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How to Start a Recruitment Process with a Person with a Disability

recruiting Jul 25, 2022

According to the World Health Organization, there are over one billion people that live with a disability. Sadly, in 2021 only 19.1% of persons with disabilities were employed, as opposed to 63.7% of persons without disabilities.

As you can see, even though so many people struggle with disability, society does not seem to meet their needs properly. The lack of physical accessibility, problems with access to healthcare, and stereotypes are just examples of challenges they face daily.

Seeking a job when you have a disability is also difficult. Employers that wish to support them should talk to the recruiting agencies or adjust their own recruiting process to meet their needs. If this is what you’re interested in, here is our take on how to start a recruitment process with a person with a disability.

1. Be careful with the Language.

People that live with a disability had many different names in the past: from crippled and handicapped, to disabled and invalid. While some seem to think that the term we use does not matter, they’re wrong. The language we use reflects our culture and values.

Even if it doesn’t matter to us, we’re not the ones that should decide. People that live with disabilities should be able to choose what they want to be called. And they’ve expressed their opinion on this matter – they’d like to be addressed as “persons with disabilities”.

Don’t forget that they’re a person first and that their disability does not define them.

2. Organize Disability Awareness Training.

If you want to hire persons with disabilities, we advise you to organize disability awareness training for your recruiters and HR staff.

Disability awareness training aims to explain more about the types of disabilities you may encounter, how disabilities impact a person’s work, how you can create a more inclusive workplace, and how to make your recruitment processes accessible to all.

We’re often not aware of our biases and the way we communicate with those that aren’t just like us, which is why this training should help us better understand persons with disabilities. This way you’ll not only ensure a fair and accessible recruitment process, but also an inclusive environment.

3. Remove Unintended Barriers.

When we’re crafting job requirements, we often include some requirements that don’t reflect the role descriptions. For instance, we often include a driving license as a requirement. But not all job positions actually include driving on a daily basis.

Reviewing these job requirements and matching them to the role description is a must if you want to ensure that you’ve removed all unintended barriers.

Some other barriers persons with disabilities face include accessibility barriers on the employer’s premises, fear of legal challenges if the employment doesn’t work out, fear of insurance issues, and many other similar barriers.

Finally, you will obviously need to ensure that your website is accessible. Applicants with disabilities will need to access your website, regardless of abilities. You can examine your website's level of accessibility using a website accessibility tester tool.

4. Make Accessible and Disability-Friendly Job Ads.

Regular job ads are usually not supportive and disability-friendly. This means you’ll need to tweak them a bit to make them more accessible. Here are some useful tips:

  • Use an Easy-To-Read Font.

Fonts that are smaller than 12pt are very difficult to read, especially for those with sight impairments. For that reason, it’s best to use fonts that are larger than that. Italic letters should also be avoided, as they’re not accessible at all.

  • Emphasize That You Have an Equal Opportunities Policy.

Persons with disabilities often hesitate to apply for jobs because they fear that the employer won’t want to hire them because of their disability.

If you clearly state that you’ll welcome applications from all qualified candidates, regardless of their race, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or age, they will feel much more open to contacting you.

  • Allow Applications in Different Formats.

In today’s age of technology, most employers only include online application forms. But, some people struggle with filling out online forms, while others are more comfortable sending an application in a form of a video.

Try to be open to other forms, such as a paper document, a transcribed phone call, completed on behalf of the applicant by a supporter, or a video form.

  • Provide a Contact Person That Isn’t a Recruiter.

Providing a contact person that isn’t participating in the assessment will allow the candidate to discuss adjustments, without fearing that would be considered a disadvantage in the recruitment process.

5. Modify Assessment Process.

To make the process more inclusive, all candidates should have the opportunity to ask for an adjustment to the recruitment process. Keep in mind that they may be hesitant to ask for it, so it’s important to let them know of that option in a sensitive manner.

For instance, you can decide to focus solely on inclusive work sample tests or a presentation and skip an interview entirely. If they’re not comfortable with being assessed by three or more people, you can reduce the number of assessors to one or two. You can also offer to conduct a group interview and work skills tests if that’s what they prefer.

Also, keep in mind that assessments that are time-tracked are less accessible to those who struggle with anxiety disorders, read slowly, or have manual dexterity challenges. As people with dyslexia may have difficulty reading a lot of written material, you can offer them additional time to finish the test or conduct the test verbally.

Bottom line is that modifying the assessment process depends entirely on the type of disability.

6. Adjust the Interviewing Process.

The interviewing process may also need some adjustments. For instance, you may have to change the room where you interview the candidates if it has no wheelchair access or dim the lights if a person is sensitive to bright lights.

Applicants who use screen-readers should be allowed to bring their own laptops for the written assessment. If they struggle with presenting their answers in writing, offer an alternative method that includes talking and transcribing their answers.

7. Interview Etiquette.

Candidates with a disability should be treated just like everyone else, with respect and courtesy. It’s normal to feel a bit nervous, so here are some tips and guidelines:

  • A handshake is nearly always appropriate, even if the person has limited use of their hands or an artificial limb. If this is not possible, greet them with a smile.
  • Don’t touch or move the candidate’s wheelchair without their permission. Their wheelchairs are part of their personal space.
  • If the candidate is blind or has low vision, don’t grab their hand when you’re guiding them. Offer your left hand instead and let them hold you just above the elbow.
  • Don’t shout at a hard-of-hearing person, as speaking louder exaggerates the lip movements and makes lip-reading more difficult.

To Sum Up

Adjusting your recruitment process and spreading disability awareness is easy, but it really means a lot to persons with disabilities. We really hope that this article inspired you to tweak your processes and give these people a chance to shine.


Zoi Kotsou

Copywriter - Content writer - Content Strategist

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