Part 2: Accessibility and Accommodations
It is important for employers to understand the candidate experience for job seekers with disabilities. The first part of doing this is going back to basics to fully understand Disability 101. Secondly, truly understanding accessibility and accommodations are key to helping improve the hiring process for candidates with disabilities.
Inaccessible online job applications and misunderstandings about reasonable accommodations can be two barriers to employment for job seekers with disabilities. Accessibility is defined as “the design of products, devices, services, and/or environments for people of varying abilities.”
There are multiple federal laws that outline requirements and guidelines around access and employment. This includes Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities; Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1), which defines how to make Web content more accessible to people with disabilities; and Title 1 of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities with equal access to employment opportunities and reasonable accommodations by employers with 15 employees or more.
“Accessibility” can be broken into four categories:
- Universal Design - making something accessible to all people regardless of age, disability or other factor. An example is using voice access on a cell phone.
- Physical Accessibility - access to the physical environment. Examples are parking lots, conference rooms, workspaces, hallways, interview locations, and emergency exits.
- Digital Accessibility - ability of a website, mobile application, or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users.
- Assistive Technology - assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities. Examples are screen readers or speech-to-text applications.
Under the ADA, a reasonable accommodation is defined as “a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process.” If a job candidate requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer should provide or direct the candidate to the company’s accommodation statement.
Other tips on providing accessibility and accommodations include:
- Ensuring your social media posts are accessible! Job seekers often turn to social media for their job search and to research a company’s employer brand prior to applying. One example of accessibility is having closed captioning in every video.
- Ensuring all work-related, non-HTML content like PDFs, Excel, etc. are fully accessible. Acrobat Pro has a “check accessibility” tool to ensure your PDFs are accessible. Current employees who have not self-disclosed having a disability may greatly benefit from accessible documents.
- The accommodation statement should be in an easy-to-find place. Best practice is to have it both at the bottom of all pages of the website in an easy-to-read size font, and at the bottom of all job descriptions.
While there is a common misconception that accommodations are expensive, most accommodations cost less than $500, and 59 percent cost nothing at all. In fact, remaining proactive about providing accommodations often benefits everyone in the workplace. Here are some examples of accommodations.
Find an A-Z guide of disabilities and accommodations, as well as what actual candidates have to say about accommodations on pages 17-19 of our eBook. Check back for our next installment in this series on Unconscious Bias.
For more resources and guidance on accessibility and accommodations, contact the Getting Hired team.