Getting Hired and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently had the pleasure of working together in the delivery of a webinar discussing how educational institutions can better support students with disabilities.
Hosted by our very own Sarah Pullano, the event was a resounding success with over 100 colleges and universities across the country registered and touched on a wide variety of topics that they are tackling at present.
From an overview of the current disabilities landscape to offering advice on pressing issues like setting up supportive partnerships and how to ensure accessibility for disabilities-focused resources, it was a lively session with plenty of interaction. Here are some of the top talking points from the event:
How can career and disability service offices partner with each other more?
The first key action is ensuring you have a strong line of communication between the career and disability center. If they are in two separate locations, we suggest appointing a designated point of contact and liaison at the career center to communicate with the disability center.
With the National Council on Disability finding that 11% of students have a disability, chances are that these students are often going to the career center instead of the disability student services for assistance. A designated point of contact can help bridge the gap in resources provided to these students.
How can I make sure my resources are accessible for students with disabilities?
Improving accessibility also ensures that parents and families of current students, and prospects looking to apply can access all information and resources. Common items to evaluate for accessibility include:
Screen reader accessibility of all pages on the website
Closed-captioning of all videos
Alternative text (“alt text”) embedded in all images, logos, and pictures
Jargon-free content and descriptions
Ability to navigate through the site using keyboard commands vs. a mouse
A clearly listed, and easy to find point of contact for students who cannot access information due to accessibility reasons
Current partnerships with non-profit disability organizations and disability student services can help you evaluate and address any of these items. Organizations like Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provide confidential accessibility assessments of your website.
How can we spread awareness about our disability-friendly institution?
There are several ways to do spread awareness about what you offer students with disabilities; here are some of our tips for campus wide education:
Share general statistics on the diversity of the campus including the percentage of students with a disability, and any positive messaging around this.
Communicate the definition of a disability and examples that are not commonly thought of like depression, ADHD, dyslexia, and migraines. Include the institution’s accommodation statement and process to request one.
Use mass emails and text messages to announce internships and job openings with inclusive employers to all students. Career centers should have a copy of all registered students with the disability office to make them aware of any opportunities they know of as well.
Remind employers to include their organization’s accommodation statement in any materials they provide. For any recruiters coming to campus, ask if they have participated in a disability etiquette and awareness training. If not, encourage them to do so.
Utilize any current partnerships you have with local community organizations. Do they have any articles and resources they can provide to assist students with their employment search that you can include in a campus newsletter?
What is the difference between self-identification and self-disclosure?
Many people believe self-identification (self-ID) and self-disclosure are interchangeable, but they do have very different meanings.
Self-ID: is the act of checking the box on the disability disclosure form that you see on an application.
Self-disclosure: is the act of personally communicating a disability to another person. It is a voluntary decision and encouraged when a reasonable accommodation is needed.