Information for Employers Regarding Employees with Disabilities
Why Hire People with Disabilities?
Competence and Flexibility
While research shows that people with disabilities make excellent employees, not all employers know how to effectively recruit, hire and retain such individuals. That’s where this booklet comes in. It’s a quick reference guide outlining the advantages of hiring people with disabilities, along with four simple steps to increasing the inclusiveness of your workforce. With numerous resources and Web links, the following pages are a helpful starting point for organizations looking to benefit from the talents of qualified individuals with disabilities. Download the booklet here.
Access the resources below to learn why hiring employees with disabilities makes good business sense.
Return on Investment
Tax Benefits for Private Employer
Human Capital Benefits for Federal Employers.
Recruiting Employees with Disabilities
The first step in tapping this labor pool is effective recruitment. The following are practical resources to help with the process.
Build Tomorrow’s Talent Pipeline.
Utilize New Resources.
Interviewing & Hiring Employees with Disabilities
The successful employment of people with disabilities requires accessible hiring processes and an understanding of the legal environment in which hiring takes place. The following resources can help.
Job Advertisements & Applications.
Employers are as perplexed by the social aspects of interviewing someone with a disability as they are by the legal concerns. Here are some basic guidelines for keeping a job interview focused on the applicants’ qualifications.
When Interviewing An Applicant With Any Disability
Don’t ask questions in terms of disability, such as, “Do you have a mental condition that would preclude you from qualifying for this position?”
Do ask job-related questions: “How would you perform this particular task?”
Don’t ask, “How often will you require leave for treatment of your condition?”
However, you may state the organization’s attendance requirements and ask if the applicant can meet them.
Don’t start the interview by trying to elicit the applicants’ needs for accommodation. The interview should focus on whether the candidate is qualified for the job in question. Focus on the applicants’ abilities. If there is a need for a discussion concerning accommodations, this should come later.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to request accommodations. Don’t ask the job applicant, “Will you need accommodations?” or “What kind of accommodations will you need?” However, if you have concerns over an applicant’s ability to perform an essential function of a job, given the applicant’s obvious or disclosed disability, you can ask the applicant how he or she would perform the task.
Always offer to shake hands. Do not avoid eye contact, but don’t stare either.
Treat the applicant as you would any other adult — don’t be patronizing. If you don’t usually address applicants by their first name, don’t make an exception for the applicants with disabilities.
If you feel it appropriate, offer the applicant assistance (for example, if an individual with poor grasping ability is having trouble opening a door), but don’t assume it will necessarily be accepted. Don’t automatically give assistance with asking first.
When Interviewing An Applicant Who Uses A Wheelchair
- Get on the same eye level with the applicant if the conversation lasts more than a minute or so.
- Don’t push the wheelchair unless you are asked to do so.
- Keep accessibility in mind. Is that chair in the middle of your office a barrier to a wheelchair user? If so, move it aside.
- Don’t be embarrassed to use such phrases as “Let’s walk over to the plant.”
When interviewing an applicant who is intellectually disabled
When giving instructions or directions, proceed slowly.
Be patient and repeat directions if necessary.
Ask the applicant to summarize the information you have given to make sure it was understood.
Give positive feedback whenever possible and appropriate.
When interviewing an applicant who is blind
Use verbal cues; be descriptive in giving directions. (“The table is about five steps to your left.”)
Don’t be embarrassed to use such phrases as “Do you see what I mean?”
Keep doors either open or closed; a half-open door is a serious hazard.
Offer assistance with mobility; let the applicant grasp your left arm, usually just above the elbow. Again, ask first, and do not be surprised is assistance is refused.
Do not touch an applicant’s cane. Do not touch a guide dog when it is in a harness. Resist the temptation to pet a guide dog.
When interviewing an applicant who is deaf
If the applicant is lip reading, enunciate clearly, keep your mouth clear of obstructions, and place yourself where there is ample lighting. Keep in mind that an accomplished lip reader will be able to clearly understand only 30-35 percent of what you are saying.
The best method to communicate is to use a combination of gestures and facial expressions.
If you don’t understand what the applicant is telling you, don’t pretend you did. Ask the person to repeat the sentence(s).
If necessary, use a sign language interpreter. But keep in mind that the interpreter’s job is to translate, not to get involved in any other way. Therefore, always face and speak directly to the applicant, not the interpreter. Don’t say to the interpreter, “Tell her…..”
Helping Your Employees with Disabilities Achieve Workplace Success
Once an employee with a disability is a part of the team, there are many resources available to help employers ensure workplace productivity, health, and safety.
All employees need the right tools and work environment to effectively perform their jobs. “Reasonable accommodations” are modifications or adjustments to jobs, work environments, or workplace policies that enable qualified employees with disabilities to perform the fundamental duties of their jobs and have equal access to benefits available to employees without disabilities. The following resources can help you understand reasonable accommodations, which are often easier and less expensive to implement than commonly believed.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) - List of Publications
Safety & Emergency Preparedness and People with Disabilities
Retention of Employees with Disabilities
Finally, employers must take steps to keep their employees happy, healthy, and professionally fulfilled. The resources below address career development for people with disabilities, disability-related leave, and return-to-work issues.
Medical- and Disability-Related Leave.
- Job Accommodations for Return-to-Work
- Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Act (USERRA). Visit the following web site for an on-line course and general information on this law that details your rights and responsibilities for reemploying employees who were called for active duty.
Additional Employer Resources
- Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor
ODEP is a policy agency that provides national leadership by developing and influencing disability-related employment policy and practice affecting the employment of people with disabilities.
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
JAN is a free service of ODEP that provides productivity tools and strategies for hiring, accommodating, and retaining employees with disabilities: http://www.jan.wvu.edu/empl/index.htm
General Employment Resources
Additional employer resources directly or indirectly related to employees with disabilities:
Related Initiatives & Employer Networks
- ODEP Alliance Initiative – A cooperative program that enables organizations committed to improving disability workplace practices to work with ODEP to
develop and implement model policies and initiatives that increase recruiting, hiring, advancing, and retaining workers with disabilities.
- US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) – A national organization that represents employers using a “business to business” strategy to promote the
business imperative of including people with disabilities in the workforce.
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – The world’s largest professional association devoted to human resource management.
- America’s Heroes at Work – A web based resource that focuses on the employing returning wounded and injured military who sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).