In 2017, less than 19% of Americans with a disability were employed. However, with the existing low rates of national unemployment and a job market that’s favorable to jobseekers, more organizations are starting to hire individuals with disabilities. And if your organization is one of them, here are seven things you should do.
1. Focus on the Benefits of Hiring Individuals with Disabilities
Studies have revealed that most workers with a disability rate “good” or “very good” regarding their quality of work, motivation, engagement, integration with coworkers, dependability, and attendance.
They are also very good for overall company morale and increase your organization’s productivity rates overall. And employees with disabilities tend to look for stable work opportunities and environments, which means your employee turnover rates will decrease.
In addition, consumers like to buy from organizations that accept and understand individuals with disabilities. And many employers of individuals with disabilities can qualify for tax credits, while others may obtain tax incentives to help make their places of business more accessible.
2. Understand Different Types of Disabilities
When hiring individuals with disabilities, it’s important to understand that there are different types of disabilities and that each disability should and can be addressed very differently. While there are many forms of disabilities, there are two major archetypal categories recognized by the U.S. federal government via the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): cognitive and physical.
Cognitive disabilities include some form of mental impairment, whether congenital or acquired over one’s life span. Clinical diagnoses of cognitive disabilities include autism, Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and even dementia. Less severe cognitive conditions include attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia (difficulty reading), dyscalculia (difficulty with math), and other learning disabilities in general.
A physical disability, whether congenital or acquired over one’s life span, is when a person experiences a limitation on his or her physical functioning, mobility, dexterity, or stamina. Other physical disabilities include impairments that limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders, blindness, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.
3. Conduct Appropriate and Fair Interviews
When interviewing candidates with a disability for a role with your organization, it’s important that you remain fair and understand what you can and cannot legally do.
First, it’s important to remember that according to the ADA, an interviewer can only ask about a disability if the person being interviewed has an obvious and visible impairment. Otherwise, the interviewer should simply ask about what the candidate can do (his or her abilities) and any reasonable accommodations he or she needs to do the job for which he or she is applying.
In addition, it’s important for interviewers to leave their unconscious biases aside. Interviewers should be conditioned to recognize, for instance, that a physical impairment (i.e., slow speech, deafness, or blindness) does not necessarily indicate that a candidate is intellectually impaired or that a person who is intellectually handicapped (i.e., is autistic or has Down Syndrome) won’t be able to complete certain physical tasks, and so on.
Watch out for tomorrow’s post, which will highlight the remaining four things that you and your organization should do when hiring individuals with disabilities.