Post date: 05/24/2016 - 16:51
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According to research by BMO Financial Group (2013)

  • 90% of Canadians recognize that our society is not fully inclusive; however,
  • 69% of small businesses in Canada have NEVER hired a person with a disability.

People with disability can bring a range of skills, talents, qualifications and abilities to your business, yet for many they also represent part of Canada’s untapped workforce.

In 2012, just over 2.1 million people aged 25 to 64, or 11% of the population in this age group, reported being limited in their daily activities because of a mental or physical disability—conditions related to seeing, hearing, mobility, flexibility, dexterity, pain, learning, development, mental/psychological disorder or memory.

For companies, there are a number of real benefits to hiring people with disability. They are very reliable, in that they take fewer days off, take less sick leave and have a higher retention rate than other workers.

Employees with disability are also productive - in the right job, they perform equally as well as other employees.

Recruitment, insurance cover and compensation costs are also lower for people with disability, and they have fewer compensation incidents and accidents at work in comparison to other employees.

So what can you do to make sure you are attracting people with disability when you advertise a job, and what are some of the things you need to think about when hiring?

1. Focus on the result you want to achieve

From the time you sit down to write a first draft of your job description, think about the essential requirements for the job and what you want your new employee to achieve. Focus on the end result rather than how they’ll get there.

For instance, instead of “minimum typing speed”, you could say “produce quality reports”. Instead of “excellent phone skills”, you could say “ability to establish strong customer relationships”. This will give your applicants some flexibility to show how they can help you get the results you are looking for.

2. Think ahead of the interview

If an applicant discloses disability before the interview, ask them if they need any adjustments. Consider things like how they will find or enter the venue, and whether they require supports to be available at the interview. Try to make the first meeting with your company friendly and stress-free.

It’s also worth making a commitment to give every applicant with disability an interview. This will give them a real opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to do their job, beyond what was in the scope of the written application.

At the interview, only ask questions about the person’s disability if it’s for legitimate and non-discriminatory purposes, for example:

  • To determine whether they can perform job requirements.
  • To identify any reasonable adjustments that may be necessary during their work process.

Avoid questions that have negative assumptions or questions asking about the nature and origin of the disability. For instance, ask ‘Will you need any changes or adjustments to the workplace in order to perform your job?’ rather than ‘How would your disability affect your ability to carry out the job?’

3. Make your information accessible

Make sure that documents like position descriptions, application forms and questionnaires are available in accessible formats. Microsoft Word has a built-in accessibility checker to make sure that people using screen readers can understand your documents.

Consider providing alternatives to written tests, and be flexible with the way that your applicants present the essential information. Also think about whether medical or aptitude tests are essential to the job requirements before you include them.

4. Not everyone will disclose disability

People with disability have a choice to disclose or not, and like everyone they also have the right for their personal information to be kept private.

There is no legal obligation for an employee to disclose disability unless it affects their ability to do the tasks that must be carried out to get the job done. In some cases disability may only become evident once the person is employed.

5. Encourage a flexible workplace

A flexible workplace could help you to attract different people, including people with disability.

For example, an employee with disability could take medication that may have adverse effects on their work performance at particular times (that is, making them tired and lethargic). By offering flexible or part-time working hours, employees with disability can work when they are most productive. This will allow them to access the same working opportunities as other employees.

6. Make adjustments to the workplace

If you employ a person with disability, it is important that you make any appropriate or reasonable adjustments to the work environment to accommodate them.

Most people with disability will not require any major adjustments to be made in the workplace and many will require no adjustment at all.

People who do require adjustments will generally tell you what will be effective for them; but you may also need to ask, in a legitimate and non-discriminatory way.

If you do need to make reasonable adjustments, this might include changes to work practices, alterations to facilities or access to specific aids or equipment—such as adjustments to work arrangements to accommodate breaks, providing an adjustable height desk for a person using a wheelchair or arranging access to a telephone typewriter.

Workplace accommodations can range from “soft accommodations” like adjusting weekly targets or repositioning an employee’s keyboard to “hard accommodations” like moving the employee to an entirely new workspace or providing assistive technologies. Assistive technologies are one of the more common methods of accommodation – the appropriate software and hardware can make all the difference in an employee’s comfort and ability to get their work done. http://www.ccrw.org/learn-more/accommodation-examples/

Before you purchase any special equipment, have your employee(s) test them out first.

You should also look at your worksite for accessibility issues or potential hazards. An accessible organization offers equal access to things like buildings, meetings, interviews, teleconferences, websites, systems, information and learning and development resources.

7. Make the most of free services

There are plenty of services that can help you employ and retain people with disability, and they won’t cost your business anything.

Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work’s (CCRW). http://www.ccrw.org/ The mission is to help people with disabilities break down barriers to employment. CCRW gives job seekers the tools and confidence to educate and market themselves; they help them refine and demonstrate their abilities. 

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). http://www.cmha.ca/ CMHA’s Workforce Mental Health Collaborative provides employers and unions with in-depth training, practical resources and valuable support that can address and improve psychological health and safety in the workplace.

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). http://www.cnib.ca/  CNIB’s vital services include rehabilitation and support, an extensive range of helpful Shop CNIB products that can make life with vision loss easier, and one of the world's largest libraries for people who are unable to read traditional print – all of which are designed to help Canadians overcome the challenges of vision loss and lead full, active lives.