How to Support Individuals with Disabilities throughout the Talent Acquisition Process

In January 2019, Getting Hired partnered with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to host a webinar on how to support individuals with disabilities throughout the hiring process, from interviewing and pre-employment activities to onboarding. JAN is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and disability employment issues. They are funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

Our webinar was moderated by Sarah Pullano, Sr. Account Manager at Getting Hired and was presented by Lou Orslene, Co-Director of JAN.

Lou provided a general overview of the ADA as relates to employment (Title I) and shared practical, actionable tips to support talent acquisition professionals seeking to improve their disability inclusion efforts throughout the hiring process. Here is a recap of the webinar:

The ADA and Employment

The ADA was originally passed in 1990 and was amended in 2008. It covers five areas, known as “Titles,” and our webinar focused on Title I, the “Employment Title.” The goals of Title I of the ADA, as amended in 2008, are to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities and provide equal opportunity through the reasonable accommodation process. Employer representatives in talent acquisition are obligated to create a level playing field, where equal opportunity to succeed is provided to applicants, candidates, and new hires by adjusting a job and employment practice or work environment.

It’s important to know that the amendments to the ADA in 2008 broadened the legislation’s coverage by clarifying the definition of disability. Now the law more broadly covers individuals with a diagnosed/recorded impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity. This means many more people are covered by the ADA. A diagnosed impairment is not limited to a medical doctors’ diagnosis, but can include verification from other professionals, including licensed counselors, rehab counselors, occupational and physical therapists, independent living specialists, and others.

An Accommodation Primer

Before diving into tips on supporting individuals with disabilities throughout the hiring process, Lou laid out an “Accommodation Primer” to help establish an understanding of reasonable accommodations for employers. He shared three key points:

  1. The basis for equal employment is the employer’s reasonable accommodation (RA) policy and process.
  2. The foundation for reasonable accommodation is a robust interactive process (IP), meaning there’s dialogue between the employer and the individual.
  3. The trigger for RA and IP is a request for an accommodation or recognition of an obvious barrier to someone with a known disability. This means employers must listen for those who let them know they have a medical condition or chronic health condition and need support during the hiring process. It also means employers have an obligation toward those with an obvious or apparent disability.

Tips to Support Individuals with Disabilities throughout the Hiring Process

The remainder of the webinar focused on providing tips to help talent acquisition professionals understand and implement an effective reasonable accommodations process; host an inclusive interview process; conduct inclusive pre-employment testing; and incorporate reasonable accommodations into the onboarding process. Key insights included:

  • Recognizing an RA request - A request for accommodation includes two essential elements: medical condition and a challenge at work that needs to be addressed. Ultimately, there must be a connection between the ADA qualifying disability and the work the individual is doing.
  • Preparing for interviews – It’s essential for employers to prepare for interviews ahead of time and inform candidates of what the hiring process will entail. This should include sharing how they can request accommodations. Employers should remember that not all people with disabilities will need an accommodation, however having the option presents the opportunity to make the request. It’s also important to evaluate the interview and/or testing sites to identify any potential barriers or access concerns.
  • Pre-employment testing – Job applicants that require accommodations must notify the employer of these needs. Employers can ask for reasonable documentation about an applicant’s medical condition and can also choose to alter or waive aspects of a pre-employment test, particularly if this is a mutual decision among leadership. The webinar also shared potential challenges and common solutions to pre-employment testing challenges.
  • Incorporating RA during onboarding – Keys to incorporate RA into onboarding include providing employment materials in accessible formats as needed (i.e. Braille or large print), addressing computer and communication technology access, training internal staff on disability etiquette, addressing workspace modifications, and more.

Watch the playback of the webinar for the full overview of these topics, along with answers to talent acquisition professionals’ most commonly asked questions about disability inclusive hiring. For more on supporting individuals with disabilities throughout the hiring process, you can contact the contact the Getting Hired team

Contributions to this blog were made by Andraéa LaVant of Solutions Marketing Group.