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Recruiter's Guide to Recruiting Candidates with Disability 


As businesses undergo a war for talents in the times of limited qualified workers in many fields, individuals with disabilities are being recognised as a source of engaged, committed employees. As per 2019, there are more than 2 billions of disabled people in the world, that is 37.5 percent of the world’s population. Disabled World News reported that among those 2 billions, 31 percent of working-age individuals with disabilities are in employment, up 5.1 percent from the 2018 employment rate. 

Why recruiting individuals with disabilities? 

Accenture Accessibility Advantage revealed that companies succeeding in incorporating candidates with disabilities have seen 28 percent higher revenue and two times higher net income. In addition, these businesses also see reduced turnover, lower recruiting costs, increased productivity, as well as improved customer outreach. However, among those who employed disabled workers, many stated that they were facing difficulties in the hiring process. Therefore, recruiters have to understand the right way to recruit candidates with disabilities. 

See also: 4 Solutions to The Biggest Headaches of Being Recruiter

Understanding disability 

Let’s first understand what it means by disability. According to WHO, disability is complex, dynamic, multidimensional, and contested by human functioning which is categorised into three interconnected areas, namely impairments, activity limitations, and participation restriction. Disability can also be measured by human’s positive aspects of functioning such as body functions, activities, participation and environmental facilitation. 

Types of disabilities 

When hiring individuals with disabilities, it is important to understand that there are different types of disabilities and that each disability should and can be addressed very differently. Based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) review, there are two major categories of disabilities: cognitive and physical. 

  • Cognitive disabilities

In this category, the disabilities include some form of mental impairment, whether congenital or acquired over one’s life span. Clinical diagnoses of cognitive disabilities include autism, Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and dementia. Meanwhile, less severe cognitive conditions include attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia (difficulty reading), dyscalculia (difficulty with math), and other learning disabilities in general.

  • Physical disabilities 

In this category, the disability includes when a person experiences a limitation on his or her physical functioning, mobility, dexterity, or stamina. For example, there might be impairments that limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders, blindness, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.

Skill review 

Whilst individuals with disabilities are often overlooked by their inability and illiteracy due to poor education, many are now educated and even attending public schools like normal individuals. In addition, many skilled disabled individuals are trained by the government or communities, such as WorkBC, Australia Department of Social Services, or Vox Nostra, before they involve themselves in employment. Therefore, disabled candidates are equipped with the needed skills to work professionally, although they might need assistance on onboarding and training. 

Interview session 

After resume and qualification shortlisting, there should be an interview to know candidates further. In this regard, a recruiter should adjust the interview session with candidates with disabilities, by remaining fair and understanding what recruiters can and cannot legally do. 

As suggested by ADA, recruiters or interviewers can only ask about a disability if the person being interviewed has an obvious and visible impairment. Otherwise, the interviewer should simply ask about what the candidate can do and any reasonable accommodations candidates need to do the job for which they apply. Additionally, interviewers should leave their unconscious bias and should recognise that a physical impairment (like slow speech, deafness, or blindness) does not necessarily indicate that a candidate is intellectually impaired or that a person who is intellectually handicapped (like autistic or Down Syndrome) will not be able to complete certain physical tasks, and so on. Alternatively, employers should hire recruiters who are specialised in interviewing candidates with disabilities to conduct the practice. 

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