Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Mar 27, 2014

Ensure disabled applicants aren’t accidentally excluded from hiring process

Affirmative Action 

Online application systems can pose a major barrier to individuals with disabilities if they’re not designed correctly, according to a recent webinar offered by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Online application systems can pose a major barrier to individuals with disabilities if they’re not designed correctly, according to a recent webinar offered by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). Many web developers have no idea that their beautiful web designs pose frustrating obstacles to applicants with visual, hearing, mobility, or cognitive impairments. For example, if someone with a visual impairment uses a screen reader program, and your website contains images that aren’t descriptively labeled in hidden text (“ALT-tags”), the individual will be told there is an image, but that’s all. As an employer, especially if you are a federal contractor with affirmative action obligations, you should consider options for eliminating or at least reducing obstacles to applicants with disabilities.

If you allow online applications, then at a minimum, you should provide a phone number and email address that an applicant with a disability may use to contact you if they need a reasonable accommodation during the hiring process. You may want to encourage your web developer to review the online accessibility resources recommended by JAN, or visit JAN’s web page on online applications and web accessibility. A recording of the webinar, as well as a transcript and a copy of the PowerPoint handout, are available under “February 26, 2014. Making Online Application Systems Accessible” on JAN’s Federal Contractor Winter Webcast Series Rewind (2014).

The March 24, 2014, effective date of the new affirmative action regulations on veterans and people with disabilities is fast approaching. For federal contractors, this means that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will be scrutinizing employers’ efforts to recruit and retain individuals with disabilities, as well as protected veterans. Make sure your own application systems aren’t preventing qualified people from finding your company and applying for your jobs. Questions about the new regulations? Contact your Vigilant affirmative action representative.

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