Did you know companies that hire people with disabilities earn 28% higher revenue, have twice the net income, and have 30% higher economic profit margins than their peers? To ensure this underrepresented talent pool can succeed within your organization, you need to focus on accessibility.
That’s where PEAT comes in. This June, PEAT joined The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) in the webinar, Digital Accessibility: Driving Disability Inclusion in the Workplace. The webinar was hosted by Steven Nissen, Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).
Recruiting Without Bias
Jenny Yang, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) spoke emphatically about the need to ensure that modern hiring practices are inclusive and equitable. Highlighting the potential barriers to job seekers with disabilities, Yang shared how recruiting technology can unintentionally introduce bias. She delved deeper into the topic stating, “It’s especially important to ensure that technology is not exacerbating employment discrimination against workers with disabilities or based on race, gender, national origin or other basis.”
Citing the need for inclusion in every phase of the recruitment process, Yang discussed how bias can keep eligible candidates from succeeding in the interview stage. An example she mentioned was video-based interviews that measure facial expressions, eye contact, and voice intonation to evaluate candidates. These systems can prevent qualified candidates with disabilities from securing employment.
Yang also explained that digital recruitment systems often shape the workforce by finding candidates similar to existing employees. These systems may only reproduce the status quo, which could perpetually lack diversity. It benefits everyone to pay close attention to these technologies and actively work to combat inherent bias within them.
Remote Work Accessibility
PEAT’s Co-director Corinne Weible furthered the discussion by presenting on ways to increase workplace inclusion through accessible presentations. Telework and hybrid options have become the norm for many in the past year. Since remote work is the top accessibility accommodation requested by people with disabilities, this is a positive shift. However, with remote work comes new accessibility challenges – one of which is making remote meetings accessible.
Weible shared the “curb cut effect” to show that accessibility does not just benefit those with disabilities. After The Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, curb cuts were constructed to ensure wheelchair accessibility. While the intended benefit was for people with disabilities, the new design actually helped families with strollers, delivery people, and many others. Similarly, creating an accessible meeting can have far-reaching benefits.
Weible explained ways to build accessibility into each step of preparing for, giving, and following up on a presentation. A few tips include:
- Research the accessibility capabilities of online meeting platforms
- Think about what specifics might be necessary, such as:
- File sharing
- Screen sharing
- Chat functions
- Polling tools
- Whiteboard functions
- Audience participation tools
- Ensure live captioning is available
- Prepare presenters ahead of time regarding the meeting’s accessibility
These are just a few of the considerations needed to make a meeting accessible. For a comprehensive guide, you can use PEAT’s Checklist for Accessible Virtual Meetings and Presentations.
Visit these resources to learn more about implementing accessible digital practices in your workplace.
- Watch the EARN webinar and read related materials
- Listen to the Workology Podcast episode on Ethics and Bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology featuring Merve Hickok
- Read EARN’s guide on Adopting an Integrated Telework Policy for Employees With and Without Disabilities
- Read PEAT’s article on Telework Accessibility and the Law
- Read PEAT’s materials on Telework and Accessibility