A Summary of Private Sector Practices
The 2012 Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) publication “Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion” identified seven action areas for inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. They are:
- Lead the Way: Inclusive Business Culture
- Hire (and Keep) the Best: Personnel Processes
- Ensure Productivity: Reasonable Accommodation Procedures
- Build the Pipeline: Outreach and Recruitment
- Communicate: External and Internal Communication of Company Policies and Practices
- Be Tech Savvy: Accessible Information and Communication Technology
- Grow Success: Accountability and Continuous Improvement Systems
Companies that include disability in their diversity inclusion plans recognize that the ‘gold standard’ of full inclusion may start with a reasonable accommodation plan, but sets as their ultimate goal an inclusive design that supports every employee on a career continuum. Inclusive design starts with the application process to ensure everyone enters through the same “door” in an easy and seamless way. All individuals with or without disabilities independently access and navigate through the applicant page on the company’s website.
Much like the printing press revolutionized access to information for the middle class during the Renaissance, accessible IT has the potential to grant people with disabilities unrestricted access to resources and information that can empower them to move up the economic ladder today. Accessibility standards and technologies have stabilized, and now the last hurdle is action by owners of websites, portals, and applications to make their code accessible and compliant with these standards. By establishing accessibility programs in our companies that address this last hurdle, we can truly create equal conditions and opportunities for employment of all individuals.
CEO, Deque Systems, Inc.
Inclusive physical and electronic access is another key factor contributing to the new employee’s success. Inclusive access draws upon the principles of Universal Design and focuses on creating systems to enable all job applicants, employees, clients, contractors, customers and visitors to feel welcome and comfortable. Inclusive access allows all employees to maximize productivity and enjoy the full benefits of employment. Universal design principles apply to physical space, equipment, information technology applications and company benefits. Recognizing that the “gold standard” is an ideal for which to strive, disability inclusive employers implement reasonable accommodation policies and procedures for the entire employment process from recruitment through advancement and retention.
Effective Private Industry Accommodation Policies & Practices
- The first step is for the businesses’ leadership to embrace accessible and usable internal and external information and communications technology.
- The second step is to conduct a review and evaluation of all corporate communications and technology policies and practices; if there is no internal expertise, start with an evaluation conducted by an external accessibility vendor.
- After the evaluation is completed, form an internal accessibility team leveraging your disability Employee or Business Resource Group and supplemented by external consultations as needed, including the Job Accommodation Network.
- Develop partnerships with non-profit organizations that have disability expertise and can provide objective feedback on usability.
- Develop corporate-wide governance policies and procedures that include a screening and review of all company projects including all web projects.
- Guide your efforts by using standards and guidances that other businesses have found reliable including the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA http://www.w3c.org/TR/WCAG10/full-checklist.html, the United States Access Board’s Section 508 Standards.
Information & Communications Resources
- Access Board
- Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP)
“Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion”
- The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
- National Employer Technical Assistance Center’s Web Accessibility
- ODEP Technology Technical Assistance Documents