First of all, the following indicators show that an organization is willing to "walk the talk" of a disability-friendly workplace:
- The CEO is committed to a disability-friendly workplace.
- A written document to all staff affirms the commitment.
- Policies, procedures, and practices specifically mention disability.
- Persons with disabilities are on the board of directors.
- Employees and customers with disabilities appear in the annual report.
- Workers with disabilities are employed at all levels of the organization.
- The organization's products or services are marketed to customers with disabilities.
Educate Your Employees
Another key factor is educating all your employees about disabilities. Employees who are armed with facts will be less inclined to discriminate or fear. Some possibilities:
- Establish a training program or at least an information resource.
- Include disability-related materials in new employee orientation programs.
- Provide additional information on an ongoing basis.
- Form a disability support group.
- Make sure hiring and selection procedures comply with the ADA. Remember that the ADA prohibits disability-related questions or medical exams before a real offer is made.
- Make sure employment offices and interviewing locations are accessible.
- Be prepared to make reasonable accommodations to help individuals with disabilities during the hiring process. For example, provide assistance to a blind person who requests help in filling out an application. Or an applicant with an intellectual disability might need an accommodation such as providing someone to read or interpret application materials; demonstrating, rather than describing, what the job requires; or modifying tests, training materials, and/or policy manuals.
- Train and advance workers with disabilities.
- Make training materials available in alternate formats such as large print or Braille.
During an interview with a candidate with disabilities, do not speculate or try to imagine how you would perform a specific job if you had the applicant's disability. (However, you may ask a candidate with an obvious disability, or who has revealed a disability to you, how he or she would perform an essential function. You may also ask if the person would require accommodation and, if so, what type of accommodation.)
Concentrate on technical and professional knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, and interests, not on the disability. Make sure all questions are job-related.
Read more tips on creating a disability-friendly workplace in the HR Daily Advisor.