Disability Etiquette and How to Welcome People with Disabilities

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Imagine you have no experience working or interacting alongside people with disabilities. It may seem like a big challenge to brainstorm recruiting techniques or write disability policies for your organization. Ideally, we’ve all had some experience with disabled individuals, as one out of every six people in the world has some type of disability, according to the World Health Organization. As disability in the workplace has become more of a conversation in society, how can we encourage this discussion in the workplace as well? Creating knowledgeable human resource professionals is great first step!

What is disability etiquette? It’s strategies put in place by human resources or management that encourage inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. Having all employees on the same page about disability practices is a great way to maintain a positive work environment for people with disabilities.

How can you start the conversation or at least have everyone on the same page in your workplace? Starting with consistent recruitment practices from human resources will affect your entire organization. Here are a few ideas to increase disability etiquette in each area of HR recruiting:

Recruitment Etiquette

  • First of all, including a line or two about equal opportunity employment on your job postings is welcoming and encourages people with disabilities to apply. Keep in mind, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to display posters about Equal Opportunity Employment. (You can find those posters online.)
  • Take time to consider if this job opening could have flexibility for people with disabilities, such as telecommuting or an adjustable schedule. If it’s an option, be sure to include that on the job posting.
  • Attend disability and/or diversity career fairs to establish connections with agencies that assist in the process of hiring people with disabilities. Just being a presence at a community event could encourage others to apply to your organization.
  • Only include job requirements that are necessary and make those requirements equal for all candidates.

Interview Etiquette

  • Offer accommodations (sign language interpreter, aide, etc.) to be provided upon request if that’s possible with your organization.
  • This may seem obvious, but pick an accessible location within your building or office. Keep in mind that candidates may need an accessible way into the space. If your building has been constructed in recent years, it’s probably already ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible by law.
  • People with disabilities may need to arrange transportation before and after the interview. Would it be possible to let them know how long the interview will last? That’s not always possible, but it would be nice to give a heads up to any candidate!
  • If an aide or interpreter is present for the interview, speak directly to the candidate while conversing, not the aide.

New Employee Etiquette

  • Your organization is required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. What does that mean? Reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the work environment to make the workplace equal opportunity for everyone there, essentially creating an equal playing field for people with disabilities. You can read this post all about the Americans with Disabilities Act and reasonable accommodation for more information.
  • Think about ways you could add assistive technology to your workplace. Not sure what that means? There have been many applications and gadgets create to make the workplace more accessible to people with disabilities in recent years. If you’re not sure what’s available, you can check out this post to learn all about assistive technology options!
  • Consider offering training with current staff about disability laws and regulations so everyone is on the same page in your workplace.
  • Update your emergency plans and procedures for everyone on your staff, making sure you consider needs for people with disabilities in your workplace.

These are just a few ideas on how to increase your disability etiquette within your organization. While recruiting or hiring people with disabilities, don’t assume anything! Just because a person has a disability, doesn’t mean they are defined by that one identity. The best thing you can do is be informed about current legislation and laws, and welcome everyone to your workplace!

What is disability etiquette and how can your work environment welcome people with disabilities?

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