NJBIA's Public Policy Forum: The Road to Recovery REGISTER

Recruiting and hiring workers with disabilities requires potential employers to check their preconceived assumptions at the door, expand job postings beyond the traditional sites like Indeed.com, and re-examine their online application processes to ensure these are accessible to the disabled.

Employers, government officials and 20 different organizations that advocate for the disabled community took part in a Sept. 24 webinar hosted by NJBIA to discuss the best ways to find, onboard and retain disabled workers. The event also included information about the supportive assistance that job coaches provide disabled employees and the government tax credits available to employers.

“We all share the vision that a diversified workforce benefits everyone and that people with disabilities want and need to be part of this workforce in New Jersey,” said Thomas Baffuto, the executive director of The Arc of New Jersey, who moderated the event.

Wesley Anderson, director of Training and Consultation Services for The Arc of New Jersey, said the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services is an excellent place to start the search for qualified individuals with disabilities. Partnering with local supported employment agencies, such as The Arc of New Jersey, and posting job openings on the Employee Assistance Resource Network (EARN) are also good options to jump-start the process, he said.

“There are a lot of job boards beyond Indeed and Monster and CareerBuilder that you can source excellent talent that is more inclusive,” Anderson said.

Job postings should be scrubbed of restrictive language that has been used in the past that does not actually reflect the requirements of the position. For example, the statement “must be able to drive to multiple client locations” might be reworded as “must be able to travel to multiple client locations,” Anderson said.

Businesses must also make sure the online application process itself is accessible, because that is one of the biggest barriers to successfully hiring people with disabilities.

“Screen readers and assistive technology devices rely on form fields that can be easily populated and easily identifiable,” Anderson said. “If you have a box that says phone number for instance, but you don’t tell the person whether or not they need to put dashes in the phone number that can result in a long trial and error process that might scare away talent.”

Keyboard and accessible navigation are also important. The disabled job applicant must be able to tap the keyboard from the start of the job application to the end without needing to use a mouse, he said. He suggested that businesses check out Peatworks.org, which offers employers a “TechCheck” to assess accessibility.

The webinar also included presentations from Nicole Engle, of InspiriTec, a contact center and IT support services company that helps disabled Americans in the workplace; Roxanne Borah of People Lead, Walmart; Marc Schweitzer and Cheryl Casciano from the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, who provided information about tax credits for hiring the disabled; and Matthew Fernandes, state director of Best Buddies International, which helps secure jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

To listen to the complete webinar, go here.