Molly Watt, Accessibility & Usability Consultant at Nexer Digital, is a keynote speaker and blogger who champions disability inclusion across organisations. In this article, she explains why all businesses should prioritise accessibility and diversity.
Maintaining a standard of accessibility in the recruitment process
Approximately 1 billion (one in seven) of the world’s population have a disability, which is more people than those with blue eyes, including 21% of working-age adults. Eight in ten acquire their disability between the ages of 18 and 64, typical working age, and are 50% less likely to be employed. By excluding disabled people in hiring processes, businesses are reducing their hiring pool and ignoring talent, which is a big mistake, especially for those who are facing a talent shortage.
Accessibility needs to be thought of during every stage of hiring, starting with the webpage potential employees use to find and apply for jobs. If disabled applicants have to wrestle with inaccessible websites, chances are they won’t apply, excluding them from opportunities and causing employers to miss out on talent.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are an internationally recognised and adopted set of recommendations for improving web accessibility, covering four core principles: ensuring content is perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Using these guidelines as a benchmark will help to make this first step of the recruitment inclusive.
What a disabled person may need must be closely considered in any communications and throughout the hiring process. For example, don’t offer a candidate with hearing loss a phone interview when they might benefit more from lip reading in person or on a video call and ensure an in-person interview with someone with a motor disability isn’t only accessible by stairs. When interviewing autistic candidates, try to remove or reduce any potential sensory triggers in the environment. As a general rule, ask the candidate what they may need in advance to make the interview process more comfortable for them.
Interviewers should have undertaken D&I training so they are aware of and can address biases. Don’t forget that the prospective employee will be paying attention to this during the process – if they feel they are accommodated for and understood, the more likely they are to want to give their skills to the company.
Why businesses need to prioritise inclusion
Attitudes towards disability in society and the workplace have progressed in recent years. We’ve seen a significant shift in how those with disabilities are treated at work and beyond, but there is always room for improvement. A momentum of progress has been formed and this needs to be maintained and expanded upon in the future.
Workplaces benefit from additional inclusive practices and advancements, and business leaders have a responsibility to ensure their workplaces are suitably equipped from both an accessibility and workplace culture point of view. This means a suitable recruitment process that champions equality, accessible spaces and tools upon employment, and overall, a workplace that is welcoming and supportive of all types of people.
About Molly Watt
Molly was born deaf and lost her sight at the age of 14 due to a condition called Usher Syndrome. She now relies on a guide dog and other various accessibility tools to support her and allow her to be independent.
As well as her work as a Usability and Accessibility Consultant at Nexer Digital, a human-centred design agency, Molly gives talks about living as a Deafblind person, the challenges this entails and the progress that still needs to be made in accessibility and inclusion. In addition, she is a trustee at the Molly Watt Trust, working to raise awareness of Usher Syndrome and the importance of assistive technology
Thank you Molly!
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