Best Strategies for Accessible and Inclusive Hiring

inclusive hiring
In today’s workplace, creating an inclusive hiring process is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also a smart business decision. Embracing diversity and accessibility in hiring can lead to a wider talent pool, diverse perspectives, and ultimately, better business performance. This blog post will provide practical steps to ensure your hiring process is open to all qualified candidates, fostering a welcoming and supportive workplace while sending a positive message to the community.

Why You Should Hire More Professionals With Disabilities?

There are two compelling reasons for hiring individuals with disabilities. Firstly, they bring a wealth of talent and unique perspectives to the table. Their experiences in overcoming challenges can translate into exceptional problem-solving skills and resilience. They may also have untapped expertise in areas like accessibility or assistive technology, which can benefit your entire company.
Secondly, hiring people with disabilities demonstrates your commitment to diversity and inclusion. This can attract top talent who value working in a respectful and supportive environment. It can also enhance your company’s reputation as a socially responsible organization, attracting new customers and fostering positive community relations.

Tips for Accessible Hiring Practices:

Step 1: Job Application

  • Job description Write your job description clearly and simply, avoiding jargon and technical terms. Focus on the essential skills and experience needed for the role, and avoid language that could be unintentionally discriminatory. Ensure the description is accessible by using a dyslexia-friendly font and allowing screen readers to easily navigate it. Read more on how to use plain language to make it accessible
  • Advertising the job- Don’t limit yourself to traditional job boards. Advertise your open positions on platforms frequented by people with disabilities to reach a wider audience. Additionally, highlight your commitment to diversity and inclusion in your job ads.
  • Application process- Make applying for the job easy for everyone. Offer multiple application formats, such as online forms, email submissions, or even physical mail. Ensure your online application system is accessible to screen readers and compatible with assistive technologies.

Step 2: Medical Information

Do’s:
  • Check that applications and other forms do not ask disability-related questions .
  • Make sure that any medical examinations required are also required of all other applicants and are performed after a job offer has been extended. The job offer may be conditioned on the results of the post-offer medical examination. However, suppose a decision is made not to hire an individual based on the medical exam results. In that case, the basis for that decision must be job related and not because of the individual’s disability.
  • Keep in mind that among those protected by the ADA are qualified individuals who have a substantial limitation in a major life activity. Whether qualified individuals with a medical condition like AIDS, cancer, mental retardation, traumatic brain injuries and learning disabilities will be considered disabled under the law will depend on the facts of each case.
  • Develop procedures for maintaining and protecting confidential medical records.
  • Ensure that any disability-related information is kept confidential and shared only with those who need to know. For example, supervisors and managers may be told about necessary restrictions on the employee’s work or duties and about necessary accommodations.
Do not:
  • Make medical judgments.
  • Ask an applicant if he or she has a disability during a job interview.
  • Assume a work environment will be unsafe if an employee has a disability.

Step 3: Interviews

  • Interview format– Be flexible and accommodating with interview formats. Offer candidates the option to participate in a phone interview, video call, or in-person interview, depending on their needs and preferences.
  • Evaluation criteria– Develop a clear set of interview questions that directly assess the skills and experience required for the job. Focus on the candidate’s abilities and how they can contribute to the team, avoiding questions that are irrelevant to the position or could be discriminatory. Use the same evaluation criteria for all candidates to ensure a fair and objective hiring process.

Step 4: Onboarding

  • Accessible Onboarding Materials: Welcome new hires with accessible onboarding materials. This could include electronic documents, audio recordings, or Braille materials for those who need them.
  • Accessibility Training for Employees: Equip your team with the knowledge and skills they need to support a diverse workforce. Provide training on unconscious bias, best practices for interviewing candidates with disabilities, and creating accessible documents and presentations. This will foster a more inclusive work environment for everyone.

Step 5: Accommodations

Be open to providing reasonable accommodations to candidates and employees with disabilities. This demonstrates your commitment to inclusion and ensures everyone has a fair chance to succeed. Accommodations can vary depending on the individual’s needs but might include providing assistive technology, modifying job duties slightly, or adjusting the work environment. It’s important to work collaboratively with the candidate or employee to determine the most effective accommodations.

Step 6: Workplace Accessibility

  • Physical accessibility- A physically accessible workplace is essential for ensuring all employees can perform their jobs comfortably and safely. Here’s a two-part approach to achieve this:
    1. Evaluation of the workplace for accessibility barriers—Proactively assess your workspace for accessibility barriers. Look for narrow doorways, lack of ramps or elevators, inaccessible restrooms, or poorly lit areas. Consider involving employees with disabilities in this evaluation process to gain valuable insights.
    2. Implementation of modifications to improve accessibility- Once you’ve identified barriers, take steps to remove them. This could involve installing ramps, widening doorways, lowering light switches, or adjusting the height of desks and workstations. Consider solutions like assistive technology for doors or adjustable furniture to create a more adaptable workspace. Remember, even small modifications can make a big difference for employees with disabilities.
  • Digital accessibility- In today’s digital world, ensuring technology accessibility is crucial for a truly inclusive workplace. Here’s how to achieve this:
    1. Ensuring accessibility of technology tools and software used in the workplace- Ensure all the technology tools and software your employees use are accessible to people with disabilities. This includes:
      • Website and Applications: Ensure your company website and internal applications are compatible with screen reader software, which reads text aloud for visually impaired users.
      • Alt Text: use descriptive “alt text” to describe images on your website and documents. This allows screen readers to convey the meaning of the image to users who can’t see it.
      • Plain Language: Use plain language in all digital content, avoiding technical jargon and complex sentence structures.
    2. Training employees on creating accessible digital content- Empower your team by providing training on how to create accessible digital documents, presentations, and emails. This training can cover topics like:
      • Formatting: Using proper heading structures and clear formatting for easier navigation with screen readers.
      • Color Contrast: Ensuring sufficient color contrast between text and background for better readability for users with visual impairments.
      • Keyboard Navigation: Verifying that all interactive elements on your website and documents can be accessed and navigated using just the keyboard, which is essential for users who may not be able to use a mouse.
  • Cultural accessibility
    1. Promotion of an inclusive and respectful work culture- Cultivate a company culture that celebrates diversity and values the unique contributions of all employees, regardless of their background, disability, or any other factor. This creates a sense of belonging and allows everyone to feel comfortable expressing themselves openly.
    2. Encouragement of open communication and collaboration among all employees- Break down barriers to communication by fostering open communication and collaboration among all team members. This can involve creating safe spaces for dialogue, encouraging diverse perspectives, and valuing everyone’s ideas. By working together, your team can build a stronger and more successful workplace for everyone.

Conclusion:

By following these inclusive hiring practices, you can create a hiring process and workplace that is truly accessible and inclusive for everyone. This will allow you to tap into a wider talent pool, foster a more innovative and engaged team, and ultimately strengthen your business.

However, creating a fully accessible digital environment can be complex. Continual Engine offers a suite of digital accessibility solutions designed to help businesses of all sizes make their websites, documents, and applications accessible to everyone. Our solutions include:

  • Automated Accessibility Testing: Quickly identify and address accessibility issues on your website and digital content.
  • Accessible Document Remediation: Ensure your PDFs, presentations, and other documents are compatible with screen readers and assistive technologies.
  • Accessibility Training and Support: Equip your team with the knowledge and skills they need to create accessible digital content.

Get AI-Driven Accessibility Solutions

Empower your organization with scalable, cost-effective, and efficient tools for an inclusive user experience.

Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

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