PEAT Talks Recap: Building Accessible Online Recruiting & Hiring Systems

One of the great promises of technology is that it can, and should, open the doors for people with disabilities to participate in the workplace by eliminating barriers. 

Would you be surprised to learn that it’s not working out that way? Denis Boudreau, a web accessibility consultant and strategist for Deque Systems, was startled to discover that according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the employment rate for people with disabilities has actually decreased as technology has become more dominant in workplaces. In 2000, the employment rate of people with disabilities was 24.40%; by 2014, it had decreased to 12.9%

Research shows that on average, two-thirds of people with disabilities would like to find employment, but they can’t. On a hunch, Denis decided to test the basic accessibility of top five job hunting sites: Indeed, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Monster, and Simply Hired. He tested for keyboard accessibility, images, forms, and text re-sizing. 

The results were grim. Four out of five flunked all four tests completely. One site passed three tests, but likely only because it’s the simplest site and doesn’t have much information. And none of the sites had accessible forms–which is pretty important if it’s an application form! After all, if you can’t even fill out the application form, how can you get the job? 

Denis had this to say to his fellow technology developers: “We have a responsibility to create applications that are accessible and usable by the largest number of people possible. Otherwise, why bother building them in the first place?” He challenged technology developers to use a simple test to navigate through their work– take away the mouse and try using just a keyboard. In his view, it shouldn’t matter if a site is simple or complex, with a lot of information and images. As he notes, “If you build with accessibility in mind from the beginning, then complexity is not a factor.”  

Check out the archived PEAT Talks video for details on the accessibility testing Denis did, and tips he shared for technology developers to make their work more accessible. Share your comments and thoughts. If you are technology developer, what do you find the most challenging about accessibility? Do you start a project with accessibility in mind from the beginning? 


 PEAT Talks is a monthly virtual speaker series to showcase organizations and individuals whose work is advancing accessible technology in the workplace. Held the third Thursday of every month at 2:00 pm ET, these events are designed to be energetic and interactive discussions highlighting a spectrum of exciting work. Featured speakers will deliver a 10 to 15 minute talk and then field questions from attendees. To see upcoming events in this series, please visit our calendar.