October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to focus on the value that workers with disabilities bring to the workplace. With nearly 20% of the working age population represented by people with disabilities (think one in five), employing workers with disabilities is a timely and important topic to the workforce development community.
Disability employment is an important facet of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), as explored in Section 188, which was originally enacted with Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in 1998 and continues to apply to the updated WIOA legislation of 2015. Section 188 seeks to prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or political affiliation or belief.
To assist American Job Centers with understanding and applying inclusionary practices, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) developed “Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide.” Other resources, like The Disability and Employment Community of Practice, educate employers and workforce staff on providing services and programs to people with disabilities.
To celebrate and promote awareness of NDEAM, we’ve prepared a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts for making your workplace or American Job Center more inclusive:
- Test your website, online applications, recruitment material, and social media content for accessibility. (See Section 508 for detailed info on accessibility standards.) The America’s JobLink system is routinely tested for accessibility using the SSB BART Group’s Accessibility Management Platform (AMP). AMP is a web-based solution for meeting Section 508, Americans with Disabilities (ADA), WCAG, and other compliance needs.
- Provide accommodations for public spaces and events, such as considering the height of display tables, offering a variety of publication formats, or being prepared with assistive technology.
- Participate in internship, mentorship, and hiring programs for students and recent grads with disabilities.
- Consider the needs of employees with disabilities when developing emergency management plans.
- Ask a person to self-identify with a disability prior to employment.
- Assume a person with a disability is inferior or incapable or tolerate similar assumptions.
- Limit the format of application material or communications to one medium, such as all images, all text, or all audio.
- Tolerate attitudinal barriers, such as pity, ignorance, or fear, toward people with disabilities.
- Expect disabilities to be outwardly evident; people with non-apparent disabilities still require accommodation.
Have something to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.