Diversity and Inclusion
Practical, simple tips for improving diversity and inclusion in your business or organization.
Hiring / Employment
- Update your EEOC notice. At the end of your job announcements, listings and application pages include a statement about welcoming applications from people with disabilities (pwd). State how an applicant can request accommodations for an interview and that requesting accommodations will not impact the hiring decision. Many pwd will assume/fear that they will face discrimination. Remember every employee must be qualified and able to perform the essential function of the job with or without accommodation.
- Do not make the interview a personality test. People on the Autism spectrum often do not interview well (although many do!). If a bubbly verbal communication style is not a qualification for the job don’t make that an expectation of the interview. Create questions that are more literal, objective and performance oriented. Be direct, listen to what is said and limit reading into body language.
- Employee Resource Groups (ERG). Community is important and social isolation among people with disabilities is a real problem. Get like minded people together or those facing similar challenges and those who emthathize with them and just talk. We are better together.
- Vocational rehabilitation (VR). Each state has a vocational rehabilitation (aka voc rehab) system that supports people with disabilities in preparing for and finding work. The VR system is not a drug rehabilitation or criminal rehabilitation program (a common misconception). VR is federally mandated and each state has its own implementation. VR offices are generally very receptive to hearing from businesses (as much enthusiasm as a State bureaucracy can muster anyway). VR staff will be able to connect you to local resources, community-based organization which should be able to support your goals. Find your VR system here.
- Community-Based Organizations (CBO). Locally/regionally there are usually nonprofit organizations that serve the needs of people with disabilities. Getting in touch with them to find out what services they offer directly and networking with them to discover other services is a rewarding and efficient way to build a support network. Make the relationship reciprocal: ask them for help and support their organization (they need it)!
- Local Accessibility Experts (AT Expert). Locally/regionally there are usually experts who can do individual assessments or training for accessibility, accommodation and are knowledgeable about available accessibility technology (AT). Discovering them usually takes some networking. VR or a community-based organization can probably connect you. These are often individuals who have been working in the community and at times not a business that you can Google.
- Job Accommodation Network. askjan.org is widely considered the industry standard for identifying reasonable accommodations.
- Captioning and ASL Services. American Sign Language (asl) interpreters are a standard for accommodating hard of hearing or Deaf individuals. Interpreters ofter work through agencies so discovering your local agency would be helpful. They can also help you determine what your needs are in a given situation.
- Desk heights. To accommodate those in wheelchairs, the humble “deskolator” (plastic/rubber riser/puck) is the traditional standard that can adapt pretty much anything and while not an impressive technology like a hydraulically lifted desk actually work really well for an on-the-fly solution. For a more permanent solution, working with the individual to determine the best setup is ideal.
- Windows and Macs built-in accessibility. Recent versions of operating systems have a reasonable collection of built-in accessibility features. For those who want to try out screen magnification or a screen reader to accommodate vision loss, it is as simple as turning it on. This will give users a chance to try out these solutions and for some, they will be sufficient. If they are not sufficient but seem like a potential solution, there are commercial versions that offer a deeper level of features and functionality which may work better. Training for the use of this software is very helpful or required. Consult with your local AT expert. Apple’s Accessibility Page. Microsoft’s Accessibility Page.