company (versus 66% of employees without disabilities).
”This shouldn’t come as a surprise. People with disabilities have often spent a good chunk of their lives figuring out workarounds so they can survive and prosper in a world designed for people without disabilities.