Over a billion people worldwide live with disabilities, but businesses routinely underestimate their value. That’s like ignoring a workforce the size of several countries! To ensure the continued quality of work, boost productivity, and attract a wider talent pool, it’s vital to recruit and support employees with disabilities. Here are a few things for business leaders to consider.
Building Accessibility Into the Recruitment Process
Recruitment accessibility starts with an adaptable, customizable interview process, but it goes much deeper. Many recruitment agencies aren’t accessible or approachable for those with disabilities, but the hiring process can start with high standards when companies look beyond the recruiters they typically use. If you’re looking for quality production, count on MDI for help.
It’s also a good idea to ensure the accessibility of job descriptions and application forms. This might include providing documents in Braille, large print, or easy-to-read versions. Managers and supervisors should also ensure that online applications are screen reader compatible. Finally, try to focus job descriptions on essential qualities rather than those that would be “nice to have.”
Busting Workplace Myths
For managers who don’t know anyone with disabilities—or for those who have never worked with a disabled person—the idea of managing someone with different abilities can seem daunting. Many employers are worried about saying the wrong thing or ensuring that these employees are adequately supported. However, dispelling the most common misconceptions will give managers the knowledge and confidence to support disabled employees while maintaining a high standard of quality.
Changing Working Arrangements
It’s important for hiring managers and company owners to keep in mind that not all disabilities are physical and to take that fact into account when creating inclusive working environments. Employees with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and other neuro-divergent conditions may find loud noises and bright lights hard to tolerate. Consider providing quiet rooms, noise-canceling headphones, and natural lighting, or allow them to work remotely.
Furthermore, assistive technologies such as screen readers, voice recognition, amplified phones, and hearing loop systems can be implemented. These workplace additions aren’t giving disabled employees an unfair advantage, they only create a sense of equity while increasing the quality of work. Remember, it’s cheaper to modify the work environment than it is to hire a new employee.
Providing Specialized Training for Other Employees
Workers without disabilities are often unaware of the support requirements of differently abled colleagues. By training current employees on the challenges faced by those with disabilities, you’ll show them what they should be focusing on. For instance, some companies use webinars to show what the average day for a disabled worker is like, while others use virtual reality to prove how hard it is for neuro-divergent employees to concentrate when they’re overstimulated.
Unconscious bias training is another crucial addition that ensures high work standards in places that hire disabled employees. This type of training should teach staff not to say and do many of the things that able-bodied people do in efforts to be helpful, such as congratulating a disabled person on their bravery or aiding without being asked.
It’s All About the Worker’s Experience
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure a great experience for everyone, and that includes those with disabilities. This is not just about accessibility—it’s also about knowing what is important to these workers and designing the experiences they need. With these considerations kept in mind, companies can ensure a higher standard of work and allow disabled workers to thrive.